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February 1, 2013

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, FEBRUARY 1, 2013 TEL AVIV Stroke, trau- matic injury, and metabolic disorder are major causes of brain damage and perma- nent disabilities, including motor dysfunction, psycho- logical disorders, memory loss, and more. Current therapy and rehab programs aim to help patients heal, but they often have limited Success. Now Dr. Shai Efrati of Tel Aviv University's Sack- ler Faculty of Medicine has found a way to restore a significant amount of neurological function in brain tissue thought to be chronically damaged--even years after initial injury. Theorizing that high levels of oxygen could reinvigorate dormant neurons, Efrati and his fellow researchers, including professor Eshel Ben-Jacob of TAU's School of Physics and Astronomy Oxygen chamber can boost brain repair and the Sagol School of Neuroscience, recruited post-stroke patients for hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT)--sessions in high pressure chambers that con- tain oxygen-rich air--which increases oxygen levels in the body tenfold. Analysis of brain imag- ing showed significantly increased neuronal activity after a two-month period of HBOT treatment compared to control periods of non- treatment, reported Efrati in PLoS ONE. Patients expe- rienced improvements such as a reversal of paralysis, increased sensation, and renewed use of language. These changes can make a world of difference in daily life, helping patients recover their independence and complete tasks such as bathing, cooking, climbing stairs, or reading a book. Oxygen breathes new life into neurons According to Efrati, there are several degrees of brain injury. Neurons impacted by metabolic dysfunction have the energy to stay alive, but not enough to fire electric signals, he explains. HBOT aims to increase the supply of energy to these cells. The brain consumes 20 percent of the body's oxy- gen, but that is only enough oxygen to operate five to 10 percent of neurons at any one time. The regeneration process requires much more energy. The tenfold increase in oxygen levels during HBOT treatment supplies the necessary energy for rebuilding neuronal con- nections and stimulating inactive neurons to fa- cilitate the healing process, explains Efrati. For their study, the re- searchers sought post stroke patients whose condition was no longer improving. To assess the potential impact of HBOT treatment, the anatomical features and functionality of the brain were evaluated using a combination of CT scans to identify necrotic tissue, and SPECT scans to determine the metabolic activity level of the neurons surrounding damaged areas. Seventy-four participants spanning six to 36 months post-stroke were divided into two groups. The first treatment group received HBOT from the beginning of the study, and the second received no treatment for two months, then received a two-month period of HBOT treatment. Treatment consisted of 40 two-hour sessions five times weekly in high pressure chambers containing oxygen-rich air. The results indicate that HBOT treatment can lead to significant improvement in brain function in post stroke patients even at chronically late stages, helping neurons strengthen and build new connections in damaged regions. A potential avenue for prevention Although the study focus- es on patients only through three years post-stroke, Efrati has seen similar im- provement in patients whose brain injuries occurred up to 20 years before, belying the concept that the brain has a limited window for growth and change. "The find- ings challenge the leading paradigm since they dem- onstrate beyond any doubt that neuroplasticity can still be activated for months and years after acute brain injury, thus revealing that many aspects of the brain remain plastic into adult- hood," says Ben-Jacob. This study also "opens the gate into a new territory of treatment," adds Efrati. The researchers are cur- rently conducting a study on the benefits of HBOT for those with traumatic brain injury. This treatment also has potential as an anti- aging therapy, applicable in other disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia at their early stages. "It is now understood that many brain disorders are related to inefficient energy supply to the brain," explains Efrati. "HBOT treatment could right such metabolic abnormalities before the onset of full de- mentia, where there is still potential for recovery." Fans, family of Modell pray for Ravens Super Bowl win, Hall of Fame entry Baltimore Ravens BalD'more Ravens" coach John Harbaugh, late owner Art Modell and general manager Ozzie 1Vewsome at the Ravens training facilities, 2008. By Chavie Lieber NEWYORK (JTA)--Every Sunday during the football season, a group of 30 diehard Jewish Baltimore Ravens fans suit up in purple pants, jerseys, socks, face paint and special Ravens tzitzit to watch the game together. If the game falls on a Saturday, the club gathers for a "purple Shabbos," when they wear Ravens jerseys under their suits, eat Ravens-inspired food from a purple menu and go into Iockdown mode once the game starts so they don't accidentally discover the final score before they can watch the recorded broad- cast post-Sabbath. "Yes, we're all absolute Ravens nuts," Noam Heller, a 25-year-old Baltimore native, told JTA. "We're not just casual football fans like some other states. Everyone who knows our crew knows we're crazy." The group has been revel- ing in the Ravens together for about five years at the homes of its members. Wives and kids come along now, too. With their beloved squad slated to face off against the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII on Sun- day, Heller and company no doubt will get even crazier than normal. Adding to its significance, the showdown comes just six months after the death of former owner Art Modell, the Jewish Brooklyn native who moved the team to Baltimore from Cleveland in 1996. Ravens players dedi- cated this season to Modell, wearing a patch with "Art" on their jerseys. And even more poignan- cy: The Pro Football Hall of Fame will announce whether Modell will be in- ducted the day before the big game. "Honestly, I'm kvelling over this game," David Mod- ell, one of the late owner's two sons and a former presi- dent and CEO of the Ravens, told JTA. "I'm not praying for results, I'm praying for the strength and courage of this team, and the rest will take care of itself. But a Super Bowl victory and a place in the Hall of Fame would be an incredible way to honor my father's memory." Modell's legacy is some- thing of a touchy subject for football fans. Support- ers see him as a brilliant businessman best known for his role in negotiations with the ABC television network leading to the creation of "Monday Night Football" in 1970, and for his support for community charities in Cleveland and Baltimore. In Cleveland, Modell isn't remembered as fondly. After 24 years as owner of the Browns, Modell took the team to Baltimore in 1996 and renamed them the Ravens. Many Cleveland fans remain bitter over the loss of their team and say it would be wrong to honor Modell with a spot in the Hall of Fame. "I don't care how much money he gave to either community or how well Baltimore is doing," said one disgruntled Jewish Cleve- lander who asked that his name not be published for fear of bad football karma. "Art Modell stole our pride in Cleveland, and stealing in football should not be praised." David Modell told JTA that many Cleveland fans wrote to him and his brother, John, to offer condolences after their father passed away. It seemed they forgave Modell, who sold the Ravens in 2004, for abandoning Cleveland and now remember him mainly as a football legend. Although Modell's two sons are Catholic, children Baltimore Ravens Art Modell, the late owner of the Baltimore Ravens, has a hug for star linebacker Ray Lewis, 2001. from the first marriage of his wife Patricia Breslin, David Modell said his father made sure to teach them the basic Jewish traditions of the religion he loved. "My father wasn't the type of man who wore his spiritu- ality on his sleeve, but he was a quietly religious and very spiritual Jew," David said. "We knew that he carried around a piece of paper with God's name in his pocket every day of his life. Every year he would light memo- rial candles for his parents' deaths. He always attended temple on High Holidays. And Chanukah candles were so important to him that my brother in California and I Skyped together this year to light candles and recite the prayers." Modell had a special relationship with football players as well as fans, spe- cifically with Ray Lewis, the Ravens' All-Pro linebacker who is retiring at the end of this season. Modell watched his team practice every day and had a father-son rela- tionship with Lewis. Unlike his former boss, Lewis did wear his spiritu- ality on his sleeve--or at least on his chest. Follow- ing a 24-9 playoff victory over the Colts earlier this month, Lewis removed his game jersey to reveal a T- shirt that read "Psalm 91," which concludes with the line, "With long life I will satisfy him, and show him my salvation." Heller and his friends re- sponded by getting together for a communal reading of the psalm and to pray on the Ravens' behalf. "We've loved the Ra- vens since Art Modell first brought them to Baltimore in 1996," Heller said. "We all looked up to him as kids. And this Super Bowl is going to be ours."