Suggestions for Improving Sleep

Changes in sleep patterns often occur after a brain injury (this could mean getting much more sleep or much less sleep than prior to the injury). TV Ontario (TVO) recently ran a program on how to improve your sleep. Their suggestions are useful for anyone who feels they are not getting enough good quality sleep (and you certainly don’t need a brain injury for that). Here is a link to the program.

https://tvo.org/video/documentaries/the-truth-about-sleep

If you have tried other different approaches to improving your sleep and have had success with them, please use the comments field to share them with others.

Another Sad Story of Football-Related Head Injury

Unfortunately there are all too many stories of concussion in sport. This particular one highlights the long lasting cognitive, mood and personality changes that can occur when concussion symptoms persist or when Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE – which can result from many concussions) develops. Unfortunately the football associations themselves often seem more concerned with running defense than with helping the injured player. Sadly, in this situation they did not follow the concussion protocols that have been developed for sports.

In Canada, Parachute Canada has developed these sports protocols . This story highlights the incredible long-lasting impacts concussion can have on the injured player and on that player’s family and the friends that choose to stick by him/her afterwards. If you are a coach, team doctor or therapist or even a parent with a child in a sport we all need to play a role in ensuring these protocols are followed and if the person does receive a brain injury, please do your part in spite of the personality changes to help the person down the long road to recovery.

 

 

Brain Plasticity by Brain Researcher Dr. Lara Boyd

I discovered a good TEDx talk from a brain researcher in Vancouver, Dr. Lara Boyd. In it she describes the chemical and structural changes that occur in your brain during neuroplasticity (brain changes). The key points I took away were:

  • Her work with people recovering from stroke shows a lot of variability in results from person to person.
  • The primary driver of brain change is your behaviour. “There is no neuroplasticity drug you can take. Nothing is more effective than practice at helping you learn. The bottom line is you have to do the work.”
  • Increased difficulty/increased struggle in what you are practicing results in not only more learning but also greater structural change in the brain.
  • Neuroplasticity can be either positive (e.g. learn something new) or negative (e.g. become addicted to drugs, have chronic pain).
  • Neuroplasticity is shaped by everything you do and everything you don’t do.
  • There is no one size fits all approach to learning. There is no one intervention that will work for all of us. This has forced the researchers to look further into “personalized medicine” (unique interventions).
  • Biomarkers in the brain are helping them to match therapies with individual patients recovering from stroke.
  • Not only do we need personalized medicine, we need personalized learning.
  • Even for people without a brain injury/stroke, behaviours in your everyday life and things you encounter are important because each of them is changing your brain for better or for worse.
  • Break bad habits. Do the positive learning that your brain requires. Build the brain you want.

Concussion Information Booklet for Patients and Families

The Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation (ONF) has recently released a new Concussion Information Booklet for Patients and Families. It is excellent and I hope multiple copies are delivered to every hospital emergency room and general physician’s office for distribution to people with a concussion. Here is a link to download a copy of it:

http://concussionsontario.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/ONF-Concussion-Booklet-Web-Feedback-link.pdf

Representatives of the ONF were at the recent Concussion Public Forum in Toronto to distribute copies of it. They indicated they would like to receive feedback on it from patients and families at info@onf.org or through Twitter @ontneurotrauma.

The representatives indicated the purpose of this guide is to help you navigate through the industry after potentially receiving a concussion. The ONF has developed concussion standards by working with 100 stakeholders including people with lived experience and their family members. They found that concussion was becoming a business and people were calling themselves “concussion experts” without proper training. The ONF’s concussion standards and this guide are intended to help deal with this issue.

 

Concussion Public Forum in Toronto, ON

There will be a free public information night with the dual themes of “The Consequences of Concussions” and “Concussions Through the Eyes of Concussion Sufferers and Their Families” to be held on the evening of Friday May 11th at Toronto Western Hospital in Toronto.

Here is a link to the agenda:

https://ers.snapuptickets.com/ers/event-files/2495/Public_Forum_Program_Apr_4.pdf

Here is a link to the registration form:

https://ers.snapuptickets.com/ers/online-registration-conference-form.cfm?event=2495&lan=eng&RegType=2

If you decide to register, once you enter your information on this form and click “Continue” then review your information and if it is correct, make sure you click the “Complete Registration” button which is in grey at the bottom of the screen (it’s not that obvious).

New Study Indicates Number & Severity of Brain Injuries Raises Dementia Risk

A large study offers more evidence of a link between traumatic brain injuries and dementia later in life, with repeated injuries and severe ones posing the greatest danger.

According to the study’s results, a single severe brain injury increased the risk of later developing dementia by 35 per cent compared with a person who never had brain trauma. A mild brain injury increased the risk by 17 per cent.

But, also note the line “Overall, the risk was small. About 95 per cent of people who suffered a brain injury never developed dementia.”

To read the full article in The Star, click the link below, or if you would prefer to have the article read aloud to you, simply click the play button below.

https://www.thestar.com/life/2018/04/11/new-study-says-number-severity-of-brain-injuries-raises-dementia-risk.html

Dr. Charles Tator’s 2017 Presentation on Photosensitivity in Women with Post Concussion Syndrome

Here is a link to video presentation which Dr. Charles Tator, a neurosurgeon at Toronto Western Hospital, gave at a 2017 “Concussion in Women and Girls Conference” in Toronto. His presentation is currently available online. In this presentation, Dr. Tator provides some information about women with Post Concussion Syndrome (PCS) who experience photosensitivity (a.k.a. photophobia). He also describes a study that he was involved with where they had 29 people with PCS use a “non LCD” device instead of a traditional computer monitor. The device had a slower refresh rate (so less flicker) than a typical computer monitor and did not have a backlit screen.

http://www.uhn.ca/KNC/Research/Projects/Canadian_Concussion_Centre/Pages/symposia.aspx

Court Ruling in Favour of Cognitively Disabled

Here’s an interesting article regarding a court case involving a man who was married by a woman (apparently for his money) shortly after he received a serious brain injury. Ontario’s marriage laws are loose, leaving little to stop vulnerable people from being pressured to marry. The decision in this case to void the marriage shows that courts are recognizing the rights of the vulnerable person.

If you would prefer to have the article read aloud to you, simply click the play button below. Use the comments box at the bottom to post your views on this ruling.