Archive | Science

At Mayo, brain device offers hope for toughest epilepsy cases

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Rochester, Minn. — After nine years of epileptic seizures and no success stopping them, Sheri Finstad was ready to try an experiment.

In October, she came to Rochester, where Mayo Clinic doctors implanted a device in her brain designed to deliver mild electrical pulses and record the brain’s reaction.

It’s a stimulation therapy used typically to treat Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders. Finstad, a 32-year-old social worker from Fargo, became one of two patients to try it for epileptic seizures after federal regulators OK’d an exemption.

Snakes in the grass: A key to Minnesota’s vanishing prairie

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Kellogg, Minn. — In a sandy tract of grassland where the Zumbro River empties into the Mississippi, Jeff LeClere wades in waist-high grass.

The scientist’s visit to Weaver Dunes, is the latest foray to the area where researchers have long studied turtles, falcons, bald eagles and other wildlife populations.

But LeClere isn’t looking up. Instead, he has his eyes open for reptiles that slither in the grass. A herpetologist for the Minnesota Biological Survey, LeClere is leading its effort to catalog Minnesota’s snake species and estimate their population.

For Alzheimer’s patients, music can be a light in the darkness

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La Crosse, Wis. — Searching for a long-lost memory can be a frustrating experience for Alzheimer’s patients and their families. But research shows music can help reclaim some of those memories and offer temporary lucidity.

At assisted living facilities across the United States and Canada, music is helping patients with advanced Alzheimer’s rekindle some of their memories.

There are six elder care facilities using the Music and Memory program in Minnesota and more than 100 in Wisconsin, one in South Dakota and three in North Dakota, according to the program’s website.

Health care workers say the playlists calm patients, improve their mood, and in some cases, reduce the need for anti-anxiety and anti-psychotic medication.


Even in region with abundant water, residents turn to bottles and try to conserve

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Lewiston, Minn. — Fast-moving water in southeast Minnesota, a region of rolling hills and caves, bluffs and valleys and hundreds of miles of freshwater trout streams, helps create an abundant groundwater supply. In some areas, it’s just 10 to 20 feet below the surface.

That’s a good thing for the 11 counties that get all of their drinking water from the ground, instead of rivers or lakes. But it also means nitrate contamination from fertilizer applied by area farmers happens fast in the aquifers closest to the surface.

As a result, some communities are being forced to take steps — sometimes costly ones — to both tap and protect their groundwater.

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