News in brief: MRI rebates to be indexed; Two new methods to treat muscle spasm; TBI may increase dementia risk by 50%

18 May 2022

MRI rebates to be indexed

Annual indexation of Medicare MRI services will recommence from 1 July 2022 and the MBS rebate for bulk billed MRI services will be brought in line with other diagnostic imaging services, according to the Department of Health.

The change will mean that more than 97% of diagnostic imaging services will be indexed, the department said in a statement.

“Medicare rebates will be increased for services provided by diagnostic imaging providers, which will reduce out-of-pocket costs for patients using these services,” it said.

Indexation will recommence in July for MRI – Group I5 – items 63001 to 63547, which aligns with the ongoing indexation of ultrasound, CT and diagnostic radiology.

The Bulk Billing Incentive for Medicare rebateable MRI services will also be brought in line with other diagnostic imaging services to be payable at 95% of the schedule fee (from 100% of the schedule fee).

Two new methods to treat muscle spasm

WA researchers say their work investigating hyperexcitable spinal motoneurons has revealed two non-drug methods that may potentially be used to treat muscle spasms in conditions such as MS.

Edith Cowan University (ECU) PhD candidate and lead researcher Ricardo Mesquita said a study had identified two apparently opposing mechanisms to inhibit amplification from persistent inward currents (PICs) that make motoneurons more responsive to excitatory input in conditions such as spinal cord injury.

They showed that both reciprocal inhibition onto motoneurons and whole-body relaxation reduced the contribution of PICs to human motoneuron firing. The techniques involved included tendon vibration and neuromuscular electrical stimulation to evoke involuntary contractions.

“Potentially, non-pharmacological interventions, such as electrical stimulation or relaxation could attenuate unwanted PIC-induced muscle contractions in conditions characterised by motoneuron hyperexcitability,” they concluded in the Journal of Physiology.

TBI may increase dementia risk by 50%

People hospitalised for a major traumatic brain injury (TBI) may have a high risk of developing dementia, a Finnish study suggests.

About one in 10 people who had major TBI develop dementia during 16 years of follow up, according to results from a study involving 288 people hospitalised due to a major TBI and 406 hospitalised due to a minor TBI.

The findings, published in the journal Neurology, showed that 9% of people with a major TBI, 27 people, developed dementia compared to 2% of those with a minor TBI, and 3% of a control group with no TBI.

Major TBI was defined as having bleeding in the brain and a hospital stay of three or more days, whereas minor TBI was defined as a concussion with no more than a one-day hospital stay.

After adjusting for age and sex, researchers found that people who were hospitalised due to a major TBI had a 1.5 times greater risk of dementia than those without a TBI. The University of Helsinki researchers suggesting that prevention of other dementia risk factors such as excess alcohol consumption and physical inactivity could possibly reduce the risk of dementia in people with major TBI.

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