Goodbye to my Friend, Mr. Positive

I am extremely blessed to have a job that permits me to travel the nation speaking about my passion, the human brain. Along the way, I have met so many great and interesting people. One gentleman I met during one of my talks was named David and he lived in Chicago. David introduced himself to me after one of my talks and shared his personal story that included the fact he had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. The thing that struck me as so significant about David was his enormous positive attitude and outlook on life.

David and I developed a real friendship as he invited me back to Chicago to speak to his friends, introduced me to his wonderful family, and kept me updated on his medical condition. He provided me so many great updates about how the tumor had not grown and that his seizures were in better control. He was doing so well that he even got permission to start driving again. Throughout our conversations, David remained so positive and always took time to ask about me. A real friend.

I learned last week that my friend passed away while asleep. He was on vacation with his family and simply did not wake. This is a tremendous loss for so many of us. I realize that this story is a tough one, but also a common one that so many people experience. I am left with a strong belief that I am blessed to have known mine friend and to have been personally touched by his positive spirit. That spirit remains alive today and I will carry it with me until my last day.

Goodbye friend, Mr. Positive.

Traumatic Brain Injury and Recovery

I am often asked clinical questions pertaining to traumatic brain injury (TBI). There are two major types of TBI that include closed head injury (CHI) in which the skull is struck and does not fracture. The second type is known as open head injury in which the skull is struck and fractures (split the head open). Sometimes an open head injury is advantageous as it permits room for the predictable swelling or edema that occurs with head injuries. The problem with an open head injury is high risk for infection.

Closed head injuries are caused by a blow to the head from a motor vehicle accident, sports such as football, hockey, and even soccer, falls, and being hit by an instrument or other object. The brain sits in a liquid medium called cerebral spinal fluid and it will move inside the skull with an accelerating and then decelerating force. The brain can be injured at the site of the trauma (coup) and also on the opposite side of the brain as it moves in the liquid medium and hits against the skull (contracoup). As the skull is most rugged in the front and temporal skull regions with a smoother surface in the rear of the skull, it is common to experience cognitive and behavioral changes related to damage in the fronto-temporal region.

Such changes in cognition from a closed head injury typically involve memory, attention, and personality change. It is difficult to predict behavioral and cognitive changes related to open head injuries until the site of the damage is clearly known. Other factors such as loss and duration of loss of consciousness and memory loss that predates the time of the injury (retrograde amnesia) and post-dates the injury (anterograde amnesia) relate to extent and severity of the brain injury.

Treatment for TBI includes medication, surgery, speech, occupational, and physical therapy, and time. Improved function and cognition occurs primarily in the first year post injury, but improvement can continue to occur into the third year. Little is known about the effects of a proactive brain health lifestyle and or the consistent use of cognitive-based mental exercise software on recovery. This is an empirical question that is generating interest and attention.

The brain will heal to some degree, hopefully to a complete recovery, and one should not discount lifestyle for brain health and use of cognitive exercises to help in the process.

I Cannot Sleep!

For nearly 30 million Americans and many more around the globe sleep disorder is an unfortunate reality. Everyone needs to get enough sleep to feel rested and energetic throughout the day. For most this means at least six hours a night and at least 8 or more for teenagers and children.

Sleep is a very important behavior that is supersensitive to many things that can disrupt it. Pain, rumination, anxiety, mood disorder, new surrounding, uncomfortable temperature, lack of exercise, poor nutrition, and medication side effects can all disrupt a normal night sleep. Sleep disorders can also lead to depression, cognitive processing deficits and even more serious problems such as narcolepsy (sudden sleep) that can result in motor vehicle accidents.

Sleep disorders can be confronted and treated with the following approach:

1. Identify that you have a sleep disorder, particularly if you notice your sleep pattern has changed, you are exhausted throughout the day, or you are dozing off at inappropriate times during the day.

2. Get a sleep assessment done to rule out physiological causes the potential disorder.

3. If pain is the cause of the sleep disorder, consult with your M.D. to obtain a more effective means of coping with the pain.

4. For those who are anxious or ruminate while in the bed consider the following steps:

  • Set a strict time to go to bed and a strict time to arise.
  • Do not nap during the day and exercise daily.
  • No caffeine after lunch.
  • Refrain from T.V., reading, or other cognitive activity in bed.
  • Set the temperature in the room to cool.
  • Try to fall asleep within 20 minutes of lying down.

If you do not fall asleep, get out of the bed and sit in a designated “worry chair” where you permit your brain to ruminate.

Once you believe you have ruminated enough try to return to the bed and fall asleep within 20 minutes. Repeat the same process if you do not fall asleep.

It is also a good idea to write down what you are thinking so you can view your anxiety rather than simply feeling it.

5. Drink a warm glass of milk prior to going to sleep.

6. Use white noise if it helps.

7. Eat healthier and lose some weight within reason.

8. Consult with your M.D. to assess the need for medication as a last resort.

Good Night.

BRAIN FITNESS GAMING SITE KEEPS MINDS FIT AND MOTIVATED

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Brain games and tools at FitBrains.com stimulate and entertain the brain

VANCOUVER, Canada – Research has shown that brain health begins to lag as early as age 25. However, the same research has shown that with regular brain fitness training, the brain can create new neural connections and pathways at any age.

In response to this research, Vancouver’s Vivity Labs has created FitBrains.com, a new online brain fitness platform that hosts fun, casual games developed by brain fitness experts, specifically designed to exercise the brain and stimulate the five major cognitive brain functions – memory, concentration, language, executive functions (logic and reasoning), and visual-spatial skills.

The team behind FitBrains.com – including award-winning Neuroscientist Dr. Paul Nussbaum from the University of Pittsburgh and a board of scientific advisors – has created individual brain fitness workouts for players of all ages. More than fifteen brain games can be played for free, with daily and weekly brain fitness leader boards, a Brain Health Blog with top brain fitness tips, and a 30-day brain fitness chart for players looking to track their brain games progress and develop a competitive edge. A premium section of the site offers additional features like in-depth brain tracking charts and the ability to play against family and friends.

“FitBrains.com is designed to provide something for everyone who’s looking to stimulate their brain fitness,” Dr. Nussbaum said. “Our online brain games and tools use scientific principles to challenge the brain while providing a fun way to spend time playing casual games online.”

Michael Cole, founder and CEO of FitBrains.com, said fun and motivation were key factors in the design of FitBrains.com.

“We want to tap into as many motivational drivers that get individuals of all ages to integrate brain fitness work-outs into their daily life as we can,” Cole said. “With FitBrains.com, we provide the highest quality brain fitness gaming experience on the web. The site fuses the right balance between science and entertainment, which is critical for mass adoption. ”

For more information about how brain games can stimulate the mind, please visit www.fitbrains.com

Five Ways to Boost Your Mood This Spring

The Spring brings a new life to nature and even a chance for everyone to begin a fresh new start in lifestyle. Here are a few tips to maintaining a positive mood for the Spring:

1. Increase your daily time outside.
2. Increase your fatty fish (salmon, herring, sardines) intake.
3. Be consistent and persistent with exercise.
4. Give yourself 30 minutes a day.
5. Think a positive thought for each experience.