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Tommy Manning Act

Author: Aimee Garcia

Seattle has a relatively new initiative to help people with traumatic brain injury named The Washington Traumatic Brain Injury Strategic Partnership Advisory Council, commonly known as the Tommy Manning Act. It was created through House Bill 2055 by the Washington State Legislature in 2007. It is to “recognize the current programs and services are not funded or designed to address the diverse needs of individuals with traumatic brain injuries.”  Its creation is to close the gap in knowledge by collecting the expertise from both the public and private sector. Membership includes twenty two people from both sectors that includes medical professionals, human service providers, family members of individuals, state agency representatives, and many more that can provide useful information to advance their agenda.

The Tommy Manning Act has taken upon itself to work in unison with the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services to address some of their goals. Unfortunately, the Manning Act has not posted their own goals on their website but directs the reader to the DSHS website, where they do not explicitly have goals that directly affect people with brain injuries.

Though the act is still fairly, new it could potentially have the momentum to change the lives and the families of those who have been affected by traumatic brain injuries. Yet, they have not stated their own goals and rely heavily on DSHS without any visible momentum to directly address the concerns of people with brain injuries. Yes, the program are only eleven years old but in those years, there has not been noticeable change for the people most in need.

Sources:

“Traumatic Brain Injury Advisory Council.” Traumatic Brain Injury Advisory Council | DSHS, www.dshs.wa.gov/altsa/traumatic-brain-injury/traumatic-brain-injury-advisory-council.

“About Us.” About Us | DSHS, www.dshs.wa.gov/altsa/about-us.

 

Hiking = Happiness!

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Author: Daniel Nguyen

As an individual who constantly enjoys being outdoors, I would say that hiking is a must-try activity here in the Pacific Northwest. There are so many different opportunities here to take a hike, and many of them reward you with a fantastic view at the end. Whether it is a calm isolated lake, or a ledge giving you a bird’s-eye view of a canyon, hiking not only rewards you with a view, but benefits your health as well! Researchers from Stanford University’s School of Graduate Education has discovered that a mere hour of hiking can burn well over 500 calories! However, each hiking trail is different in terms of difficulty such as incline, so make sure you pick a hike that you think is right for you!

Hiking also helps your body in many ways, not just burning calories. Studies from the International Journal of Sports Medicine found that long distance hikes can improve the body’s antioxidative capacity which helps fight disease in oncological patients. The physical benefits you get with hiking also improves cardiovascular health. But that’s not all! Research has shown that hiking can serve as another form of therapy that can significantly help those who have depression. Having an active lifestyle will help individuals feel less hopeless. So not only does hiking have health benefits, it can have emotional benefits as well!

I have hiked more than dozens of times in the Pacific Northwest, and I can say that I have never been to a hike where I regretted it. I strongly recommend hiking to anyone, especially those who don’t see nature often. If you’ve never hiked before, I suggest starting small and choose a hike that won’t be too much for your body to handle. Even if the hike is very short, it is better than not hiking at all. Last but not least, I would advise to hike with as many of your friends and family as you can!

Sources:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/18/how-taking-a-hike-can-mak_n_5584809.html

http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/rattle-snake-ledge

Get Outside!

DSC_0591 Author: Darby Jenny

Living in Seattle gives us so many opportunities to get outside and enjoy nature. In a one hour drive you can be in the beautiful alpine wilderness or you can take a short bus ride and make it to one of Seattle's phenomenal parks. Seattle is so connected to the natural world and there is a myriad of opportunities to explore it. Even better, time outside can help your brain! This has been something many people have noticed for centuries but there has not always been empirical evidence.

There are so many wonderful aspects of nature such as lush forests, the scent of flowers, fresh air, sunlight, and so much more. But what is it about nature that helps the brain and how does it help? A study at Stanford University sought out to find just how much nature and green spaces affects brain activity. The study had volunteers walk through either a park or along a busy highway. The researchers analyzed activity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain that is the area associated with decision-making and personality behavior. Not surprisingly the people who walked in nature were more relaxed and less stressed and there was less blood flow to the subgenual prefrontal cortex, which supports the hypothesis. Walking outside is such an easy solution to reducing stress in your life and in turn helping your brain.

Countries outside of the United States have even began promoting spending time outside as a public health initiative. In Finland the government recommends spending 40-50 minutes outside to produce physiological changes. South Korea has gone one step further and has designated three forests as healing forests with plans for many more.

If you are looking to find a great hike near you I suggest checking out wta.org for information about all the hiking trails in Washington. Additionally, Seattle has many wonderful parks that might be more accessible than a day hike. Some of my favorites are: Discovery Park, Seward Park, and Carkeek Park.

Sources: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2016/01/call-to-wild/ https://mobile.nytimes.com/blogs/well/2015/07/22/how-nature-changes-the-brain/?referer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F

 

Fidget Spinners: Toy or Therapy?

Author: Melissa Chan

In the past few months, one toy has swept the nation: fidget spinners. If you’ve never heard of them, or if you’ve heard of them but aren’t sure what they look like, this is the toy everyone’s been talking about:

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These spinning toys have a simple structure and concept, yet they have become one of the most popular toys this year. Though its audience has expanded to the ordinary person, fidget spinners have been continuously advertised as being able to relieve stress, increase focus, and even relieve symptoms of anxiety, ADHD, and autism. But, do these claims hold true? According to experts, these claims have no scientific evidence. Scott Kollins, a clinical psychologist and professor at Duke University, shared, “I know there's lots of similar toys, just like there's lots of other games and products marketed toward individuals who have ADHD, and there's basically no scientific evidence that those things work across the board.” In other words, fidget spinners may work for some, but ultimately, there is no scientific evidence to support the idea that they have therapeutic qualities.

With more than six million children in the United States diagnosed with ADHD, there is a huge market for therapy/treatments to help these children cope with their ADHD symptoms. Fidget spinners are relatively cheap and if buying one is helpful, then that’s great. However, people shouldn’t jump to the conclusion that these toys are a replacement for therapy or treatment. As Dr. David Anderson, a clinical psychologist and senior director of the ADHD and Behavioral Disorders Center at the New York-based nonprofit Child Mind Institute, put it, “Mental illness is difficult to treat, and it’s not something for which there are simple solutions.”

On another note, if you’re looking for a fun toy this summer and want to understand the craze around fidget spinners, buy one and see for yourself! You never know, it might just be the perfect stress reliever for you...

Sources: http://www.newsweek.com/fidget-spinners-help-anxiety-adhd-609307 http://www.npr.org/2017/05/14/527988954/whirring-purring-fidget-spinners-provide-entertainment-not-adhd-help

COMPASSION

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Author: Geethika Yarlagadda

Human beings are the most intelligent species on earth. Ever since we inhabited this planet we invented great things, waged wars, cured diseases, and the list goes on and on; making us the most incredible creation of Mother Nature. But is that still true? With all our intellectual capabilities we were blessed with another inherent unique gift – COMPASSION, which is slowly but surely diminishing with every passing century.

Every living being on Earth can feel, but only we have the capacity to express our compassion in ways which can not only make our lives a true bliss, but also turn around those of everyone we touch. Losing this blessing is undoubtedly the biggest bane of our species. Wars, cruelty, violence and every social evil we face today are the byproducts of lack of compassion. Forget entire mankind, we are unable to understand our own kin. Small thorn pricks seem like the end of the journey to us. Everyone has their own share of sadness, happiness and struggles. We do not know their story; we may not end their struggle. But a small gesture of love and compassion can help them smile and may give them the strength to fight another day. Let us find our compassion and make this world a better place to live.

“People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel” – Maya Angelou

Stress Less: Live More

Author: Gurpreet Sandhu As a college student, I hear the phrase “I’m so stressed out!” so often that it no longer holds any true meaning. In a lot of cases, students wear their stress as a badge of honor, especially when exams roll by. Even in the working world, it is not uncommon for adults to take on an unhealthy amount of stress in order to meet deadlines and finish projects. In especially high stress environments, stress becomes a rallying point on which companies lay their foundation. Companies like Google even have sleep pods so that their employees can commit as many hours to their work as physically possible. But there are dangers to treating stress as an insignificant part of life.

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The American Psychological Association began a survey in 2007 called Stress in America to see how adults rate their own stress levels. One trend in 2015 suggested that, on average, younger generations (particularly millennials) experience higher levels of stress than older individuals. Twenty-five percent of adults considers their own stress to be at an extreme level, rating themselves at an eight or more out of ten on the stress scale. However, the most telling statistic is that 42% of adults have experienced symptoms related to mental health as a direct result of their stress, the most common symptom of which is anxiety.

The study shows that stress has become a part of everyday life to the point that many don’t even consider it to be a health problem. But in reality, even moderate amounts of stress can have a negative impact on your long-term mental health. Ironically, personal health problems are considered to be one of the four most common sources of stress, ranking at 51% and following money (67%), work (65%), and family responsibilities (54%).

Abnormal amounts of stress have been linked to various neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, brain tumors, and other related health issues. Studies have shown that anxiety has strong ties to the onset of initial neurological symptoms. Common symptoms include nerve pains, lightheadedness, headaches, vision problems, and fatigue. In any case, it’s better to take action early on before the symptoms of extreme stress start to appear. Here are a few tips to reduce stress with very little time commitment.

  1. Express yourself – Finding a strong support network can help to ease the burden, and writing in a journal has been shown to reduce stress.
  2. Limit self-judgment – Negative thoughts have a way of manifesting themselves in your actions. Focusing on positive goals can reduce tension and help achieve goals.
  3. Limit the time that you spend multitasking – Switching from one task to another can sound beneficial, but it can also decrease productivity. You can prevent the feeling of being overwhelmed by focusing on one thing at a time.
  4. Know and accept your limits – You are human. There’s no getting around it. It’s okay to make mistakes, but dwelling on your flaws can bring on unnecessary stress.
  5. Practice relaxation techniques – Relaxation can lower blood pressure and pulse rates. Deep breathing and yoga are two very common methods, although massage therapy is also available for people who want to significantly lower their stress levels.
  6. Practice good nutrition and exercise – A diet rich in whole foods, fruits, and vegetables can help to lower stress, while physical activity can provide an outlet for frustration.
  7. Get a healthy amount of sleep – Students who get a good night’s sleep perform significantly better than those who are sleep deprived. It also assists in processing new information after you wake up.
  8. Make personal time each day – Finding a hobby, a new passion, or even making time for a nap can break down the clutter and provide you with a clear mind.
  9. Switch to decaf – Caffeine can lead to crashes throughout the day. However, if you are a heavier coffee drinker, it is recommended that you slowly wean yourself from it (reduce intake little by little) in order to prevent withdrawal symptoms.
  10. Try new scents – Certain scents have shown ties to reducing stress levels. Oils from plants such as bay, chamomile, eucalyptus, lavender, and rose are both common and have soothing effects.

Even if you feel that you have your stress levels under control, you still have the ability to help others improve their well-being. However, if you or someone you know is currently suffering from neurological symptoms, it is best to seek treatment soon from a medical professional. We at Plus One Foundation hope that you find success in reducing your stress levels.

Sources: “2015 Stress in America” – American Psychological Association “Anxiety Causes Neurological Symptoms” – CalmClinic “Stress Reduction Tips” – University of New Hampshire “37 Stress Management Tips” – Reader’s Digest

Stroke Savior

Author: Olivia Madewell Chances are, we all know at least one person who has had a stroke. Sometimes it is more distanced from us – perhaps a coworker’s aunt – and it’s easy to sign a card that is passed around the office and just forget about it. Other times, though, it is our own parent or grandparent, and we feel its acute effects.

The truth is that approximately 795,000 people suffer a stroke each year in the United States alone. This is roughly one stroke every 40 seconds, each one impacting far more than just a single life. However, that’s not the end of the story. Every person has the potential to influence the outcome of a stroke and affect the lives around them for the better. How can you help?

1) Know the symptoms. Strokes symptoms tend to follow a pattern.

  • Speech – Strokes can affect both creating and comprehending speech. Attempts to speak may produce jumbled or slurred language, or there may be confusion when trying to understand another’s words.
  • Paralysis/Numbness/Weakness – Strokes can affect the face, arms, or legs, but often on just one side of the body. This symptom may appear suddenly.
  • Vision – Strokes can affect one or both eyes. This may be through blurring, blackness, or seeing double.
  • Headache – Strokes can affect the head by creating sudden or severe pain. Nausea may go along with a headache, varying from dizziness to vomiting to loss of consciousness.
  • Walking – Strokes can affect coordination and balance. This may present itself as stumbling and can overlap with the dizziness of a headache.

2) Take action. A common test for stroke is called F.A.S.T., comprised of four simple steps.

  • Face – Ask the person to smile. Watch for drooping on one side.
  • Arms – Ask the person to raise both arms. Watch for weakness in the forms of one arm dropping/drifting or degrees of immobility.
  • Speech – Ask the person to speak. Listen for slurring or other strangeness.
  • Time – Call 911 immediately if any of these signs are present.

Remember: It’s important to make note of the time at which symptoms are first noticed. This is important information for doctors to have for treatment. If symptoms disappear within several minutes, call 911 anyway. This could lead to full strokes or more damage later if left alone.

Increased medical speed and care in terms of treatment, as well as greater control of blood pressure, diet, and smoking, has helped to decrease the number of deaths from strokes by 30% in the last eleven years. While doctors will do all they can for stroke patients, population awareness is one of the greatest and most underappreciated factors in this number change.

The earlier strokes are recognized and action is taken, the better the chances of treatment preventing death and extensive damage. Strokes can shatter lives, so let’s each do what we can to keep the effects of strokes as minimal as possible for everyone.

If you or a loved one has suffered a stroke, we at the Plus One Foundation are eager to help. Visit our website to see how we can support you on the road to recovery.

For more information on stroke symptoms and causes, please read Mayo Clinic’s article.

Sources: - “Stroke Signs and Symptoms” - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - “Signs and Symptoms of Stroke” - Johns Hopkins Medicine - “Achievements in Public Health, 1900-1999: Decline in Deaths from Heart Disease and Stroke -- United States, 1900-1999” - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - “Stroke Statistics” - The Internet Stroke Center - “Scientists Report Stroke Mortality is Decreasing” - Counsel & Heal - “Stroke Deaths Steeply Decline in US” - Newsmax Health

Art as an Outlet

Author: Ali Roberts When I was just entering middle school, my parents were getting a divorce. It was a difficult time for my family, and the added pressure of going into a new grade didn’t help. While I split time spent between my mother and father, I never felt completely whole at either one of their houses. While I was at my mom’s, I felt productive and semblances of accomplishment, whether it was things from school, or music. But I always felt a sense of loneliness and absence of fun. I felt like I wasn’t able to fully be myself and that I couldn’t express myself to the fullest. On the other hand, my time with my dad was always fun. We enjoyed each other’s company so much, but I felt a missing sense of guidance. I felt too free sometimes, felt like I was missing some of the more important lessons a child my age should learn.

ali-blog-1For a long time, I felt this way at both places, and school offered no outlet for me. Most people say middle school is a difficult time, and it certainly was the case for me. I kept myself busy with Jazz band and sports, but I felt like I was just getting swept away in the current. I fell into this mindless slump of going back and forth between my two homes and my two separate lives. I stopped taking care of myself. I didn’t find any joy or fun in sports anymore, and I stopped putting any care into how I dressed or did my hair. I felt trapped, in a way, and I didn’t know how to get out. I felt like this feeling of emptiness followed wherever I went, and I wasn’t able to shake it. I didn’t have any way of expressing myself until around 7th grade when I started to get interested in drawing.

When growing up, nearly every child will, at some point, draw, whether it’s at school or at home. Back then, it was just another activity for me to do, the same as playing with toys or reading. But those who continue to do it later on in life find that it has other “effects” on someone.

When I started drawing in middle school, I found a strange sense of accomplishment and pride in creating something entirely unique. Now that I’m older, I’ve found that art allows me to not only express myself but also to expel negative emotions that I feel.

See, when I draw it feels almost like a state of meditation.

I feel myself confined only to the small space I inhabit, while simultaneously being extremely aware of what is in front of me. Drawing is a skill, like anything else, and while some are more adept at it than others, it requires practice like anything else. The key aspect that really made it for me, though, was that drawing practice was fun. Whether I was drawing something from my head or doing exercises I found online, I was always enjoying myself. Anytime I felt down or alone, I just started to draw and I found my escape.

ali-blog-2This is something everyone needs to find. That thing that can make you happy, truly happy, just from doing it. I think often people worry about what others think and have an idea of what should really make people happy, but the truth is that you can pay attention to that. If you find something you enjoy, be it art, dance, singing, or sports, make sure you find it and stick with it. For me, drawing started as something I did to relax and energize myself, and it has been amazing to see the progression in not only my art skills but also my level of happiness. Finding a hobby that has made me happy has allowed for me to care for myself in other factors like health and fitness and allowed for improvement in my other interests.

In my time at the Plus One Foundation, I’ve seen how others can grow in the same way I did, through art. I’ve felt the effects firsthand, but it feels miraculous to see others also experience the joy and benefits from it as well. And now, I feel so fortunate to be able to use those same art skills I’ve developed to be able to help such a wonderful cause that is aiding people get the same care and activity that I got. Being able to do something I love and help a great cause at the same time is the best feeling in the world. Our clients who use art as therapy know firsthand the effects of how art, or really any activity that you love, can change your mindset and feelings on everything around you for the better.

Not everyone finds joy in art, but something out there in the world will surely make you happy. Just make sure you take the time to look for it, because it can do more good for you than you think.

 

September is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

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The beginning of September marks the month of world awareness for Alzheimer’s Disease around the world. In 2016, it is estimated that around 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer’s, with the majority being age 65 and older. Alzheimer’s effects not only those diagnosed with the disease but also their families and friends. In honor of raising Alzheimer’s awareness this month, here are some interesting things to know about the disease. What is Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. Plaque develops in the spaces between nerve cells, limiting the communication between the cells, which results in a decreased cognitive function. Proteins that channel chemical messages inside the nerve cells deform and tangle which leads to the loss of these nerve cells. There are three general stages to Alzheimer’s: mild, moderate, and severe. In the mild stage, people with Alzheimer’s can independently function but may have trouble remembering words, names, places, or objects. In the moderate stage, people with Alzheimer’s may confuse words, become frustrated or angry, act in odd ways, and have difficulty expressing thoughts and performing everyday tasks. In the severe stage, people with Alzheimer’s may have difficulty communicating, have changes in personality, need extensive help and care, and lose the ability to control movements. Within these three stages there are many more symptoms that can occur.

Some facts about Alzheimer’s disease

  • Twice as many women have Alzheimer’s as men do
  • Early onset Alzheimer’s can start in people as young as age 30
  • Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States
  • Every 68 seconds, someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s
  • Alzheimer’s has only been discovered since 1906

Where can you find support?

For people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, there are free and local support groups that are designed to provide emotional and social support. There are also free and local support groups for caregivers and family members that are educational but also emotionally supportive.

Check out our website www.plusonefoundation.org to learn more and see how we’re making a difference.

Alzheimer's disease concept

Although Alzheimer’s is a tragic and horrific disease, there are many people out there that are affected by it because it is so common. The most important thing to remember is you are never alone and there is always help available for you.

Aquatic Therapy for Traumatic Brain Injuries

By: Megan Brodsky aquatic therapy

Last week we held our annual Mermaid Event Fundraiser created in honor of Mary McKillop, a friend of Kacey’s who swam together at the Seattle Public Swimming Pools. Mary passed away in 2010, but her generous and giving spirit never left. The Mary ‘Mermaid’ McKillop Fund was created and the Mermaid Fundraiser as well. The Fundraiser helps provide more people with access to aquatic therapy, which has shown many benefits for brain injury rehabilitation.

What is aquatic therapy?

Similar to physical therapy done on land, individuals with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and other neurological injuries, diseases, and disorders who participate in aquatic therapy have the ability to exercise in water. The reason aquatic therapy is so useful for people with TBIs and other neurological injuries, diseases, and disorders is because many are unable to exercise on land due to loss of balance or fear of falling, but the buoyancy of water allows them to do so comfortably. Aquatic therapy patients are relieved of most of their body weight when exercising in water, which helps their ability to complete exercises they would otherwise could not do on land.

What are the benefits of aquatic therapy?

One specific benefit of aquatic therapy is the hydrostatic pressure that exists in water. Hydrostatic pressure is the force applied on the body when in water by fluid molecules. Essentially, this makes it so the patient can get the benefits of hydrostatic pressure just by going in the water, with no exercise required. Hydrostatic pressure reduces pain and increases range of motion. It also helps blood circulation throughout the body.

Being in the water gives a feeling similar to compression socks for individuals going through rehabilitation. This provides equal pressure throughout the body and also works the respiratory system harder. This allows the muscles engaged in the respiratory system to tone up without strenuous activity.

Along with the physical benefits of aquatic therapy, it has also shown helping psychosocial areas. Aquatic therapy helps reduce stress and anxiety, increase concentration abilities, strengthen one’s confidence, enhance one’s well-being, and help find a calm center and relax.

Conclusion

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Aquatic therapy has shown multiple benefits for individuals with traumatic brain injuries and other neurological injuries, diseases, and disorders from physical to emotional areas. Aquatic therapy is a unique experience in that the patient has the ability to exercise without the strain caused by physical therapy on land. Not only does it help patients improve their range of motion but also gives them a feeling of confidence they may have lost.

Investing in Yourself and The Path to Happiness

By: Megan Brodsky invest_in_yourself

One of the greatest feelings a person can know is the fulfillment of progress and improvement. For those who have suffered from traumatic injuries, it is arguably most important to recuperate and advance their debilitated functions. There have been endless developments in therapeutic treatments, from music and dance to exercise therapy. But what has been taken for granted and easily glanced over is the self-impression we have of ourselves. The impact we have on how we feel about ourselves is so immense and strong it can undoubtedly change the way we go through our lives, especially when it comes to dealing with injuries and recoveries. Working at a salon, I have seen how a simple hair style can change the way one looks at his or herself. There is no question the best part of my job is seeing the glow on clients’ faces when they leave with that extra boost of confidence from our services. It seems silly, but the reality is that everyone needs to feel that satisfaction in themselves. To some, it may seem superficial to give the way you look such power over how you feel about yourself, but to others, it is much needed self-appreciation. Investing in ourselves is something I have learned to be very important for one’s happiness. Doing things for ourselves that make us happy is so crucial to living our lives to the fullest. It do12383577_453694364823802_1786089101_nesn’t have to be changing our physical appearances, but simply anything that makes us feel good inside. It is especially important to give ourselves things to look forward to and feel good about when we are going through rough times in life. I used to be so concerned with what other people thought about me and the things I do that give me a boost of confidence and make me happier. However, I have learned that the only person whose opinion matters on the subject is my own. If there is someone or something stopping you from investing in yourself, take a step back and look at who is really benefitting from it – because it’s most likely not you, which is all who matters when it comes to your happiness, right? I cannot stress enough how important it is for each of us to be fully satisfied with the lives we live and to go to bed at night truly happy with who we are. It has personally taken me a while to get to that point, but with a little self-investment, my outlook on myself and my life has only gotten better and more positive.

So for those of you who are having a hard time feeling fully satisfied with what life has given you, I strongly encourage you to go out and find something that brings you pure joy. Though it may be hard to override the opinions of others, listen to yourself and only then will you be able to really understand what you need in your life to feel whole. Now go out there and be inspired – read a book, take a yoga class, or get your hair done!

 

Exercise Therapy and Neurogenesis: The Road to Recovery

By Jack Stimson    Feb 25, 2016 neurogenesis

When neurons were first discovered to be individual units, linked through electrical and chemical signals, no one thought that new neurons could be reproduced in adulthood. Essentially, the belief was that you were born with the maximum neurons you would ever have and they would slowly decrease in number as we aged. As technology advanced, however, this viewpoint changed. We now know that the reproduction of neurons (neurogenesis) is possible in the adult brain and that it serves many functions that benefit us on a day-to-day basis.

Exercise Therapy and Neurogenesis

One of the most prominent findings regarding neurogenesis is the beneficial interaction of exercise on the neurogenesis process. The primary studies that I read use evidence of brains that have undergone radiotherapy treatment (to eradicate brain tumors) to indicate how the effects of exercise altered the production of new neurons. They showed that even in a significantly inhospitable environment, such as a brain that has been damaged by radiotherapy, neurogenesis could be restored to pre-radio therapy levels through exercise therapy.

This increase in neurogenesis is great and all, but what exactly does this mean for the body? Well, newly created neurons use their connections with the hormonal-endocrine pathway to help reduce and regulate stress levels throughout the body. They have also been found to increase/maintain memory ability, which we know can decrease dramatically. On a side note, memory tasks are often used as the main measure of cognitive performance and so by engaging in exercise therapy you are basically maintaining your cognitive abilities (read: you basically get smarter).

Neurogenesis also aids in the production of glia cells, which serve numerous roles in the brain and actually make up 50% of the neurons within the brain. Although their role is often understated, they are extremely important to our functioning and without them we would die. That being said, glia cells maintain our blood brain barrier, which acts as a buffer between the blood and what makes it into our brain. It is extremely important because we can’t just let any old substance get into our brains!

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This figure above shows a blood brain barrier that isn’t doing such a good job of keeping things out of the brain. Neurogenesis, however, has been shown to aid/repair the blood brain barrier through the production of new cells, thus keeping weird junk out of our brains.

Conclusion

Exercise therapy is incredibly beneficial to those recovering from any sort of brain injury or neurological condition due to its positive effect on neurogenesis. Even just getting up from your desk and walking around can have huge benefits on not only your mood but cognitive abilities as well. If you don’t know where to start, we at Plus One would love to help you achieve your goals and make new neurons!

 

Is it a headache or a migraine and what is causing it?

 

By Lisa Nicholson 


              Cluster-Headache-vs.-Migraine

Headaches and migraines are both neurological disorders that impact many of us every day. Migraines and headaches fall into the same family, but one is much more severe than the other. There are also different causes and symptoms for each, varying between person.

A headache, as many of us know, is characterized by mild to moderate pain, including a steady ache throughout the head. On the other hand, a migraine is moderate to severe, with throbbing pain, nausea, and sensitivity to light and sound.

Migraines: Genetics and environmental

Although much about the cause of migraines isn’t understood, it is believed that genetics and environmental factors play a role. Changes in the brainstem and its interactions with nerves may cause migraines. Additionally, researchers are continuing to study the role of serotonin in migraines, noticing that imbalances in brain chemicals, like serotonin, may be involved.

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During a migraine, serotonin levels drop significantly. It’s possible that this causes your trigeminal system to released neuropeptides. These neuropeptides then travel to your brain’s outer covering which results in the pain you feel.

What triggers migraines? 

The exact cause of a migraine is uncertain. However, there are many things that can trigger migraines such as: hormone changes, foods or food additives, stress, changes in sleeping habits, medications, sensory stimuli, and changes in the environment. Scientists continue to research migraines to understand their cause.

frequency

Diet can greatly impact frequency and severity of migraines. Cutting back on gluten, sugar, and alcohol can improve your condition. Additionally, staying hydrated is key. Try to drink about three liters of water daily to prevent dehydration-related headaches.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for migraines. Working with your doctor to manage your condition is the best alternative at this time. Two types of treatment are available: pain-relieving medications and preventative medications. Pain-relieving medications are suggested during an attack, when you’re already experiencing pain. Preventative medications are to be taken every day in hopes of reducing the severity or frequency of migraines.

While sometimes overlooked, both headaches and migraines are common neurological disorders that many of us face. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor if you are experiencing severe head pain.


 

Questions about the article? Contact us at connect@plusonefoundation.org. 

Music and Dance: A Therapy Stronger than Words

 

Irving_Berlin_aboard_the_USS_Arkansas,_944Irving Berlin singing to troops aboard the USS Arkansas in 1944.

“Music is a therapy. It is a communication far more powerful than words, far more immediate, far more efficient.” -Yehudi Menuhin

Music therapy formally began as a profession during the first and second World Wars, in which communities of musicians would travel to hospitals to play to the suffering veterans. The doctors and nurses who were stationed at these various hospitals noticed the physical and psychological benefit of this treatment on their patients, and called for the hospital to hire full time musicians. However, training was necessary to successfully carry out this job, which led to the first college classes in music therapy.

With the rise in popularity and demand for music therapists, researchers began to wonder what were the underlying causes of the benefits of this therapy. Specifically, why is emotion so closely tied with music and what areas of the brain contribute to this link?

The primary auditory cortex is located in the temporal lobes of the brain, adjacent to the ears. This placement makes it essential in sound processing and obviously music processing. But the cortical connections and processing don’t end there. The auditory cortex projects to the primal part of our brain, the parts of the brain responsible for our emotions. This area of inner cortical structures is called the limbic system. Specifically, there is an aggregate of cells within the limbic system called the Nucleus Accumbens, which play a major part in the reward circuitry in the brain. This circuit creates pleasure from food, sex, and addiction. And, what’s more, the Nucleus Accumbens is activated when we listen to pleasurable music causing a release in dopamine, which causes us to feel pleasure.

 

UntitledFigure 1: The Right NAcc, at the top of the picture, is the nucleus accumbens and this chart is showing increased connectivity from various regions of the brain, but it specifically is connecting strongly to the auditory cortex. This illustrates the link between music interpretation and the reward circuitry in our brain. Taken from Valorie N. Salimpoor, interactions between the Nucleus Accumbens and the Auditory Cortices predict music reward value.

So to sum up all this neuroscience jargon; music is processed in the primary auditory cortex, which is explicitly linked with the reward pathway in the brain.

Dancing, as anyone who has ever met Kacey Kroeger knows, goes hand in hand with music. Therefore, I want to also mention the mechanisms underlying dance therapy and the benefits of this type of therapy.

 

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Figure 2: A diagram of the proposed neural circuit that is affected through dance therapy. The action of mirroring is facilitated by the mirror neuron system (MNS), which has direct connections to the emotional center of the brain (the limbic system). This circuit increases empathy for others as well as within us. Taken from Lucy M. McGarry http://www.autismmovementtherapy.org/site/images/dmt_mns_2011.pdf

One of the most significant findings about dance therapy is the feeling of empathy that one feels while following the dance moves of another person. Not only do people following along better understand the emotions of the leader, but in understanding the leader’s emotions they come to feel those emotions themselves. This is due to an interaction between the mirror neuron system (neurons that allow us to copy behavior) and the limbic system (emotional regulation). In dance therapy we start by following along with the instructor, thereby activating our mirror neurons in the frontal cortex of the brain. This mirror neuron system then feeds into the primal limbic system, which controls our emotions. This process not only allows the followers to better relate to the leader, through increased empathy, but in doing so they feel those same positive emotions. This is why dance therapy and just dancing in general makes us feel so good! So keep on dancing!

-Jack Stimson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living with ADHD: A Misunderstood Disorder

By Sundeep Rai1965466_879628078738376_6943305102318494595_o During the first week of every December, the U District streets near the campus of the University of Washington go quiet and a dull mood sets across campus as students migrate from lively bars and house parties, to local coffee shops and campus libraries. However, caffeine and snacks are not the only things undergrads seek during the inevitable finals week. Many students are out on a desperate hunt for ADHD medications, popularly known as “study helpers.”

Due to its easy accessibility and high demand, a large black market for ADHD medications has risen across college campuses throughout the country. Furthermore, many young adults purposely fail diagnostic tests so they can receive prescription drugs to sell or use. As a consequence of this, ADHD is easily overlooked and claimed by many to not be a true neurological disorder.

As a senior undergraduate who was diagnosed with ADHD in middle school, I constantly hear people talking about using these medications for no other purpose but to supplement their studying. I have heard people talk about purposely failing diagnostic tests in order to receive prescriptions, and I have had people tell me that my condition is not real and is simply an “excuse.” These situations are often extremely frustrating, and only add to the burdens of living with ADHD.

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At Tongariro National Park, New Zealand 

ADHD is in fact a very real neurological and behavioral condition. I have struggled a lot with ADHD in my academics, as well as in my personal relationships. Sometimes it is hard to not blame my inability to focus on myself, calling ADHD an excuse for my lack of productivity. Other times I might have a hard time controlling impulses when I am excited, all while losing awareness of others around me. However, despite all of the obstacles that having ADHD throws in my path, I have learned that the best way to handle ADHD is to embrace it, and use it to its advantages.

While ADHD carries a negative stigma due to people’s ability to abuse and mislabel it, it is a very real and prevalent disorder. ADHD makes it harder to form personal relationships and function properly in the classroom and professional work environment. However, when approached in a positive manner, ADHD can provide any individual with unique strengths and talents.

I believe that my ADHD makes me who I am; a creative, enthusiastic and outgoing individual. I always have a smile on my face and enjoy taking on challenges. While I may jump around between tasks, I always make sure to finish everything. ADHD often does put me at a disadvantage against my classmates, but because of this, I believe that ADHD has shaped me to become a stronger individual with enthusiasm and will.

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With friends at a South Africa vs. New Zealand Rugby match at Westpac Stadium, New Zealand.


Occasions Grant -- Due October 31

600176374_orig (1) Friendly reminder that our 'Occasions Grant', which funds daily or weekly activities, classes and workshops that add joy and inspiration to the lives of those with neurological disorders, is due October 31st, with notification in regards to acceptance on November 30.

The Occasions Grant is perfect for those who are currently enrolled in a rehabilitation or recovery program, but can no longer afford it.

How to Apply

Requirements: All people with a neurological injury, disorder or disease may apply. Complete the on-line application or mail in a printed copy to the Plus One Foundation before the deadline to be considered for that round of grants. A Diagnosis Form signed by a physician is required. The Occasions Grant is designed for opportunities of less than $1,000.
For further information and the application, go to:
http://www.plusonefoundation.org/occasions-grant.html

Concussions: A Cautionary Tale

I have a task for you. Open up your favorite search engine (Google, Bing, Ask Jeeves, you choose), and search for the phrase “Neurological Diseases”. What do you come up with? You’re probably seeing things like traumatic brain injuries, spina bifida, Parkinson’s, and so on. But did you know that there are more than 600 neurological diseases? I sure didn’t. Picture1

One of my best friends has had eight concussions. Eight. She played competitive lacrosse in high school, where she experienced her first three concussions. Her next two were from two different car accidents. The last three have been caused by near-normal activities. And that’s the scary thing about concussions – the more you have, the easier it is to get another one.

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A player on my high school soccer team had a concussion that went undiagnosed for weeks. Her parents kept pushing for a diagnosis after they noticed mood swings and serious changes in their daughter’s behavior. She was eventually diagnosed with a concussion and the recovery process began.

There are many adverse effects of concussions: mood swings, changes in personality and behavior, trouble sleeping, and inability to focus. So how do we prevent concussions before they happen? Follow the rules when playing contact sports, drive safely, and avoid dangerous activities. Yet, accidents happen, and when a concussion happens, it must be treated properly. Effective diagnosis and treatment is the first step to recovery.

There’s a great deal of research around concussions that is currently being conducted. We’re becoming more educated about the long-term effects of having multiple concussions. Prevention is growing, especially in terms of sports. Rules are being created and enforced to lower the rate of injury.

I look forward to what the future brings in regards to advancements in knowledge and prevention of concussions.

-Lisa Nicholson

'How to Tackle: Avoiding Head Injuries and Stopping the Opponent' by Jack Stimson

I have been playing rugby for 7 years now, and since my first practice as a novice until my current season as a senior at the University of Washington, tackling has been of the utmost importance. As many know, rugby is a game played without pads and as a result many think that it is an unsafe game, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. One way in which rugby is safer, than say football, is due to the style of tackling that is emphasized. A rugby tackle involves making contact with your shoulder and hugging the opponent’s legs while simultaneously keeping your cheek pressed against their hip and driving the opponent backwards with your legs. The key component of this tackling sequence is making contact with your shoulder while keeping your head to the side of the opponent’s body. rugby_tackle

Proper rugby tackling technique. 

In comparison, football players who have a helmet to protect their heads, often utilize it as a weapon in their tackles. Watch any NFL game and you’ll see players flying into a tackle with their heads leading the way. A helmet to many football players is a false sense of security. Rather than learning to keep their heads out of tackles, football players across all levels of play think because they have a helmet they are protected from the impacts of tackling. This false sense of security often leads directly to head injuries with the most common being concussions. What’s more is that often players sustain multiple mini-concussions during the course of a game, which add up throughout their career and can lead to neurological problems down the road. Jim McMahon, a famous quarterback for the 1985 Super Bowl winning Chicago Bears, has long since retired from the league, yet still feels the impacts of multiple head injuries he sustained while playing. According to Sports Illustrated, McMahon suffers from depression and early onset dementia as a result of years of small head injuries. There are even days when he can’t find his way home or has to spend all day in a dark room due to his crippling head pain.

Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks are one of the front-runners in the NFL in terms of head trauma prevention thanks to the unlikely pairing of the Seattle rugby company Serevi and the Seahawks themselves. Waisale Serevi, a world famous Fijian rugby star and founder of the Serevi rugby company, has visited the Seahawks training facilities numerous times preaching the rugby tackling method.

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Defensive back Richard Sherman utilizing a proper tackling technique in the Seahawks' Super Bowl win against the Denver Broncos.  

While working closely with the Seahawks players and staff, Serevi exemplified the proper rugby tackling technique and benefits of keeping your head out of the tackle. Minimizing concussions and traumatic head injuries in the NFL is of the utmost importance, but the change towards proper rugby tackling cannot be made only at the top level. Kids start playing tackle football at a young age and if proper tackling techniques aren’t implemented early on they could easily sustain traumatic injuries that could possibly hinder proper neurological brain development.

Concussions have been a part of football since day one, but they no longer have to be. There is something to be learned from the way rugby is played and how players safely avoid traumatic head injuries by taking their head out of the tackles.

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The author using an excellent tackling technique. 

-Jack Stimson

Quadriplegic Patients Gain Hope Healing through Horses

There are few injuries that are as devastating as damage to the spinal cord. A broken arm or sprained ankle will put most people out of action for weeks or months, but paralysis due to a spinal cord injury can mean losing mobility and independence for years to a lifetime. The world is often unkind to individuals with any kind of disability, but the greatest unkindness of all would be to give up hope. The shock of losing so much so quickly can feel devastating, and in the aftermath of a spinal cord injury many find themselves lost and faced with insurmountable barriers to pursuing what they love.

However, life perseveres. A spinal cord injury or disorder can ravage the body and mind in unimaginable ways, but it’s not the end; it’s the start of a long hopeful journey and recovery.

In the past century, amazing developments in human medicine have helped patients regain control over their lives. Physical and occupational therapies can be powerfully effective tools for bringing back meaning, purpose and improvement to the quality of the lives of those who suffer from impaired mobility. When used effectively, therapy has the power to open doors and creates opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Inpatient physical therapists and healthcare practitioners work miracles to save what mobility and function that remains using a combination of gait training, functional electrical stimulation and physical therapy.

But the next steps, actually living after a spinal cord injury, present a more complicated problem. A human being isn’t just a moving, breathing machine; true healthy living means staying engaged, learning new skills and being productive at meaningful endeavors. This is often the biggest challenge for quadriplegic and paraplegic patients.

Today, new therapies push the boundaries of treatment from treating physical symptoms to helping a patient grow as a whole, both mentally and physically. And for some patients, the next step from gait training at a hospital might be riding on the back of a horse.

One of the emerging therapies for individuals with a wide variety of neurological disorders or physical disability is therapeutic horseback riding, which has early roots in ancient Greek medicine. Horseback therapy has been increasing in popularity and has been gaining traction as a treatment method because of the physical benefits, but also because horseback riding as an activity targets holistic health and well-being, rather than just treating the individual as a medical patient.

Healing Through Horses

The sensation of riding a horse simulates physical muscles, promoting core strength, coordination and balance, as well as giving the patient a sense of autonomy and purpose. Research on horseback therapy has found that the motions of a horse’s gait provide excellent for individuals with mobility problems. Smooth riding relaxes high-toned muscles, and faster riding develops muscle tone. The technical aspects of riding also help develop fine motor control. In short, to an individual who suffers from motor impairment, horseback riding is an ideal activity for therapy.

But beyond that, horses have provided companionship to humans for centuries, and the social and emotional bonds that people form with their horses and with their instructor go a long way toward better mental health and happiness. The sensation of riding a horse releases endorphins and gives the patient a sense of emotional well-being. Horsemanship as therapy can even develop into a new passion, and an avenue for continued growth in skill and efficacy. Many patients who undergo equine-assisted therapy continue riding even beyond the scope of therapy.

For someone with any kind of neuromuscular disease or neurological disorder, the lack of mobility can be a seriously limiting aspect of life, both in terms of physical movement and as a psychological block that can affect emotional well-being. Loss of mobility often means loss of function, independence and self-esteem, and people see therapy primarily as a means of healing or recovering what was lost. But in the process of recovery, there is always the potential to discover something new: new confidence, new perspectives and new passions. Therapy can transcend itself and its goals, just as people can overcome their limitations.

Today, therapy for spinal cord injury patients includes an incredible variety of treatments that not only strengthen the body and mind, but build character and bring purpose to life. This can be through something as wild as riding a horse, or something as simple as regaining muscle tone by swimming in a therapy pool. Regardless of where someone is in life, there is always a way to move forward.

Making waves begins with making ripples.

Plus One

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A Reflection on Autism Awareness Month

We're coming to the end of April, Autism Awareness Month. But have any of us become anymore aware? Do any of us know that 30% of people who live with disabilities live below the poverty line? This includes those who have autism spectrum disorder. Most people don't know that this condition is called Autism Spectrum Disorder for a reason. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, "Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a range of complex neurodevelopment disorders, characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties, and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior.  Autistic disorder, sometimes called autism or classical ASD, is the most severe form of ASD. While other conditions along the spectrum include a milder form known as Asperger syndrome, and childhood disintegrative disorder and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (usually referred to as PDD-NOS)." Most of those who live with this condition are diagnosed at a younger age due to unusual behavior and the inability to meet miles stones such as talking by age two. There has been success in helping treat symptoms with therapy but like no person with Autism is the same, no treatment can be the same. Most of these catered services and therapies are not covered by insurance and can be too expensive for these individuals and their families to afford.

Plus One Foundation held an event geared towards individuals with ASD, it was our Free Art Care for Everyone Work Shop. This event allowed these people to express themselves in the company of one another through paint and arts and crafts at Seattle Pacific University. According to the American Art Therapy Association, "art therapy is a mental health profession that uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages. It is based on the belief that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and achieve insight.” A lot of individuals that have autism lack the ability to speak or process language and verbal communication, but what they can do is process information visually. They record information through images and visual information. This makes expressing themselves through this way by using art is essential.

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Plus One Foundation will be hosting more Art, Pilates, and Melt workshops. We invite those who have autism or care for someone with ASD to join. For more information about these workshops and the opportunity to apply for one on one programs visit our website.

www.plusonefoundation.org