(photo credit: Courtesy Western Galilee Hospital)
Sea urchins are small creatures that look like pompoms and dwell in shallow sea
water. But they are not as innocuous as they look. Stepping on one and getting
punctured by its spines can cause not only local trauma and pain but – unless
treated in time, can result in a chronic condition called synovitis of the feet.
Synovitis, or inflammation of the synovial membrane that lines joints, causes
joint tenderness or pain, swelling and hard lumps called nodules.
in a recent issue of Harefuah, the Hebrew-language journal of the Israel Medical
Association, doctors at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa warned of the risk and
described the case of a teenager still suffering with chronic synovitis of the
feet two years after he stepped on a sea urchin.
The sea creatures, that
live along Israel’s coast move slowly and quietly, but there are three types
with poisonous chemicals in their spines. Unpleasant encounters with sea urchins
can result in pain, swelling, cellulitis infections, irregular heart rhythm,
soft-tissue gangrene, respiratory distress and even death, the researchers
They reported on a 15-year-old boy who reached their hospital
clinic complaining of pain, swelling and redness in the heel of his right leg –
two years after his foot was punctured by a black sea urchin when walking
barefoot on the beach in Eilat. Soon after he was hurt, he was treated with oral
antibiotics, and the situation improved, but inflammation and pain returned
every few months.
Ultrasound and CT scans showed bits of material
remained stuck in his foot. The Rambam doctors, who say there is little public
awareness of the dangers of such injuries, recommended careful removal of all
remnants from the sea urchin as soon as possible after the puncture. As for
chronic inflammation and pain months or even years after the injury, careful
removal of the urchin spines plus giving antibiotics can bring an end to
Wearing plastic or rubber shoes while walking on the beach or in
shallow water can prevent all the trouble, they conclude.HOPE FOR
Israelis almost take for granted the loss annually of between 300
and 400 people in road accidents.
But the additional human tragedy of the
over 30,000 injured is not often discussed. The Beit Loewenstein Rehabilitation
Hospital in Ra’anana specializes in working to restore the functioning of road
accident victims and has much success.
It reported recently that a
surprising 72 percent of those who have suffered serious head injuries are
discharged fully conscious. Over 86% of those treated in the head injury
intensive care unit are sent home at various levels of consciousness, the
Even of those who admitted in a post-traumatic vegetative
state, almost two out of three were restored to full consciousness at Beit
Loewenstein, said Dr. Ben-Zion Krimchansky, head of the unit.
conducted a study of 173 such people seriously hurt in road accidents between
2003 and 2008 and found that they were aged 16 to 76; 75.7% were men; 60% rode
in vehicles, a fifth were pedestrians and the rest on motorcycles. The average
patient was hospitalized for 36 days, while those with very severe injuries were
in intensive care for an average of 119 days.
Those treated in various
rehabilitation units stayed for an average of 173 days – about half a
“The likelihood of restoration to consciousness of victims of
serious head injuries depends on the quality of treatment they get in a
hospital,” Krimchansky concluded. Our accumulated experience and improved
understanding of the vegetative state – together with the great advances in
medical care – have brought about an increase in survival and chances for return
to consciousness.”DANCING BACK TO HEALTH
Women suffering from cancer
probably don’t feel like dancing, but workshops for those who have undergone
treatment and start rehabilitation have been shown to benefit significantly from
dance workshops. For four years, the oncology institute at Western Galilee
Hospital in Nahariya has been holding such events for breast cancer survivors.
Despite physiological and psychological difficulties from chemotherapy and
surgery, the feelings of helplessness and pain reportedly fall away due to the
experiences of movement in the workshops.
Hava Sharoni-Feldman, who runs
the workshops, said many women who participated in the five-week,
two-hour-weekly program found it much easier to return to the routines in their
lives after dancing (with the help of scarves, hoops and other objects) and
getting support from social workers and medical staffers. The Israel Cancer
Association has funded a study that is formally examining the beneficial effects
of dance on recovering cancer patients. The project also took first prize in a
national competition initiated by a pharmaceutical company, in competition with
other projects in 15 hospitals around the country.