Sick Notes

THE ECONOMIC crisis in Indonesia has hit hospitals badly, not least because many patients have been fleeing from their beds before their treatment is finished in order to avoid paying the bill.

Cipto Mangunkusumo, the largest hospital in Jakarta, lost 355 patients in this manner in the last three months of 1997. "They escaped on average two days before they terminated the treatment," a spokesman said.

RESEARCHERS at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, have found that about half the aphrodisiacs on sale in herbal medicine stores in Thailand, Hong Kong, China and North America do not contain the ingredients they claim. "They're selling penises under one name and in fact the source is something different," Professor Bradley White was quoted as saying.

While seal penis is traditionally regarded as an aphrodisiac (though there is no scientific evidence), fakes have been found to be made from genitalia of dogs and bulls.

A RESEARCHER at the Ohio State University College of Medicine has called for a ban on the sale of trampolines for home use after an analysis of government statistics on trampoline accidents.

In 1995, American hospital emergency departments treated 58,500 children injured on trampolines, compared with 29,600 in 1990.

A REPORT in the current issue of the journal The Physician and Sports Medicine reveals that bungee-jumping is safer than had previously been thought.

In the first wide-ranging look at injuries in this activity, Dr Craig C Young and his team found that 42 jumpers had a total of 59 minor medical complaints, but all the injuries healed within a week, except for lacerations to one jumper who changed his mind and tried to grab the platform on his way down. A total of 200 bungee-jumpers took part in the study.

A PAPER delivered at a meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has identified a complaint that may be ranked alongside tennis elbow, jogger's nipple and runner's knee: it is golfer's spine. Using high-speed cameras to record the swings of 43 healthy, experienced male golfers, researchers were able to identify deformation of the discs in the spine.

Meanwhile, Japanese experts have performed X-ray and CAT scans of 26 male golfers and compared them with non-golfers.

The results confirm that golfing can damage the spine - but it is more likely to do so with modern steel shafts (which require more spine-twisting for optimal results) than old-fashioned hickory clubs.

ACCORDING TO a study published earlier this year in the Journal of Applied Social Change, lawyers in general do not have especially high levels of testosterone, but trial lawyers average about 30 per cent higher rates of the male sex hormone than lawyers who stay out of the courtroom. High levels of testosterone are generally associated with dominance, persistence and focused attention, as well as anti-social behaviour and competitiveness. The results applied to male and female lawyers.

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