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Rodney Harrision as a Charger and Newscaster

Rodney Harrison urges players to ‘not depend on the NFL’ and not return to field if they are hurt as it ‘is not worth it’

By Patrick Djordjevic, dailymail.com, October 3, 2022

 
Sunday Night Football analyst Rodney Harrison issued a passionate plea to NFL stars to not return to the field if they get hurt following the handling of Tua Tagovailoa’s distressing situation Thursday night.

The two-time Super Bowl champion’s comments follow a joint statement by the NFL and NFLPA in which changes to the concussion protocol are said to be imminent.

Harrison’s comments and the statement come in the wake of Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa being taken to hospital with a concussion in Thursday night’s game vs. Cincinnati.

The incident came after the Dolphins quarterback surprisingly finished out his side’s win over the Bills last Sunday, despite receiving a brutal hit in the first half.

Harrison, a 49-year-old retired pro, played 15 seasons in the NFL, nine with the San Diego Chargers before his final six in Foxborough with New England.

‘I would get hit, the entire stadium was spinning around and I would go back into the game,’ Harrison said of his playing days on NBC’s SNF pregame coverage.

‘It’s not worth it — and I would implore these young men; don’t go back on that football field if you get hurt.’

Tua Tagovailoa on the turf after his second concussion in a week

‘I don’t want them to have to feel like me and so many other former players that had to deal with concussions; whether it’s depression, anxiety, paranoia, broken relationships, not being able to communicate with your spouse and things like that,’ Harrison continued.

‘It’s a lot — CTE takes you to a dark place and I want these players to know it’s not worth it.

‘Please take care of yourself. Don’t depend on the NFL, don’t depend on anybody. If there’s something wrong with your head, report it.’

On Saturday, the NFL and NFLPA announced they are working collaboratively to modify the aforementioned protocols and anticipate changes to occur in the ‘coming days.’

The statement, released Saturday evening, read: ‘The joint NFL-NFLPA investigation into the application of the Concussion Protocol involving Miami Dolphins’ quarterback Tua Tagovailoa remains ongoing. Therefore, we have not made any conclusions about medical errors or protocol violations.

‘The NFL and the NFLPA agree that modifications to the Concussion Protocol are needed to enhance player safety.

‘The NFLPA’s Mackey-White Health & Safety Committee and the NFL’s Head Neck and Spine Committee have already begun conversations around the use of the term “Gross Motor Instability” and we anticipate changes to the protocol being made in the coming days based on what has been learned thus far in the review process.

‘The NFL and NFLPA share a strong appreciation for the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultants who contribute their time and expertise to our game solely to advance player safety. This program has made our game safer for the athletes who play it for the past twelve seasons.

The gravity of Tagovailoa’s injury last weekend vs. the Bills — and the broader discussion surrounding protocols — were reinforced Thursday against the Bengals, as he left the field on a stretcher following another brutal blow to the head.

This time, Tagovailoa was diagnosed with a concussion and hospitalized (he was discharged Thursday night and flew home with the team), lending credence to the idea that he shouldn’t have been playing in the Dolphins’ Week 4 matchup to begin with.

The quarterback was officially diagnosed with a back problem Sunday and with concussion protocols claimed to have been followed.

Tagovailoa is said to be in good spirits on his road to recovery if his statement on Twitter Friday is anything to go by.

‘I want to thank everyone for all of their prayers and support since the game last night,’ he wrote.

‘It was difficult to not be able to finish the game and be there with my teammates, but I am grateful for the support and care I’ve received from the Dolphins, my friends and family, and all the people who have reached out.

‘I’m feeling much better and focused on recovering so I can get back out on the field with my teammates.’

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Kurt Busch pulls out of NASCAR playoffs because of concussions

Kurt Busch Pulls Out of NASCAR Playoffs Because of Head Injury

Michelle R. Martinelli, For the Win, August 25, 2022

 
Kurt Busch is not returning to the NASCAR race track in the near future. The No. 45 23XI Toyota driver is pulling out of the playoffs and will miss the beginning of the postseason, 23XI Racing announced Thursday morning.

The team did not specify exactly how many playoff races Busch will miss, but he has not competed in the last five Cup Series events.

Along with missing more races, the 44-year-old driver is withdrawing from NASCAR playoff contention, providing the remainder of the unqualified drivers with an additional opportunity to make the cut for the 16-driver, 10-race postseason, set to start September 4 with the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

Busch, the 2004 Cup champion, has not raced since July 17 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The weekend after that at Pocono Raceway, Busch spun and crashed hard into the wall during a qualifying round and was able to get out of the car on his own. However, he has not been medically cleared to return to racing and previously noted he’s experiencing “concussion-like symptoms.”

He also previously announced that he would not compete this weekend in the regular-season finale at Daytona International Speedway, marking his sixth straight missed race.

Kurt Busch celebrates in victory lane after winning the AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway (Photo by Chris Graythen, Getty Images)

More via 23XI Racing on Thursday:
“As much as I wanted and hoped to be able to get back in the No. 45 car to make a playoff run with our team, it’s still not the right time for me,” said Busch. “In addition to not being cleared to return to racing, I know that I am not ready to be back in the car. I respect the sport of NASCAR, my fellow drivers and the fans too much to take up a playoff spot if I know I can’t compete for a championship this season. The decision was not an easy one, but I know it is the right thing to do. I will continue to take time to heal and strengthen as I prepare to be back in the car and will do all I can to help 23XI continue the success we have had this season.”

With Busch sidelined, 19-year-old Xfinity Series driver Ty Gibbs – the grandson of NASCAR team owner Joe Gibbs – has been filling in behind the wheel of the No. 45 Toyota and will continue to do so.

As we recently wrote, this is an awful situation for injured Busch, but he should be applauded for his transparency about his head injury in a sport where concealing it has often been the norm.

After winning at Kansas Speedway in May, Busch qualified for the 10-race playoffs. Although he has not entered every race since his injury, NASCAR granted him a medical waiver to keep him playoff eligible in a tight competition for the postseason.

But NASCAR confirmed 23XI is withdrawing the waiver request, and the governing body added in its own statement:

“Kurt Busch has managed this difficult situation like the champion that he is. Working closely with his doctors, every decision made has been in the best interest of his health, his competitors and the sport. Kurt has NASCAR’s full support as he continues to heal, and we look forward to seeing him return to the race car.”

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Brain image (Photo/Courtesy of USC Stevens Institute for Neuroimaging and Informatics)

Brain image (Photo/Courtesy of USC Stevens Institute for Neuroimaging and Informatics)

Researchers Create Maps of the Brain After Traumatic Brain Injury

Anne Warde, UC Irvine, June 17, 2022

 
Scientists from the University of California, Irvine have discovered that an injury to one part of the brain changes the connections between nerve cells across the entire brain.

The new research was published this week in Nature Communications.

Every year in the United States, nearly two million Americans sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Survivors can live with lifelong physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities. Currently, there are no treatments.

One of the biggest challenges for neuroscientists has been to fully understand how a TBI alters the cross-talk between different cells and brain regions.

In the new study, researchers improved upon a process called iDISCO, which uses solvents to make biological samples transparent. The process leaves behind a fully intact brain that can be illuminated with lasers and imaged in 3D with specialized microscopes.

With the enhanced brain clearing processes, the UCI team mapped neural connections throughout the entire brain. The researchers focused on connections to inhibitory neurons, because these neurons are extremely vulnerable to dying after a brain injury. The team first looked at the hippocampus, a brain region responsible for learning and memory.

Then, they investigated the prefrontal cortex, a brain region that works together with hippocampus. In both cases, the imaging showed that inhibitory neurons gain many more connections from neighboring nerve cells after TBI, but they become disconnected from the rest of the brain.

“We’ve known for a long time that the communication between different brain cells can change very dramatically after an injury,” said Robert Hunt, PhD, associate professor of anatomy and neurobiology and director of the Epilepsy Research Center at UCI School of Medicine whose lab conducted the study, “But, we haven’t been able to see what happens in the whole brain until now.”

To get a closer look at the damaged brain connections, Hunt and his team devised a technique for reversing the clearing procedure and probing the brain with traditional anatomical approaches.

The findings surprisingly showed that the long projections of distant nerve cells were still present in the damaged brain, but they no longer formed connections with inhibitory neurons.

“It looks like the entire brain is being carefully rewired to accommodate for the damage, regardless of whether there was direct injury to the region or not,” explained Alexa Tierno, a graduate student and co-first author of the study. “But different parts of the brain probably aren’t working together quite as well as they did before the injury.”

The researchers then wanted to determine if it was possible for inhibitory neurons to be reconnected with distant brain regions.

To find out, Hunt and his team transplanted new interneurons into the damaged hippocampus and mapped their connections, based on the team’s earlier research demonstrating interneuron transplantation can improve memory and stop seizures in mice with TBI.

The new neurons received appropriate connections from all over the brain. While this may mean it could be possible to entice the injured brain to repair these lost connections on its own, Hunt said learning how transplanted interneurons integrate into damaged brain circuits is essential for any future attempt to use these cells for brain repair.

One of the biggest challenges for neuroscientists has been to fully understand how a TBI alters the cross-talk between different cells and brain regions. Image is in the public domain One of the biggest challenges for neuroscientists has been to fully understand how a TBI alters the cross-talk between different cells and brain regions. Image is in the public domain

“Our study is a very important addition to our understanding of how inhibitory progenitors can one day be used therapeutically for the treatment of TBI, epilepsy or other brain disorders,” said Hunt.

“Some people have proposed interneuron transplantation might rejuvenate the brain by releasing unknown substances to boost innate regenerative capacity, but we’re finding the new neurons are really being hard wired into the brain.”

Hunt hopes to eventually develop cell therapy for people with TBI and epilepsy. The UCI team is now repeating the experiments using inhibitory neurons produced from human stem cells.

“This work takes us one step closer to a future cell-based therapy for people,” Hunt said, “Understanding the kinds of plasticity that exists after an injury will help us rebuild the injured brain with a very high degree of precision. However, it is very important that we proceed step wise toward this goal, and that takes time.”

Jan C. Frankowski, PhD; Shreya Pavani; Quincy Cao and David C. Lyon, PhD also contributed to this study.

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Fatigue After Brain Injury

By Katherine Dumsa, OTR/L, CBIS and Angela Spears, MA, CCC-SLP, DPNS, CBIS, Rainbow Rehabilitation Centers

 
Fatigue is a part of life that is experienced by everyone. Whether it is from a busy day at work, a demanding workout, or after paying attention to a long lecture, the term “I’m tired” is exceedingly common.

Fatigue and Traumatic Brain Injuries
For individuals with brain injuries, fatigue (sometimes referred to as cognitive fatigue, mental fatigue, or neurofatigue), is one of the most common and debilitating symptoms experienced during the recovery process. It can become a significant barrier to one’s ability to participate in the activities they want and need to do in daily life. It is reported that as many as 98% of people who have experienced a traumatic brain injury have some form of fatigue. Many report that fatigue is their most challenging symptom after brain injury. Reasons for the fatigue are not well understood but may include endocrine abnormalities, the need for the brain to work harder to compensate for brain injury deficits (in other words, inefficiency), or changes to brain structures.

Assessment Tools to Determine Fatigue Levels
Fatigue can be difficult to identify because it is not always reported by the patient or obvious to others. Clinicians use various self-report assessment tools to gain further information on a patient’s fatigue levels and the impact it has on their overall daily functioning. Two of the scales specifically designed for individual patients with brain injuries include the Barrow Neurological Institute Fatigue Scale (BNI) and the Cause of Fatigue Questionnaire (COF). Clinicians must also evaluate physical and mental changes, which can lead to depression and other psychiatric conditions following brain injury. The changes can commonly present as overwhelming fatigue.

Symptoms
Generally, those who have sustained brain injuries have described fatigue as a sense of mental or physical tiredness, exhaustion, lack of energy, and/or low vitality. Physical observations of fatigue include yawning, an appearance of confusion or “brain fog,” or easily losing attention and concentration. In more severe cases, it may present as forgetfulness, irritability, slurred speech, or dizziness. Emotions can become raw at this level of fatigue, affecting mood, motivation, and interaction with one’s social network. To manage fatigue effectively, individuals must learn to identify the symptoms of fatigue and how to modify activities that may trigger fatigue. Managing fatigue effectively will help decrease stress levels and improve overall performance for both work and home activities. Some fatigue-inducing activities include:

  • Working at a computer
  • Watching television excessively
  • Having a stimulating sensory environment
  • Concentrating on paperwork
  • Reading for long periods of time
  • Physically demanding tasks
  • Cognitively demanding tasks
  • Emotionally draining tasks
  •  
    Symptoms of fatigue can include:

  • Physical Symptoms: a pale or greyish pallor, glazed eyes, headaches, tension in muscles, shortness of breath, slower movement and speech, decreased coordination, or difficulty staying awake.
  • Cognitive Symptoms: increased forgetfulness, distractibility, decreased ability to follow directions, making an increased number of mistakes, decreased awareness of surroundings, or increased response time or lack of response.
  • Social/Emotional Symptoms: decreased ability to communicate effectively, decreased ability to engage in social activities, irritability, restlessness, emotional lability, increased negative thoughts, withdrawal, short answers, dull tone of voice, lack of motivation and interest, or difficulty engaging in activities of daily living.
  •  
    Fatigue Is Not Laziness
    In today’s multi-media society, we take in, absorb, and process large amounts of information every day. It can be difficult for family members or peers to understand the limitations caused by fatigue following a brain injury. Unfortunately, it can be mistaken for laziness or an unwillingness to participate in therapies and daily activities. It is important to understand that lacking the mental energy needed to complete tasks does not equate to lacking the desire to complete those tasks. Many individuals struggling with fatigue have motivation but lack the energy to keep up with daily demands.

    Coping Strategies Used to Ease Symptoms
    When managing fatigue, it is important to identify and treat physical factors that may be contributing to the fatigue. Recognizing early signs of fatigue and working with the patient so they understand how to respond to these is beneficial. By learning to recognize these triggers, one can learn coping strategies to successfully meet daily demands, ultimately increasing quality of life. These strategies include:

  • Having a Healthy Sleep Routine – This can be done by setting a sleep schedule of when to go to bed and when to wake, regardless of the day of the week. Establishing a strict routine using an alarm clock allows the brain proper rest. When rest is needed, aim for a “power nap” of 30 minutes maximum to avoid feeling over tired for the remainder of the day. Lack of sleep has a negative effect on our cognition, mood, energy levels, and appetite. The American Academy of Neurology reports that as many as 40% to 65% of people with mild traumatic brain injury complain of insomnia, so maintaining a sleep hygiene program is essential to recovery and to managing fatigue.
  • Practicing Energy Conservation – Pacing yourself each day, or prioritizing daily tasks to avoid becoming over-tired, can help with balancing out a busy schedule. Complete tasks that require the most mental effort earlier in the day with planned rest breaks in the afternoon or evening.
    Organizing daily activities – Utilize a checklist or planner to set a to-do list. Break up complex projects into manageable tasks. When completing these tasks, minimize environmental stimulation as much as possible.
  • Improving Health and Wellness – Increased overall health and wellness has been described as “energizing,” and research suggests that it can improve mood. Aim to exercise three to five times per week for a minimum of 30 minutes per session. Maintain a well-balanced diet rich in protein, fiber, and carbohydrates to help the brain and body stay fully energized.
  • Keeping a Fatigue Diary – This kind of diary can assist in monitoring changes and energy levels before and after daily activities. This tracking of fatigue can be used with your treatment team to help mitigate what may be increasing neurofatigue. Assessment and treatment of fatigue continues to be a challenge for clinicians and researchers. While there is no cure for fatigue, there are many ways to manage and overcome the symptom. Awareness and an open mind towards coping strategies will lessen the negative effects of fatigue and allow for meaningful participation in life.
     
    REFERENCES

  • Keough, A. 2016. Strategies to manage neuro-fatigue.
  • Cantor, J.H., Ashman, T., Gordon, W., Ginsberg, A., Engmann, C., Egan, M., Spielman, L., Dijkers, M., & Flanagan, S. (2008). Fatigue after traumatic brain injury and its impact on participation and quality of life. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation. 23(1), 41-51.
  • Jang, S., & Kwon, H. (2016). Injury of the ascending reticular activating system in patients with fatigue and hypersomnia following mild traumatic brain injury. Medicine. 95(6). e2628.
  • Belmont, A., Agar, N., Hugeron, B. Gallais, C. & Azouvi, P., Fatigue and traumatic brain injury. Annales de Réadaptation et de Médecine Physique. 49(6). 370-374.
  • Johnson, G. (2000). Traumatic brain injury survival guide. Traverse City, MI.
  • Heins, J., Sevat, R., Werkhoven, C. (n.d.) Neurofatigue. Brain Injury Explanation.
  •  
    This article first appeared in the Summer 2018 issue of Rainbow Visions Magazine available at www.rainbowrehab.com.

    CLICK HERE to read the original article
     

    Doctors Discuss Knowing the Signs of Concussion in Young Athletes

    By Adria Goins and Alex Onken, KSLA

     
    Thousands of students in the Arkansas/Louisiana/Texas (and across the nation) began fall sports over the last few weeks.

    However, with the new season here, comes a risk of injury. Football is the leading sport when it comes to concussions.

    The signs of a concussion are headache, fatigue and nausea. Parents are advised to then bring their child to a doctor right away if suspecting a possible concussion.

    “First diagnose it early and then after you diagnose it early make sure you avoid the triggers. So avoid extra screen time, over-exercising and just basically have 24 to 48 hours of cognitive physical rest,” said Dr. Kenneth Aguirre of Oschner-LSU Health Shreveport, who specializes in sports medicine.

    According to Dr. Charles Webb, also with Oschner-LSU Health and a sports medicine specialist, the topic of concussions and the potential risks of football comes up often.

    “I get that question a lot from parents. They want to know is it safe for my child to play high school or junior high, or even pee wee or popcorn football. and the question comes up because parents are worried about concussions. So my answer to them is if it were my child I wouldn’t let them play until they had an organized professional coach teaching them both how to hit and receive a hit.”

    Young athletes are usually taught how to hit and receive a hit around junior high. Dr. Webb said parents should put their children in club soccer or flag football in contrast to popcorn or pee wee football.

    “It’s much safer and you’re less likely to get hit in the head,” he said. “And you still get all the conditioning you need to play football later on in life.”

    In addition, doctors say keeping children awake when they have a concussion is a common misconception. Sleep is actually very good for the healing process.
     

    CLICK HERE to read the original article
     

    What Is a Neuropsych Evaluation?

    By Thomas A. Crosley, Crosley Law

     
    Brain injury can deeply impact how you think, make decisions, process information, and interact with others. When someone else caused your injuries, you deserve compensation for these losses.

    However, it can be hard to explain or document symptoms like memory loss, poor concentration, or impulsivity. In these cases, neuropsychological testing can help you, your medical team, and your personal injury lawyer understand the full effect of your traumatic brain injury (TBI).

    What Is Neuropsychology?

    The field of neuropsychology studies how our brains’ health impacts our emotions and behavior. Our brain is a remarkably complex organ, made up of nerves and tissues that help us feel, think, and perform everyday tasks. When there’s neurological dysfunction due to trauma, brain tumors, and diseases like Alzheimer’s, we may experience emotional and intellectual changes. Sometimes, these changes are subtle, like minor memory problems and mental “fogginess.” Other times, neurological issues create profound personality changes, cognitive deficits, and impaired decision-making.

    Different parts of the brain serve different functions. For example, the temporal lobe helps with our short-term memory, and the frontal lobe controls our memory, decision-making, and judgment. Depending on the location of your brain injury, you may exhibit different symptoms that affect your thinking, speech, vision, memory, and interpersonal relationships.

    A neuropsychological evaluation measures your emotional and cognitive abilities and compares them to the average person of your age, education, and background. An evaluation will typically consider a wide variety of factors, including:

  • Cognitive and intellectual abilities
  • Short-term and long-term memory
  • Executive functioning (your ability to make decisions and interpret information)
  • Speed of processing
  • Concentration and attention
  • Persistence and pace (your ability to finish tasks)
  • Gross and fine motor skills
  • Visual-spatial skills
  • Emotional functioning
  •  
    The evaluator may also look for other possible diagnoses, including depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Finally, the evaluator will typically assess your performance and symptom validity; this process makes a neuropsych evaluation more objective than some other cognitive and mental assessments.

    Using Neuropsychological Testing to Assess the Impact of Brain Injury: A Case Study

    A neuropsychological report can help your doctors, lawyers, and mental health providers understand the full impact of your brain injury, which allows them to build effective treatment plans and fight to get you the compensation you deserve.

    Let’s look at a real-world example of how a neuropsych examination can help a TBI survivor’s legal claims. I represented a young man with an autism spectrum disorder who was struck by a delivery driver’s car while walking home from his job at a grocery store. During the collision, my client suffered significant brain injury, but the insurance company argued that his cognitive and memory deficits were due to his preexisting autism.

    To fight back, we consulted with his medical providers and a neuropsychologist who helped document his trauma-related symptoms and limitations. After mediation, we settled my client’s TBI claim for a significant amount.

    What Should I Expect During a Neuropsych Evaluation?

    During a neuropsychological evaluation, a team of clinicians, including a trained neuropsychologist, will give you a series of tests that assess your thinking abilities, language skills, memory, mental processing, and other abilities. You can expect to do a variety of tasks, including:

  • Answering questions about your daily routine and symptoms
  • Demonstrating your skills at reading, writing, math, and problem-solving
  • Identifying images
  • Recalling information after a time
  • Drawing pictures
  • Solving puzzles
  •  
    Some tests will be oral, while some will be written, computer-based, or task-driven. The precise tests used during your neuropsychological evaluation will vary depending on your diagnosis and other factors.

    However, not all neuropsychologists focus on brain injuries. A specialist who mainly works with dementia patients or another population might offer as detailed and insightful analysis when evaluating a TBI. If you are selecting a neuropsychologist, make sure they understand and regularly work with people with brain injury.

    How Long Does Neuropsych Testing Take?

    A neuropsych evaluation will take up to eight hours to complete. Typically, you’ll be able to take breaks as needed. If you become too tired or overwhelmed, the evaluator may split the testing over several days.

    What Happens After I Complete My Evaluation?

    Once you’ve completed your testing, the neuropsychologist will review your results, medical records, and other information to create a comprehensive report that discusses your cognitive abilities and limitations. If the neuropsych evaluation was scheduled as part of your TBI care plan, the process will include treatment recommendations and referrals to specialists, like speech therapy and counseling services.

    However, if an insurance company requested your neuropsych evaluation, it might serve a different purpose. Sometimes, “independent medical examinations,” including neuropsychological testing, are used to deny or reduce the value of a TBI survivor’s legal claims.

    For example, the insurance company may argue that your performance validity or symptom validity scores suggest you’re exaggerating symptoms. Rather than recommending treatment that will help you overcome your traumatic brain injury, the report will minimize your symptoms and suggest that you’re malingering (pretending your problems are worse than they are).

    To fight back, you’ll need to work with a personal injury lawyer who can carefully assess the evaluator’s methodology and identify issues and inconsistencies in their report. If you don’t already have an attorney, it’s a good idea to consult with a BIAA Preferred Attorney who has a documented track record of success.

    How Can I Prepare for Neuropsych Testing?

    While you can’t study for a neuropsych examination, there are some simple ways you can prepare for your appointment with the neuropsychologist:

  • Request an up-to-date list of your medications and prescriptions from your pharmacist or doctor
  • Get a good night’s sleep beforehand
  • Take your medications as prescribed
  • Eat a healthy meal before the exam
  • Dress comfortably for your day of testing
  • Wear your glasses or hearing aids, if needed
  •  
    Remember, as long as you are honest and give a good effort, you can’t “fail” a neuropsychological assessment.

    Worried About an Upcoming Neuropsych Evaluation? Consult with a BIAA Preferred Attorney

    If the insurance company schedules a neuropsych evaluation, it’s a good idea to consult with an experienced TBI lawyer. When you work with a BIAA Preferred Attorney, they can help you prepare for your examination, identify issues that may impact your legal claims, and fight back against an insurance company’s negative neuropsychological report.

    To find a TBI lawyer in your community, visit the BIAA Preferred Attorney page and click on “Narrow Your Search.” You’ll be able to filter Preferred Attorneys by their location and practice area.
     

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    Best Practices for Managing Stress and Anxiety During Times of Uncertainty

    By Gary Seale, Ph.D., Regional Director, Centre for Neuro Skills

     
    The COVID-19 outbreak has produced a great deal of uncertainty and unwelcome anxiety. It’s no wonder we feel distressed when our daily routines have been severely disrupted. Due to social distancing and business closures, most people are not able to visit their favorite restaurant, go shopping, or engage in a work-out routine at the fitness center. When you couple this with concerns about personal health, uncertainty about how long these changes will last, and information and directives that change daily, it’s no wonder that many of us feel diseased or anxious. Several credible sites have recently posted simple but effective strategies to manage stress and remain emotionally healthy during this time of uncertainty. Some of the most frequent suggestions by experts at the American Psychological Association, Forbes, the Harvard Business Review, HealthLine, and others include the following:

    Differentiate between what is within your control vs. what is not in your control. Stay focused on the things you can do. Make a list and practice these regularly, and reward yourself for these practices. For example, you can:

  • Wash your hands, cover coughs and sneezes, etc.
  • Limit exposure to news. Manage stress by reducing (or eliminating) the number of times you check in to your favorite media outlet. The American Psychological Association recommends avoiding negative news right before bedtime.
  • Take care of your health (take your vitamins, get enough sleep, hydrate, engage in a daily exercise routine, etc.).
  • Practice your preferred relaxation technique if you feel stressed, such as deep breathing, yoga, mindful meditation, etc. If you don’t have a relaxation practice, now is a great time to develop one.
  •  

    Do the things that help you feel safe, such as:

  • Practice “social distancing” and limit exposure to groups of 10 or more people.
  • Give an “elbow bump” vs. a hug or a handshake.
  • Order out and have food delivered to your home or work; shop on-line and have items delivered to your home vs. going to a store or the mall.
  •  

    Rather than worrying about something that might happen in the future, stay focused on the present; maintain proper perspective.

  • Stay present and in the moment; focus on the task at hand.
  • If you feel yourself “borrowing trouble,” bring yourself back to the present.
  • Use a mindfulness practice (savor a favorite snack or meal; closely observe a pleasing object, such as a flower, etc.). If you don’t have a mindfulness practice, now is a great time to explore/develop one.
  • Put the situation into proper perspective (for example, as of March 24th in Houston/Harris County there are about 206 confirmed/presumed cases of COVID-19 and 2 deaths from this virus. Nineteen have fully recovered. Houston/Harris County has a population of approximately 6+ million. That translates into an infection statistic of 0.003%). Additionally, we live in a time and a nation of great abundance – an abundance of intellectual horsepower (some of the best minds in infectious diseases are here in the U.S. and are working on vaccines for this virus); an abundance of resources (the government has released over a trillion dollars to support research, product development and distribution, and aid to businesses); an abundance of entrepreneurs (companies re-tooling to overproduce cleaning supplies, ventilators, etc.).
  • This situation is temporary. As with other pandemics (MARS, SARS, H1N1, Zika, etc.), this too shall pass.
  •  

    Engage in proven positive psychology practices.

  • Start a gratitude list. Of all the positive emotions, gratitude is one of the most powerful and protective (from depressive symptoms). Simply start a list of all the things you are grateful for, large and small
  • Three Good Things. At the end of the day, list 3 good things that happened during the day. Once you have your list on paper, think about how you made those good things happen and reward yourself
  • Downward comparisons. Rather than thinking or saying to yourself, “I wish I…”, think or say to yourself, “I’m glad I…” For example, “I’m glad I work in the healthcare industry. I have a stable job, and in my work, I am able to help others.”
  • Connect with something larger than yourself. In the example above, you may find yourself feeling compassion for those out of work due to COVID-19, like servers in the restaurant industry. Ordering out from your favorite local restaurant and tipping big may help keep that business open during a time when the restaurant is closed to the public. Or you may want to visit a local blood bank and give blood as most all blood donation activities at large venues, like businesses, churches, etc. have been suspended for the time being.
  •  

    Get outside and enjoy nature.

  • During this time when we are practicing “social distancing”, we may feel “cooped up” which can result in feelings of anxiety. Getting outdoors and enjoying nature can lift your mood and help with managing stress. Walking increases heart rate and respiration, which is good for brain function and overall health. Spending time in the sunlight produces vitamin D, which improves the immune response. Being in “awe” (of nature) is another, very powerful positive emotion that can lift the mood and protect against depressive symptoms.
  •  

    Stay connected and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

  • Take this time to call friends and family and catch up.
  • Talk to a trusted friend about how you are feeling and all the practices you are using to stay healthy, both physically and mentally.
  • If you are feeling particularly distressed, reach out to a counselor or other mental health practitioner.
  • Talk to your supervisor or HR representative about your particular situation and any support you might need.
  •  

    Engage in resilience practices.

  • Think about a time when you faced a challenging situation and overcame it.
  • In your home or office, post some inspirational quotes, for example: “Never, never, never give up.” – Winston Churchill; “Failure is not an option.” – Gene Kranz, NASA Flight Director; “Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.” – Robert Schuller
  • Create a “resilience library” with inspirational books, videos, etc. For example, the book, “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand, or the movie, “Remember the Titans”.
  • When possible, find “positives” (i.e., lower gas prices, safer commutes to work/less drunk drivers on the road, etc.), or lessons learned from the situation.
  • Use humor as appropriate.
  • If you have one, engage in your spiritual practice.
  •  

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    ISRIB molecule—image by the Adam Frost lab at UCSF

    Drug Reverses Age-Related Mental Decline Within Days, Suggesting Lost Cognitive Ability is Not Permanent

    By Good News Network, December 27, 2020

     
    Just a few doses of an experimental drug that reboots protein production in cells can reverse age-related declines in memory and mental flexibility in mice, according to a new study by UC San Francisco scientists.

    The drug, called ISRIB, has already been shown in laboratory studies to restore memory function months after traumatic brain injury (TBI), reverse cognitive impairments in Down Syndrome, prevent noise-related hearing loss, fight certain types of prostate cancer, and even enhance cognition in healthy animals.

    In the new study, published Dec. 1 in the open-access journal eLife, researchers showed rapid restoration of youthful cognitive abilities in aged mice, accompanied by a rejuvenation of brain and immune cells that could help explain improvements in brain function—and with no side effects observed.

    “ISRIB’s extremely rapid effects show for the first time that a significant component of age-related cognitive losses may be caused by a kind of reversible physiological “blockage” rather than more permanent degradation,” said Susanna Rosi, PhD, Lewis and Ruth Cozen Chair II and professor in the departments of Neurological Surgery and of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science.

    “The data suggest that the aged brain has not permanently lost essential cognitive capacities, as was commonly assumed, but rather that these cognitive resources are still there but have been somehow blocked, trapped by a vicious cycle of cellular stress,” added Peter Walter, PhD, a professor in the UCSF Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. “Our work with ISRIB demonstrates a way to break that cycle and restore cognitive abilities that had become walled off over time.”

    Rebooting cellular protein production holds key to aging

    Walter has won numerous scientific awards, including the Breakthrough, Lasker and Shaw prizes, for his decades-long studies of cellular stress responses. ISRIB, discovered in 2013 in Walter’s lab, works by rebooting cells’ protein production machinery after it gets throttled by one of these stress responses—a cellular quality control mechanism called the integrated stress response (ISR; ISRIB stands for ISR InhiBitor).

    The ISR normally detects problems with protein production in a cell—a potential sign of viral infection or cancer-promoting gene mutations—and responds by putting the brakes on cell’s protein-synthesis machinery. This safety mechanism is critical for weeding out misbehaving cells, but if stuck in the ‘on’ position in a tissue like the brain, it can lead to serious problems, as cells lose the ability to perform their normal activities, according to Walter and colleagues.

    In particular, their recent animal studies have implicated chronic ISR activation in the persistent cognitive and behavioral deficits seen in patients after TBI, by showing that, in mice, brief ISRIB treatment can reboot the ISR and restore normal brain function almost overnight.

    The cognitive deficits in TBI patients are often likened to premature aging, which led Rosi and Walter to wonder if the ISR could also underlie purely age-related cognitive decline. Aging is well known to compromise cellular protein production across the body, as life’s many insults pile up and stressors like chronic inflammation wear away at cells, potentially leading to widespread activation of the ISR.

    “We’ve seen how ISRIB restores cognition in animals with traumatic brain injury, which in many ways is like a sped-up version of age-related cognitive decline,” said Rosi, who is director of neurocognitive research in the UCSF Brain and Spinal Injury Center and a member of the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences. “It may seem like a crazy idea, but asking whether the drug could reverse symptoms of aging itself was just a logical next step.”

    Signature effects of aging disappeared literally overnight

    In the new study, researchers led by Rosi lab postdoc Karen Krukowski, PhD, trained aged animals to escape from a watery maze by finding a hidden platform, a task that is typically hard for older animals to learn. But animals who received small daily doses of ISRIB during the three-day training process were able to accomplish the task as well as youthful mice—and much better than animals of the same age who didn’t receive the drug.

    The researchers then tested how long this cognitive rejuvenation lasted and whether it could generalize to other cognitive skills. Several weeks after the initial ISRIB treatment, they trained the same mice to find their way out of a maze whose exit changed daily—a test of mental flexibility for aged mice who, like humans, tend to get increasingly stuck in their ways. The mice who had received brief ISRIB treatment three weeks before still performed at youthful levels, while untreated mice continued to struggle.

    To understand how ISRIB might be improving brain function, the researchers studied the activity and anatomy of cells in the hippocampus, a brain region with a key role in learning and memory, just one day after giving animals a single dose of ISRIB. They found that common signatures of neuronal aging disappeared literally overnight: neurons’ electrical activity became more sprightly and responsive to stimulation, and cells showed more robust connectivity with cells around them while also showing an ability to form stable connections with one another usually only seen in younger mice.

    The researchers are continuing to study exactly how the ISR disrupts cognition in aging and other conditions and to understand how long ISRIB’s cognitive benefits may last. Among other puzzles raised by the new findings is the discovery that ISRIB also alters the function of the immune system’s T cells, which also are prone to age-related dysfunction. The findings suggest another path by which the drug could be improving cognition in aged animals, and could have implications for diseases from Alzheimer’s to diabetes that have been linked to heightened inflammation caused by an aging immune system.

    “This was very exciting to me because we know that aging has a profound and persistent effect on T cells and that these changes can affect brain function in the hippocampus,” said Rosi. “At the moment, this is just an interesting observation, but it gives us a very exciting set of biological puzzles to solve.”

    Success shows the ‘serendipity’ of basic research

    Rosi and Walter were introduced by neuroscientist Regis Kelly, PhD, executive director of the University of California’s QB3 biotech innovation hub, following Walter’s 2013 study showing that the drug seemed to instantly enhance cognitive abilities in healthy mice. To Rosi, the results from that study implied some walled-off cognitive potential in the brain that the molecule was somehow unlocking, and she wondered if this extra cognitive boost might benefit patients with neurological damage from traumatic brain injury.

    The labs joined forces to study the question in mice, and were astounded by what they found. ISRIB didn’t just make up for some of the cognitive deficits in mice with traumatic brain injury—it erased them. “This had never been seen before,” Rosi said. “The mantra in the field was that brain damage is permanent—irreversible. How could a single treatment with a small molecule make them disappear overnight?”

    Further studies demonstrated that neurons throughout the brains of animals with traumatic brain injury are thoroughly jammed up by the ISR. Using ISRIB to release those brakes lets brain cells immediately get back to their normal business. More recently, studies in animals with very mild repetitive brain injury—akin to pro athletes who experience many mild concussions over many years—showed that ISRIB could reverse increased risk-taking behavior associated with damage to self-control circuits in the frontal cortex.

    “It’s not often that you find a drug candidate that shows so much potential and promise,” Walter says, calling it “just amazing”.

    No side effects

    One might think that interfering with the ISR, a critical cellular safety mechanism, would be sure to have serious side effects, but so far in all their studies, the researchers have observed none. This is likely due to two factors. First, it takes just a few doses of ISRIB to reset unhealthy, chronic ISR activation back to a healthier state. Second, ISRIB has virtually no effect when applied to cells actively employing the ISR in its most powerful form—against an aggressive viral infection, for example.

    ISRIB has been licensed by Calico, a South San Francisco, Calif. company exploring the biology of aging, and the idea of targeting the ISR to treat disease has been picked up by many other pharmaceutical companies, Walter says.

    “It almost seems too good to be true, but with ISRIB we seem to have hit a sweet spot for manipulating the ISR with an ideal therapeutic window,” Walter said.

    Get more links to background studies from original article from UCSF News.
     

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    Free & Low-Cost Activities to Think About During Lockdown

    Written by one of our own San Diego Brain Injury Survivors, November 20, 2020

     
    This year has been challenging for everyone. Especially as we close out the year with no sign of social distancing and lockdowns going away, it seems to be getting more and more difficult to think of new things to do to keep us busy…AND safe. So, a San Diego brain injury survivor put this list together to help you with new and fun things that can still be done for little or no cost! Enjoy!!

    1. Attend free Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) online classes through San Diego Community College District’s Continuing Education Center — sdce.edu
    2. Participate in UCSD Recreation’s free online classes (exercise, lectures, etc.) — recreation.ucsd.edu
    3. Participate in the YMCA’s free online exercise classes and lectures — ymcasd.org
    4. Visit Brainline website — brainline.org
    5. Watch “Brain on Nature” podcasts — brainonnature.com
    6. Do free brain training games on Lumosity — lumosity.com
    7. Watch free online UCSD-TV programs — ucsd.tv
    8. Watch the San Diego Brain Injury Foundation’s recorded meetings on their YouTube Channel at youtube.com/theSDBIF
    9. Check the calendar of virtual events on Live Well San Diego — livewellsd.org
    10. Enroll in free online classes offered through San Diego Public Libraries — education.gale.com
    11. Participate in the online classes through the Continuing Education Center at Rancho Bernardo — cecrb.com or call (858) 487-0464
    12. “Museums from Home” activities — sandiegomuseumcouncil.org
    13. Do mindfulness/adult coloring books (sometimes available at dollar stores)
    14. Borrow materials from the library (books, DVDs, e-books, etc.) — sdcl.org and sandiego.gov
    15. Call, email, write letters and send greeting cards to family, friends, former colleagues, etc.
    16. Try some new healthy recipes — eatfresh.org
    17. Here are a few brain injury yoga lessons that you can try out from the Love Your Brain yoga You Tube Channel — Gentle Floor practice and Gentle Chair practice

     

    Explaining Brain Injury to Your Child

    Chapter Four, The Caregiver’s Journey on tbi.cemmlibrary.org

     

    Having a parent with a TBI can be frightening for a child who looks to them to provide strength and safety.
    A parent with TBI may no longer act the same as they did before the injury. They may be angry, depressed, or uncertain. They may not be able to speak or walk, and they may not be able to do all the same things they did before they were injured (for example, go to work, pick up the kids from school, play on the playground). You can help your children by explaining TBI in a way that they can understand, or you can ask a healthcare provider to talk with your children.

    As a result of the changes caused by the injury, the special parent-child bond that existed previously has probably changed, at least to some degree.

    Children may be confused and upset about what is going on. This could be due to worry about a parent’s condition or concerns about changes in their parents’ relationship. It could also be due to financial strains, or simply adjusting to the new “normal” (in other words, the new way of life following the TBI). Be sure to communicate with your child that they are not to blame for the TBI – many children will assume they somehow contributed to the injury and will carry some sense of responsibility for it. If your child appears to be anxious or depressed for a long time, or they begin taking on risky behaviors, seek professional help.

    It is important to recognize that your children are grieving, just as you are – they are grieving the loss of the parent’s former “self” and the abrupt changes that have taken place. They may withdraw from social activities with peers, have mood swings, become withdrawn or disruptive, do poorly in school, and show other behavioral problems.

    Children also need time and space to be kids. Allow them time to think, play, talk, or just hang out – don’t smother them with too much information or attention over the injury – but be sensitive to their questions and concerns. Build new family routines, and keep an eye out for signs that your child is not coping well.

    Some children may need to take on some caregiving tasks for the parent or for younger children in the family. Children who care for parents or other relatives may experience conflict over the reversal of roles between parent and child. Others will find it helpful for them to play a supportive role.

    Make sure any tasks that your child takes on to help around the house or with caregiving activities – household chores or meal preparation, for example – are suitable for their age. Strive as much as possible to find other adults to help you, rather than relying on your children to play a major caregiving role.


     
    How Can I Tell My Child about TBI?
    
It is difficult to explain TBI to a child. Yet it is vital to tell your child what is going on. Some adults try to protect children from the truth because they think they are too young to understand. Children of almost any age are aware that something is wrong and they want to know what is happening.

    Communicate in an age-appropriate way what has happened to the service member or veteran with TBI. Protecting your children by withholding information may backfire. Children have active imaginations that may create a scenario worse than reality.

    How you tell your child about TBI depends on the age of the child. Here are some suggestions for how to explain TBI to a child:

  • Use Language a Child can Understand: The brain is similar to the command station of a spaceship. If a meteorite hit the command station, the crew would not be able to control what the spaceship does. If the brain is hurt, it may send out the wrong signals to the body or no signals at all. A person with TBI may have a hard time walking, talking, hearing, or seeing.
  • The brain is the body’s computer. When it gets injured, it doesn’t “boot up” properly, runs slower, has less memory, and may not perform all of its normal functions.
  • A cut may take a few days to heal, and a broken bone will usually heal and be as good as new in a few weeks or months. Getting better after a brain injury can take several months or even years, and sometimes the person may not get 100 percent better.
  • Even though the person with the injury may look the same, they may still be injured. These injuries might include having a hard time paying attention or remembering what you told them. They may get tired easily and need to sleep more than usual. They may say or do things that seem strange or embarrassing. They may get angry and shout for no apparent reason.
  • Explaining Anger Changes: Many people with a TBI develop anger as a direct effect of the damage to the brain. In other words, the parts of the brain that normally stop angry flare-ups and feelings have been damaged and don’t do their job as well. The parent with TBI may be mad because they can’t do the things they used to do. Their feelings may be hurt because others treat them differently than before the injury.
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    Brain injury changes people. These changes can be confusing. Try to remember that the changes you see are caused by the brain injury. You can still love and care about the person regardless of the brain injury.
     

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    Serving the Brain Injury Community Since 1983