Early in October, looking out over the view of Greensburg from the newly reconfigured Westmoreland Museum of American Art, someone remarked that a building’s foundations had been discovered recently in the old parking garage, which is being turned into a garden. In England, such work recently turned up the body of King Richard…

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  • Issue Quarter Winter
  • Issue Year 2016
  • Sub Heading Blending past with future, a revived cultural force reopens
Even before the performance of “Land of Oz” begins, it’s obvious that different rules apply here. Eyes dart around the auditorium and settle down in focused “listening” — sight is the primary way people here share information. To get someone’s attention, wave a hand in the air. To ignore someone, at which the high schoolers…

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  • Issue Quarter Winter
  • Issue Year 2016
  • Sub Heading Is hearing better the answer in deaf education?
It was around 10 p.m. on a summer evening a year ago. Kelly Pieczynski of North Braddock was chatting with her 21-​year-​old daughter about her day at Kennywood. When Pieczynski went to kiss her goodbye, she thought she was saying, “I love you. Drive safe.” But all that came out was mumbling. Her…

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  • Issue Quarter Winter
  • Issue Year 2016
  • Sub Heading Risks women need to know
  • Sidebar Title Making stroke strides
  • Sidebar Content Block

    When a stroke hits, the go-​to treatment long has been injecting a clot-​busting drug. But several studies, published in prestigious medical journals over the last several months, show that mechanically removing a clot can be a more effective treatment for some types of strokes.

    These studies have really caused a sea change in how we approach certain acute stroke patients,” says Dr. Lawrence Wechsler, founder of the UPMC Stroke Institute and chair of the University of Pittsburgh Department of Neurology.

    The treatment is known as endovascular thrombectomy — a physician threads a thin tube and clot-​retrieving device through a person’s leg artery and up to the brain where the blockage is located. This procedure is only effective when blockages occur in large blood vessels (about 10 percent of all strokes) and needs to be performed within six hours of the onset of symptoms.

    Stem-​cell therapy is another promising development. UPMC has been part of a worldwide effort that has shown the safety of injecting millions of stem cells in and around the stroke-​damaged areas of someone’s brain. UPMC is soon to embark on a larger clinical trial to test the procedure’s effectiveness. “With our small clinical trials that tested only for safety,” Wechsler says, “we didn’t see anybody make huge gains, but they made small gains and certainly the patients considered them to be significant… But this is probably due in large part to a placebo effect… These trial participants are going to be motivated to have some benefit occur. But what we’ve seen so far is encouraging and certainly is better than having bad outcomes.”

    The larger clinical trial at UPMC will be open to those who are about a year out from a stroke and will use a line of cells derived from bone marrow. Wechsler adds, “I don’t think we expect everybody to be completely back to normal because of [stem-​cell] treatment. But when you have a stroke and you can’t walk or use your arm or hand, just a small change — to be able to stand up and use a cane to get around — can have a significant impact.”

Although colder temperatures and snow are upon us, there are still many things to do and places to see in our beautiful western Pennsylvania landscape. One is the 284-​acre Helen B. Katz Natural Area near Meadville in Crawford County.

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  • Issue Quarter Winter
  • Issue Year 2016
  • Sub Heading Preserving a piece of the French Creek Watershed
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