Monthly Archives: May 2019

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Family dogs responsible for most attacks, new research shows

A 3D image of Charlie’s skull after he was bitten by a dog. The bite caused traumatic lacerations to Charlie’s face, nose, eyelids, forehead and scalp Photos: SuppliedA single bite from his family’s nine-year-old pet dog – so gentle it barely woofed at a stranger – nearly killed three-year-old Charlie Stirton last year when the boy climbed on the sleeping animal’s back to ride it “like a horse”.

One bite by the startled dog caused traumatic lacerations to Charlie’s face, nose, eyelids, forehead and scalp.

A CT scan of his face and skull revealed that the 50 kilogram dog’s jaws had fractured Charlie’s fragile skull and broken his nose.He was lucky to avoid permanent brain damage, doctors said.

Pet dogs – owned by a child’s family, relative or close friends – are responsible for84 per cent of dog bites, a new study has found.

Another 8 per cent of children were bitten by a neighbour’s dogs, meaning only 8 per cent were bitten by a stranger’s dog, the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Congressin Sydney heard last week.

Susan O’Mahony, James Cockburn and colleagues at Brisbane’s Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital found doctors had treated 426 children for dog bites since the end of 2014. Of the 151 treated in the past year, a third required hospitalisation for at least a night, often with extensive rounds of reconstructive plastic surgery.

“We are seeing a huge number of, particularly, small children, under 10 – and we presume the same is happening in every state – with significantly life-changing, traumatic injuries as a result of dog bites,” said Dr O’Mahony, the surgeon who treated Charlie.

Of those children seen at the hospital, about half were under four years of age. And about 70 per cent had been bitten on the face.

About one in three households in owns a dog. Areview of admissions to public hospitals from 2001 to 2013found dog bites were a largely “unrecognised and growing public health problem”, with as many as 26 bites per 100,000 population among children aged zero to four.

Surgeons say dog bites are under-reported. A study inPerth last yearfound a surprisingly large number of children had been bitten on the face.

Another review of hospital admissions in Geelong, Victoria, by DrJackie Tranfound similar results, but also that adults bitten by dogs often delayed seeking help until infection set in, which then often required one- to two-day stays.

Bites represent a huge proportion of the children’s hospital workload and a massive cost to the health system, Dr O’Mahony said.

She urged families to anticipate situations that could trigger bites such as a new child or a small child poking an older dog.

“Even the ‘best’ family dog has potential [to bite], and put in the wrong situation it happens, and too regularly for us,” Dr O’Mahony said.

Charlie Stirton, now four, with his younger sister Isla. Charlie nearly died when his family dog – never aggressive before – bit him once when the young boy climbed on its back. Photo: Stirton family

“No matter how familiar the dog is, and even if it is understood to be a friendly dog – something I hear all the time – if that dog is even accidentally woken up with a sudden start, or accidentally poked in the eye, or pulled on the ear, or given a fright, their natural instinct is to snap, and they go for the face because that’s what they do to each other,” she said.

Michael Stirton, Charlie’s father, said his son owed his life to doctors at Lady Cilento hospital.

The bite was “really out of character” for the dog, said Mr Stirton, who lives on a property between Brisbane and Toowoomba.

“The biggest contributing factor was that the dog was asleep and an older dog.”

Charlie and his younger sister Isla had been taught to treat dogs with respect, and never to poke, pull or climb on them.

Mr Stirton stressed that Charlie had not been mauled – it was a single bite from a dog that had never shown any signs of aggression. The dog was put down after Charlie was bittenlast September.

Fresh out of hospital, Charlie would tell anyone who asked that he had been hurt saving his Isla from a crocodile.

The force of a crocodile’s bite is about 10 times more powerful, but a 50 kilogram dog has the same bite strength as a tiger.

“[Dogs] are designed to eat bones, so if a dog has a wide enough bite, and it can grab the child in the upper part of the head, it can absolutely penetrate bone,” Dr O’Mahony said.

While large dogs’ jaws exert more power, Dr O’Mahony said any dog can cause life-changing facial injuries. “We’ve had loads of nose and mouth injuries from small dogs,” she said.

After a scan of Charlie’s skull and face, which revealed extensive injuries, Dr O’Mahony and Dr Cockburn urged doctors to check for “intracranial injury” (traumatic brain injury).

Dog bites – and the scarring they cause – had such a hugepsychological impact (equivalent to the trauma after a car accident) that the hospital now has a full-time staff member providing counselling and support. These bites often cause distressing disputes and guilt in family and friends.

Mr Stirton is now outspoken about separating small children from dogs – particularly those that are large or aggressive. Recently he urged a friend to get rid of a dog. “I said, ‘Mate, trust me, you will never forgive yourself if it leaves your daughter with a scar for the rest of her life’.”


International Journal of Stroke review finds young stroke survivors in China struggle to return to work

CHALLENGE: Work for Newcastle’s Meredith Burke has been a struggle since a stroke six years ago. Thousands have similar difficulties across . Picture: Marina NeilMeredith Burke had to learnto walk again.

Learnhow to talk too –from ABC’s to fluent, but now draining conversations.

All at age 39.

Her progression post-stroke hasn’tbeen easy.

For the past six years, she’s battled to adjust to her “new normal”.

She’s one of thousands ofyoung adult stroke survivorswho are missing out on the support they need to return to work, according to an International Journal of Stroke review whichfound just 66 per cent of working-age survivors had returned to work up to four years after suffering a stroke.

With about 475,000 people in living with the effects of stroke and 30 per centof thoseof working age, it’s a situation that Stroke Foundation CEOSharon McGowan says needs addressing.

“Advancements in treatment mean more ns are surviving stroke than ever before, but for the stroke survivor and their family the impact of stroke is far reaching,”she said.

“Health and social care services are not well set up to deal with younger stroke survivors, and compared with those over 65 years, youngersurvivors are less likely to be referred to rehabilitation services.”

Ms Burke, of Newcastle, was a vocational trainer before her stroke, but could not return to the role.

“It’s the cognitive drain, when young people try to go back to work,” she said.

“There’s noway I could cope with all the things that go along with training, I just couldn’t do it anymore. It was too intense for the brain to cope with.”

NEW LIGHT: Meredith Burke believes the community aren’t aware of the challenges young stroke survivors face. Picture: Marina Neil.

Day-to-day is astrugglefor the 45-year-old.Her speech fatigues after a few hours, an email that takes mosttwo minutes to writecould take her 45 minutes, driving is draining andeven getting dressed saps energy.

But part of the struggle tofindwork, is the lack of help.

“There’s not really anyone in the community, or an organisation, who can sit down with you and go: ‘ok, you’ve got deficits in this, maybe you could try this’,” Ms Burke said.

Misconceptions are also a problem.Good physical recovery can often hide hiddenissues like fatigue, depression, sleep problems, anxiety and pain.

“Stroke is about learning a new normal for yourlife,” Ms Burke explained.

“For 39 years, I had thecontext of my life all built up. But it literally goesin one south route, in one day. You have to build up your life again…

“It takes a longtime to come to terms with thatand say: ‘well, what can i do now?…what can I do post-stroke that I’m interested in, that I can build a life from?’.”

Ms Burke hasfought onand is now studying fitness, alongsidehostingregular Stroke Foundation information talks with community groups and organisations.

She believes businesses in the Hunter would be willing to employ young stroke survivors, but aren’t aware of their day-to-day challenges.

Most of which, she says,can be overcome with adaptive work structures.

Sparke Helmore loses former chairman Mark Hickey, partners to British newcomer DWF

Mark HickeyFormer chairman Mark Hickey and five other partners have left Sparke Helmore, Newcastle’s biggest law firm, to establish a local office of British company DWF.

Partners Ben Burney, Adam Fuller, David Reid, Matthew Smith andVi-Ky Lam and senior advisor Jason Lambeth have joined Mr Hickey in shiftingto DWF, a Manchester-based firm with offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

The departures are predominantly from Spark Helmore’scorporate and commercial division, including specialists in banking and finance and mergers and acquisitions law.

Mr Hickey, a long-time board member who had been with the firm for 19 years,was head of Sparke Helmore’s corporate team in the Hunter.

He was elected chairman in August 2015, shortly after five partners and 24 other lawyers from the firm’s insurance practice left to join Hall & Willcox, but stepped down last month.

Mr Burney led the firm’s banking and finance team.

Sparke Helmore, which was established 136 years ago and has about 750 staff across eight offices throughout ,wasquick to reassure clients that it was business as usual.

“As the leading national commercial firm operating in the Hunter, we are committed to our clients and community in the Hunter,” interim chairman and Hunter commercial group head Andrew White toldthe Newcastle Herald in a statement.

“Our firm continues to look for opportunities to grow in line with our clients’ needs, as evidenced by the recent merger with [Perth firm] Jarman McKenna.

Sparke Helmore interim chairman Andrew White

“We remain committed to our strategy and our vision to be a market-leading, independent n professional services business that our clients choose for outstanding people, legal expertise and our ability to connect.”

DWF said MrHickey would take on the newly created role of chairman of DWF Asia Pac and would have a lead role in developingthe Newcastle office.

DWF managing partner Jamie McPhersonsaid the Newcastle launch was a “key piece of our n growth plans”.

“With the leading regional economy, a strong workforce and the ongoing development of the city as a metropolitan hub, Newcastle is a great place for us to start building out a new team to better service our clients across ,” he said in a statement.

Rockefeller art auction nets record $A1bn

Henri Matisse’s “Odalisque reclining with magnolias” has sold for a record $US80.8 million.Twenty-two world records have been set at a Christie’s auction, including the $US832 million ($A1.1bn) total for the priciest private collection of artworks and other treasures, owned by Peggy and David Rockefeller.

The late couple’s family is donating all proceeds from the sale to charity.

The finally tally that ended Friday’s sale in New York is about twice the previous record of $US484 million from a 2009 Paris sale of designer Yves Saint Laurent’s estate.

Christie’s said all of the more than 1500 lots had sold, with buyers lured by the Rockefeller name that represented American success.

Prices reached record highs for seven artists and items including a porcelain set and a swan decoy.

The top lot was a Picasso painting of a nude girl holding a basket of flowers that went for $US115 million, against a pre-auction estimate of $US100 million. A Monet canvas of his famed water lilies sold for $US84 million – surpassing the previous $US81 million high for the artist.

A Matisse canvas depicting a woman in a Turkish harem went for a record $US80.8 million, topping the previous $48.8 million for the artist.

Christie’s bolstered the auction by guaranteeing the whole Rockefeller collection, not disclosing the minimum price at which a work would have to sell or buyers’ names.

A 256-piece Sevres dessert service commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte sold for $US1.8 million, a world record for 19th century porcelain that fetched more than six times its high estimate.

All prices include buyers’ premiums.

Peggy Rockefeller died in 1996, and David Rockefeller in 2017 at the age of 10. He was the last surviving grandson of the oil baron John D Rockefeller.

Harry ready for marriage: Ex-army chief

Prince Harry’s military career may have helped prepare him for married life, an ex-army chief says.Prince Harry’s military career may have helped prepare him for married life, a former army chief says.

General the Lord Dannatt, the British Army’s former Chief of General Staff Army, said the prince appears to have toned down his previous image of “a playboy prince”.

“I think the military has done a lot to help him grow up and that’s made him a more mature person, which actually I think will make him a much rounder partner in the marriage that he’s about to undertake,” he told Forces TV.

Friend Dave Henson, a retired Army captain and Paralympic bronze 200m medallist, believes Prince Harry will one day make a good father.

“I think he’s like any other service man or woman, we are all big kids really and actually I think the joy of having kids is that you get to be a big kid again, and I think he’ll love doing it,” he said.

In a decade-long Army career which ended in 2015, Prince Harry has had two frontline tours of duty in Afghanistan.

He was devastated in 2007 when plans for him to serve in Iraq fell through because of security threats.

Later that year, he achieved his dream of seeing frontline action, spending 10 weeks in Afghanistan as a forward air controller, co-ordinating air strikes on Taliban positions.

His tour was cut short when foreign websites broke a media blackout on reporting the details.

The prince retrained and qualified as an Apache helicopter pilot.

In September 2012 he made it back for a second tour of duty as an Apache co-pilot gunner.

His career took a different direction when it was announced he was to start a new Army staff officer role in London in 2014.