Concussion-More than a Movie
Dec20

Concussion-More than a Movie

The medical world is a bizarre field full of questions and mysteries. This holds true because certain conditions and diseases are only discovered through unusual and unexpected circumstances. Similarly, the story of Bennet Omalu, a Nigerian forensic pathologist who first brought scholarly attention to the condition Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, is a great example of this scenario. This true story will be depicted on the big screen in the controversial upcoming movie Concussion.   Concussion: Based on the True Story   Concussion, as aptly as it was named, tells the story of Omalu, who fought against all odds to expose a type of brain injury in football players that caused disturbing and deadly symptoms. He discovered Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, but had to battle against the NFL to make his findings known. Although his name was disparaged as an attempt to make him lose his credibility, his findings have now shed light on just how dangerous football can be. This case is considered bizarre particularly because this disease cannot be detected while the patient is alive; symptoms and major signs would only show after death. Common among American football players, this story involves another real-life persona Mike Webster, whose body gave the empirical evidence for this disease. The NFL may not be thrilled about these findings, but science is unbiased.   Conditions of the disease   CTE is a condition that only shows up after one’s death, though there are early signs as well as symptoms, albeit a little indiscernible. The patient can display intellectual impairment, mood disorders, and even dementia. Aggression has been reported as well as impaired judgement and impulsiveness. More seriously, those affected with CTE are likely to have drug abuse and dependency issues, and have been known to attempt suicide. Many end up destitute and without shelter, money, or proper care. It is usually followed by a sudden and unexpected death. Through the movie ‘Concussion,’ much more information will be dispersed on the dangers that NFL football players face.     NFL’s Attempt at a Cover Up   For far too long, the NFL has tried to cover up the dangerous injuries associated with this sport. They have also been less than approving of any research findings of brain injury in athletes. Concussions are serious injuries that can even impact personality. There have been football players, who after suffering from a concussion, were never really the same person in regards to personality. Due to the head trauma that is experienced in this sport, athletes are at high risk for this condition. Although this is ruffling a few feathers, it is essential that this becomes widespread knowledge so...

Read More
Sleep Positions and Your Brain
Oct19

Sleep Positions and Your Brain

Getting a good night’s sleep is vital for survival. Good, consistent sleep keeps your immune system functioning properly, reduces the risk of disease, and keeps your brain sharp. Think about all the nights when you lost a few hours of sleep. Your brain was deprived of valuable sleep and it was obvious as you struggled to think clearly and do other things such as driving, working, or even walking. Not only is a solid 7 to 8 hours of sleep one of the best things you can do for your brain, but the way you sleep can also affect your brain health. Positioning for Good Sleep   A majority of sleepers have a “tried and true” sleeping position. Whether you sleep on your back, stomach, or side, it’s likely you have slept in that position your whole life. Sleep experts recommend side sleeping for better posture and less back pain, but recent research suggests that side sleeping also benefits your brain. When we sleep, our brain clears its glymphatic pathway of toxins more efficiently than during the waking hours. Scientists found that mice, who slept on their sides (a natural sleeping position for humans and animals), had better functioning glymphatic pathways.   Side sleep helps to filter out damaging proteins, that lead to brain diseases, that build up around the spinal and brain cord. When toxins build up in the brain, neurological conditions such as Alzheimers or Parkinsons. Additionally, side sleeping is often a more “sound” sleeping position. The fewer sleep disturbances may mean fewer issues in brain health such as memory loss. Stay on Your Side, Stay Asleep   Proper sleep positioning can help you sleep longer and without interruptions that can keep your glymphatic pathway working. According to researcher, Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, many types of memory issues are linked to sleep disturbances, such as trouble falling asleep. The increase of sleep disturbances can result in greater chance of memory loss, hence the importance of having a restful night of sleep.   What if you’re not a natural side sleeper? It may take some time to acclimate to side sleeping, but over time you may notice the benefits. If you’re worried about shifting to a different sleeping position in the middle of the night, put a pillow behind your back to prevent easily rolling onto your stomach or back.   Falling asleep or staying asleep are issues that many not-so-sound sleepers face on a nightly basis. If you struggle with sleep, check out these natural sleep solutions for a better night’s sleep and for a healthier...

Read More
Cell Phones: An Inevitable Addiction
Sep19

Cell Phones: An Inevitable Addiction

The use of cell phones has altered the way many of us function on a daily basis. Whether it’s our transportation, how we work, and managing our personal life; these devices have become an unescapable addiction.   Admittedly, most apps have made life easier as we plan, order, and communicate. With this kind of an ease of use the world is at our fingertips. Although convenience has played a significant part in the use of the cell phone, the world around us is also enduring changes in order to accommodate our addiction to convenience. But what are some of the repercussions of constantly being wired to these devices?  One of the major changes that our society has made has been that of the everyday commute. Walking and texting. Seems simple enough, right? It’s got to beat texting and driving, in any case. But planners and designers around the world are toying with a new idea for wired-in pedestrians: special lanes for people who wish to text while walking.   Most implementations of texting lanes have been stunts of one kind or another: the Belgian company who made a lot of noise earlier this summer with the “textwalk” lanes they spray-painted onto city sidewalks were accused of “graffiti” by Antwerp’s mayor; the National Geographic’s text and talk lanes were an advertisement for an exhibit on brain science; and the similar lane in China was part of an amusement park. The most recent newsmaking texting lane, on a Utah college campus, is primarily “looks and laughs.”   But the idea does raise some serious issues regarding texting and walking. Walking is a more complex process than you might think, and people who text are often walking in unpredictable public spaces. What could go wrong? Vision Texting pedestrians often miss out on their surroundings. According the National Geographic brain science project involved in the DC text lane, texting while walking can reduce your vision to “less than one tenth of [its] normal range.” They produced a short video showing texters missing out on a newspaper-reading gorilla not ten feet from where they walked. (The video is funny but informative, and can be viewed in the linked text above.)   The take-away is clear: if you can’t see what’s around you, you should stop moving. It may sound funny, but walking recklessly is a serious problem; 21% of reported pedestrian accidents in Hawaii over the course of five years lead to traumatic brain injury, according to Leavitt, Yamane & Soldner. “Text Neck” Too much texting can have other serious effects on your body. The problem getting lot of attention lately is called “text...

Read More
Habits for a Healthier Brain
May22

Habits for a Healthier Brain

As we age, it is human nature to wonder whether or not there is anything we can do to slow down the aging process. Many baby boomers are applying this question to enhance not only their physical appearance, but their cognitive function and brain health as well. We’ve all experienced moments of forgetfulness. Misplacing an important item, forgetting a name or getting our calendar date mixed up can lead us to wonder: is this part of getting old? Countless jokes are made at the expense of the old timer’s slow cognitive function and ability to remember yesterday. Are we doomed to live out the harsh truth at the center of these jokes or is there something that can be done about the aging brain? In a recent study carried out by Neurology Magazine, a group of researchers in China randomly selected 9 communities. Out of these communities 5,000 people that were over 55 years or older were interviewed concerning age, sex, occupation, medical conditions, medications, smoking, drinking, education and leisure activities. The group was tracked for 5 years and given the same tests each year. In the final analysis 11% had a drop in their cognitive abilities. Those 11% were far more likely to be women, have lower education, smoke and drink daily and have a medical condition. The study also demonstrated that playing board games and reading was associated with a reduced risk of cognitive decline while watching television was associated with an increased risk of cognitive impairment. This is in keeping with a recent AARP Bulletin, which expounds on a recent study carried out by some of the leading neuroscientists and brain health experts in the country. It states that in addition to the fact that Alzheimer’s disease and Cognitive aging are separate ailments, there are many things you can do to slow down cognitive aging such as: Exercise: Aerobic exercise provides your brain with much needed oxygen and helps slow the aging process. Intellectual and social activity: Such as reading, writing and social activity are all linked with preserving brain function Eating Healthy: Consuming less meat and alcohol and increasing your intake of vegetables, Omega 3 fatty acids (found in fish), and nuts and beans can help protect an aging brain. Getting Enough Rest: Poor sleep is linked to memory problems, Alzheimer’s and dementia. Avoid Alcohol, Chemicals and Drugs: Some medications have been linked with cognitive decline including benzodiazepines and anticholinergic drugs. It is important to point out that alcohol was associated with cognitive decline in both studies and should be kept to a minimum or avoided totally if possible. Overlooked sources of chemicals include fast...

Read More
Non Ironic Bionics: Tips for Safe Usage of Implantable Medical Devices
Apr24

Non Ironic Bionics: Tips for Safe Usage of Implantable Medical Devices

A more than 3,000 year old Egyptian noblewoman probably had no idea how inspiring her toe would be to the modern Western world. In 2007, archeologists discovered a beautiful mummy with a functional prosthetic toe. So functional, in fact, that University of Manchester experts are studying it for modern medical device integration. Improving our bodies with the help of inanimate objects is nothing new, but with great technology, comes great responsibility. More than 200 billion dollars is spent on implantable medical technology each year, although there is little information available about the extent of flaws and mishaps that occur with the most common devices. Even though we may win an uphill health battle with implantable devices, improper use can cause them to go downhill fast. Unequipped Hips Artificial hips can be a godsend for those whose hip joints have deteriorated from age or weight-gain, and there are more than 230,000 in usage today. Overall, they provide tremendous ease of pain and increased, but there are some major malfunctions and patients should be prepared for before they “get hipped.” Artificial Hip Joints can become focal points for infections, and fragments can be left behind. It is essential to look for early signs of infection; pain, swelling discomfort. Research the manufacturer: in 2010, DePuy of Johnson & Johnson recalled faulty hip replacements in 93,000 people. Ouch. It’s crucial to find out who made your new body part and whether they have a sterling reputation. Implantable Defibrillators: Sometimes They Do Skip a Beat ICDs have saved many lives, as they correct arrhythmic, potentially deadly heart problems for more than 133,262 people worldwide. Although there is little risk for complication or malfunction, recipients should still be aware of exactly how they work and what can go wrong. ICDs can have as much as a four percent chance of lead failure, meaning that the insulation may be too thick or thin. It is important to stay in touch with your healthcare provider and make sure they monitor any manufacturer updates or warnings. Be wary of ICD necessity: The Department of Justice has been investigating the overuse of ICDs after a major cardiac event. It’s essential that patients do their research and potentially get a second opinion before they opt right in. Screws, Rods and Artificial Discs: The Spinal Solution Back pain seems to be more common– and annoying– as houseflies in the summer. Although they’re are varying causes and cures, there are more than 430,000 people with some type of spinal fusion hardware implanted in their backs. The type of implantable device can vary from a simple screw, to a steel rod, to an...

Read More
The Impact of Sleep Deprivation
Mar30

The Impact of Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation has been shown to have a profoundly negative impact on job performance and day-to-day functions. Sustained sleep deprivation is also linked to health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults should get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep every night, but many people say they are simply too busy to get that much sleep regularly. They claim they may be sluggish, but their performance and health aren’t dramatically impacted. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. A lack of sleep, especially if it is ongoing, can have a disastrous impact on a person’s performance and health. Performance What do the nuclear accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and the Challenger explosion all have in common? Each of those tragic events occurred, in part, because the people in charge of making critical decisions were suffering from sleep deprivation. While most people will never be placed in such positions of authority, sleep deprivation causes fatigue, a decrease in the ability to focus and reason, and it leads to lower general mental performance. Those factors can all have a negative impact on job performance. In addition to job performance, a lack of sleep also impacts many aspects of everyday life. One of the most common tasks that sleep deprivation can negatively affect is driving, something that is relatable to most adults. Every year, there are approximately 1,550 deaths attributed to drowsy driving accidents, and another 71,000 people are injured. Considering that sleep deprivation impacts between 50 and 70 million Americans, it’s surprising those figures aren’t higher. Those most at risk include commercial drivers, those who work nontraditional schedules, and people who are intoxicated or have taken certain types of medications. Health A lack of sleep can also impact physical, mental and emotional health. Even a single night of sleep deprivation can cause irritability and irrational judgment. Long term sleep deprivation, however, has a negative impact on physical health. In fact, Harvard reports that studies indicate people are much more likely to have a higher body mass index (BMI) when they regularly get less than six hours of sleep. Obesity and diabetes are linked to sustained sleep deprivation, in part, because hormones that impact metabolism, appetite control, and the processing of glucose are secreted while we sleep. When we don’t get enough sleep, that process is interrupted. Even one night of too little sleep can lead to increased blood pressure for the duration of the next day in people with hypertension. It is thought that could be one of the reasons for the link between heart disease...

Read More