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For a young athlete or dancer unable to pay high medical costs, an injury can mean the end of a promising career. To help mend both torn cartilage and broken dreams, a New York orthopedic surgeon has set up a fund and a clinic to aid needy young athletes and performers.

Dr. Robert J. Schultz, professor and chairman of orthopedic surgery at the New York Medical College and head of the college's sports-medicine section, is the prime mover in the effort to establish the Orthopedic Sports Medicine Institute.

The institute, to be operated by the sports-medicine section at the medical college, will support treatment efforts, a "national network" to identify those in need, and research in orthopedic sports medicine.

To be considered for assistance, athletes and performers must be "depending on their skills to make it in the world," according to Paula Harvey, chairman of the institute's fund-raising committee. Applicants need not be affiliated with high-school or college programs to apply, she stressed.

Project fund-raisers hope to have $500,000 in the institute's coffers by the end of 1986, with assessment of applicants to begin "as soon as enough funds are gathered," according to Dr. Schultz.

The New York Medical College, headquartered in Valhalla, N.Y., is a consortium of 34 medical institutions in the New York City area.

The "Superstuff" self-help kit for asthmatic children developed by the American Lung Association may help young sufferers stay in school, but it is not as successful in helping them adjust to having the condition, a Cleveland State University researcher says.

Asthma--a "leading cause" of school absenteeism and the third most common chronic condition doctors treat--affects about three percent of children under 17 years of age, often causing a poor self-image as well as other social and academic problems, according to csu

Richard F. Rakos, an associate professor of psychology who evaluated the "Superstuff" program for children ages 7-12, said the kit has "important but modest benefits" and suggests combining its use with medical and psychological counseling. Superstuff includes information on what triggers asthma, signals that precede an attack, and ways of relaxing.

Parents whose children used the "Superstuff" program reported fewer school absences as well as fewer asthma-related interruptions of their child's day-to-day activities. They noted, however, that the program did little to help their children improve their self-image.

"Chemical Cuisine," a new poster published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, helps take some of the mystery out of food additives. The 18- by 24-inch poster colorfully rates a variety of additives as safe, to be avoided, or to be used with caution. Copies can be ordered for $3.95 each, or $7.95 for a laminated poster, from cspi, 1501 16th St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036, or calling (202) 332-9110.--sh

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