As the temperatures begin to decline out of triple digits here in the desert, we start to see our manyfriends slowly trickle in from their summer homes. We see the traffic increase, we see the streets busyand we see the calendar of events start to become filled with places to go and people to hear impartingwisdom on many and varied topics at venues throughout the valley. We are a nation overwhelmed withaccess to information: the internet, television, advertising, newspapers, lecturers and more. Those of uswho suffer from chronic illnesses are particularly vulnerable since we search for answers from as manysources as we can looking for that one thing that will make us better.How do we sort among all the information coming at us to determine that which is of value and thatwhich should be ignored? There is not an easy answer to this question but there are a few things that wecan keep in mind to help use develop a self-screen to help keep out the noise but allow us to be up todate and informed.One of the major screens we use here at the center is the question: is this person selling anything? Wehave many people ask us if they may make presentations to our clients touting their service or theirproducts as the best thing to make life better. A couple of things to keep in mind when evaluating theveracity of a speaker, service or product are:Products that aid treatments are vigorously tested and go through many levels of approvalbefore being released to the public. Even then, most truly effective products are regulated intheir delivery through licensed professionals such as doctors or pharmacists. Products that aresold directly to the public have to be benign enough not to do harm which means, in most cases,they are not effective either.Standards and methods of care also go through rigorous testing before they are accepted asstandards of practice. There are a lot of good ideas and ways to treat diseases that are proposedby well meaning people but few of them have gone through the long term study needed toprove efficacy.Things that occur simultaneously do not necessarily have a causative factor. Be very skeptical ofarticles that use the words “may” or ‘could”. For example, while most people who haveAlzheimer’s have grey hair, no one would propose that grey hair causes Alzheimer’s.On the other hand, we can learn a great deal from hospitals and from Universities. While we understandthat most Doctor presentations are designed to entice you to his/her practice for an appointment, wecan still learn a lot from the subject matter and can ask questions. Presentations form professors andscientist researchers can be a great source of knowledge also giving us the opportunity to learn aboutcutting edge research even though in most cases work done in university labs is many years away fromactual treatments.One last thing we have noticed over the years is what is called the halo effect. There are many thingsthat can make us feel better if we like the person or just feel good about what we are doing. Some ofthat is as simple and as complex as our attitude. That is something we can all agree is a great healer.Always good to remember: if it seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.
SEPTEMBER 2019 BLOG
Expanding our treatment to neurological disorders from our specialty of Stroke/TBI has necessitatedexpanding our own knowledge. At NVC we welcome learning more about different disorders,treatments, symptoms, and risk factors to become aware of just what is the state of the art. In so doingwe are learning just how much is unknown about the brain and the diseases and disorders that have thebrain and nervous systems at the core of either causation or affect. These disorders can vary fromcognitive problems to physical disorders of paralysis or lack of control or just general loss of strength.Add to this the functions of aging or an incident like stroke or TBI and the overall lack of understandingseems to increase. This underscores the need to for research dollars along with education dollars tosupport those able to work in in labs and facilities to increase our knowledge and develop effectivetreatment for these wide spread problems that are becoming more prevalent as people live longer.We find new and enlightening information daily. A recent study out of Australia analyzed the activity ofthe 20,000-odd genes in the bodies of hundreds of men and women. The study showed that more thanone third of genes were expressed much more in one sex that the other. This sex bias was not limited tosex organs, but was obvious at many other sites, including the brain. Male and female brains really aredifferent at every level: molecular, cellular and behavioral. Many diseases are more common in one sex that the other. For example: MS and other auto immunediseases are more common in women than men while Parkinson’s and several mental health conditionssuch as schizophrenia and autism are more common in men. For over 60 years we have attributed thesedifferences to hormones. For instance, the sex difference in Parkinson’s disease was previouslyattributed solely to the protective effect of the hormone estrogen in female brains. This new justpublished study gives us reason to believe that genes on sex chromosomes may have direct affect.Men are twice as likely to develop Parkinson’s as women. It is caused by a loss of neurons responsible formaking dopamine, a hormone and neurotransmitter that sends messages to other nerve cells.Symptoms appear when 70% of these dopamine-synthesizing cells have been depleted. We don’tunderstand how these neurons are lost, but expect the effect of loss of motor function is due to thecurtailed dopamine production. Previous work has shown that over activity of the SRY gene destroysneurons that synthesize dopamine. SRY is the master gene on the Y chromosome that determines themale sex of a baby in the embryo and appears to control the creation of dopamine neurons. This mightpartially explain why PD affects males more commonly than females. The newest study shows thatinterfering with SRY expression in the brains of rodents with Parkinson’s disease ameliorates the severityof symptoms (Hudson Institute in Melbourne). While work done with mice and other rodents does notalways transfer to people, it is the starting point for breakthrough research. Research findings like this may lead to better treatment in the future as more studies expand andconfirm or deny the findings. It takes many years and much investment before initial findings result intreatments. Investment in both education and science are critical for future understanding andtreatment of these debilitating diseases of the brain and nervous system. These are investments in all ofour futures.
AUGUST 2019 Blog
Many of us know how difficult change is when you are not confronted with neurological and physical challenges and even more so with those challenges. But there are times that no matter how hard you try, things just have to change. The good news is that changes to our physical location are just about done – we are lacking a beautiful shade structure for our new seating/conversation area in the back garden. (It is on the way but delayed a bit in the permitting process at Palm Springs City Hall so they tell me). Additionally, the landscaping is a work in progress which will be done very soon and then we will have a big celebration and dedication for the “new” Center for Neuro Vitality. Look for that when it gets a bit cooler and more people return to the valley in the fall. It’s amazing how well people have fared during the construction: figuring out how to get in, where the activities and classes are, finding their therapists and counselors and – this was a big thing – finding a bathroom that worked. Bravo everyone. I salute you. Our next steps in our plan will be to admit many new folks who need our help. We will be offering medical and social help in addition to the physical and emotional support we have provided for so many years. Will things be the same? No…. they will be even better. There will be more people to make friends with, there will be more activities to choose from and there will be more therapists and assistants to help out. Volunteers are still very welcome. There will be even more opportunities to help than there were in the past so give Sarah a call and see if there isn’t something that you want to help with. Nothing better than having the opportunity to help. You will love the new look of the place and will see that there are lots of places just waiting for your help particularly if you know a little data entry….and who doesn’t these days.Stay tuned – we will do our best to keep everyone up to date.
july 2019 Blog
For all of you who have opened the web site, I’m sure you noticed some changes to the home page. Rather than our Stroke, TBI and Other categories we have new and different categories of services that are aimed at a whole new group of chronic disease sufferers. Starting this summer, we will add many services to our traditional mix for rehabilitation and recovery. Building on our expertise in Stroke and TBI, we expand to add medical case management and treatment to the services we now offer for those who qualify under the State waiver program for Medi/Medi patients who have converted to programs with IEHP and Molina. These patients will receive nursing care, social work analysis and advice along with our activities and appropriate exercise. They will work with a professional team to put together care plans to maximize their well-being and to keep them busy working on good health. For those who are not covered under the Medi/Medi plan, we will offer a program of specialty day care designed to improve health and wellness offering comprehensive services and activities customized for each individual. This program is offered on a fee for service basis and will be open to all those who need that little extra care on a day to day basis. For those who would like the medical program, it will be available at a slightly higher cost per day.And of course, we will continue our stroke/TBI and Parkinson’s rehabilitation programs including boxing and music therapy. All of this will be available as we open our doors to more and more valley residents in need.Please give us a call for more information. We are here to help you and your family now and into the future building a new and even bigger Neuro Vitality Family.
June 2019 BLOG
MAY BLOG As we get nearer to making major moves to accommodate more people who need our help in our Center, we can’t help but cling to a little nostalgia. A charity with a 40-year history of providing free care, a safe environment of caring, a home for those who are abandoned to struggle with their disabilities on their own or without burdening their family is taking a major step in a new direction. We hope to advance the care given to our patients, providing more medical and social service support than ever before. While our current program has been focused on rehabilitation, our new programs will focus on coping skills and bringing joy to life while bringing the same determination to other ailments we have supported in stroke recovery. The principals we believe it – never give up, never give in…..are watchwords for everyone whatever ailment or ailments they are battling. And battling we are.. As we learn more and more about the problems involving memory loss and dementia, it will be interesting to discover if the principles we have adhered to will prove to be effective in helping those who are seeing the decline of their cognitive skills not related to Stroke or PD or tumors. In our world, we want to have pill to take to fix the problem, but so far there is not one in sight. The opportunity we have is great since we will be bringing together a group of people, offering a unique environment, a rehabilitation attitude, and will be able to measure outcomes. We will then be able to compare these outcomes to other types of programs that exist in other areas to determine the efficacy of our programs and hopefully, influence the long term care of those with dementia is a positive way. We have been unable to do this with stroke/TBI because we were and are the only organization of its kind in the country and therefore have had no comparison group. All of our comparisons have been to societal norms and therefore the results have been soft. It is exciting to us to venture forward on this new track with the goal in mind to make a difference – a measurable difference. As we get closer to a grand reopening, watch this space for updates. We will provide details of services available, new hours and introduce new staff as we grow and expand. More to come…….