Category Archives: Brain & Nervous System

More than 1 in 20 US children have dizziness and balance problems

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From the National Institutes of Health

First large-scale, nationally representative survey finds issues slightly more common in girls, non-Hispanic white children.

spiralMore than 1 in 20 (nearly 3.3 million) children between the ages of 3 and 17 have a dizziness or balance problem, according to an analysis of the first large-scale, nationally representative survey of these problems in U.S. children.

Prevalence increases with age, with 7.5 percent of children ages 15-17 and 6.0 percent of children ages 12-14 having any dizziness or balance problem, compared with 3.6 percent of children ages 6-8 and 4.1 percent of children ages 3-5.

The research was led by investigators at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), part of the National Institutes of Health.

Researchers found that girls have a higher prevalence of dizziness and balance problems compared to boys, 5.7 percent and 5.0 percent, respectively.

In addition, non-Hispanic white children have an increased prevalence of dizziness and balance problems (6.1 percent) compared with Hispanic (4.6 percent) and non-Hispanic black (4.3 percent) children. The findings were published online January 27 in The Journal of Pediatrics.

“These findings suggest that dizziness and balance problems are fairly common among children, and parents and providers should be aware of the impact these problems can have on our children,” said James F. Battey, Jr., M.D., Ph.D, director of the NIDCD and a pediatrician. “Parents who notice dizziness and balance problems in their children should consult a health care provider to rule out a serious underlying condition.” Continue reading

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Fall prevention essential to preserving health of older adults

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Kim, Alice 09 colorBy Alice Kim, MD
Virginia Mason Issaquah Medical Center
Contributing Writer

If you are an older adult a simple thing can change your life, like tripping on uneven pavement or slipping on a slick surface. If you fall, you could break a bone, like thousands of older men and women do every year. Although a broken bone might not sound bad, it could prompt more serious health issues.

Many things can cause a fall. Your eyesight, hearing and reflexes might not be as sharp as they were when you were younger. Diabetes, heart disease or problems with your thyroid, nerves, feet or blood vessels can affect your balance. In addition, some medications can cause you to feel dizzy or sleepy and make you more likely to fall.

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Virginia Mason physical therapists working with a patient on gait and stability.

However, it’s important to not allow a fear of falling keep you from being active. Doing things like gathering with friends, gardening, walking or going to the local senior center helps you stay healthy. The good news is there are simple ways to prevent most falls.

Do the right things

If you take care of your overall health, you may be able to lower your chances of falling. Most of the time, falls and accidents don’t just happen. Here are a few tips intended to help you avoid falls and broken bones:

  • Stay physically active. Plan an individualized exercise program that works for you. Regular exercise improves muscle health and makes you stronger. It also helps keep your joints, tendons and ligaments flexible. Mild weight-bearing activities – such as walking or climbing stairs – can help slow bone loss from osteoporosis.

Continue reading

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Local chapters split from national Alzheimer’s Association

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alzheimer's alzheimers association logoBy Anna Gorman
KHN

The Los Angeles-area chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association is splitting from the national organization, the latest in a string of departures that could impact the national group’s bottom line.

The chapter, which covers Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, announced its decision Thursday to separate and form its own organization.

Chapters in San Diego and Orange County, California announced similar plans late last year, as did chapters in New York City and New Jersey.

The departures come after the Alzheimer’s Association voted last fall to consolidate into one national organization that will centrally manage the funds and programs for people living with the disease throughout the United States.

Currently, local chapters are affiliated with the umbrella national group and help fund its operations and research. But they are independent nonprofits that keep about 60 percent of the money they raise and largely set their own priorities on how to spend it.

Under the new structure, the Chicago-based national headquarters will be the only legal entity of the Alzheimer’s Association.

The Los Angeles-area chapter decided to go out on its own because of concerns that the consolidation would take away local flexibility and make it harder to provide services tailored to the diverse population of Southern California, said Susan Galeas, president and CEO of the new organization, known as Alzheimer’s Greater Los Angeles.

Galeas said she and the local board also feared the national organization wouldn’t place as much of a priority on funding direct care for people with Alzheimer’s and their families as the local chapter does. Continue reading

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Infertility treatments not associated with increased risk of developmental delay – study

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Infertility treatments do not appear to contribute to developmental delays in children

From the National Institutes of Health

IVF egg thumbNIH researchers find no risk by age 3 from in vitro fertilization, other widespread treatments.

Children conceived via infertility treatments are no more likely to have a developmental delay than children conceived without such treatments, according to a study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health, the New York State Department of Health and other institutions.

The findings, published online in JAMA Pediatrics, may help to allay longstanding concerns that conception after infertility treatment could affect the embryo at a sensitive stage and result in lifelong disability.

The authors found no differences in developmental assessment scores of more than 1,800 children born to women who became pregnant after receiving infertility treatment and those of more than 4,000 children born to women who did not undergo such treatment.

“When we began our study, there was little research on the potential effects of conception via fertility treatments on U.S. children,” said Edwina Yeung, Ph.D., an investigator in the Division of Intramural Population Health Research at NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). “Our results provide reassurance to the thousands of couples who have relied on these treatments to establish their families.” Continue reading

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Dementia taks toll of unpaid caregivers, study

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And younger man's hand holds an elderly man's handBy Michelle Andrews
KHN

Unpaid caregivers and family members spend more than 100 hours a month, on average, assisting elderly people with dementia who live in the community and not in residential care or nursing homes, according to a new study.

As people live longer, the number with dementia will increase, further straining caregiving resources.

The time commitment was significantly higher than for similar caregivers who helped elderly people without dementia, who themselves put in an average 73 hours each month.

Overall, people with dementia make up 10 percent of noninstitutionalized adults age 65 or older, but they account for more than 40 percent of unpaid caregivers’ time. Continue reading

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Coping with autism and puberty

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Alexander Brown, 14, sits in his living room on Thursday, May 14, 2015. He was diagnosed with autism at 18 months. Alexander is having a hard time with puberty and is lashing out physically (Photo by Heidi de Marco/KHN).

Alexander Brown, 14, sits in his living room on Thursday, May 14, 2015. He was diagnosed with autism at 18 months. Alexander is having a hard time with puberty and is lashing out physically (Photo by Heidi de Marco/KHN).

By Heidi de Marco

SHERRILL, N.Y. — Alexander Brown swings back and forth on a makeshift hammock bolted to a wooden beam in his living room. The swaying seems to soothe the otherwise uneasy 14-year-old. His mother gazes at him from the couch and their eyes briefly connect.

“I would love to be in Alexander’s head just for a few hours,” said Diane Brown, her head slumped against her hand. “He’s having a hard time going through puberty right now.”

Alexander is confused, moody and frustrated – all very typical for a teen during adolescence. But Alexander’s transition is especially difficult for the Browns, a family of six in Sherrill, N.Y., because he is severely autistic.

Puberty is causing chaos in Alexander’s once-predictable world. He can’t talk and struggles to express himself. “He’s angry and he’s sad . . . and he doesn’t understand why,” Brown said. “I truly feel for him.”

Alexander, the third of four children, rarely sleeps through the night. He gets up at all hours to wander the kitchen, take a shower or throw a tantrum. He’s begun lashing out physically.

Brown, 45, is exhausted. She averages four hours of sleep a night and powers through most days with the help of Red Bull. Continue reading

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As Alzheimer’s symptoms worsen, hard conversations about how to die

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As Alzheimer’s Symptoms Worsen, Hard Conversations About How To Die
September 19, 2015 • Six years after he was diagnosed with both cancer and Alzheimer’s, Greg O’Brien is beginning to talk to his doctor, and to his family, about his “exit strategy” for the final years of his life.

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