DECEMBER NEWS IN PARKINSON’S​

Society for Neuroscience 2018  The presentation of a study headed by Elizabeth Stegemöller at Iowa State University at the 2018 Neuroscience conference builds on her previous research showing singing might improve respiratory control and patient’s ability to swallow. This builds on singing’s demand for tighter control over muscles in the mouth and throat, making sense in terms of measurable benefits. However, her latest results have identified a much wider range of potential benefit to Parkinson’s sufferers. The study initially looked at heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol levels before and after sessions of singing. Additionally, participants completed a questionnaire that rated levels of anxiety, sadness, anger and happiness. Although heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol levels dropped across the board, changes were not statistically significant. Stegemöller reported: “We see improvement every week when they leave singing group. It’s almost like they have a little pep in their step. We know they’re feeling better and their mood is elevated, some of the symptoms that are improving, such as finger tapping and gait, don’t always readily respond to medication, but with singing they are improving.” Of particular note were statistically significant improvement in upper extremity bradykinesia (slowness of movement), tremor and walking. These findings beg the question; Why does singing have any impact at all on a neurodegenerative condition? Research is continuing looking at the effect of oxytocin (a hormone related to bonding), changes in inflammation (an indicator of the progression of the disease) and neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to compensate for injury or disease) as possible factors. We will watch for further research results – Songshine starts in January at NVC. Sign up early​

DECEMBER NEWS IN STROKE​

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke This institute functions within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and seeks to gain fundamental knowledge about the brain and nervous system to reduce the burden of neurological disease. They attempt to foster a balance of basic, transactional and clinical research supporting most of the basic medical research in the field. The private sector supports little of this research because the return on investment is highly unpredictable. NINDS basic research is divided between research on the normal development and working of the nervous system plus research related to disease mechanisms. The focus is on the following areas: neurodegeneration; the control of the environment of nerve cells by supporting cells; systems and cognitive neuroscience; nervous system repair and plasticity;  and, the role of genes in the normal and diseased nervous system . An example of the research funded through this institute is the a recent study published in JAMA finding that diet is a major contributor to the increased risk of hypertension in black as compared to white Americans. The study addressed a leading cause of racial disparity in mortality and identified potential lifestyle changes that could reduce racial disparities in both stroke and heart disease.  Diets of high amounts of fried and processed foods as well as sweetened beverages was identified as the greatest risk factor. Other factors included salt intake and education levels while women has the additional risk factor contributing to racial differences of waist size and obesity. This is further speculated to affect the racial  life expectancy disparity.   JAMA Network Open Reports a study looking at the link between obesity and stroke. It was reported that there is no direct causal link. However, there is what is termed a “supportive causal association”.  What this means is that a causal link can be found between obesity and a higher risk for type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease. Both type 2 diabetes and CAD are high risk factors for stroke. ​

December 2018 NVC Blog Post

As we start the last month of 2018, we look back on our calendar year with sadness for all the good friends we have lost. At the same time we are grateful for the time we all spent together, for the friendships that were forged and for the on-going anchor of the Neuro Vitality Center that brings so many together offering life and hope to those in need and giving so many a purpose and a spirit that does not exist anywhere else. If you missed our Facebook live broadcast on Giving Tuesday, visit our Facebook page and watch the videos. It once more confirms how important what we do is to the participants, the families, the volunteers and the staff. Our unique patient care philosophy, our attention to each of our patients and our genuine caring is so evident and exudes throughout the filming as it does each day here at the Center.That said, this also comes with a great responsibility to make sure we are able to bring these services to as many people as we are can regardless of their ability to pay.  But even more that that – we must ask the question if there are people who would benefit from being with us who we are not serving?  Are there ways that we can serve people who are not coming here now that need our help? Are there services we need to offer that can better help our populations? All of these are questions that we must answer going forward. And all these questions need to be answered with the boundaries in mind of not what can we afford to do but rather, how do we afford to do more? We have creatively produced these services for 41 years, let’s figure out how to do even better for the next 41 years. ​

NOVEMBER NEWS IN PARKINSON’S​

The GuardianStudy from the Netherlands projects that 48% of women and 36% of men aged 45 are likely to be diagnosed with dementia, Parkinson’s or have a stroke. These are the three most common neurological diseases in the elderly population. While there is a great deal of focus on heart disease and cancer in middle age, there is less attention and research on diseases of the brain. Focus on preventive interventions at the population level could substantially reduce the burden of these common neurological diseases in the aging population. They estimate that if the onset of dementia were delayed by one to three years, the remaining risk of developing the conditions could be cut by 20% among 45 year olds and more that 50% in those over 85.The best current evidence suggests eating a balanced diet, controlling our weight, staying active, not smoking, moderate drinking and control of blood pressure and cholesterol will lead to better brain health in the elderly.  ​

NOVEMBER NEWS IN STROKE​

The British Medical Journal and panel discussion School of Public Health – Harvard The study featured in this month’s Frontal Lobe blog looked at the effect of lifestyle changes on those genetically predisposed to stroke. Analyzing over 300,000 patients over a 7 year period it was determined that men had a higher likelihood of stroke than women but, at the same time, those with unhealthy lifestyles had a 66% greater chance of stroke than those who had made healthful lifestyle choices. The most critical lifestyle factors were smoking and whether or not they were overweight. People with both high genetic risk and an unhealthful lifestyle were more than twice as much at risk.In a panel discussion at Harvard, the experts noted that although stroke deaths have  fallen sharply in recent decades, we are seeing a leveling off and we are seeing strokes occurring in younger people, those 35-64. The reasons speculated are the high rate of diabetes, obesity and physical inactivity. Marijuana StudyTracking 2.3 million American recreational marijuana users who were hospitalized indicated that there is an increased risk for stroke. This does not establish causation but does suggest further research is called for. In addition, the researcher do not know if the risk may be tied to smoking or ingesting or the amount of the drug used. Also, there was no tracking for possible other drug usage or other risk factors. The GuardianStudy from the Netherlands projects that 48% of women and 36% of men aged 45 are likely to be diagnosed with dementia, Parkinson’s or have a stroke. These are the three most common neurological diseases in the elderly population. While there is a great deal of focus on heart disease and cancer in middle age, there is less attention and research on diseases of the brain. Focus on preventive interventions at the population level could substantially reduce the burden of these common neurological diseases in the aging population. They estimate that if the onset of dementia were delayed by one to three years, the remaining risk of developing the conditions could be cut by 20% among 45 year olds and more that 50% in those over 85.The best current evidence suggests eating a balanced diet, controlling our weight, staying active, not smoking, moderate drinking and control of blood pressure and cholesterol will lead to better brain health in the elderly.  ​

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