Thursday, August 16, 2018

Free e-book: Concussions, CTE and Football

From the Introduction:

When You Watch Your Next Football Game...

Men in White and Black Playing Football · Free Stock Photo
Free Stock Photo
From high school to college to professional levels, football dominates American sports and exposes millions to head traumas on practically every play.

It is a paradox of wide proportions. From opening day in September to the Super Bowl in February, the National Football League (NFL) dominates American sports and wins television ratings far beyond any other program--sports or otherwise.

(Also available on Amazon and Kindle.)
Click here for PDF Flipbook.

Increasingly, though, discussions of football (and other sports) include the medical terms concussion and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a long-term degenerative and incurable brain disease. Although military personnel and others are vulnerable to the disease, the highest risk is among athletes involved in contact sports in which hits to the head are considered “part of the game.”

Ten years ago, few would have predicted that the movie “Concussion” starring Will Smith would be made. Fewer would have predicted that brain injuries would one day dominate the sports headlines. When former NFL star Junior Seau committed suicide in May 2012, the media focused almost entirely on whether the thousands of head blows he endured during his 19-year career as a middle linebacker were a contributing factor.

More than 3,000 former NFL players sued the league for allegedly misleading them about the risks of brain injury. The players and the league settled for more than $1 billion in damages. New policies and studies aimed at protecting the brains of athletes seem to be announced every week. But it’s not just professional athletes who are the focus of attention. No fewer than 40 states have passed laws requiring athletes in schools and recreational programs to schedule a doctor’s appointment when a concussion is suspected.

A progressive, degenerative brain disease, CTE can present itself  in athletes and others with a history of repetitive brain trauma months, years, or even decades after injury. Memory loss, confusion, depression, aggression, impaired judgment or impulse control, and, eventually, progressive dementia may result.

With this increasing awareness about the dangers of concussion, parents face tough choices about which sports their children should be allowed to play. Some of the more

New rules have since been designed to lessen brain trauma; but with every new horror story that emerges on the sports pages, parents worry even more.

dangerous sports for the brain, such as football, soccer, ice hockey, and lacrosse, are also the most popular. Although everyone agrees that brain trauma may have lasting and debilitating effects, and science continues to make slow progress toward understanding the disease, we cannot yet entirely quantify those effects. As a result, parents and even medical professionals are left to search their hearts and scour Web sites for answers. But a decade’s worth of research has made one thing clear: We need to find better ways to protect the brains of athletes.

Difficult to Measure

Concussions suffer from a perception problem. On the surface, they might not seem to have a lasting, serious impact. (In fact, sports programs and commentators continue to celebrate the most impactful “hits,” using euphemisms such as “getting your bell rung.”) They are an invisible injury: There is no blood, there are no displaced bones, and the patient rarely complains. Even when an athlete is knocked unconscious and observers react with panic, the concern quickly fades. Ninety-nine percent of concussed athletes wake up in seconds or minutes and then seem fine. When symptoms persist beyond the day of injury, in the vast majority of cases they dissipate within a month. The injury seems as if it is gone forever, leaving no scars or overt indication that it ever happened.

Children at Risk

Most brain trauma in the industrialized world occurs in children playing sports. Since participation is voluntary, and the rules of recreational sports are malleable, it seems reasonable to make every effort to reform each individual sport....

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

FREE REVIEW COPY: Stress, Trauma and Gay Youth

Parents, teachers, and youth are preparing for a new school year. For gay youth, thoughts still run to fear as schools still can be a place of isolation, bullying and other emotional stress. As a service, we are providing a free e-copy, below of the new edition of Healing the Brain: Stress, Trauma and LGBT/Q Youth.

Read some reviews below and download your free copy. The book is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle versions. Support for A Thousand Moms is also appreciated.

Click the photo for your e-copy, in PDF flip-book format:

 Healing the Brain: Stress, Trauma and LGBT/Q Youth

Read some of the reviews:

“David Balog understands the strain of alienation, so he tackles this subject with compassion and concern. Mr. Balog draws on his knowledge of brain science to give readers insight into what happens to young people under tremendous stress….”--Gary L. Cottle, author

“Easy to read. Difficult to put down.”--Micheal J. Colucciello, Jr., NY State pharmaceutical researcher, retired.

“Well researched, fleshed out with relevant case histories, this book packs a lot of solid information into its 152 pages. Written in an engaging style for the layman, it covers a wide range of topics. One learns a great deal about the biology of stress, particularly the vulnerability of the brain in the pre-adult years. This book also provides a glossary of key brain science terms and a listing of organizations serving the LGBT /Q community and resources on the brain. Brief summaries of Erik Erickson's Stages of Development and Abraham Maslow's 12 Characteristics of a Self-Actualized Person lead into a detailed examination of the brain's structure and functions. Although the basic wiring structure is present at birth, there are several critical stages of brain development. Nurture, experience and stimulation are essential to proper brain growth and to the fine tuning of its communications structure. Notably, PTSD is not just an issue for veterans, but can also develop in children and teens who are going through a traumatic situation such as child abuse.”--Gary Bordzuk, Librarian, Oceanside, NY

“David Balog takes a subject fraught with difficulty and makes it simple and accessible to everyone. The book goes a long way in helping one understand how and why and in what ways stress affects how we live and cope. Invaluable.”--Jessica Watson-Crosby, former president, National Association of Former Foster Children

“...[A] book for educators (or anyone working with youth) that explains the complicated workings of the brain in an easy-to-understand manner. The author goes on to discuss various types of trauma and how the adolescent brain responds to trauma such as depression, stress, addiction, risk taking, PTSD, etc. LGBT/Q youth may experience….I highly recommend this book!--Carol Dopp, M.Ed.

"An invaluable resource for those working in the trenches with LGBTQ youth in foster/adoptive care but equally important serves as a primer for those in the community at large who are largely unaware of this subset in our population who are in such desperate need!"
--Dr. Ray Werking, professor, GLSEN educator and host,
WRPI Radio

Monday, August 6, 2018

Foods to prevent obesity, Alzheimer's, stroke

Source: Penn State

The reason why some people find it so hard to resist finishing an entire bag of chips or bowl of candy may lie with how their brain responds to food rewards, according to researchers who found that when certain regions of the brain reacted more strongly to being rewarded with food than being rewarded with money, those people were more likely to overeat.
 Learn about your brain and food.    


The reason why some people find it so hard to resist finishing an entire bag of chips or bowl of candy may lie with how their brain responds to food rewards, leaving them more vulnerable to overeating.
In a study with children, researchers found that when certain regions of the brain reacted more strongly to being rewarded with food than being rewarded with money, those children were more likely to overeat, even when the child wasn't hungry and regardless of if they were overweight or not.
Shana Adise, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Vermont who led the study while earning her doctorate at Penn State, said the results give insight into why some people may be more prone to overeating than others. The findings may also give clues on how to help prevent obesity at a younger age.
"If we can learn more about how the brain responds to food and how that relates to what you eat, maybe we can learn how to change those responses and behavior," Adise said. "This also makes children an interesting population to work with, because if we can stop overeating and obesity at an earlier age, that could be really beneficial."
"Until we know the root cause of overeating and other food-related behaviors, it's hard to give good advice on fixing those behaviors," Keller said. "Once patterns take over and you overeat for a long time, it becomes more difficult to break those habits. Ideally, we'd like to prevent them from becoming habits in the first place."

Story Source:
Materials provided by Penn State

Saturday, July 7, 2018

How Quitting Smoking Improves Your Health


Broken Addiction Cycle

Quitting smoking can re-wire your brain and help break the cycle of addiction. The large number of nicotine receptors in your brain will return to normal levels after about a month of being quit.

Head and Face

Sharp Hearing

Quitting smoking will keep your hearing sharp. Remember, even mild hearing loss can cause problems (like not hearing directions correctly and doing a task wrong).

Better Vision

Quitting smoking will improve your night vision and help preserve your overall vision by stopping the damage that smoking does to your eyes.

Clean Mouth

Nobody likes a dirty mouth. After a few days without cigarettes, your smile will be brighter. Quitting smoking now will keep your mouth healthy for years to come.

Clear Skin

Quitting smoking is better than anti-aging lotion. Quitting can help clear up blemishes and protect your skin from premature aging and wrinkling.


Decreased Heart Risks

Smoking is the leading cause of heart attacks and heart disease. But many of these heart risks can be reversed simply by quitting smoking. Quitting can lower your blood pressure and heart rate almost immediately. Your risk of a heart attack declines within 24 hours.

Thin Blood

When you quit smoking, your blood will become thinner and less likely to form dangerous blood clots. Your heart will also have less work to do, because it will be able to move the blood around your body more easily.

Lower Cholesterol

Quitting smoking will not get rid of the fatty deposits that are already there. But it will lower the levels of cholesterol and fats circulating in your blood, which will help to slow the buildup of new fatty deposits in your arteries.


Stop Lung Damage

Scarring of the lungs is not reversible. That is why it is important to quit smoking before you do permanent damage to your lungs. Within two weeks of quitting, you might notice it’s easier to walk up the stairs because you may be less short of breath. Don’t wait until later; quit today!

Prevent Emphysema

There is no cure for emphysema. But quitting when you are young, before you have done years of damage to the delicate air sacs in your lungs, will help protect you from developing emphysema later.

Return of Cilia

Cilia (The fine hairlike projections from certain cells such as those in the respiratory tract that sweep in unison and help to sweep away fluids and particles) start to regrow and regain normal function very quickly after you quit smoking. They are one of the first things in your body to heal. People sometimes notice that they cough more than usual when they first quit smoking. This is a sign that the cilia are coming back to life. But you’re more likely to fight off colds and infections when you’re cilia are working properly.


Lower Cancer Risk

Quitting smoking will prevent new DNA damage from happening and can even help repair the damage that has already been done. Quitting smoking immediately is the best way to lower your risk of getting cancer.

Stomach and Hormones

Smaller Belly

Quitting smoking will reduce your belly fat and lower your risk of diabetes. If you already have diabetes, quitting can help you keep your blood sugar levels in check.

Normal Estrogen Levels

If you’re a woman, your estrogen levels will gradually return to normal after you quit smoking. And if you hope to have children someday, quitting smoking right now will increase your chances of a healthy pregnancy in the future.

Erectile Dysfunction

Sexual Healing

If you quit smoking now, you can lower your chances of erectile dysfunction and improve your chances of having a healthy sexual life.
"The nicotine was making me dead, inside and out. Now I feel free, vibrant, energetic, focused, and so alive!"
-Smokefree Arwen

Blood and the Immune System

Normal White Blood Cell Count

When you quit smoking, your body will begin to heal from the injuries that smoking caused. Eventually, your white blood cell counts will return to normal and will no longer be on the defensive.

Proper Healing

Quitting smoking will improve blood flow to wounds, allowing important nutrients, minerals, and oxygen to reach the wound and help it heal properly.

Stronger Immune System

When you quit smoking, your immune system is no longer exposed to tar and nicotine. It will become stronger, and you will be less likely to get sick.

Muscles and Bones

Strong Muscles

Quitting smoking will help increase the availability of oxygen in your blood, and your muscles will become stronger and healthier.

Stronger Bones

Quitting smoking can reduce your risk of fractures, both now and later in life. Keep your bones strong and healthy by quitting now.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Expanding buprenorphine treatment could curb opioid overdoses

Expanding primary care buprenorphine treatment could curb opioid overdose crisis7
Brain basics in jargon-free language.

Expanding the availability of medication treatment for opioid use disorder in primary care settings would be a major step toward reducing overdose deaths, write two physicians specializing in addiction medicine and health care delivery in the July 5 issue of New England Journal of Medicine. In their Perspectives article entitled "Primary Care and the Opioid-Overdose Crisis - Buprenorphine Myths and Realities," Sarah Wakeman, MD, medical director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Substance Use Disorders Initiative and Michael Barnett, MD, of the Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, describe current barriers to expanded delivery of buprenorphine treatment and outline possible solutions.

"One of the tragic ironies is that with well-established medical treatment, opioid use disorder can have an excellent prognosis," they write, noting that almost 80 percent of Americans with opioid use disorder are unable to receive treatment and that the growth in distribution of buprenorphine - one of three FDA-approved medications for the treatment of opioid use disorder - has been slowing rather than increasing in recent years. "To have any hope of stemming the overdose tide, we have to make it easier to obtain buprenorphine than to get heroin and fentanyl."

The authors describe 5 persistent but inaccurate myths that they believe prevent buprenorphine from being more widely adopted:

O That is more dangerous that other common health care interventions,
O That buprenorphine treatment is just replacing one addition for another,
O That abstinence-based treatment - short-term detoxification and rehabilitation - is more effective than medication-based treatment,
O That providing buprenorphine treatment is particularly onerous and time consuming for primary care physicians (PCPs),
O That physicians should just reduce opioid prescriptions to address the overdose epidemic

Most outpatient buprenorphine treatment is already provided by PCPs, and expanding the availability of office-based buprenorphine treatment, as several other countries have done, presents a realistic solution to addressing the overdose crisis, the authors note. They write, "We are in the midst of a historic public health crisis that demands action from every physician. Without dramatic intervention, life expectancy in the United States will continue to decline. Mobilizing the PCP workforce to offer office-based buprenorphine treatment is a plausible, practical, and scalable intervention that could be implemented immediately."


Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. EurekAlert

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Autism and homelessness

The researchers* found evidence suggesting that autistic adults are over-represented among the homeless population. They have called for more research to understand the links between autism and homelessness, to help prevent autistic people becoming homeless and to improve support for those who are already homeless.
Existing research & method
Anecdotal reports from autism clinicians and keyworkers, as well as two small studies from a few years ago, have suggested that there may be high numbers of autistic people in the homeless population. But this is the first academic research looking at this issue properly.
The researchers attempted to fill this gap by gathering initial evidence about the prevalence of autistic traits in homeless people. They worked with one homeless outreach team is the UK and screened 106 people they support to see if they could be autistic.
Results & discussion
12.3% of homeless people had a range of autistic 'traits' in line with diagnostic criteria. This is substantially higher than the general population autism prevalence of 1%. It is not clear that this 12% were actually autistic, but the screening suggested that they could be.
Writing in the journal, Autism, the researchers said: "If autistic difficulties are common among homeless populations, then this has important implications. Many people are homeless in the United Kingdom; the most recent estimate is that there are almost 5000 rough sleepers at any one point (Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, 2017), and there is a much larger group of people with no stable accommodation who are termed the 'hidden homeless' (Crisis, 2017). There may therefore be a considerable number of homeless autistic adults who are not having their needs met and who are in an extremely vulnerable position."

Learn about the brain in clear language.

Alasdair Churchard has a doctorate in Clinical Psychology from University College London and worked on this study alongside Morag Ryder, William Mandy and Andrew Greenhill. He said: "Our research shows that autistic people may be at higher risk of becoming homeless than the general population.
"It is well-known that life for homeless people is extremely mentally and physically hard, and those who are autistic are likely to have additional vulnerabilities which would only make their lives more difficult.
"Further research is required in this area, and we have been working with professionals in the homelessness field to raise awareness about the potential links between autism and homelessness."
Sarah Lambert, Head of Policy at the National Autistic Society, said: "This is an important and robust study, which suggests that there could be a significant number of autistic adults who are homeless - and potentially living without an understanding of their needs or appropriate support.
"It's well established that many autistic people struggle to get the support they need and face huge difficulties throughout their lives, including high rates of mental health problems, underemployment and social isolation. We've heard anecdotal reports of autistic adults falling through gaps in support and into homelessness but there's very little research into this or awareness of this as an issue.
"This is the first peer-reviewed study to provide initial evidence of a link between autism and homelessness and provides an important platform to get to grips with this issue. We now need further research to investigate this link, and to develop the right support for homeless autistic people and to prevent those at risk from falling into homelessness in the first place."
"Homeless autistic people have gone unrecognised and unsupported for far too long."
Case study
Dr. Andrew Greenhill, a clinical psychologist also involved in the research, said: "One person that stands out for me is an older man who had lived on the street for 45 years, in an inner city.
"He ran away from his family home because his relationship with his father was so poor and physically abusive. He then survived by following a regular routine and sleeping in the same place every night, relying on the food made available at day-centres and drop ins. He refused all professional help or contact, and existed in a 'bubble' whereby he refused all attempts to engage. It was clear that he found social engagement of any kind very distressing and was highly motivated to avoid this.
"Eventually he was admitted to hospital after it appeared he'd had a stroke, and was unable to care for himself. He eventually accepted a room in a low intensity 'cottage hotel' hostel, where there were few, if any expectations about things like form filling, attending meetings or assessments. He has since managed to maintain his preference for privacy and solitude whilst having his basic needs met, with support workers around to keep an eye on him and to help out if any difficulties arise."
Read an article about the research on the Conversation website and access the full research paper in the Autism Journal.
*The research was carried out by Alasdair Churchard, alongside Morag Ryder and William Mandy from University College London and Andrew Greenhill from Kensington & Chelsea Learning Disability Service.
Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.