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  • Learning how to learn in college, especially after a brain injury (click title to watch)

    In the September Issue of Brain Line, the above video was posted. 

    "If you look at what successful students do, they're very engaged with their material. They attend study groups. They go to the professor when they don't do well on a quiz. … A lot of kids have to learn how to learn in college," says researcher and speech pathologist Juliet Haarbauer-Krupa, Ph.D. She talks about how the most successful students with TBI in college are those who know themselves and who are willing to access the support services they need.

  • Basic information about neuroplasticity

    Neuroplasticity is explained in simple terms by Lumosity 

    Neuroplasticity: the incredible, flexible brain Your brain has the innate ability to physically change itself when faced with new, challenging experiences. This ability is called neuroplasticity.

    Your brain's billions of neurons —its cellular building blocks—interact with each other in complex ways. Signals travel from one neuron to another down intricate neural pathways whose structures determine your thoughts, impulses, emotions, insights, and more.

    As our brains age through childhood, these neural pathways change: less-used pathways are pruned away
    while pathways that you use regularly grow stronger. Each task relies on a different neural pathway.

    Neuroplasticity is your brain's ability to create neural pathways and reshape existing ones—even as an adult. Your brain makes these small changes naturally throughout your lifetime. But when neuroplasticity's potential is thoughtfully and methodically explored, this physical reorganization can make your brain faster and more efficient at performing all manner of tasks—no matter how large or small they may be.

    Novelty forces your brain to change Novel challenges present unexpected obstacles, forcing your brain to work in new ways. When your brain encounters these new challenges, it must remodel its existing circuitry and find new pathways for information processing.

    That's because the brain assigns special neural pathways for each type of task. Just as you use different muscle
    groups for running and swimming, so you use different neural circuitry for reading and watching a movie. Familiar tasks simply reactivate existing circuitry—which can keep your brain active, but won't change or improve it in fundamental ways.

    Adaptivity keeps your brain challenged You have a unique set of cognitive strengths and weaknesses. A task that's easy for someone else may be a challenge to you, and vice versa.

    In order to improve, you need tasks appropriate for your brain's ever-changing ability levels. As your brain becomes stronger, it's able to handle tougher challenges. This response to challenges is a key part of neural growth, and you need challenges that adapt quickly enough to push you.
    That's where online cognitive training is truly breaking ground. Cutting-edge technology makes it possible for online games to adapt to your brain on a moment-by-moment basis.

    Keep things new and challenging to build new pathways at any age with any history or diagnosis!

  • Blood Test for Concussions

    Blood Test for Concussion?

    S100B is a serum protein that is thought to aid in the functioning of neurons early in life, and it is present only in the brain. In studies over the past several years, the S100B protein has been found to be transiently increased in the bloodstream after mild TBI (Dash et al, 2010), suggesting that the blood brain barrier can be compromised in traumatic brain injury, including concussion.  It has been evaluated in six clinical trials with over 2000 participants and demonstrated 98% sensitivity in diagnosis of mild TBI. 

    The blood–brain barrier (BBB) is a separation of circulating blood from cerebral spinal fluid in the central nervous system (CNS).  It is semi-permeable, allowing some materials to cross, but preventing others from crossing.  The blood–brain barrier protects the brain from many common bacterial infections, antibodies, poisons and certain drugs.

    When the S100B protein becomes present in the bloodstream, the body may react to it as a foreign invader and release auto-antibodies to attack it. The antibodies can then leak into the brain through the weakened blood-brain barrier where they are thought to attack brain tissue. In one recent study, four out of 27 football players who had pre- and in-season blood tests showed signs of an autoimmune response to elevated S100B levels.

    In the future, testing for the presence of the S100B protein following suspected concussion may be one way to rapidly confirm injury. In 2010, the U.S. Army announced that 34 patients had been accurately diagnosed with traumatic brain injury via a blood test for other proteins (SBDP145 and SBDP120) that seep through the blood-brain barrier after damage. The Army data focused on mild to severe injury, so ongoing S100B studies might help create blood testing technology to detect mild brain trauma quickly and perhaps for as little as $40. S100B blood tests are already used outside of sports, and as a standard procedure in a few emergency rooms in Germany for diagnosing brain trauma.

  • New Concussion Guidelines

    New Concussion Guidelines Released
    The American Academy of Neurology released a report on Monday, March 19, 2013 stating that it had revised its guidelines for handling concussions to emphasize treating athletes case by case rather than according to a predetermined scale.
    “We’ve moved away from the concussion grading systems we first established in 1997 and are now recommending that concussion and return to play be assessed in each athlete individually,” said Christopher C. Giza, a doctor at the David Geffen School of Medicine and Mattel Children’s Hospital at U.C.L.A. and one of the lead authors of the new guidelines. “There is no set timeline for safe return to play.”
    Concussions, Giza and other authors of the report said, are clinical diagnoses. “Symptom checklists, the Standardized Assessment of Concussion (SAC), neuropsychological testing (paper-and-pencil and computerized) and the Balance Error Scoring System may be helpful tools in diagnosing and managing concussions but should not be used alone for making a diagnosis.”
    They also reported that there are more than a million sports-related concussions annually in the US, and that the risk of concussion was greatest in football and rugby, followed by hockey and soccer. For young women and girls, the risk was greatest in soccer and basketball.
    Signs and symptoms of a concussion are complex and variable, and any athlete suspected of having a concussion should be thoroughly evaluated by a qualified medical professional. The AAN guidelines recommend that athletes suspected of having a concussion should be immediately removed from play.
    “If in doubt, sit it out,” said Dr. Jeffrey S. Kutcher, a physician at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor and a member of the academy. “You only get one brain; treat it well.”

  • Video illustrating and explaining physiology of Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries

    Brainline.org is was a fantastic website with information for people with TBI, family members and professionals. In the 14 min. video sited below, the physiology and anatomy of what happens to the brain during a mild traumatic brain injury is beautifully illustrated and explained.

    Video Illustration of Physiology of MTBI
  • Hillary Clinton’s Concussion and Double Vision

    Hillary Clinton’s Concussion and Double Vision

    Difficulty with vision is often an overlooked symptom following a brain injury, concussion, stroke, or any kind of acquired brain injury.

    Recently, Hillary Clinton fell after she fainted and suffered a concussion. During the course of her medical care following the concussion, a blood clot was also found in a vein that runs between the skull and the brain, behind her right ear. You may have heard reports that Mrs. Clinton was doing well and suffered no neurological damage. However, you may have also seen the reports where she wore glasses with Fresnel prism (a prism in the form of adhesive plastic placed on the lenses) due to double vision. This is most likely an issue resulting from her concussion and neurological insult.

    A lot of people who have suffered an acquired brain injury notice changes in their vision. If a person, like Mrs. Clinton suffers from double vision (diplopia), everyday tasks can become very difficult. Thankfully, there is help available. An optometrist knowledgeable in vision rehabilitation and the effects of an acquired brain injury on vision can provide a thorough eye examination, diagnose the problems, and provide or prescribe treatment. Treatment may include one or more of the following: glasses with prism, exercises for your eyes, and/or surgery. Prism can be ground into the lens or an adhesive (Fresnel) prism placed on your glasses such as what Mrs. Clinton was seen using. The prism can shift the image to help align the 2 images seen from each eye. Another type of treatment, and often performed concurrently, involves eye exercises to teach the person’s eyes how to work together again. Much like a person who suffers from hemiplegia following a stroke would participate in therapy to regain movement and control of their affected limbs, a person can participate in vision therapy to improve eye teaming skills. Surgery may also be recommended to better align the eyes.
    Hopefully, Mrs. Clinton will continue to improve and resolve her diplopia. In the meantime, hopefully more awareness will be brought to visual dysfunction and treatment options following an acquired brain injury and concussion such as Mrs. Clinton’s.

    For more information on Fresnel prisms, vision therapy, and symptoms following an acquired brain injury please visit the Neuro Optometric Rehabilitation Association website (nora.cc)

    To find out more about how prisms can help diplopia visit: http://www.glassescrafter.com/information/prism-in-eyeglasses.html

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