TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

SPEAK OUT! NewsBit

Common Mouse Cell Type Converted to Neurons

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Repair of Neural Circuits in Stroke-damaged Mouse Brains

 

newsboy-thBasic research on the repair of damaged mouse brains has again produced a potential breakthrough for human therapy. The research may accelerate our ability to repair damaged human brains. A trial study for using this therapy in humans is now being designed.

I’ve already written about the extraordinary promise of cell therapy in eliminating or greatly reducing the effects of brain damage. Much of this promise has to do with the discovery of stem cells, which have the stunning ability to develop into virtually any kind of cell. (The previous NewsBit, however, showed that scientists found a way to cause a common cell type to develop into functional neurons directly without going through a stem-cell stage.) In a study earlier this year, scientists showed that stem cells surgically implanted into damaged human brains reduced the severity of symptoms. But in that study, the scientists were surprised to find that the added stem cells themselves did not become new neurons and form new circuits, but they somehow revved up the brain’s natural ability to heal itself.animal-cell-hi

Now scientists at the University of Southern California (USC) with help from scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have found a way to activate the implanted stem cells so they develop into neurons and become part of new neural circuits. The direct involvement of the added stem cells resulted in enhanced repair and a much greater loss of symptoms. One NIH scientist said, “If the therapy works in humans, it could markedly accelerate the recovery of these patients.”

CellScientists had previously shown that an FDA (Food and Drug Administration)-approved reagent, the engineered protein 3K3A-APC, caused stem cells in culture to become neurons. The USC scientists wanted to see if 3K3A-APC would help the recovery of a brain-injured animal. The model used for brain damage was mice that were induced to have a stroke. The scientists implanted human stem cells and then treated the mice with 3K3A-APC or a placebo (mock-3K3A-APC). Mice that were treated with stem cells + 3K3A-APC did markedly better (some were almost normal) in tests of sensory perception and motor skills than did mice that were treated with stem cells + the placebo. Unlike the earlier study in which the added stem cells did not become neurons, these stem cells did become neurons if the mouse had been treated with 3K3A-APC.

ScientistThe human stem cells not only became neurons, but they also formed normal connections with mouse neurons. Because the implanted cells were human, the scientists were able to use a human-specific toxin to kill only the implanted cells (the mouse cells were resistant to the toxin). When scientists killed the new neurons, the mice lost the signs of recovery. The scientists concluded that 3K3A-APC caused the cells to develop into neurons that then formed functional neural circuits, ultimately leading to recovery.Brain Cell

USC physician-scientist Berislav Zlokovic, M.D., Ph.D., who directed the research, said, “When you give these mice 3K3A-APC, it works much better than stem cells alone. We showed that 3K3A-APC helps the cells convert into neurons and make structural and functional connections with the host’s nervous system.” (Full story)

 

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Survivors SPEAK OUT! Rogan Grant

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

 

Rogan Grant - Brain Injury Survivor

Rogan Grant – Brain Injury Survivor

1. What is your name? (last name optional)

Rogan Grant

2. Where do you live? (city and/or state and/or country) Email (optional)

Edinburgh, Scotland     rogan_g@hotmail.com

3. On what date did you have your brain injury? At what age?

I acquired my brain injury in 2006. I was 35.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I was attacked outside a nightclub by some customers I had thrown out of my pub the previous week.

5. When did you (or someone) first realize you had a problem?

I knew something was wrong when I woke up the next day. I was admitted to the hospital and then released the next morning. A friend found me unconscious and in a pool of blood and vomit. I was rushed back to the hospital. A few weeks later when I was released, I thought I was OK, but I kept forgetting things. I set the kitchen on fire three times in one week because I forgot I was cooking. Once I even went to bed and left a full meal cooking. I knew then I needed to be around family “for a week or two, until I cleared my head.”

Rogan Grant – Survivor of brain injury

6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?

In the first hospital, I theoretically had a CT (computerized tomography) scan. After I was released from that hospital and went to stay with family, I had an X-ray. That’s when I was told of the multiple fractures of my skull and around my face. So I don’t think I had a scan done.

7. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?

I was lucky – I didn’t go into a coma. I just went in and out of consciousness for a few hours.

8. Did you do rehab? What kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient or outpatient and occupational and/or physical and/or speech and/or other)?

I went to a head-injury service and to the Neurology Department at a hospital. Rehab just seemed to be a social event. But it became more useful as time went on and I struggled more and more.

How long were you in rehab?

Six years

9. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your brain injury
(e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)?

I had no sense of smell or taste for two-three years. For about three years, I dreamt every night that I died. My balance went all to hell. My vision had a problem with focus. My hearing became strange. (I hear everything at once and can’t isolate specifics, so I struggle to hear people with a lot of noise around.) I lost family contact and friends because I was emotional and aggressive, I couldn’t focus mentally, and my memory was erratic. I still have no concept of time in regards to the memory of anything since the injury. Facial recognition is gone, unless the person speaks or is where I would expect that person to be. I have to work every day to keep calm and controlled. My panic attacks and anxiety are now under control (my agoraphobia was the result of anxiety). My self-confidence was shot – I doubted everything I said and what I remembered, and I wondered whether or not I had done things I shouldn’t have. My personality went from being the life and soul and centre of every party (and there were a few) to sitting on a sofa with a blanket trying to avoid anybody and everybody. Self-loathing and a feeling of hopelessness and loss were incredibly strong. I felt people would be better off without me around. My mood was so low that I had very, very dark thoughts. Now I work on my mood. I use my techniques to stay “normal.”

10. How has your life changed? Is it better? Is it worse?

I was happy with work, I was back at University doing a double degree (I had completed three years in two), I was working full-time, I had great friends, and I was always busy. Now, after a lot of work, I realize I can’t work for other people because I can’t keep their schedules. So I am trying to work for myself. I also have a new partner; we have a baby and a nice home.

Rogan Grant – Survivor of brain injury

My life’s not “better” or “worse,” but it is different. I always try to remember it is important not to compare my current life to what it was before. Life changes day to day, and, yes, my brain injury caused a major change with massive problems. But I am here, and I have things I didn’t before.

11. What do you miss the most from your pre-brain-injury life?

I miss the self-confidence and the feeling of self-assurance I had. I knew what I was doing, what I had done, and where I wanted to go. People could come along for the ride or not. I was me, and I did well.

12. What do you enjoy most in your post-brain-injury life?

I learned from mistakes I didn’t know I was making. I am much more aware of others, and I can now help them because I trained as a therapist to do just that. I have a new family, and we are happy.

13. What do you like least about your brain injury?

I dislike the loss of memory and recognition. I hate having to fake that I remember someone or that I remember things he or she told me. But, if I say I had a head injury, people often treat me like I lost 80 points off my IQ. And the headache … the constant headache … never left; it just eased a bit. At least the sudden “brain-freeze” attacks are down to every couple of months and only last a day. They used to be three days long and twice a week.

14. Has anything helped you to accept your brain injury?Hypnotherapy

Yes. I was helped by hypnotherapy. After years of being pumped full of drugs, I got more results in six weeks with hypnotherapy. It made a massive difference. I can now focus, stay calm, recall information, and even read books again.

15. Has your injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?

I lost a lot of my old friends. Family are only just now coming around to understanding that I have a problem. It took a decade, but at least it has started. Of course, they are there now that I no longer need their help or their understanding. It has been very hard not to throw that back at them, but it is their issue, not mine. I got through my problems; they still have theirs.

16. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?

I was always out. I was the one people called when they wanted things to get lively and fun. I ran pubs. It was my job to make people enjoy themselves, and I enjoyed doing it. I loved being in a crowd – laughing, singing, music pumping – everything busy. Now I don’t like going into a supermarket at peak times. Although I am generally better, I still have my moments. I don’t get anxious, but I am wary of how I could react.

17. Who is your main caregiver? Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?

My main caregiver is my partner, Jane. She understands a lot, but not everything. We try to have a “normal” relationship, but she knows I can react differently – and quickly. Now, instead of getting angry with myself and blowing things out of proportion, I can take a moment, calm down, apologize for acting out, and start again. She reminds me of pretty much everything. She also has to keep pushing me on those days when it all gets to be too much.

18. What are your plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?

I hope that in ten years’ time, I will have a business running that pays the bills. Jane and I will have moved to a bigger house because there will be another baby or two. I will have found a way to fix my remaining problems and will have shared the solutions with those who are trying to regain control of their own lives.

19. Are you able to provide a helpful hint that may have taken you a long time to learn, but which you wished you had known earlier? If so, please state what it is to potentially help other survivors with your specific kind of brain injury.

Sudden change is very hard to deal with or understand, but, if you spend your time comparing yourself to who you were or to what you could do, you will never move forward. We ALWAYS change; it is the only constant. Look back before your injury – were you the same person every year then? No, of course not. So look forward; find what you want to do with who you are now and go ahead. All human beings compare themselves to others, and we hate ourselves for it! Why do we do it? If someone has wavy hair, he or she looks at someone with straight hair and feels jealous. If we are big, we want to be smaller; those who are small want to be bigger. It is never ending! With a head injury – no matter how you got it or how it affected you – look forward and stay away from comparing yourself to the past.

20. What advice would you offer to other brain-injury survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?

Rogan Grant - Brain Injury Survivor

Rogan Grant – Brain Injury Survivor

As I said before, look forward, stay away from comparisons, and be honest to those around you. No one will ever understand your feelings, unless that person has been there. (I know none of us would wish that knowledge on anyone.) When it gets too much, say so, and when you feel that frustration and anger build, find a way to let it out sensibly. Let it out any way you can, but let it out before you hurt those whom you care for and love.

 

If you would like to be a part of the SPEAK OUT! project, please go to TBI Survivor Interview Questionnaire for a copy of the questions and the release form.

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(Photos compliments of contributor.)

 

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SPEAK OUT! Are You Kidding Me?

“The Resilient Soul”

presented

 by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

"The Resilient Soul" by Karen Leavitt (My story, "A Living Nightmare" - page 132)

The Resilient Soul” by Karen Leavitt (My story, “A Living Nightmare” – page 132)

I recently submitted a story to David Grant, editor of Karen Leavitt’s book, “The Resilient Soul.”

With crossed fingers – well, all appendages were crossed actually – I waited to hear whether my story, “A Living Nightmare,” would be accepted.

When I saw David Grant’s post on Facebook, I jumped for joy, which made my tears of joy fly off my face in every direction – a funny sight!

 

 

David’s comment:

David A. Grant - Brain Injury Survivor & Author

David A. Grant – Brain Injury Survivor & Author

BOOK PROJECT UPDATE…

Working on wrapping up book production for author and international radio personality Karen Leavitt.

Karen’s new book, The Resilient Soul, will be available on Amazon later this month.

Think of her upcoming title as a bit like a Chicken Soup for the Soul book – only on steroids. I marvel at the stories of humanity as seemingly insurmountable odds are beaten – again and again.

Today I wrapped up a few edits for a story contributed by Donna ODonnell Figurski. Until today, I never knew the depth of Donna’s struggle to regain a new footing in life.

Like Sarah, Donna has a David of her own, one she has stuck by though the toughest of times. I was moved to tears. Such amazing courage!

How blessed am I to play a small part in bringing such amazing stories of hope and perseverance to humanity?

~David

 

I hope you will find my story of value. I am so humbled and elated to be included in this volume. The stories are by amazing people who are facing all odds.

Click to see  Karen Leavitt’s book, “The Resilient Soul.” My story, “A Living Nightmare” is on page 132. But read the whole book. It’s great!

 

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(Photos compliments of the contributors.)

 

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SPEAK OUT! NewsBit

Common Mouse Cell Type Converted to Neurons

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

newsboy-thCommon Mouse Cell Type Converted to Neurons

You’ve probably heard of the promising future of cell therapy. The excitement comes from the fact that injuries might be treated by implanting fresh, healthy cells. Stem cells, which can mature to many different cell types, have been discovered in almost every organ in the body. They hold enormous potential for helping to heal injured organs. Already, scientists are devising methods to add new muscle to damaged hearts and to add insulin-producing cells to the body to cure Type I diabetes. The brain also has stem cells, and much of the natural recovery from brain injury is due to stem cells, which rebuild the damaged part of the brain. The beauty of stem cells from the brain is that they can develop into healthy neurons and replace damaged circuits. But the natural healing of the brain is often insufficient. Scientists have been looking for ways to make more stem cells and to activate them so that implanting them is practical and they can result in more healing.scientist

I want to tell you about exciting basic research on cell therapy that may make possible or speed up the development of new therapies for brain injury. Scientists at Duke University have found a way to make neurons from common mouse cells, called “fibroblasts,” without resorting to stem cells. The scientists made a modified protein and put it into fibroblasts. The modified protein found and activated the master regulator genes needed to turn on the genes for the cell to become a neuron.

In the past, a cell’s change into a neuron required that extra copies of the master regulator genes be introduced into the cell. The cell maintained its neuron-like properties only if the extra activators were present. If the extra copies were lost, the cell reverted to its original form. Scientists said that the neurons were “unstable.” Still, it was a breakthrough. To help stabilize the neurons, extra copies of genes for the master regulators were added to its chromosomes. The neurons still weren’t perfectly stable, and the presence of extra copies in the chromosomes was unnatural.

In the new method, activation of the neuron genes is natural. The neurons are “stable,” even when the modified activator protein is gone. As far as the scientists can tell, the neurons formed this way appear to be like natural neurons.

MouseOf course, these studies need to be done with human cells. But, because the mouse is similar enough to humans genetically, new neurons are likely to be made from human cells. If so, cell therapy to treat brain injury will become common in the foreseeable future. One benefit is that therapy can be personalized. It’s not practical to get your neurons from a brain biopsy, but your easy-to-get fibroblasts can be converted to neurons. Those neurons can then be tested with therapeutic drugs to see what works best with your genetic background. Also, the implanted cells would not be rejected by your body (prevention of rejection is the reason for immunosuppressive drugs today) because the neurons would be made from cells of your own body. (Full story)

 

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Caregivers  SPEAK OUT!  Raine Turner,

(mother of survivor, Ryan, and author of “Only Son…Only Child”)

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

 

Raine Turner - Caregiver & Author: Only Son...Only Child

Raine Turner – Caregiver & Author: Only Son… Only Child

1. What is your name? (last name optional)

Raine Turner

2. Where do you live? (city and/or state and/or country) Email? (optional)

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

3. What is the brain-injury survivor’s relationship to you? How old was the survivor when he/she had the brain injury? What caused your survivor’s brain injury?

The brain-injury survivor is my son. At 16, he was in a car accident.

4. On what date did you begin care for your brain-injury survivor? Were you the main caregiver? Are you now? How old were you when you began care?

I began care August 13, 2003.

5. Were you caring for anyone else at that time (e.g., children, parents, etc.)?

No

6. Were you employed at the time of your survivor’s brain injury? If so, were you able to continue working?

I was self-employed and unable to manage my business.

7. Did you have any help? If so, what kind and for how long?

Not really

Raine Turner Caregiver & Author

Raine Turner Caregiver & Author

 

8. When did your support of the survivor begin (e.g., immediately – in the hospital; when the survivor returned home; etc.)?

In the hospital

9. Was your survivor in a coma? If so, what did you do during that time?

Yes. I sat beside my son’s bed and read to him.

10. Did your survivor have rehab? If so, what kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient and/or outpatient and occupational, physical, speech, and/or other)? How long was the rehab? Where were you when your survivor was getting therapy?

Yes. My son had rehab both as an inpatient and an outpatient.

11. What problems or disabilities of your brain-injury survivor required your care, if any?

At first, self-care. Also eating, walking, etc.

12. How has your life changed since you became a caregiver? Is it better? Is it worse?

Trick question. It made me realize what is important in life. It taught me patience, which I did not know I had.

13. What do you miss the most from pre-brain-injury life?

I dislike my son’s loss of the chance for a normal life. I miss having a relationship for myself.

14. What do you enjoy most in post-brain-injury life?

Nothing!

15. What do you like least about brain injury?

Only Son...Only Child by Raine Turner

Only Son…Only Child by Raine Turner

My son’s daily struggles

16. Has anything helped you to accept your survivor’s brain injury?

There is no choice but to accept.

17. Has your survivor’s injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?

Yes. I did not have a relationship at all for ten years. The one I had at the time ended due to stress. It’s now hard to find someone who wants to be involved with this situation.

18. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?

Yes. But it’s getting better now with my son in school and his not living with me.

19. What are your plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?

I hope to be on a beach!

20. What advice would you offer other caregivers of brain-injury survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?

Buckle up! It is going to be a long, tough ride.

 

 To learn more about Raine Turner, check out her website, “Only Son Only Child: a journey through love.” Look for her book on Amazon.

 

(Disclaimer: The views or opinions in this post are solely that of the interviewee.)

If you would like to be a part of the SPEAK OUT! project, please go to TBI SPEAK OUT! Caregiver Interview Questionnaire for a copy of the questions and the release form.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

 

As I say after each post: Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Commentanim0014-1_e0-1 below this post.

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SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury Frank Bruno (survivor)

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Brain Injury is NOT Discriminating!

bigstock-cartoon-face-vector-people-25671746-e1348136261718It can happen to anyone, anytime, . . . and anywhere.

The Brain Trauma Foundation states that there are 5.3 million people in the United States living with some form of brain injury.

On “Faces of Brain Injury,” you will meet survivors living with brain injury. I hope that their stories will help you to understand the serious implications and complications of brain injury.

The stories on SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury are published with the permission of the survivor or designated caregiver.

If you would like your story to be published, please send a short account and two photos to me at neelyf@aol.com. I’d love to publish your story and raise awareness for Brain Injury.

 

Frank Bruno (survivor)

Frank Bruno - Survivor - Paralympics Contender

Frank Bruno – Survivor –
Paralympics Contender

On June 25, 1986, while at work, I fell twenty feet, fractured both sides of my skull, and was in a coma for three weeks.

In 1983, prior to my brain injury, I graduated in Sports Administration from Durham College. I had the honour of being named Male Athlete of the Year, which included winning the Provincial Basketball Championships in Tier 2 of the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association, being named to the Championship Tournament All-Star team, and capturing a bronze medal at the Provincial Touch Football Championship Tournament. Immediately following graduation, I was employed as the Racquet Sports Director at a popular racquet and fitness centre in Mississauga.

According to the doctors, there was little hope for my recovery. I was given less than a 2% chance of making it out of the operating room – never mind ever walking or talking again. Upon my awakening, I was placed into a rehabilitation program, where I received speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physiotherapy. My first recollection of being awake was that I could turn my head only to the left. The rest of my body was totally paralyzed. I had to be lifted in and out of my bed and wheelchair, as I could not do it myself. After several weeks of therapy, I was able to walk under my own power – much to the surprise of the doctors and therapists. They could not believe I had progressed to this point so quickly.Rehabilitation

In 1987, a fellow classmate who worked at the office of Sport for Disabled Ontario asked if I was interested in taking part in sports again. I had a tough enough time trying to walk, so I declined. In 1988, I decided to give it a try – with the hopes of improving my co-ordination and increasing my stamina. (In case you are wondering, Sport for Disabled is different from the Special Olympics. The Special Olympics is for people who are mentally challenged. Sport for Disabled is for athletes who have a physical disability.) There are four major disability groups: (1) wheelchair, (2) amputee, (3) blind/visually impaired, and (4) cerebral palsy.

After a medical evaluation, I was placed into the cerebral palsy division at level 8. Within this division, there are eight classes: levels 1 to 4 are in wheelchairs and levels 5 to 8 are ambulatory. Level 1 is for those most affected by cerebral palsy, whereas level 8 is for those having the least visible disability. I have never had cerebral palsy, but because of my brain injury, I have the same neurological symptoms as someone born with cerebral palsy.

awardsIn 1988, I began to compete in Sport for the Disabled and at the Provincial Championships. I finished second in both the 100-meter race and the 200-meter race in the CP8 class. In Ottawa, for the 1989 Provincial Championships, I not only won both the 100-meter race and the 200-meter race, but I also won the long-jump and shot-put events. All were Canadian records. This earned me a place on the Provincial Team, which competed in the Foresters’ Games (National Championships) in Richmond, British Columbia. At these games, I won the same four events plus the 4 x 100-meter relay. This was the first time a Canadian cerebral palsy relay team ever finished in less than one minute. This qualified me to be named to the Canadian Team that would compete in the World Championships and Games for the Disabled, which were held in Assen, The Netherlands. I was entered into five sprint races, plus shot-put and long-jump. By the end of the Games, I had won five gold medals and two silver medals! I also set three world records and six Canadian records. The Ministry of Tourism and Recreation Ontario awarded me Ontario’s 1990 Disabled Athlete of the Year.

Frank Bruno - Survivor: 1990 Ontario Disabled Athlete

Frank Bruno – Survivor: 1990 Ontario Disabled Athlete

In 1991, the Barcelona Paralympic Organizing Committee invited me to take part in their “Test Meet” in Barcelona, Spain. I ran in the 200-meter and 400-meter events, winning Gold in both and lowering my world record in the 400-meter. The Paralympics are the Olympics for the physically disabled. They occur every four years in the same city as the Olympics. We use the same venues, eating facilities, and dormitories as the Olympics.

Frank Bruno - Survivor

Frank Bruno – Survivor (back of card)

The Paralympics are usually held two weeks after the Summer/Winter Olympics are completed. At the 1992 IX Summer Paralympics, I competed in three sprint events: 100-meter, 200-meter, and 400-meter. I won three Gold Medals, plus I set two New World and Paralympic records and a Canadian record. In 1993 at the Robin Hood Games (World Championships for Cerebral Palsy), which were held in Nottingham, England, I competed in the 100-meter and 200-meter sprint events. I won Gold Medals in both.

The 1994 World Disabled Athletics Championships was held in Berlin, Germany. This World Championships was not as fruitful, for I was unable to attend any of the practice sessions. My back flared up, as it did not adjust properly to my mattress. After many physiotherapy and acupuncture treatments, my back responded well enough to allow me to compete in the 100-meter semi-final. I was happy just to be able to compete in the event. I finished second with a time of 12:23 seconds. The next day featured the 100-meter final race. I had a fairly good start, but at about the midway point, I felt a sharp pain in my right hamstring. As I continued to push towards the finish line, I tore my hamstring and was out of the competition. In that race, I finished 7th with a time of 12:70 seconds.

For the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics, I participated in only one event – shot-put. My hamstring did not heal to the point where I could train as hard as I wished. Then on May 13, I suffered a tonic clonic seizure, and this really made a mess of my training. I learned to throw the shot-put in just under four weeks. I placed fourth at the Paralympics and threw a personal best of 11.07 meters. I have held the World Record in the 200-meter event for eight years and the Paralympic Record for three Games. I also held the World Record in the 400-meter event for five years and the Paralympic Record for four years and two Paralympic Games.

Frank Bruno - Survivor

Frank Bruno – Survivor

On November 17, 1998 I was inducted into the Terry Fox Hall of Fame (now called the Canadian Disability Hall of Fame). September 1999 saw me come out of retirement again. The Czech Republic Cerebral Palsy Sports Association invited me to take part in the opening of a brand new athletic centre in Turnov, Czech Republic. I was asked to be part of the Field Throwing Triathlon. I was required to throw the shot-put, discus, and javelin. At first I declined, but after speaking with the organizing committee, they still wanted me to compete. I told them that the last time I threw the shot-put was in the Atlanta Paralympics in 1996, that the last time I threw the javelin was in 1989, and that I never threw the discus. I went to the Czech Republic with less than three weeks of practice. Not much was expected, due to my lack of practice time and the fact that the rest of the throwing field had been training for the past three years. I finished fourth in shot-put, seventh in javelin, and eighth in discus. In August of 2004, I was asked to come out of retirement yet again to help build the soccer program for Canadian Cerebral Palsy Sports, with the goal of qualifying for the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing, China.

On February 5, 2010, I was awarded the “King” Clancy Award. On March 10, 2011, I was inducted into the Durham College Sports Hall of Fame and awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012). On July 4, 2015, I took part in the Pan Am Torch relay. On April 25, 2016, the Brain Injury Society of 12042850_10207545538739267_7480792831760202695_nToronto selected me as the Volunteer of the Year.

 

Thank you Frank Bruno for sharing your story.

 

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SPEAK OUT! NewsBit

Inosine Helps Brain-Injured Monkeys Recover Fine Motor Control

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

My husband, David, is a traumatic brain injury survivor since 2005. He is physically disabled as a result of his brain injury. As a molecular biologist from Columbia University, David is always searching for ways to improve his own life after his brain injury. He recently stumbled on this exciting research project, and we wanted to share this hopeful concept with others.

 

Disclaimer:

Neither David nor I is a medical doctor, and we are not suggesting any medical solutions. We are only publishing this article for your information.

 

Newsboy th

 

Inosine is a small molecule found in cells. Research with mice and rats has shown that inosine is released by stressed or damaged neurons. Inosine can turn on the genes for axon development. Axons are the long, threadlike membrane extensions needed for neurons to send an electrochemical message to other neurons. The new axons from undamaged neurons can rewire the brain (plasticity) to allow circuits to form that compensate for circuits lost from damage.

Adding inosine to neurons in culture stimulates the formation of more axons. Would inosine stimulate an increase in plasticity by increasing axon formation and thereby help recovery from brain injury? Consistent with this idea, neuroscientists found that rats recovered from brain injury better when inosine was present.pTqKnRpgc

Now neuroscientists at Boston University report testing inosine’s effect on a primate – the rhesus monkey. The study was small (8 monkeys) because monkey experiments are expensive, but, despite the small number, the results were significant. At the beginning, all 8 monkeys could easily grasp food treats with their dominant hand. The part of the brain needed for the required motor skills in the dominant hand was then deliberately damaged in each monkey. The 8 brain-injured monkeys were divided into two groups: 4 monkeys were treated by giving them inosine, and 4 were given a placebo. The researchers didn’t know which monkeys were getting inosine and which were getting the placebo.

After 14 weeks of treatment, the monkeys were examined for their ability to grasp a food treat. Three of the four inosine-treated monkeys grasped the food with their dominant hand normally. Fine motor control in the hand seemed to be the way it was prior to the brain injury. In contrast, the placebo-treated monkeys retrieved their food by using a compensatory strategy. The placebo-treated monkeys still had a problem with fine motor control in the hand.

mouse-hiThis preliminary study has extended evidence of the inosine benefit from mice and rats to a primate. The result indicates that inosine may one day benefit human victims of brain injury. Inosine is already in clinical trials for the treatment of multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s Disease. Inosine appears to be safe – athletes have taken inosine supplements for decades.

Strictly speaking, this experiment addressed recovery of only a specific movement. The brain injuries were highly controlled – all were nearly identical, and they were in a specific area of the frontal lobe that affects fine motor control of the hand. Inosine experiments of this type have only been done in animal models. But even with all these caveats, there is reason to be optimistic. Inosine treatment may become a common human therapy for brain injury. Clearly more research is needed before inosine is shown to be useful in the clinic. (Full story)

 

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