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Clinical trials have been in the news in Calhoun County for several months. You may be puzzled about what you can gain from a clinical trial, and how much of your time, commitment and money will be involved. Participants in clinical trials can play a more active role in their own health care, gain access to new research treatments before they are widely available, and help others by contributing to medical research.


I enrolled in the Breast Cancer Prevention Trial in 1992 because I come from a family that has a history of cancer. Even though I had to travel to Morgantown to participate in the trial, it was worth it because I was doing something that could make life better for my children. This trial study was designed to see whether taking the drug tamoxifen could prevent breast cancer in those who are at an increased risk of developing the disease. It also looked at whether by taking tamoxifen the number of heart attacks and bone fractures would be reduced. The study began recruiting participants in April of 1992 and closed enrollment in September of 1997, with 13,388 women ages 35 and older enrolled. Researchers conducted the study at more than 300 centers across the U.S. and Canada. The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute.


The HARE (Help ARthritis with Exercise) study:

If you are an adult (age 18 or older) with arthritis, who is not very active, Calhoun County Committee on Aging is offering free exercise classes just for you. Arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the U.S., and West Virginia has the highest level of self-reported arthritis. West Virginia is also fifth highest in the number of adults who report no leisure-time physical activity. If you are physically inactive, you are more likely to have arthritis and chronic joint symptoms that limit your daily activities.


I am fairly active, but have lots of aches and pains. Yes, I have arthritis and osteoporosis.


Dina L. Jones, PT, PhD, assistant professor in the Dept. of Orthopedics at WVU, received a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to examine the relationship between physical activity and arthritis. She has partnered with W.Va. Bureau for Public Health and W.Va. Bureau of Senior Services to offer free EnhanceFitness™ exercise classes at CCCOA. Also collaborating are the Maryland and Ohio River Valley chapters of the Arthritis Foundation.


This is really good news! Finally, trial studies are being done that will benefit people in rural areas like Calhoun. The hour-long classes will be held Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for 12 weeks. Each class is limited to 20 adults who have arthritis.


Ten more people, men or women, are needed to complete enrollment for the class.


Because this is a research study, those who qualify will be tested briefly on their basic physical abilities and are expected to complete questionnaires and telephone interviews at three or four times: the beginning of classes, the end of classes, and three months after classes end. Participants may also need a note from their doctor saying that they are able to join this exercise program.


Participants must be willing to make a commitment to attend the sessions. Individual circumstances can be discussed when you register. It will provide an opportunity to have exercise in a supervised setting with a trained instructor. Your classmates know what you are experiencing and you can encourage each other.


Based on solid research and tested at over 80 sites around the country, the program focuses on flexibility, balance, low-impact aerobics, and strength training exercises--everything health professionals say that people need to maintain health and be able to function physically. Jones is researching whether this community-based program, taught by certified professionals, can effectively increase the ability of adults with arthritis to handle their daily needs and activities.


At the end of the study, Jones will examine all the data collected and, with input from the Bureau for Public Health and the Bureau of Senior Services, will decide if the HARE program was successful in providing arthritis-specific benefits to class members. If the collaborators agree that the program was successful, then the partners will focus on how the program can be expanded to all 55 counties, so that all West Virginians with arthritis can have access to and benefit from the program.


Calhoun County is fortunate to have been selected as one of the sites. Remember, no long trips out of town to participate, just three hours a week for 12 weeks. That is just 36 hours that can help you have better movement. We have an opportunity!


Interested people with arthritis can call the Dept. of Orthopedics, 293-0742 or toll free 866-913-4273, to see if they qualify to join the HARE study.

This Week's Editorial:

By Helen Morris:


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