Health Highlights: July 16, 2013

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Randy Travis Recovering From Surgery After Stroke

Country music musician Randy Travis is showing progress in his recovery from surgery after suffering a stroke, according to his doctors.

They said the 54-year-old singer, who was awake and interacting with family and friends Monday, remains in critical condition and on a ventilator, but was taken off a heart pump and is breathing spontaneously, the Associated Press reported.

Travis' breathing support is gradually being reduced and he has started the early phases of physical therapy, the doctors said in a news release and video.

The doctors also said the singer will stay at The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano in Texas for two or three more weeks before he's transferred to another facility to undergo intense physical therapy, the AP reported.

It will take months for Travis to recover from the stroke, doctors noted.

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Jenny McCarthy's Vaccine Stance Worries Experts as She Joins 'The View'

Public health groups are worried that actress Jenny McCarthy will use her new position on a television talk show to spread her anti-vaccination views.

In recent years, McCarthy has become well-known for her claims that vaccines caused her son's autism and her anti-vaccination stance. Vaccine advocates fear that as co-host of ABC's The View, McCarthy will spread dangerous misinformation, USA Today reported.

One group wrote to The View producer Barbara Walters last week asking her to keep McCarthy off the show.

"Jenny McCarthy's unfounded claims about the dangers of vaccines has been one of the greatest impediments to efforts to vaccinate children in recent decades," said Amy Pisani, the executive director of Every Child by Two, an international vaccination group co-founded by former first lady Rosalynn Carter, USA Today reported.

"Children have died due to this misinformation, and those who perpetuate lies for personal gain ought to be held responsible," Pisani said.

Two dozen studies have failed to find any link between autism and vaccines, and the advocacy group Autism Speaks has said there is "no connection" between vaccines and autism, USA Today reported.

McCarthy has appeared on The View 17 times and will begin her co-host duties on Sept. 9. In its announcement, ABC did not mention whether McCarthy will talk about vaccines or other medical issues.

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Good 'Spatial Reasoning' May Be Sign of Creativity in Kids: Study

A high level of spatial reasoning in children may be a better indicator of creativity and innovative thinking than math or verbal skills, according to a new study.

Spatial reasoning is the ability to visualize and manipulate two- and three-dimensional objects. Children who are gifted in this area may be inspired to do things such as dismantle a clock or refrigerator, The New York Times reported.

In this study, researchers concluded that standardized tests such as SAT and ACT should be revised to included greater focus on spatial reasoning in order to identify children who excel in this skill and nurture their ability.

"Evidence has been mounting over several decades that spatial ability gives us something that we don't capture with traditional measures used in educational selection," study lead author David Lubinski, a psychologist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, told The Times. "We could be losing some modern-day Edisons and Fords."

The study was published in the journal Psychological Science.

Published
Tuesday, July 16, 2013