Wednesday, December 7, 2022

NEUROPLASTICITY: Eight Reasons We All Need to Learn About Brain Health

 Written by: Marilyn Abrahamson, MA,CCC-SLP - CBHC (Certified Brain Health Coach)

NEUROPLASTICITY is defined as the ability of the nervous system to change its activity in response to intrinsic or extrinsic stimuli by reorganizing its structure, functions, or connections after injuries, such as a stroke or traumatic brain injury (TBI) - NIH.GOV


The word Neuroplasticity ignites a feeling of hope. For clinicians and therapists working with patients with all types of brain injuries, understanding neuroplasticity is crucial. Because neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change and adapt in response to new learning and new experiences, it can change both a clinician's choice of therapeutic techniques as well as the duration of the patient’s therapeutic program. 
 
We now know that, even in the absence of brain injury or illness, teaching people how to help their brain to more easily adapt, change and grow as we age is the key to maintaining cognitive health. That’s how we remain sharp and resilient into our advanced years, but there’s more to it than that.  The answers to the following seven questions will help us to better understand why brain health education is so very important to all of us. 
 
Why is it so important for people to teach others about brain health?  The brain is what makes us who we are, producing our every thought, and every action. It stores all of our memories, feelings, and experiences.

The brain resides quietly in our heads, is relatively low maintenance, and is grossly taken for granted. Teaching people about brain health raises their awareness of the need to take a more active role in preserving the health and wellness of this amazing resource.

Knowing that there are actionable tasks, such as adjusting lifestyle choices and habits to support a healthier brain, can offer the clarity and the direction people need to begin to make those adjustments.
 
Decline is a natural aspect of normal aging, but how do we know what’s normal and what should spark concern? Age-related decline is normal for any part of the body, but when talking about normal brain-aging, many believe that the word “decline” implies the presence of impairment. With that in mind, a more appropriate word to use could be  “change” to describe the process of brain aging. People with brain injuries, memory disorders and neurodegenerative diseases may ultimately enter a state of “decline”, where functionality gradually wanes over time. If a person in decline is going to improve, it takes exceptionally hard work for rehabilitation of skills to take place.

With general age-related “change”, many of us can simply compensate and adjust how we use our brain by implementing strategies and targeted techniques for better memory, organization and completion of more complicated tasks.  Compensatory strategies and techniques allow us to work around change by doing tasks differently, more mindfully and more efficiently. By adjusting our habits  and learning to roll with the changes, we can help our memory and thinking skills to work well again - in many cases, as well as they worked before.

With that being said, there are aspects of cognition that do naturally change with age, and one of the first is processing speed. For example, if you’re watching a game show, such as Jeopardy and you know the answer, but the buzzer rings before you can say it, your processing speed may be starting to slow down. This is considered normal. Attention also becomes more elusive as the brain ages and it may become more difficult to focus and pay attention. Reduced attention may cause us to miss parts of conversation, particularly if we’re in a distracting environment. This can also be contributed to by other sensory changes that occur as we get older such as problems with vision and hearing, both of which allow us to acquire information from the environment around us.

When do “lapses in memory” become more of a concern? People generally worry about things that should be less of a concern. Word finding and name recall are the most bothersome aspects of brain-aging, and what people complain about the most. This problem tends to start at a young age, with many beginning in their 40’s.  It is considered normal, especially if we’re able to retrieve the correct name shortly after. Problems with word finding and name recall become more of a concerning issue if we find ourselves persistently calling people and objects by generic names such as “honey” or “whatchamacallit”. But if this is not a pattern, it’s generally nothing serious.

People also tell me that they are concerned because they frequently misplace personal items.
Misplacing items, even if this happens frequently, is not necessarily a cause for concern. This habit is not exclusive to the aging population. We’ve been misplacing things since childhood. If you have children, you know they misplace things every day. After putting in minimal effort to find their lost belongings, they called you (their parents) to find the items for them. Interestingly, as parents, we generally always knew where they were!

However, if misplacing items occurs persistently, AND the objects are ultimately found in locations that show a mindful placement of the item in a grossly inappropriate place, it may be a sign of something more serious.  Taking the time to place a basket of freshly folded laundry in the kitchen pantry would likely not occur unless there was cause for concern. This would warrant a visit to the doctor.
Misplacing items, and later finding them placed mistakenly on a table or in a jacket pocket, would likely just call for mindfulness exercises, a memory strategy and better habits to help keep track of them.

(To be continued)



"5 Negative Antigen Tests Do Not Match How OFF I Feel..."
An IPHA Editorial Submission

In August of 2021, David (last name withheld) arrived home from his job at the local hardware store and within minutes of entering the front door, collapsed with a most unusual set of symptoms including acute exhaustion. Following the national guidelines, taking a PCR test showed that he was 
hit with the Coronavirus Delta Variant! The flu-like symptoms all hit simultaneously in full force.  David saw stars for most of his recuperation period while taste and smell were completely shut down. For 1 week, David quarantined in his office - armed with every super-food, every kind of soup and immune booster his support team could find.  Being fully vaccinated only meant he had a better chance of NOT DYING, but as the world was only a year into the data collection, there was still so much left to understand about the recuperation period as well as its long standing effects.

FAST FORWARD to the fall of 2022. Life goes on and regular rapid  (home) testing says David was negative every time. Tracking the latest in covid news reports, the idea of lingering symptoms is in the back of everyone's- especially those who got hit at least once with the virus.  But HOW or WHERE in the body is it?  To over-think this does not make one a hypochondriac- only someone surrendered to the realities of our times, meaning 'if it doesn't kill you, the viral load may have the tendency to linger, causing  potential organ damage, failure or dysfunction.


MEMORY LOSS:
They say that you shouldn't worry about getting dementia or Alzheimer's- once you have it, you won't know it. Well this is not completely true. We can attribute forgetting a name here and there as a natural, normal age-related wear down. But forgetting EVERY name is not the same.  It's as if someone stole or deleted specific data from your brain, and when it's time to withdraw those names to compose a sentence, all there is is an empty shelf where that name was expected to be.  The simplest proper nouns that David once quickly referenced and freely spoken about all his life- including names of product brands, movie and song titles, artists- even celebrities are now GONE- or perhaps buried in the back yard somewhere!

If "it is (in fact) what it is",  David expressed his disbelief that the CDC or the WHO are pressing to come up with Long Haul therapies. "There's still so much to go with perfecting the vaccination to control the global surge. We can choose to fight the erosion in our brain with mind optimizers, exercises, better sleep and every protocol to improve brain performance.  But this very insidious aftermath of the virus that buried itself into my brain is now aging me, starting with my memory, my processing speed and if the data out there is right, my waning cognitive functions. "





(Continued from top feature)

Can we control or change our risk for getting Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia? Yes, and this is what brain health education is all about. Engaging in brain-healthy lifestyle habits can help to reduce the risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.
 Age-related cognitive changes are directly influenced by brain size. Keeping neural pathways active, and engaging in habits such as lifelong learning, can help sustain healthy brain volume and contribute to the development of cognitive reserve.

What is cognitive reserve and how can we get it by modifying lifestyle choices?  Cognitive reserve is the brain’s ability to be resilient against damage or disease. A prestigious longitudinal research study showed that people who lived a healthy lifestyle and had no apparent symptoms of dementia were found to have brain changes consistent with dementia and advanced Alzheimer's disease on autopsy. This is likely to have been a result of high levels of cognitive reserve, which served to offset the damage, allowing them to function well in life.

Would these people have eventually developed symptoms of dementia had they lived long enough? 
There is a high probability that they would have. Cognitive reserve offers the gift of additional years before the onset of symptoms.  

What lifestyle habits facilitate the development of cognitive reserve and how do they reduce the risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia?

        Exercise: The brain is the greediest organ in the body in terms of the need for blood flow and oxygen. Exercise helps to provide the brain with those nutrients, and also facilitates the release of a protein called BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor). BDNF is instrumental in supporting the birth of new neurons in the hippocampus, the brain region primarily responsible for new learning and memory storage.

        A Brain-Healthy Diet: The Mediterranean Diet and the MIND diet ( a combination of the Mediterranean Diet and the Dash Diet) have been proven to support healthy brain function. This is most likely because of their generous inclusion of antioxidants and Omega 3 fatty acids.

         Sleep: Sleep is important for optimal brain function and for consolidation (movement into storage) of information acquired during the previous day into long term memory. Additionally, sleep is the time that the brain is cleared of plaques that build up throughout the day.

         Stress Management: Effectively managing stress is essential to maintain healthy levels of cortisol which, in large quantities, is destructive to the brain and organs throughout the body.

         Lifelong Learning: Learning something new and interesting every day is essential to activate existing neural pathways and connections throughout the brain and for development of new ones. The more activated neural connections and pathways you have, the bigger and more voluminous your brain will remain!

         Enjoyable Activities: As a bonus, finding something that you love to do and getting excited about it will give your brain an instant boost of motivation to keep learning and growing, in addition to adding a spark of joy each time you do it.

Changing life-long habits is undeniably hard, especially when there are several changes that need to be made. What’s the best way to tackle them and how do we decide what to do first? Change is difficult for people, even when they are keenly aware of the benefits of following through.

To begin, you need to have clarity for why you want to make these changes. Knowing your reasons for doing something is essential before starting. Otherwise, you’re likely to give up if things get tough. Once you’re ready to begin, it is important not to attempt too many changes at once. Make a list of the lifestyle habits you want to change and then choose the most do-able first.  Giving yourself the boost of dopamine associated with accomplishment will be helpful to get the ball rolling. As you begin to engage in these new habits, gradually add one, then another and another.
 
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR-

MARILYN ABRAHAMSON, MA, CCC-SLP : As a Brain Health Education Specialist at Ceresti Health, Marilyn offers initiatives that supports education and empowerment of family caregivers. She also writes for and edits the Ceresti’s monthly newsletter and produces all brain health education and brain-health coaching programs for caregivers.  Marilyn's prior work is as a NJ Licensed Speech-Language Pathologist since 1987 and is an Amen Clinics Certified Brain Health Coach.


 





10/25/2022- HEALING, STRESS AND THE PARASYMPATHETIC SYSTEM:  Analyzing STRESS & ANXIETY from a holistic point of view means identifying the body’s interconnected systems (ie. circulatory, cardiovascular, nervous, lymphatic, endocrine etc.) and its many touch points for stimulation.   This analysis should also offer a comprehensive breakdown of the body's HEALING capacity- which includes our hormones, digestive system, immune system, brain, heart-- all the way down to our cells and mitochondria.   Stress is part of life, and comes in many forms including physical, emotional, mental and environmental. Foods we eat, unhealthy relationships, difficulties at work, toxins in our environment, even poor posture or lack of sunshine can all create stress on our bodies. (See complete report by: Dr. Roberta Kline)


9/14/2022 - ADDRESSING BURNOUT: RECHARGING FOR CAREGIVERS: During the Covid-19 surge, interviews with emergency medical professionals showed dramatic cases of ICU and ER responders exposed to major signs of advanced fatigue and risk of burnout.  This significantly raised major risks to their work performance where lives are to be affected, including theirs.  Over time, double and triple shifts resulted in "a different type of pandemic" on a national scale- where this level of exhaustion and overwhelm.  (See full report by Dr. Leslie Valle & Dave Dachinger)





Copyright Notice: The materials provided on this website/web-based article are copyrighted and the intellectual property of the publishers/producers (The NY Cancer Resource Alliance/IntermediaWorx inc. and The AngioFoundation). It is provided publicly strictly for informational purposes within non-commercial use and not for purposes of resale, distribution, public display or performance. Unless otherwise indicated on this web based page, sharing, re-posting, re-publishing of this work is strictly prohibited without due permission from the publishers.  Also, certain content may be licensed from third-parties. The licenses for some of this Content may contain additional terms. When such Content licenses contain additional terms, we will make these terms available to you on those pages (which his incorporated herein by reference).The publishers/producers of this site and its contents such as videos, graphics, text, and other materials published are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, please always seek the advice of your physician or a qualified health provider. Do not postpone or disregard any professional medical advice over something you may have seen or read on this website. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 9-1-1 immediately.  This website does not support, endorse or recommend any specific products, tests, physicians, procedures, treatment opinions or other information that may be mentioned on this site. Referencing any content or information seen or published in this website or shared by other visitors of this website is solely at your own risk. The publishers/producers of this Internet web site reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to modify, disable access to, or discontinue, temporarily or permanently, all or any part of this Internet web site or any information contained thereon without liability or notice to you.
















Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Early Detection: The Risk of Being "Too Young for a Mammogram"


 A major concern is the presence of breast cancer in underserved communities, including those TOO YOUNG FOR A MAMMOGRAM.  Whereby the medical community touts the recommended (and legal/billable status) of getting a mammo scan should be between 40-50, what happens to the many women who do not fit this age criteria?  How would they even know to get checked without the support of their clinicians or an alarm from family history?

Decades into the battle against breast cancer, clinicians and the public are much more educated about EARLY DETECTION, PREVENTION and the current protocols and modalities available to save lives.  Recent headlines on DENSE BREAST and the advancements in ULTRASOUND SCANNING supports a major part of this battle.

UNDERSERVED AGE FOR EARLY DETECTION

By Dr. Robert L. Bard and Joe Cappello of AreYouDense.org

According to Breastcancer.org, "Where mammography is available, ultrasound should be seen as a supplemental test for women with dense breasts who do not meet high-risk criteria for screening [with] MRI and for high-risk women with dense breasts who are unable to tolerate MRI... but if mammography isn’t available, then ultrasound seems to be a good alternative for breast cancer screening."

Doppler Sonography offers clinical accuracy and access
to breast imaging evaluation (www.breastcancernyc.com
)


A recent cohort study is underway under a partnership between Molloy College and AreYouDense.org  to publish new findings about low BMI patients and younger women about the presence of dense breast tissue.  This same review also covers the advantages of ultrasound use where mammography is not available.

Mammography is the current standard for breast cancer early detection for women 40 & older. Recent studies have shown nearly half of all women who get mammograms are found to have dense breasts, exposing this population to the risk that mammograms may miss potentially cancerous tumors concealed by dense breast tissue.  Dr. Cutter's initial concepts to target LOW BMI (bet 12-22% body fat) was personally inspired.  As an active TRIATHLETE, her own diagnosis sparked her survey and inquiry throughout the athletic community where she uncovered a significant trend that became the basis for this research. She wishes to target younger women, athletes and members of underserved communities. "Younger women may be more likely to have dense breasts... also I find athletes with LOWER BMI (body mass index) or those with  less body fat are more likely to have more dense breast tissue compared with women who are obese." (See complete feature article)


VIEWPOINT 
WHAT ABOUT IF YOU'RE TOO YOUNG FOR A MAMMOGRAM?   I went to my doctor for a lump I felt in my breast and she gave me a response that set off red flags: "don't worry about it". Being a researcher involved in breast density and breast cancer, I knew that I had to take action; I was fortunate enough to have my breast ultrasound training with Dr. Robert Bard (cancer imaging specialist, NYC) upcoming in the next week. Dr. Bard showed me how to use the ultrasound to help me find two benign tumors in my breasts, and it was there that he reported that I have dense breasts. Had I not taken action in getting screened at the young age of 22, I would have never known that I should be getting screened via ultrasound every 6 months (because having dense breasts puts me at a higher risk for breast cancer), nor would I have known that I had benign breast tumors. 

- ALEXANDRA FIEDERLEIN, 22
Cancer Researcher/ Graduate- Molloy Univ.



NEWS FROM THE FIELD 

Click to see NEWS
The DENSE BREAST TISSUE / CANCER CONNECTION is a topic that has finally achieved proper recognition in our community. Thanks to organizations like The 'ARE YOU DENSE?' Foundation, awareness of this health concern has now shed light to the risk to 40+% of the national women's population whereby more clinicians are now recognizing the need to state a patient's dense breast status.  Research crusaders like  Dr. Noelle Cutter and research associate Alexandra Fiederlein from Molloy University are underway the 2022 National Survey of Dense Breast Studies by bringing ultrasound access to underserved members of the women's community. 

In a recent episode of SPOTLIGHT ON AMERICA, Dr. Bard spoke as the clinical expert in the report "Millions of women have this breast cancer risk factors... why aren't they being informed?" -- TND REPORT/Spotlight on America is pressing to ensure women have access to a crucial health fact that could save their lives. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 40% of women have dense breast tissue, which is a risk factor for cancer. The TND team first highlighted this issue in October 2021, and more than a year later, we expose how some women are still being left in the dark about their density, and federal health bodies are failing to make sure they’re informed.




2022 REVIEW ON WOMEN'S EARLY DETECTION STANDARDS 
Excerpt from the 2021 NYCRA Dense Breast Diagnostic Conference By: Dr. Roberta Kline

Breast cancer is still one of the most common cancers in women, and the leading cause of cancer mortality. While mammography is considered the standard imaging for early detection, it falls short for many – including those with dense breasts. Approximately 40% of women have dense breasts, which we now know is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. On top of this increased risk, mammogram is less sensitive for early detection – up to 50% less for women with the highest breast density. [1] As a result many women are not diagnosed until they have a much later stage cancer – and a worse prognosis. [2]

The State of Connecticut passed legislation requiring notification of breast density in 2009, after having passed legislation requiring insurance coverage for ultrasound for dense breasts in 2005. As an ObGyn physician practicing in CT at the time, I remember the discussions with colleagues and patients around this issue although at the time there were no formal efforts to raise awareness or update guidelines from our national specialty organization, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). 


PERSPECTIVE: PERSONAL FINDINGS BY A CLINICAL PROFESSIONAL
I was fortunate to have benefited personally from this effort when I had my first screening mammogram shortly after the law went into effect. The reading radiologist personally informed me of my high breast density immediately after the mammogram, and after recommending a breast ultrasound for further evaluation this was done right then and there. I walked away from my appointment feeling well informed, and any potential anxiety relieved by the prompt additional imaging and results. I also knew that I needed a different approach for my screenings going forward.

Between 2009 and 2019, 37 other states and D.C. passed legislation requiring notification of breast density, one of the last being my new home state of New Mexico. In 2019 a federal law was passed to require both clinician and patient reports contain plain language around the woman’s breast density, and to discuss with her provider. The FDA then created standard language that has now been implemented, requiring reporting on a woman’s individual breast density, and recommendation to discuss with her provider.
There is still much to be learned about what causes dense breasts and why women with dense breasts have an increased risk of breast cancer, and our ongoing study is one of many that are seeking to answer these questions at the molecular and genetic level. But the evidence that supplementing mammograms with other imaging modalities can increase the rate of early detection is substantial, and provides us with tools we can use right now to make a difference. [3,4]  Despite this progress, there are still significant hurdles in changing the standard of care. A recent experience with my routine breast cancer screening highlighted the ongoing challenges. When I had asked to schedule an ultrasound with my screening mammogram, I was informed that it was not done this way – I could only get a mammogram. After my mammogram, I had to wait to receive my letter in the mail approximately one week later to be able to take any additional steps. The interpretation included a description of breast density and recommended to discuss any additional care with my physician. 

When I called to schedule an ultrasound, I was told that since the radiologist did not recommend it in the report, I could not schedule it. I then had to speak with my primary care provider, educating her on dense breasts and why I needed an ultrasound. Luckily, she agreed to order one. While the radiology facility still questioned the order, eventually I was able to have this done. When the radiologist came in to discuss my results, she too was confused as to why I was having the ultrasound, and was not aware that this should be standard for women with dense breasts.

See 2022 Dense Breast Ultrasound Study
Fortunately all was fine, but had I not been a physician that was fully aware of this issue, I would very likely have had only a mammogram and walked away with a dangerously false sense of security. This experience highlighted for me how much still needed to be done more than 20 years after my first experience. Legislation is only part of the solution. Clinician education and public awareness are the keys to changing how the intention behind these laws gets translated into actual change in health care.

As I experienced, many clinicians are ill-informed about the nature of dense breasts, and options for adjunctive screening including ultrasound or MRI. This means that many of these reports end up being filed away with no further action being taken that could make a significant difference in early detection and saving lives.

EPILOGUE: CURRENT STANDARDS VS NEEDS
ACOG still officially does not recommend any further imaging for women with dense breasts on mammogram, despite the significant body of evidence suggesting that mammogram alone is insufficient and adjunctive imaging with ultrasound or MRI increases rate of early detection. [5] The U.S. Preventive Task Force [6]  does not recommend routine adjunctive imaging for screening women with dense breasts. This leaves many healthcare practitioners, from ObGyns to other primary care providers, unprepared to discuss this with their patients or provide sound recommendations. 

The American College of Radiologists, who also publishes the BIRADS standards for breast cancer screening, acknowledges awareness of breast density detection issues with mammography but stops short of recommending routine adjunctive imaging. Instead, they list ultrasound and MRI as “may be appropriate”. [7] We have enough evidence to know how to better serve women with dense breasts, and we can do better. Now we need to push for better education of all primary health care providers, including ObGyns, and continue to raise awareness for women around current knowledge and best practices. 



References
1) Gordon PB. The Impact of Dense Breasts on the Stage of Breast Cancer at Diagnosis: A Review and Options for Supplemental Screening. Curr Oncol. 2022 May 17;29(5):3595-3636.
2) Chiu, S.Y.H.; Duffy, S.; Yen, A.M.F.; Tab├ír, L.; Smith, R.A.; Chen, H.H. Effect of baseline breast density on breast cancer incidence, stage, mortality, and screening parameters: 25-Year follow-up of a Swedish mammographic screening. Cancer Epidemiol. Biomark. Prev. 2010, 19, 1219–1228
3) Harada-Shoji N, Suzuki A, Ishida T, Zheng YF, Narikawa-Shiono Y, Sato-Tadano A, Ohta R, Ohuchi N. Evaluation of Adjunctive Ultrasonography for Breast Cancer Detection Among Women Aged 40-49 Years With Varying Breast Density Undergoing Screening Mammography: A Secondary Analysis of a Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Netw Open. 2021 Aug 2;4(8):e2121505
4) Mann, R.M., Athanasiou, A., Baltzer, P.A.T. et al. Breast cancer screening in women with extremely dense breasts recommendations of the European Society of Breast Imaging (EUSOBI). Eur Radiol 32, 4036–4045 (2022).
5) Management of Women With Dense Breasts Diagnosed by Mammography. ACOG Committee Opinion. CO Number 625 March 2015
6) https://uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/recommendation/breast-cancer-screening
7) American College of Radiology ACR Appropriateness Criteria® Supplemental Breast Cancer Screening Based on Breast Density. 2021

Copyright Notice: The materials provided on this website/web-based article are copyrighted and the intellectual property of the publishers/producers (The NY Cancer Resource Alliance/IntermediaWorx inc. and The AngioFoundation). It is provided publicly strictly for informational purposes within non-commercial use and not for purposes of resale, distribution, public display or performance. Unless otherwise indicated on this web based page, sharing, re-posting, re-publishing of this work is strictly prohibited without due permission from the publishers.  Also, certain content may be licensed from third-parties. The licenses for some of this Content may contain additional terms. When such Content licenses contain additional terms, we will make these terms available to you on those pages (which his incorporated herein by reference).The publishers/producers of this site and its contents such as videos, graphics, text, and other materials published are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, please always seek the advice of your physician or a qualified health provider. Do not postpone or disregard any professional medical advice over something you may have seen or read on this website. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 9-1-1 immediately.  This website does not support, endorse or recommend any specific products, tests, physicians, procedures, treatment opinions or other information that may be mentioned on this site. Referencing any content or information seen or published in this website or shared by other visitors of this website is solely at your own risk. The publishers/producers of this Internet web site reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to modify, disable access to, or discontinue, temporarily or permanently, all or any part of this Internet web site or any information contained thereon without liability or notice to you.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

GET TO KNOW YOUR ANXIETY AND STRESS

HEALING, STRESS AND THE PARASYMPATHETIC SYSTEM (part 1)

Written by: Roberta Kline, MD 

Analyzing STRESS & ANXIETY from a holistic point of view means identifying the body’s interconnected systems (ie. circulatory, cardiovascular, nervous, lymphatic, endocrine etc.) and its many touch points for stimulation.   This analysis should also offer a comprehensive breakdown of the body's HEALING capacity- which includes our hormones, digestive system, immune system, brain, heart-- all the way down to our cells and mitochondria.  

Stress is part of life, and comes in many forms including physical, emotional, mental and environmental. Foods we eat, unhealthy relationships, difficulties at work, toxins in our environment, even poor posture or lack of sunshine can all create stress on our bodies. But when stress is catastrophic or becomes chronic, it creates imbalances in this functioning that are much more likely to promote disease while at the same time preventing healing from taking place. [1]

With people under record levels of chronic stress, it is no wonder we have an epidemic of people suffering from all sorts of health issues and chronic diseases. Heart disease, diabetes, obesity, pain, anxiety, depression, infertility, cancer, autoimmune diseases such as arthritis, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s …. These are just some of the many health conditions that have been linked to diet and lifestyle including chronic stress. [2, 3] But how does this work? And is meditation the answer to reversing this trend? Science is revealing some interesting clues.


THE NERVOUS SYSTEM
One big connection is our nervous system. Our nervous system is our superconductor network of information exchange throughout our bodies, and consists of two main parts. The first is the central nervous system (CNS). As it sounds, it’s our command center where all data comes to be processed, and is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. The second is called the peripheral nervous system (PNS) and it connects every part of our body to our CNS through individual nerve cells called neurons and clusters of neurons known as ganglia.

The PNS is further divided into the Somatic Nervous System, also known as the voluntary nervous system, and the Autonomic Nervous System. The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) manages all bodily functions that are not under conscious control. This includes heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, respiration, cellular activity, immune system, hormones, brain function, sexual function, and even body temperature.

The ANS is further divided into two parts: the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS), which regulates our “fight or flight” response, and the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS), which controls our “rest and digest” response. They work closely together in a complex dance, maintaining our bodily functions and ensuring our survival every second of our lives.

Many health issues, including most chronic diseases such as heart disease, autoimmune disease, diabetes, depression and anxiety, and cancer, are related to an imbalance of our autonomic nervous system. Most typically, it is too much of the “fight or flight” and not enough of the “rest and digest” that leads us into this imbalance. [4]

See complete feature by Dr. Roberta Kline




HOW THERAPISTS DIAGNOSE MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES
By:  Jessica Connell, LCSW






An Excerpt from Diane Calabrese's latest book:
"Meditations for the Mind-Body-Spirit"

FOREWORD:
In a world where ANXIETY & STRESS have become an expected ingredient to the bustling rat-race of our daily race, there remains countless signs from the medical community of a dire need for self-management in this department.  More than a comical quip, STRESS is (by all definitions) a KILLER -- and unbridled ANXIETY can spiral into physiological disorders causing rapid heart rate, high blood pressure and heart disease - elevating the risk of coronary events. Rooted from a lifestyle imbalances in our emotional state calls us to address an upgrade in the mind-body connection. 

GUIDED MEDITATIONS are a way to let go of your worries for the moment and bring you back to your true, authentic self. It helps re-align the chakras of your body to their natural state of vibration, –where you can live more fully, love more abundantly, and react in a peaceful state of mind. 

Your mind, body, and spirit are the essential parts of you. You are God’s precious gift to the world and there is nothing more beautiful than a soul in the state of peace. Guided meditation is one of many holistic healing modalities that has many benefits. The practice of guided meditation is dated back to the beginning of time, we all need to quiet the mind, to let go of all the chatter of everyday life, –to recharge, replenish and rejuvenate the soul. 

Meditation can be implemented for long and short periods of time. We live in a world that is constantly cluttering our lives. We need to take time out for ourselves. When we do that, –we feel more relaxed. We can give more of ourselves and to others in positive ways because we are refreshed. Meditation lifts our spirit to a higher level of vibration so that we can handle life’s troubles and triumphs to our best capability.  While working at the Veteran’s Administration Medical Center in Northport, Long Island, –I would always include guided meditations as part of my practice with my patients. Many patients felt the soothing music and aromatherapy used in conjunction with the guided meditations made the experience even more pleasant, so it’s important to take note of what works best for you.

Meditation is a practice known to man since the beginning of time. The history of meditation is rooted back in religion and spiritual practice; however, as cultures and societies changed, –so did its practice. The English word “meditation” comes from meditatum, a Latin word meaning to “ponder.” When we ponder, –we reflect, we think. But instead of thinking in haste, –we think with clarity. We let go of toxic thoughts, –calming the mind, body, and soul to lead a more peaceful and happy life. There are many benefits to prayer, meditation, and guided imaginary. 

Meditation has proven benefits to reduce anxiety and depression; fear and apprehension; stress and tension; calming your mind and nerves; and improving your physical health. There are various forms of meditation and differences in how people respond to meditation. Each time you practice meditation, –you are generally, –able to let go more easily, and may go into a deeper meditation. You become light itself. Meditation increases your concentration and ability to stay focused.  Ultimately, it increases your wisdom and intuition. Meditating in the morning provides you with inspirational energy for the day, –and meditating in the evening encourages a restful sleep.


Meet our newest contributor:

Diane Calabrese, MS, CTRS is the author of Meditations for the Mind-Body-Spirit and is an adjunct professor for Florida International University. Diane was practicing as a recreational therapist for 30 years. She holds a master’s degree in Healthcare Policy and Management Sciences and a bachelor’s degree in Recreational Therapy. In addition, she has worked in a variety of healthcare settings. Diane's passion led her to continue her education in various holistic healing modalities.   



RECHARGING FOR CAREGIVERS
By: Dr. Leslie Valle & the Prevention101 Editorial Team

During the Covid-19 surge, interviews with emergency medical professionals showed dramatic cases of ICU and ER responders exposed to major signs of advanced fatigue and risk of burnout.  This significantly raised major risks to their work performance where lives are to be affected, including theirs.  Over time, double and triple shifts resulted in "a different type of pandemic" on a national scale- where this level of exhaustion and overwhelm.  

Where a leave of absence, a vacation or regular rest is not an immediate option, we can start with addressing BRAIN HEALTH AND MENTAL HEALTH.  Modern meditation solutions (like BrainTap®, Loving Meditations® and other such technologies) are now available for exactly this emergent case as a portable personal "Rescue" dose. By tap ping the mind/body connection into a Vital Re-charge mode, we can induce a "Refresh- Revitalize-Renew" condition.  As with conventional meditation, bringing you into a regenerative meditative state offers that level of rest, clears the mind for renewed focus and new energy to continue with the 'battle' at hand. 



2022 TRENDING INTEREST IN BRAIN HEALTH
By: David Dachinger & Joshua Schueller

Within the recent decade, a higher level of focus on brain health has been a trending topic in headlines throughout medical community news.  Public concerns about Alzheimer’s, Dementia, MS, ALS and other neurodegenerative diseases has driven advanced research in their diagnostics, therapeutics and prevention. According to Dr. Jay Lombard, “One of the most exciting opportunities in neuroscience research today is the use of strategies that protect the brain which may potentially prevent, delay or inhibit the progression of neurodegenerative diseases… this opportunity rests on our ability for early diagnosis. Research has shown that the likelihood of success for a given treatment-whether lifestyle changes or pharmacological approaches- is highly dependent upon early intervention, before the disease process has become too severe and potentially irreversible.” [1] 

 In addition, growing reports on Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy/CTE (identified from head concussions) has prompted significant attention to this progressive brain condition.  According to the National Health Service (UK), this disorder “is thought to be caused by repeated blows to the head and repeated episodes of concussion. It's particularly associated with contact sports, such as boxing or American football. Most of the available studies are based on ex-athletes”. [2]

More concerns of brain function and performance is widely seen in the current pandemic and post-covid infection sequelae cases, where over 50 prevailing symptoms and disorders (known as LONG HAUL) are now under global review. Clinical researchers state post-acute COVID—affects a multitude of organ systems- including neuropsychiatric issues like BRAIN FOG, a form of cognitive impairment. This may be linked to a wide range of pathologies such as anxiety and depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and recurring headaches and migraines. [3] In a recent meta-analysis study on long term effects of covid-19, Dr. Sonia Villapol (Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at the Center for Neuroregeneration in the Houston Methodist Research Institute & Asst. Professor at Weill Cornell Medicine) recorded significant long haul cases pertaining to brain health and functions including 44% headaches, 27% attention disorders, 13% anxiety, 12% depression. [4]




ROBERTA KLINE, MD (Educational Dir. /Women's Diagnostic Group) is a board-certified ObGyn physician, Integrative Personalized Medicine expert, consultant, author, and educator whose mission is to change how we approach health and deliver healthcare. She currently serves as Education Director for several organizations including the Women’s Diagnostic Health Network, Mommies on a Mission. 

LESLIE VALLE, MD - is the founder of Biomed Life/ Santa Barbara Longevity Center. After medical school, Dr. Valle focused on managing chronic disease starting with its links to poor nutrition and then introducing them into the world of energy frequencies.  She explores and includes non-invasive modalities such as: frequency therapies (including biofeedback), PEMF, proper detoxification, nutritional guidance and binaural beats as needed.

JOSH T. SCHUELLER is a licensed Physical Therapist supporting and treating chronic pain and disorders with non-invasive, treatment solutions. He is the current VP of Clinical Operations and Business Development at AxioBionics LLC. and is formerly the Clinical Director for Orthopedic Physical Therapy Clinics (Rockford, MI).  He has over 20+ years experience in the treatment of neurological conditions such as Spinal Cord Injury, Traumatic Brain Injury, CVA, Cerebral Palsy etc.

Lt. DAVID DACHINGER (Ret) - is a retired Fire Lieutenant with over 21 years as a leader in emergency services. He is also a Stage IV cancer survivor. He wrote cancer prevention policies for the Ridgefield CT Fire Department, and introduced physical fitness wellness initiatives. David hosts the video podcast “Responder Resilience”, which is dedicated to improving the mental and physical well-being of police, fire, EMS, and dispatch personnel. 




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