Archive for the ‘Brain Facts’ Category

Children and concussion

Posted on: October 18th, 2011 by CORE Health Care Admin No Comments

By the time they’re 6, most kids have seen a concussion play out at least a dozen times. For example, Foghorn Leghorn, in one of his many tangos with Barnyard Dawg, gets whomped on the head with a plank of wood. The impact leaves him staggering with a wreath of stars and moons orbiting around his pointy crown. He sputters some gibberish, not exactly sure where he is or what or whom clocked him.

What Mr. Leghorn is experiencing is a classic concussion: temporary disorientation, transient memory loss, dizziness, and an inability to think or speak clearly.

The word concussion derives from the Latin “concutere,” which means “shake violently,” and “concussus,” or “strike together.” As it happens, these ancient words are a fairly apt description of what goes on when one suffers a concussive blow. The initial impact – whether received on the head or another part of the body – causes the brain to crash against the inner wall of the skull. This shaking disrupts the brain’s normal chemical balance and causes the brain to bruise and swell. (more…)

Wear a helmet!

Posted on: September 28th, 2011 by CORE Health Care Admin No Comments

It won’t ruin your hair.

It won’t make you look stupid.

It’s not uncool.

What will ruin your hair, make you look stupid and be totally uncool is injuring your brain while not wearing a helmet when you’re skateboarding, bicycling, inline skating, snowboarding or riding a scooter. Falling from as little as 2 feet can cause a traumatic brain injury.

The statistics from the Think First Foundation, a national group:

  • Helmets can prevent an estimated 75 percent of bicycle fatalities among children – riders without helmets are 14 times more likely to be in a fatal crash than riders wearing helmets.
  • Bicycle helmets can prevent 85 to 88 percent of critical head and brain injuries.
  • If all children aged 4 to 15 wore a bicycle helmet, up to 45,000 head injuries would be prevented each year.
  • Inline skaters sustain 11,000 head and face injuries annually; about 75 percent of skaters don’t wear any safety equipment.
  • About 27 percent of injuries from riding a scooter are head injuries.
  • In 2000, nearly 50,000 children aged 5 to 14 went to a hospital emergency room for skateboard-related injuries.
  • Wearing a helmet could prevent 85 percent of scooter and inline skating injuries.
  • Wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of head injury among skiers and snowboarders by 35 percent. (This statistic is from researchers at the University of Calgary based on research published in 2010 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.) (more…)

Do you remember?

Posted on: September 5th, 2011 by CORE Health Care Admin No Comments

Try this brief exercise. Get comfortable. Take a deep breath. Now, recall your very first phone number.

(Pause.)

How quickly did the number come back to you? What else came back? In that instant, did you feel as if you were 5 or 6 or 8 years old? Did you see the kitchen with a rotary wall phone and the table where you did your homework? Maybe you saw your house from the street and heard the tch-tch-tch of a sprinkler, or inhaled the aroma of a freshly cut lawn. Chances are the recollection inspired a host of sensory memories which acted as a kind of time machine, ferrying you across a great divide.

One of the reasons your first phone number – like a first love – comes back so readily is because it was an emotional event, a rite of passage. It was given to you only when you were ready for it, and once possessed, it provided a lifeline to a world outside of your family. Your first phone number was novel, it was important, and it became part of your long term memory.

How did it get there, and what does emotion have to do with it?

A memory is not a thing, consigned to one area of the brain. Memories are brain-wide and depend upon a group of communication systems, each playing a unique role. There are three basic stages of memory: encoding, storage, and recall. (more…)

The cost of brain injury

Posted on: July 20th, 2011 by CORE Health Care Admin No Comments

According to a 2010 Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report, about 1.7 million people have a traumatic brain injury each year. That’s up from 1.4 per year in 2004. This number is suspected to be low because it doesn’t include traumatic brain injuries that are treated during doctor’s office visits or in outpatient settings. There are also hundreds of thousands of people who experience a mild or moderate traumatic brain injury (in many cases from playing a sport) and don’t go to the doctor.

Of these 1.7 million people, 52,000 die and 275,000 are hospitalized. Traumatic brain injury contributes to about 30 percent of all injury-related deaths in the United States.

People serving in the military – in both combat and non-combat roles – have a much higher risk of traumatic brain injury. A 2003 study reported that 23 percent of non-combat active-duty soldiers at Fort Bragg had sustained a traumatic brain injury during military service. More recent reports suggest that as many as 20 percent of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have some type of traumatic brain injury. (more…)

The incredible, adaptable brain

Posted on: July 15th, 2011 by CORE Health Care Admin No Comments

How many of you had a plastic brain as a kid? I did and I loved taking it apart to see the different structures. I’m betting the toymakers didn’t know how prophetic their creations were.

In the 1960s, scientists discovered that the human brain can produce new cells no matter how old it is. This idea is called “neuroplasticity,” meaning the brain is capable of modifying and changing itself by creating new cells and networks.

When first announced, no one really paid much attention because most experts believe that the brain finished developing early in life. In other words, our brains were hardwired and treatments could only compensate for damage to the brain, not repair it. So patients with severe traumatic brain injuries many times were allowed to die because it was assumed that their quality of life would always be horrible.

But once doctors realized the importance of the discovery, it opened doors for new treatments for traumatic brain injuries, Alzheimer’s disease and other illnesses that affect the brain’s ability to function. Doing rehabilitation exercises to relearn basic skills may allow a traumatically injured brain to form new neural pathways. These new connections may allow the person to walk or talk or think rationally again. (more…)

What Is Traumatic Brain Injury?

Posted on: June 30th, 2011 by CORE Health Care Admin No Comments

About 1.7 million people in the United States sustain traumatic brain injuries each year. As a nation, we don’t talk a lot about brain injury, but the incidences are high enough that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) call traumatic brain injury a serious public health problem.

Traumatic brain injury is caused by a blow to the head or an object piercing the head and damaging the brain. According to the CDC, about a third of traumatic brain injuries are from falls. Motor vehicle accidents, military combat, fighting and blows to the head while playing sports are other leading causes. (more…)