TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Archive for the ‘NewsBits’ Category

SPEAK OUT! NewsBit . . . . . . . Brain Research in Mice May Lead to the Treatment of PTSD and Depression in Humans

Brain Research in Mice May Lead to the Treatment of PTSD and Depression in Humans

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Donna O’Donnell Figurski

A young Boston University professor, Steve Ramirez, a neuroscientist, has identified cells of a mouse brain that enhance the positive or negative scientist-clip-art-41a38614afbd47caca00c32a563f44defeelings of a memory.

Stimulating cells that enhance positive feelings can suppress or deaden the trauma associated with a bad memory. In contrast, stimulating cells that enhance negative feelings makes a bad memory feel worse.

The hippocampus in both the mouse brain and the human brain is the region of the brain responsible for storing memories, including all the details and emotions associated with them. Each memory activates a unique combination of cells of the hippocampus.  Some of the cells affect emotion and behavior.

mouse-clip-art-grey-pink-mouse-mdRamirez and his collaborators (including first author Briana Chen of Columbia University) used genetically engineered mice whose neurons glow when they’re activated. Those cells can later be artificially activated with laser light. The team found that a negative memory (like getting a mild electric shock to the feet) activates cells at the bottom of the hippocampus.  A positive memory (like being in the presence of a female mouse) activates cells at the top of the hippocampus.

They then were able to stimulate those same cells with a laser.  When the bottom cells of the hippocampus were activated, the mouse behaved (freezing and/or avoidance behavior) as if it were recalling the negative memory of the shock. Stimulation of the cells in the top region of the hippocampus reduced the avoidance response.51wUt-P+FKL._SL500_

This is basic research, but it is a significant first step in the eventual development of treatments for PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), anxiety, and depression.  (Full story)

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SPEAK OUT! NewsBit . . . . . . VOTE for Me! – Caregiver Visionary Award

VOTE for Me! – Caregiver Visionary Award

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

This is just an itty-bitty, tiny-teeny, itsy-bitsy newsletter because I want to share some exciting news with you.

I have been nominated for the “Caregiver Visionary Award,” which will honor five th-1caregivers who stand out in their caregiver world. Now frankly, I think all caregivers deserve this award, but, alas, only five will be chosen, and I hope I am one of them. David thinks I should be too. He nominated me.

I need your help. Only you can make this happen. Here’s how it works. In order to be chosen as one of the top ten finalists, I need votes. Internet votes! That’s it. Pretty easy. All you have to do is click on the link I posted below.

https://www.caregiving.com/ncc19/cva-donna-odonnell-figurski/

Voting ends at Midnight ET on February 25, 2019. So please HURRY!

Scroll to the end of my nomination.
Click on “Cast your vote.”
Takes you to a new page
Lists all nomineesplease-vote
Mark my name, Donna O’Donnell Figurski.
Click “VOTE!

See, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

On March 1, 2019, the winners will be announced. You’ll probably know right away because you will hear me squealing and jumping for joy. And now, I am going to cross my fingers until March 1st. pco5aerzi

ashdis kjdihio jsh pogwkp d wyqye. Oops! It’s really hard to type with crossed fingers.

Translation : Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart!

P.S. Phew! Thank goodness that’s done. I hate to ask for things!

 

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SPEAK OUT! NewsBit . . . . . Kickoff Rule Change in Ivy League Football Reduces Concussions

Kickoff Rule Change in Ivy League Football Reduces Concussions

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

ivy-leageThe Ivy League colleges have done an experiment that dramatically reduced the number of concussions during a kickoff, considered to be the most dangerous play in American football. The results were reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The results were so dramatic that the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) changed kickoff rules for its college games in 2018 after considering the Ivy League data. It is likely to be considering adopting the Ivy League rule change for all NCAA college football.

The kickoff return is dangerous because both the offensive kick-off-clipart-18-1and the defensive teams often have the time and space to build up speed before a tackle is made. Kickoffs account for about 6% of the plays in a football season, but they are responsible for 21% of the concussions. The NFL (National Football league), which sanctions the most prominent professional football, considered doing away with the kickoff altogether. In 2016, the coaches of the Ivy League college teams agreed to an experiment that minimized the runback by moving up the kickoff line 5 yards from the 35-yard line to the 40-yard line. This change led to more touchbacks, where the ball is kicked into or beyond the end zone. As a result, there were fewer runbacks.tackling-clipart-9-2

Statistics showed that the number of concussions occurring during kickoffs was significantly reduced after the rule change in 2016. The number of concussions went from 10.9 per 1000 kickoff plays before the rule change to 2.0 concussions per 1000 kickoff plays after the rule went into effect. Meanwhile, there was little change in the number of concussions from non-kickoff plays after the rule went into effect.

While this is an important improvement, the question remains: Why is anyone allowed to play a game that results in so many concussions and hits to the head? (Full story)

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SPEAK OUT! NewsBit . . . . . Blood Test Developed for Brain Injury

Blood Test Developed for Brain Injury

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

th-1The Centers for Disease Control has reported that traumatic brain injury (TBI) accounts for more than 2.5 million visits to emergency rooms (ERs) in the US every year. Many people with a concussion do not even go to the ER because they have no symptoms and don’t believe that the ER can diagnose a brain injury if it’s not serious enough to be detected by a number of indirect tests. A CT (“cat”; computerized tomography) scan is usually ordered if a brain injury is suspected, but only 10% of CT scans detect a brain injury in people with a mild head injury.

thA quick, sensitive, and accurate blood test will soon be available for ERs EmergencyRoomto know if the brain has been injured. Some people will be negative. They will not need a CT scan and can go home with no worries. Others who are asymptomatic may actually discover that they’re positive for a brain injury. The ER doctor can then take appropriate action.

An objective blood test will be a game-changer for the treatment of TBIs. An obvious difference is that it will make many CT scans (and their radiation) unnecessary. On the other hand, people, especially those with a mild concussion, may discover they do have a brain injury and take appropriate steps. (Full story 1, 2)

 

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SPEAK OUT! NewsBit . . . . . . Respected Broadcaster Bob Costas: Football “Destroys People’s Brains”

Respected Broadcaster Bob Costas: Football “Destroys People’s Brains”

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Bob Costas Sportcaster 2017

Bob Costas – Sportscaster

Emmy Award-winning and respected sports broadcaster Bob Costas, speaking as part of a panel at a symposium at the University of Maryland, stated that there are irreversible “cracks in the foundation” of the “juggernaut” and “cash machine” of American football that will eventually lead to a decrease in football’s stature.

He cited the work of Dr. Bennet Omalu, who found a degenerative brain disease in the brain of a deceased former Hall-of-Fame player of American football. He described the disease and named it chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). (Dr. Omalu’s story and the negative reaction of the National Football League are depicted in the movie “Concussion.” Will Smith plays Dr. Bennet Omalu.)

Dr. Bennet Omalu & Actor, Will Smith at opening of “Concussion”

The research at Boston University has shown that CTE is not uncommon in the autopsied brains of former players of American football. Their recent publication in the Journal of the American Medical Association has shown that CTE can be detected in the brains of not only professional football players, but also in the brains of college and high school players.

Costas said “The reality is that this game destroys people’s brains.” Concern is growing. Some players have retired early. Participation in youth tackle football leagues is declining, as parents struggle with the rapidly emerging and compelling evidence. Costas also said “… if I had an athletically gifted 12- or 13-year-old son, I would not let him play football.” Costas’ comments were supported Football Playerby those of ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser, who said that football is going the way of boxing. (Full story – listen to Costas and Kornheiser in the second video – minutes 24:03-29:50.)

 

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SPEAK OUT! NewsBit . . . . . . High School Football Game Forfeited After Nine Head Injuries

High School Football Game Forfeited After Nine Head Injuries

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

football-teamA high school football team from Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, forfeited its game after nine players left the game with possible head injuries. The coach took the precaution of having all players checked at the hospital. Before going to hospital, four players had already displayed symptoms of having a serious concussion (nausea, vomiting), and they still showed symptoms two days later when the article was written.

Illegal hits were not the problem, but the violence of football became even more obvious when the forfeiting team was clearly outmatched by its opponent.  The score was 35-0 about halfway through the game.

football13It is now known that players of US and Canadian football have a high risk of developing a brain injury, and the problem is particularly serious for youth, with their still-developing brains.  Concussions are the most obvious brain injury, but the multiple subconcussive hits common in US and Canadian football can also lead to brain damage, which may not become apparent for several years.  A highly-cited research paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that the degenerative brain disease CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) was found in a low but significant fraction (21%) of players who only played football through high school. CTE was more commonly found (>90%) in the autopsied brains of players who played professionally or only through college. Even with a possible bias in the brains studied, the findings are alarming. As a result of the new knowledge, some players are retiring early (1,2), and parents are becoming concerned. (1. Full story and 2. my radio interview of Cyndy Feasel, Mary Seau, and Debra Pyka, all of whom lost a loved one to football)

onair

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SPEAK OUT! NewsBit . . . . . . Drug Reduces Aggressive Behavior in TBI Survivors

Drug Reduces Aggressive Behavior in TBI Survivors

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

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Emotional changes after traumatic brain injury (TBI) affect quality of life for survivors and are difficult to treat. Aggressive behavior often adversely impacts family and friends. The drug Amantadine, an antiviral no longer commonly used, was found to reduce aggressive behavior in TBI survivors.th-1

The discovery was made by Dr. Flora Hammond, chair of the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at the Indiana University School of Medicine and reported in the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation. Amantadine was on Dr. Hammond’s radar because it was found to improve cognition in patients with Parkinson’s Disease who were taking the drug as therapy for the flu virus.

pills-clip-art-free-1685197After other drugs failed on a colleague who was found to have a minor brain injury, Dr. Hammond tried Amantadine.  Dr. Hammond’s colleague said, “The effects were immediate and just amazing. … It calms down part of your brain and gives you a moment to pause and reflect.” Dr. Hammond has used Amantadine on other patients with success.  She says, “It helps you reclaim your identity a bit. … And to get that back helps you get your quality of life back too.” (Full story)

 

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