Saturday, 20 January 2018

Core Exercises are a Great Way to Improve your Brain Health

Back pain complaints are often met with instruction to build up your core strength, and indeed this is important for better stability and protection for your back. But building core strength helps in another important way — it activates areas of the brain that can enhance stability, reduce pain, and naturally improve posture. 

When many people think of the core, they think of six-pack abs we see on gym posters. But the core is basically the entire trunk of your body. The core includes the:
  • Abdomen, home to the fabled six-pack.
  • Back extensors, which run along your spine.
  • Obliques, which wrap diagonally around your waist.
  • Transverse abdominis, which allows you to suck in your stomach.
  • Multifidi, which connect the vertebrae to each other.
  • Quadratuslumborum, which connects your pelvis to your spine.
  •  Iliopsoas muscles, which connect the spine to the legs.
Many people develop chronic back pain because of an undiagnosed brain imbalance. The brain coordinates with the eyes and the inner ear to perceive where it is in relation to the environment.
When that information is incorrectly interpreted due to a brain imbalance, the brain may believe the body is falling forward or backwards. To compensate, it adjusts the posture to leanin the opposite direction of the perceived fall. This all happens without a person’s conscious awareness, and can start in infancy.
This constant over correcting creates not only bad posture, but also areas of muscular weakness and tension that affect the spine and other parts of the body, often resulting in chronic pain. These people may also find standing for a short length of time causes fatigue and back pain.
It’s also not uncommon for people with this issue to struggle with anxiety — the constant sense of falling is a source of chronic stressor that can manifest as anxiety, fatigue, and mood swings.
People often report a reduction in back pain and better posture when they take on a core strengthening program. Although strengthening and stretching the core muscles is a vital part of that rehabilitation, it also exercises the midline cerebellum, the area of the brain responsible for, among other things, movement, coordination, and posture. By repeatedly activating the core muscles, you are stimulating this part of the brain.

How do you know if brain imbalances play a role in your back pain or posture, and whether core exercises can help you.
The best way is to conduct your own field sobriety test — that’s right, the same one cops give to suspected drunk drivers. This is because being drunk also affects the cerebellum. It’s not uncommon for people with posture and back pain issues to also have poor balance due to a cerebellar issue
A core strengthening program should emphasize good form so you don’t risk injuring yourself. It should also include attention to stability and alignment. A brain imbalance will often cause a person to stand or lie crooked when they think they are straight because the brain is incorrectly perceiving the body’s position.
Pilates is one excellent core strengthening technique that incorporates these strategies along with mindfulness and breath work, which are also great brain rehabilitators.
If you have back pain, poor balance, anxiety, mood issues, gut problems, a previous brain injury, or other symptoms, a functional neurology rehabilitation protocol may be the vital boost you need. Many times when people get stuck on a functional medicine protocol, it’s because a brain-based issue is promoting inflammation and metabolic imbalances.
Visit Southwest Brain performance Centers or call my office @ 505-888-6800 for more information on how we can help you achieve better brain health.

Monday, 8 January 2018

How Concussion can triple the Risk of Suicide

Perhaps you’ve hit your head really hard. You ice it, rest, and you think your fine. Or maybe you’ve suffered from a severe concussion, you feel dizzy for a few days and the symptoms diminish gradually. Is that the end of the risk? Studies show that a person who has had a concussion is triple the risk for suicide.

Even mild injuries to the head can have long-term risks. Even though you may seem fine physically after a short period of time after an injury, lingering damage to neurons in the brain (skull) over-time can lead to depression, insomnia and even harmful behaviors. 

There has been lots of research and studies on the harmful effect of brain trauma and injury. But there is still many aspects that medical professionals are not aware of. Ultimately, it is vital to pay close attention to behaviors of someone who has had a concussion or numerous traumas to the head. 

Suicide is not a direct risk factor for someone who has had a concussion. However suicide-prone behaviors need to be monitored after-the-fact. The brain is so complex, we have no way of defining and detecting specific problems before they occur. 

In the meantime, doctors and family members of individuals who have suffered from concussions should be watching for warming signs, similar to depression, substance abuse, mood swings, etc.

Everyone needs to educate themselves about the risks of suicide in people with a traumatic brain injury, especially if you’ve have a loved one hurt. A doctor needs to be notified immediately if they see changes in behavior or mood, including irritability, loss of happiness, and or loss of hope.

Family members and doctors need to ask clarifying questions to understand what is really going on and to get help for their loved one sooner rather than later. 

It is crucial that patients who have suffered from previous head trauma make the injury part of their medical record. This is so doctors in the future can have an accurate understanding of that individual’s medical history. Visit Southwest Brain Performance Centers for details!

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Hormones out of Whack since your Brain Injury?

Although brain injury symptoms may subside enough for you to return to daily life, trauma to the brain can continue to subtly wreak havoc on how your body functions and feels for month and even years later. For instance, many people notice their hormone function isn’t the same after a brain injury. 

Your hormonal command center — the hypothalamus and pituitary gland — is in the brain. Although a head injury may occur in an isolated area, the vast networks of communication across the entire brain mean that damage to one area affects the entire brain. And because the brain runs the body, it only makes sense daily operations of the body take a hit too.
Estimates on how many people suffer from hormone disorders caused by brain injury vary, however, one study of 1,000 patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) found almost 30 percent had compromised pituitary function.
The hormonal systems most impacted are the sex hormones, growth hormones (which adults need for bone and muscle strength), and adrenal, or stress, hormones. Symptoms range from mild to severe and can surface immediately or months or even years later.
Common hormone symptoms related to brain injury include fatigue, weight gain, low blood pressure, low libido, loss of muscle mass, and amenorrhea. Children may have growth problems later.
More severe repercussions can include Addison’s disease (adrenal insufficiency), diabetes insipidus (which causes intense thirst and heavy urination), or hyponatremia (abnormally low sodium). 

 How functional neurology and functional medicine can help restore hormone function
Why will two people with the same TBI have two wildly different responses hormonally? In functional neurology and functional medicine, we know one reason is the health of the brain prior to injury. For instance, one person eats a healthy diet, avoids inflammatory foods, isn’t already struggling with depression or anxiety, does not have advanced brain inflammation, and exercises regularly. This person may experience a good and swift recovery after a TBI.
However, take the the person who lives on a pizza and mac-and-cheese, unaware that a gluten and dairy sensitivity are causing immune attacks on the brain. They also drink soda every day, sit gaming or working for hours instead of getting any exercise, and work or live in a stressful, toxic environment. This person likely already has hormonal imbalances and a highly inflamed brain. A brain injury is going to be much more devastating as a result.
Also, hormonal status in midlife can play a big role in how the brain responds to injury as the sex hormones are highly protective of the brain. For the woman or man who experiences a steep decline in hormone production in midlife, their brain is much more vulnerable to damage and slower recovery after a TBI.
You may think hormone replacement therapy is the answer, and in some people it may be, but in functional neurology we look at the various dietary and lifestyle conditions that create hormonal imbalances and work to address those.
We customize rehabilitative functional neurology strategies based on the type of damage a patient’s brain received and pre-existing metabolic health.
We also examine and address the function of related systems, such as the vestibular system, or inner ear; the vagus nerve, an information highway that connects the brain to the organs; and the visual system.Working with these systems, which are so integral to brain function, is a vital to rehabilitation.

If your hormones have been out of whack since your concussion, or brain injury, ask my office how we can help.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Effects of Trauma can be Passed Genetically on to Children

We are increasingly learning the effects of traumatic experiences on the brain, and now, newer research shows these effects can be passed on to children’s genes. Research of Holocaust survivors showed that compared to control groups, their children exhibited genetic changes that increased the likelihood of stress disorders.
Other research shows post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, can be passed on to offspring.
Plus, most trauma survivors are coping with the neurological effects of PTSD as they raise their children, which greatly shape a child's environment and responses to stress.
In functional neurology, we frequently work with the neurological fallout of PTSD, which can include not only being triggered to re-experience the trauma, but also heightened stress response, sensitivity to light, sound, and crowds, emotional instability, depression and suicidality, anxiety and insomnia, disassociation and numbness, and addiction.
How PTSD manifests depends on the person, and women’s symptoms differ from men’s. Men are more prone to anger and addiction whereas women struggle more with depression, anxiety, and health ailments. 

Trauma turns on and off genes in offspring
In the Holocaust study, researchers discovered genetic differences in offspring of survivors. This finding upended traditionally held notions that environment and experience don’t affect DNA in sperm and eggs of parents.
Although it has long been believed conception delivers a genetic “clean slate,” newer science on epigenetics shows that our environment and experiences constantly modify genes, even in egg and sperm. 
They found chemical tags on the DNA that regulates stress hormones in Holocaust parents and their children that were not found in the control group. However, they are not sure how those tags get passed on.
Is PTSD inherited?
Studies on whether PTSD is genetically inherited are not yet conclusive, although one study found genetic links in almost 30 percent of European-American women with PTSD.
Understanding how big a role genetics plays in trauma would further understanding of why some people get PTSD when others don’t, and how best to treat it.
Also, researchers point to the fallout for children raised by adults with PTSD, which can perpetuate the disorder.
Functional neurology and PTSD
PTSD causes structural changes to the brain. The disorder shrinks some areas of the brain while enlarging others, keeping a person trapped in a neurological prison of hyper arousal, stress, and fear.
For instance, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex shrinks, predisposing one to extreme fear and anxiety. PTSD also shrinks the hippocampus, the area responsible for learning and memory. On the other hand, the amygdala, the area that governs the fear response, enlarges. 
Compromises in these and other areas of the brain result in an easily triggered and over exaggerated fear response that can be exhausting and debilitating to the sufferer.
Fortunately, the brain is very responsive to rehabilitation and PTSD sufferers can find considerable relief without drugs.
In functional neurology, we use specific exercises and activities to dampen areas of the brain that are over responsive to stress and stimulate those areas that can help control the fear response. Visit Southwest Brain Performance Centers for more information.