Monday, July 28, 2014

Study: Losing sleep can hurt your memory

A study shows that losing sleep can hurt a person's memory.

Lack of sleep, already considered a public health epidemic, can also lead to errors in memory, finds a new study by researchers at Michigan State University and the University of California, Irvine.
The study, published online in the journalPsychological Science, found participants deprived of a night's sleep were more likely to flub the details of a simulated burglary they were shown in a series of images.
Distorted memory can have serious consequences in areas such as criminal justice, where eyewitness misidentifications are thought to be the leading cause of wrongful convictions in the United States.
"We found memory distortion is greater after sleep deprivation," said Kimberly Fenn, MSU associate professor of psychology and co-investigator on the study. "And people are getting less sleep each night than they ever have."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls insufficient sleep an epidemic and said it's linked to vehicle crashes, industrial disasters and chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes.
The researchers conducted experiments at MSU and UC-Irvine to gauge the effect of insufficient sleep on memory. The results: Participants who were kept awake for 24 hours -- and even those who got five or fewer hours of sleep -- were more likely to mix up event details than participants who were well rested.
"People who repeatedly get low amounts of sleep every night could be more prone in the long run to develop these forms of memory distortion," Fenn said. "It's not just a full night of sleep deprivation that puts them at risk."
Read more here

Those with sickle cell anemia are more likely to have sleep apnea

A study shows that children who have sickle cell anemia are more likely to have sleep apnea.

Children with sickle cell anemia are more likely to suffer from sleep apnea than children who are otherwise healthy, according to the findings of a study published online in the journal Pediatrics.
The study, which was published last week, was funded by the National Institutes of Health. 
The findings underscore the importance for physicians to screen sickle cell patients on a routine basis for sleep apnea, said one of the study's co-investigators, Dr. Carol Rosen, a pediatric sleep medicine specialist and medical director of the Pediatric Sleep Center at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital and professor of pediatrics at Case Western Reserve University.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep-related breathing problem that can reduce blood oxygen levels during the night. Patients with the disorder stop breathing for periods lasting from a few seconds to a few minutes, dozens of times during the night.
An estimated 1 to 5 percent of all children in the United States suffer from it, according to the American Sleep Apnea Association. Risk factors include chronic swollen tonsils and adenoids, smaller upper airways and obesity.
Sickle cell disease is one of the most common genetic diseases in the country and is typically diagnosed in newborns.  In the United States, it's estimated that sickle cell anemia affects 70,000–100,000 people, mainly African Americans. The disease occurs in about 1 out of every 500 African American births.
It can cause frequent bouts of joint or organ pain, vulnerability to infection, stroke, slow growth or internal organ damage. When red blood cells sickle, or become malformed (shaped like a sickle or a crescent), it makes blood flow and oxygen flow to nearby tissue more difficult, causing pain and organ injury.
Children with sickle cell anemia – the most common form of sickle cell disease – have lower oxygen levels than healthy children, and may be even more vulnerable to the effects of low oxygen that come with asthma or sleep apnea.
Dr. Michael DeBaun (now at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine) and Dr. Robert Strunk (Washington University School of Medicine) conceived of the study while both were colleagues at St. Louis Children's Hospital.  They noticed a relationship between breathing problems like asthma and increased hospitalizations for pain and chest problems in children with sickle cell anemia.
Collaborating with researchers at UH Rainbow and University College of London Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street Hospital in England, they launched a study.  They wanted to see if their hypothesis - that children with sickle cell anemia would have a higher-than-expected prevalence of sleep apnea – was correct.
Of the 243 sickle cell anemia patients enrolled in the study, 59 were patients at UH Rainbow. Nearly all of the patients were of African heritage.
Data was collected through the use of questionnaires for medical history (including asthma, allergies and sleep); physical exams that included breath tests and measuring oxygen levels; and sleep studies.
What they found was a higher prevalence of sleep apnea in children with sickle cell anemia. Those with sleep apnea had more aggravated symptoms of their sickle cell anemia than patients who did not have sleep apnea.
"Having low oxygen is a trigger for [the cells] sickling," Rosen said. "If you have sleep apnea with episodes of low oxygen, cells may be more likely to sickle and cause additional health problems."
Study participants have now been followed for several years.  The next step will be to look at whether having sleep apnea is a risk factor for future problems like increased hospitalizations for pain or a serious lung condition called acute chest syndrome.
Read more here

Signs it's time for a sleep study

This article discusses different types of sleep disorders, and tells signs that may indicate it's time for a sleep study.

There are a number of sleep disorders that keep us from getting the rest we need. While poor sleep can be devastating to our quality of life, some sleep disorders — such as sleep apnea — can actually be life-threatening. The most common sleep disorders are:

  • Sleep apnea — interrupted breathing while sleeping
  • Insomnia — inability to get to sleep or stay asleep
  • Daytime sleepiness disorder (hypersomnia) — feeling sleepy all day, unable to stay awake, difficulty focusing
  • Restless leg syndrome — uncomfortable urge to move legs while at rest
  • Narcolepsy — sudden sleep attacks
A sleep study is typically the quickest and best way to find out whether you have a sleep disorder. It's time for a sleep study if:
  • Your bed partner complains of loud snoring and has witnessed you not breathing.
  • You wake up with a dry mouth or sore throat, coughing, choking or unable to catch your breath.
  • You have excessive daytime sleepiness and decreased energy during the day.
  • You are unable to remain awake while driving.
Read more here

Common genes form genetic risk for autism

Common genes were found to comprise of a person's genetic risk for autism.

Using new statistical tools, Carnegie Mellon University's Kathryn Roeder has led an international team of researchers to discover that most of the genetic risk for autism comes from versions of genes that are common in the population rather than from rare variants or spontaneous glitches.
Published in the July 20 issue of the journal Nature Genetics, the study found that about 52 percent of autism was traced to common genes and rarely inherited variations, with spontaneous mutations contributing a modest 2.6 percent of the total risk. The research team -- from the Population-Based-Autism Genetics and Environment Study (PAGES) Consortium -- used data from Sweden's universal health registry to compare roughly 3,000 subjects, including autistic individuals and a control group. The largest study of its kind to date, the team also showed that inheritability outweighs environmental risk.
"From this study, we can see that genetics plays a major role in the development of autism compared to environmental risk factors, making autism more like height than we thought -- many small risk factors add up, each pushing a person further out on the spectrum," said Roeder, professor of statistics and computational biology at Carnegie Mellon and a leading expert on statistical genomics and the genetic basis of complex disease. "These findings could not have happened without statistics, and now we must build off of what we learned and use statistical approaches to determine where to put future resources, and decide what is the most beneficial direction to pursue to further pinpoint what causes autism."
Although autism is thought to be caused by an interplay of genetic and other factors, including environmental forces, consensus on their relative contributions and the outlines of its genetic architecture has remained elusive, until now. With this new study, the researchers believe that autism genetics is beginning to catch up.
Led by Roeder, the researchers used new statistical methods -- such as machine learning techniques and dimension reduction tools -- that allowed them to more reliably sort out the inheritability of the disorder. In addition, they were able to compare their results with a parallel family-based study in the Swedish population, which took into account data from twins, cousins, and factors like age of the father at birth and parents' psychiatric history. A best-fit statistical model took form, based mostly on additive genetic and non-shared environmental effects.
"Thanks to the boost in statistical power that comes with ample sample size, autism geneticists can now see the forest for the trees," said Thomas R. Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). "Knowing the nature of the genetic risk will help focus the search for clues to the molecular roots of the disorder."
Thomas Lehner, chief of the NIMH's Genomics Research Branch, agreed and added, "This is a different kind of analysis than employed in previous studies. Data from genome-wide association studies was used to identify a genetic model instead of focusing just on pinpointing genetic risk factors. The researchers were able to pick from all of the cases of illness within a population-based registry."
Now that the genetic architecture is better understood, the researchers are identifying specific genetic risk factors detected in the sample, such as deletions and duplications of genetic material and spontaneous mutations. The researchers said even though such rare spontaneous mutations accounted for only a small fraction of autism risk, the potentially large effects of these glitches make them important clues to understanding the molecular underpinnings of the disorder.
"Within a given family, the mutations could be a critical determinant that leads to the manifestation of ASD in a particular family member," said Joseph Buxbaum, the study's first author and professor of psychiatry, neuroscience, genetics and genomic sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS). "The family may have common variation that puts it at risk, but if there is also a 'de novo' mutation on top of that, it could push an individual over the edge. So for many families, the interplay between common and spontaneous genetic factors could be the underlying genetic architecture of the disorder."
Current studies have not been large enough to reveal the many common genetic variants that increase the risk of autism. On their own, none of these common variants will have sufficient impact to cause autism.
"Our group in Pittsburgh is working to develop a model that predicts the genetic risk for a family based on a myriad of small effects. Such a score could provide clinical benefit to families," Roeder said.
Read more here

Brain damage can occur even in mild brain injuries

A study shows that even a mild brain injury can cause lasting brain damage.

Even mild traumatic brain injury may cause brain damage and thinking and memory problems, according to a study published in the July 16, 2014, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
For the study, 44 people with a mild traumatic brain injury and nine people with a moderate traumatic brain injury were compared to 33 people with no brain injury. All of the participants took tests of their thinking and memory skills. At the same time, they had diffusion tensor imaging scans, a type of MRI scan that is more sensitive than traditional MRI for detecting damage to brain cells and helps map fiber tracts that connect brain regions. The people with brain injuries had their scans an average of six days after the injury. A year later, 23 of those with injuries had another scan and took the cognitive tests again.
Compared to the people with no brain injury, those with injuries had brain damage in brain white matter consisting of disruption to nerve axons, those parts of nerve cells that make up white matter and that allow brain cells to transmit messages to each other.
The study found that patient scores on the verbal letter fluency task, a test of thinking and memory skills, were 25 percent lower than in the healthy people. This was strongly related to the imaging measures of white matter damage.
“Most of the studies thus far have focused on people with severe and chronic traumatic brain injury,” said study author Andrew Blamire, PhD, of Newcastle University in the United Kingdom. “We studied patients who had suffered clinically mild injuries often from common accidents such as falling from a bicycle, or slow speed car accidents. This finding is especially important, as 90 percent of all traumatic brain injuries are mild to moderate.”
One year after the injury, the scores on thinking and memory tests were the same for people with brain injuries and those with no injuries, but there were still areas of brain damage in people with injuries. “These results show that thinking skills were recovering over time,” Blamire said. “The areas of brain damage were not as widespread across the brain as previously, but focused in certain areas of the brain, which could indicate that the brain was compensating for the injuries.”
Read more here

App to track migraine headaches

An app, currently only available overseas, helps people track what triggers their migraine headaches.

A new migraine tracking smartphone app analyses what causes your headaches and suggests how to stop them from happening.

The app, Migraine Buddy, asks questions about your migraine, habits, and medication with a questionnaire.

It also collects data about your sleep and movement patterns using your smartphone’s sensors.

Once the app collects enough data, it creates a report highlighting when the symptoms happened, and what were the top triggers.

It also finds out the most effective medication for you by recording when you used them and comparing that information with the severity of the migraines, Mashable reported.

“It mimics how a doctor prescribes different medication to patients to figure out what works,” said Veronica Chew, co-founder of Healint, the Singapore-based company behind Migraine Buddy.

“Most other migraine apps are not as comprehensive. We collect data that’s action-driven, so that we can help patients make the right decisions,” Chew said.

Currently, the application is only available in Singapore through a neurologist that is working with Healint.

Read more here

Sleep deprivation and obesity in children

This article explains that sleep deprived children are more likely to be obese than children who get enough sleep.

Tired and hungry. There is a reason why these two conditions seem to go together so easily.

A “well established” link in medical research suggests young children and infants who do not get enough sleep are likely to develop obesity —and a host of devastating related health conditions — before they enter their teen years.

And by then, reversing the obesity is almost impossible, health experts say.

A study published in May in the journal “Pediatrics” hypothesizes that children sleeping less in early childhood developed obesity by age 7.

But the findings — from researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children — are hardly shocking, say local physicians.

While studies such as this are likely to be confirmed by additional research in the years ahead, the other non-controversial conclusion is that obese children who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea also experience a variety of health issues, according to Dr. Ignacio Tapia, a pediatric pulmonologist and sleep medicine specialist at the Sleep Center in The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Tapia notes that youngsters of normal weight who experience deep sleep and REM or rapid eye movement sleep find sleep restorative, resulting in benefit for everything from brain activity to hormone secretions.

But the obese often cannot attain deep sleep because of the apnea, a condition characterized by brief, numerous involuntary breathing pauses that prevent people from reaching restorative levels of slumber.

When children do not get the sleep they need, they are at risk for health, performance and difficulties in school; researchers find that sleep deficiencies in children can be misdiagnosed as attention-deficit or behavior disorders.

Young patients with sleep apnea can be treated effectively with surgery to remove their tonsils and adnoids but for obese children, such a procedure may not resolve the issue. Further treatment can involve wearing cumbersome masks that help regulate breathing.

“Remember when your grandparents told you you need to go to sleep to grow?” Tapia asked. “Well, that turned out to be true. Growth is associated with longer sleep. The people who sleep less (for example) may have less insulin secretion which can be related to diabetes and pre-diabetes.”

Since the 1800s, each generation has lived longer than the one that preceded it, said Tapia, also assistant professor of Pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Such longevity can be linked to the development of antibiotics and advances in cardiac care.

Now, this generation may be the one that loses ground, because of the epidemic of obesity, which is a complex issue relating to social and cultural issues as well and having income components, physicians say. Those who earn less may not have ready access to healthy foods while eating at fast-food chains has been made increasingly affordable, Tapia said. Portion size also is an issue in this country.

“We are seeing patients who are not a little big but really really big,” he said. “It is not rare to see patients who have doubled their ideal weight. They do not weigh 20 or 30 percent more but 100 percent more’’ than growth charts indicate.

The “Pediatrics” study measured the effect of sleep deficiencies over time, using data from Project Viva, a longitudinal research study of women and children that examines the effects of mothers’ diets and other factors during pregnancy and after birth.

Obesity “definitely spans all ages,” said Dr. Tina Rakitt, a pediatric gastroenterologist at the Unterberg Children’s Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center. But the study published in May “is unique enough to say the obesity and sleep link even exists in young children,” she added. “There are many reasons for that link. People who don’t sleep well tend to eat more and they tend to eat more of the wrong things.”

The battle is lost once children are old enough to select their own snacks or meals, unless they are taught correctly. Physicians say healthy eating must be established when children are infants and must be carried on by the family. Obesity does not exist in a vacuum, the experts said.

“The obesity epidemic is not only an adult problem; it is a adult-pediatric problem,” Rakitt said. “We are seeing more sleep apnea…That is a terrible one. Children are developing fatty liver disease. We are starting to see some kids with serious complications either in their childhood or young adult years.”

Read more here

Personalized interventions help autistic children

Personalized interventions help improve communication in children with autism.

A UCLA-led study has found that the communication skills of minimally verbal children with autism can be greatly improved through personalized interventions that are combined with the use of computer tablets.
The three-year study examined different approaches to improving communication abilities among children with autism spectrum disorder and minimal verbal skills. Approximately 30 percent of children with ASD overall remain minimally verbal even after years of intervention.
UCLA professor Connie Kasari, the paper's senior author, worked with researchers at Vanderbilt University and the Kennedy Krieger Institute. They found that children's language skills greatly improved when spoken- and social-communication therapy was tailored based on their individual progress and delivered using computer tablets.
The trial involved 61 children with ASD, ages 5 to 8. For six months, each child received communication therapy focusing on social communication gestures, such as pointing, as well as play skills and spoken language.
Half of the children were randomly selected to also use speech-generating applications on computer tablets for at least half of the time during their sessions. The tablets were programmed with audio clips of words the children were learning about during their therapy sessions and images of the corresponding objects. Working with a therapist, the child could tap a picture of a block, for example, and the tablet would play audio of the word "block." The researchers found that children who had access to the tablets during therapy were more likely to use language spontaneously and socially than the children who received the communication intervention alone -- and that incorporating the tablets at the beginning of the treatment was more effective than introducing it later in the therapy.
"It was remarkable how well the tablet worked in providing access to communication for these children," said Kasari, professor of human development and psychology in the UCLA Graduate School of Education and professor of psychiatry at UCLA's Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. "Children who received the behavioral intervention along with the tablet to support their communication attempts made much faster progress in learning to communicate, and especially in using spoken language."
Researchers also conducted follow-up visits with the children three months after the initial study period and found that their improvement had been maintained during that time. The study was the first ASD research to use a sequential multiple assignment randomized trial, or SMART, design. The approach, which enables researchers to tailor interventions according to how each child in the study responds, was designed by Daniel Almirall and Susan Murphy, biostatisticians at the University of Michigan who were members of the research team. It also was the first randomized, controlled trial on this underserved population of children to use a computer tablet combined with an effective behavioral intervention.
Other study authors were Rebecca Landa of Kennedy Krieger and Johns Hopkins University, and Ann Kaiser of Vanderbilt. The study was funded by a High Risk High Impact grant from the Autism Speaks Foundation.
The findings were published in the June issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Read more here

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Only a doctor can determine when an athlete can return post-concussion

This article claims that only doctors can help determine when a player returns to play post-concussion.

An editorial published today in The Lancet Neurology calls for sports authorities to take into consideration the long term neurological problems that repeated concussions can cause.
Cerebral concussion is the most common form of sports-related traumatic brain injury (TBI), and the long-term effects of repeated concussions may include dementia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and other neurological disorders, say the journal editors.
However, what is perhaps more concerning, is that even when the symptoms of concussion are delayed, or if they come and go quickly, neurological damage can remain without detection. This can lead to footballers, such as Uruguayan defender Álvaro Pereira during the 2014 FIFA World Cup, overruling doctors' advice to be substituted and returning to play after sustaining a head injury.
The journal editors argue that the decision for players to return to a game after sustaining a concussion should be made only by healthcare professionals, and "should surely be taken out of the hands of those with a vested interest in the player's performance."
According to the journal editors, "Many sporting organisations now acknowledge the potentially serious consequences of mild TBI and have drawn up new protocols to protect athletes who sustain a head injury'. However FIFPro, the world players' union, has called for an investigation of concussion protocols and return-to-play standards following Pereira's injury."
Read more here

Sleep apnea treatment helps Texas child with night terrors

This article tells the story of one Texas child whose night terrors were helped by sleep apnea treatment.

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a persons sleep is interrupted by their breathing being paused. In many cases sleep apnea goes undiagnosed and it's very common among children.
One family shares their battle with us, we were introduced to the Weedon family of Longview.
Six-year-old Emma was not sleeping through the night since she was nine-months old, waking up sometimes every 30 minutes, she was having night terrors and it was giving her anxiety.
"Her mother Misty Weedon noticed that Emma had some difficulty staying still in her Pre-K school," said Dr .RV Ghuge, Sleep Medicine Institute of Texas. "We were starting kindergarten and I was afraid that someone was going to try to look at her and say that she had ADHD."
After several visits with their pediatrician the Weedon family just figured to contact Dr. Ghuge with the Sleep Medicine Institute of Texas. "Her parents just refused to allow her to be on medications for that, they wanted to explore other alternatives and look at root cause of these problems and they were convinced that sleep was the problem," said Dr. Ghuge.
A sleep test showed what was happening when Emma closed her eyes for bedtime was irregular, from her breathing pattern, teeth grinding and moaning. Emma was diagnosed with sleep apnea a little over a year ago.
She has to wear a CPAP breathing mask while she sleeps, every night. "I put it on and breathe through it and I have better dreams," said little Emma.
"When we did her sleep test she has shown tremendous improvement in her breathing at night and her teeth grinding and the oxygen that she was losing before," said Dr. Ghuge.
"She wasn't growing, since she's been on her CPAP she's grown three inches and that's been in the past year," said Misty Weedon.
After treating her sleep disorder Emma can sleep eight to nine hours.
Read more here

Sensors to immediately detect concussion

A project from Western Michigan University aims to create sensors that go inside helmets that can immediately detect a concussion.

A new piece of technology that's developed in west Michigan could soon be keeping athletes safe.

At Western Michigan University, a professor and team of students are working on sensors that can fit in any kind of helmet. 

The goal is to use them to detect concussions right after a big impact.

It may not look like much at first glance, but the first test helmet could soon bring the latest in sports safety. 

"It can be used for football and hockey helmets, as well as any other protective head gear," said WMU Professor Masood Atashbar.  

Lightweight and flexible sensors are placed in the lining of a helmet. 

They send a wireless signal to an application on a smartphone or tablet. 

"It measures and reports to the coaches any dangerous impact that athletes experience on their skull," Atashbar said.  

The program is so sharp, its creators say it can pinpoint how severe the hit was and where it happened. 

Professor Masood Atashbar said this is vital information considering athletes don't always report injuries and may not even know they have a concussion. 

"Coaches and parents can know that their kids have experienced a dangerous impact and they can act on it," Atashbar said. 

The professor and several students have been working on the cutting edge design. 

So far they've only done tests in the lab, like hitting the helmet with a hammer. 

Students are excited they have access to this right here in Kalamazoo. 

"The university has given us a lot of help in developing this technology. I'm very happy," said PHD student Binu Narakathu.  

The group has even started a company to promote the technology. 

Right now they're pricing it at $100 each; that would include the sensors and app. 

"Thinking about, okay, you can help protect these players on the field, that's pretty interesting because you're saving people's lives," said PHD student Ali Eshkeiti. 

The next step is getting funding so they can do tests outside the lab with actual athletes. 

Then they hope to get it out on the market.

Read more here

PTSD and poor sleep

A study claims that poor sleep in people with PTSD could lead to a decrease in physical activity and an increase in obesity.

Poor sleep quality may lower physical activity in people with post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a recent study.
Researchers found that PTSD was independently associated with worse sleep quality at baseline, and participants with current PTSD at baseline had lower physical activity one year later.
Further analysis found that sleep quality completely mediated the relationship between baseline PTSD status and physical activity at the one-year follow-up, suggesting that the association of reduced sleep quality with reduced physical activity could comprise a behavioral link to negative health outcomes such as obesity.
"We found that sleep quality was more strongly associated with physical activity one year later than was having a diagnosis of PTSD," Lisa Talbot, lead author of the study and postdoctoral fellow at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and the University of California- San Francisco, said in a statement. "The longitudinal aspect of this study suggests that sleep may influence physical activity."
For the study, researchers collected and analyzed data from  the Mind Your Heart Study, a prospective cohort study of 736 outpatients recruited from two Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers. PTSD was assessed with the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS).  At baseline participants rated their sleep quality overall during the last month, and at baseline and again one year later they reported how physically active they have been during the last month. Of the 736 military veteran participants, 258 had current or subsyndromal PTSD.
Researchers said the results suggest that behavioral interventions to increase physical activity should include an assessment for sleep disturbance.
"The findings also tentatively raise the possibility that sleep problems could affect individuals' willingness or ability to implement physical activity behavioral interventions," Talbout said. "Sleep improvements might encourage exercise participation."
The findings were recently published in the  Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, which is published by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
Read more here

Monday, July 21, 2014

No difference in helmet brands

A study shows that there is no difference in how many concussions player get based on helmet brand.

The University of Wisconsin reports that its new study showed no difference in the rate of concussions based on what helmet brand is used.

The university recently completed the first large-scale, prospective study in a field-based sports setting to examine if the rate of concussion is affected by the protective equipment that is worn by high school football players.

Not only did the brand not make a difference in the rate of concussions, there also was no difference in the severity of those concussions, either.

The research concluded that well-maintained and fitted football helmets remain important to reduce the risk of skull fracture and intracranial hemorrhage, but there is serious doubt to whether a helmet can ever be designed to prevent concussions.

In addition, the research found a similar concussion risk regardless of the age of the helmet.

Dr. Alison Brooks, assistant professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison, spearheaded the study with Dr. Tim McGuine. Brooks called out the increased risk among previously injured athletes.

“Players in this study who had a history of previous concussion were at higher risk of sustaining another concussion, regardless of the helmet brand worn,” said Brooks. “Rather than focus on the belief that a specific helmet can ‘prevent’ concussions, which is not supported by the current scientific literature, our efforts may be better spent educating players, parents and coaches about the increased risk of concussion in these previously concussed young athletes.”

A concussion in football is a very complex event involving different and changing forces, linear (straight motion or direct hit) and rotational (circular motion of head or torque) accelerations, helmet fit, player position, impact duration, player concussion history and overall health.

Schutt Sports has the two highest 5 STAR helmets in 2014, yet the company admits that the ratings do not support a conclusion that the helmets will limit or prevent concussions.

“Schutt Sports would never represent to somebody that they’re not going to get a concussion if they wear one of our helmets,” said Robert Erb, CEO of Schutt Sports. “As a manufacturer of a helmet considered by this rating system to be the best available, I believe telling people that an athlete is less likely to get a concussion if they use a 5 STAR helmet is irresponsible. The best helmet is the one that carries NOCSAE certification, fits the player, fits the position, is configured with the proper mask and the player is comfortable in it.”

Consumers should also know that the rating given to helmets applies only to size large adult.

According to the Virginia Tech website, “It is possible that the same helmet models of different size may produce different results; however, we do not have any data on this, and we only tested large helmets as a first step.”

Read more here

Is sleep apnea harmful for health?

This article describes in what ways sleep apnea is harmful to a person's health.

Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. These breathing pauses typically last between 10 to 20 seconds and can occur up to hundreds of times at night. This chronic sleep deprivation results in daytime sleepiness, slow reflexes, poor concentration, and an increased risk of accidents.
Sleep apnea can also lead to serious health problems over time, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and weight gain. But with treatment you can control the symptoms, get your sleep back on track, and start enjoy being refreshed and alert every day.
Sleep apnea Symptoms:
l If pauses occur while you snore, and if choking or gasping follows the pauses, these are major signs that you have sleep apnea.
l Morning headaches
l Memory or learning problems and not being able to concentrate
l Feeling irritable, depressed, or having mood swings or personality changes
l Waking up frequently to urinate
l Dry mouth or sore throat when you wake up
Treatment of sleep apnea:
l Weight loss: People who are overweight have extra tissue in the back of their throat, which can fall down over the airway and block the flow of air into the lungs while they sleep. Losing just 10% of body weight can have a big effect on sleep apnea symptoms. In some cases, losing a significant amount of weight can even cure Sleep Apnoea.
l Quitting smoking.
l Avoiding alcohol, sleeping pills, and sedatives,
l Avoiding caffeine and heavy meals within two hours of going to bed.
l Maintaining regular sleep hours.
l Bariatric Surgery: Choosing Surgery is not a simple decision and it is not for everyone who struggles with sleep apnea. It is for individuals who have exhausted other options for treatment and have got excess weight.
Read more here

What price new parents pay for interrupted sleep

This article discusses what happens to parents of newborns after one night of interrupted sleep, such as being in a bad mood and other consequences of interrupted sleep.

The familiar cry in the night, followed by a blind shuffle to the crib, a feeding, a diaper change, and a final retreat back into oblivion—every hour on the hour. Such is the sleep pattern of most new parents, who report feeling more exhausted in the morning than when they went to bed the night before.

Now, in the first study of its kind, Prof. Avi Sadeh and a team of researchers from Tel Aviv University's School of Psychological Sciences explain why interrupted  can be as physically detrimental as no sleep at all. In the study, published in the journal Sleep Medicine, Prof. Sadeh and his colleagues Michal Kahn, Shimrit Fridenson, Reut Lerer and Yair Ben-Haim establish a causal link between interrupted  and compromised cognitive abilities, shortened attention spans, and negative moods. The researchers discovered that interrupted sleep is equivalent to no more than four consecutive hours of sleep.
"The sleep of many parents is often disrupted by external sources such as a crying baby demanding care during the night. Doctors on call, who may receive several phone calls a night, also experience disruptions," said Prof. Sadeh. "These night wakings could be relatively short – only five to ten minutes – but they disrupt the natural sleep rhythm. The impact of such night wakings on an individual's daytime alertness, mood, and  had never been studied. Our study is the first to demonstrate seriously deleterious cognitive and emotional effects."
Putting Mom and Dad in a bad mood
"In the process of advising these parents, it struck me that the role of multiple night wakings had never been systematically assessed," said Prof. Sadeh, who directs a at TAU, where he advises exhausted and desperate parents on how to cope with their children's persistent night wakings. "Many previous studies had shown an association, but none had established a causal link. Our study demonstrates that induced night wakings, in otherwise normal individuals, clearly lead to compromised attention and negative mood."
The study was conducted on student volunteers at TAU's School of Psychological Sciences. Their sleep patterns were monitored at home using wristwatch-like devices that detected when they were asleep and when they were awake. The students slept a normal eight-hour night, then experienced a night in which they were awakened four times by phone calls and told to complete a short computer task before going back to sleep after 10-15 minutes of wakefulness. The students were asked each following morning to complete certain computer tasks to assess alertness and attention, as well as to fill out questionnaires to determine their mood. The experiment showed a direct link between compromised attention, , and disrupted sleep—after only one night of frequent interruptions.
Paying a high price
"Our study shows the impact of only one disrupted night," said Prof. Sadeh. "But we know that these effects accumulate and therefore the functional price new parents—who awaken three to ten times a night for months on end—pay for common infant sleep disturbance is enormous. Besides the physical effects of interrupted sleep, parents often develop feelings of anger toward their infants and then feel guilty about these negative feelings.
"Sleep research has focused in the last 50 years on , and practically ignored the impact of night-wakings, which is a pervasive phenomenon for people from many walks of life. I hope that our study will bring this to the attention of scientists and clinicians, who should recognize the price paid by individuals who have to endure frequent night-wakings."
Prof. Sadeh is currently researching interventions for infant sleep disturbances to reduce the detrimental effects of disrupted sleep on parents.
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Teenagers with emotional problems after concussion

This article discusses which symptoms after a concussion, such as sensitivity to light or noise, that may indicate a teen is more likely to have emotional problems.

After a concussion, teens who are sensitive to light or noise may be more likely to also have emotional symptoms such as anxiety, according to a study released today that will be presented at The Sports Concussion Conference in Chicago, July 11 to 13, 2014, hosted by the American Academy of Neurology.
The symptoms after a concussion can vary widely from person to person. Symptoms can include physical, emotional and cognitive difficulties.
"While most people recover from a concussion within a week, a number of factors affect people's recovery, and studies have shown that teenage athletes may take up to seven to 10 days longer to recover than older athletes," said study author Lisa M. Koehl, MS, and Dong (Dan) Y. Han, PsyD, of the University of Kentucky in Lexington.
The study involved 37 athletes age 12 to 17 who had persisting symptoms for an average of 37 days following a concussion. Participants were excluded if they had a previous history of psychological issues. One group of 22 teens had emotional symptoms such as irritability, aggression, anxiety, depression, apathy, frequent mood changes or excessive emotional reactions after the concussion. The second group of 15 teens did not have emotional symptoms. There were no differences between the two groups in factors such as what percentage experienced loss of consciousness or amnesia, indicating that the groups were likely comparable in the level of severity of concussion.
The study found that of the 22 teens who had emotional symptoms, five teens (23 percent) were sensitive to light while three teens (14 percent) were sensitive to noise. In comparison, of the 15 teens without emotional symptoms only two teens (13 percent) were sensitive to light and no teens were sensitive to noise.
The number of concussions experienced and whether teens also had headaches or nausea were not related to whether they also had emotional symptoms. Researchers also found that having a family history of psychiatric problems did not make teens any more or less likely to have emotional symptoms after a concussion.
Teens who had anxiety were 55 percent more likely to self-report attention difficulties than those without anxiety, while teens with irritability/aggression were 35 percent more likely to self-report problems with attention than teens without irritability. The authors noted that the findings are preliminary with small samples and stressed the importance of replicating this study with a larger sample size.
"Identifying factors such as these that may exacerbate issues teens experience after concussion may help in planning for the appropriate treatment and in making decisions about when to return to play and what accommodations are needed at school for these athletes," Koehl and Han said.
The study was supported by the American College of Sports Medicine Research Foundation.
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What causes sleep issues for Parkinson's patients?

This article discusses the link between Parkinson's disease and sleep issues, and what may cause sleep issues for people with Parkinson's disease.

Up to 70% of Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients experience sleep problems that negatively impact their quality of life. Some patients have disturbed sleep/wake patterns such as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, while other patients may be subject to sudden and involuntary daytime sleep “attacks.” In the extreme, PD patients may exhibit REM-sleep behavior disorder (RBD), characterized by vivid, violent dreams or dream re-enactment, even before motor symptoms appear. A review in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease discusses the underlying causes of sleep problems in PD, as well as medications, disease pathology, and comorbidities, and describes the most appropriate diagnostic tools and treatment options.
Sleep problems in PD patients can have wide-ranging adverse effects and can worsen in later stages of the disease. Sleepiness socially isolates patients and excessive sleepiness can put patients at risk of falls or injury, and can mean patients must give up driving. Sleepiness can impair cognition and concentration, exacerbate depression, and interfere with employment. Wakefulness at night impairs daytime wakefulness and may also cause mood instabilities and can exhaust caregivers.
“Diagnosis and effective treatment and management of these problems are essential for improving the quality of life and reducing institutionalization of these patients,” says lead author Wiebke Schrempf, MD, Technische Universität Dresden, Faculty of Medicine Carl Gustav Carus, Department of Neurology, Division of Neurodegenerative Diseases, Dresden, Germany.
Dr. Schrempf and colleagues describe some of the complexities associated with treating sleep problems in PD patients, such as the worsening of sleep problems by dopaminergic medications used to treat motor symptoms. Lower doses of levodopa or dopamine agonists are able to improve sleep quality partly by reducing motor symptoms such as nighttime hypokinesia (decreased body movement), dyskinesia (abnormal voluntary movements), or tremor (involuntary shaking), which interfere with normal sleep. However, the same medications may also cause excessive daytime sleepiness. The report describes how changing medication, dose, duration of treatment, or timing of administration can improve outcomes.
The presence of other conditions common in PD patients such as depression, dementia, hallucinations, and psychosis may interfere with sleep. Unfortunately, some antidepressants can also impair sleep.
Sleep problems may also be harbingers of future neurodegenerative disease. Patients with RBD exhibit intermittent loss of normal muscle relaxation during REM sleep and engage in dream enactment behavior during which they may shout, laugh, or exhibit movements like kicking and boxing. “RBD seems to be a good clinical predictor of emerging neurodegenerative diseases with a high specificity and low sensitivity, whereas other early clinical features of PD, such as olfactory dysfunction and constipation, are less specific,” says Dr. Schrempf. “These early clues may help identify PD patients before motor symptoms appear, when disease-modifying therapies may be most beneficial.”
PD is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder in the United States, affecting approximately one million Americans and five million people worldwide. Its prevalence is projected to double by 2030. The most characteristic symptoms are movement-related, such as involuntary shaking and muscle stiffness. Non-motor symptoms, such as worsening depression, cognition, and anxiety, olfactory dysfunction, and sleep disturbances, can appear prior to the onset of motor symptoms.
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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Study: Sleep disordered breathing can change pregnancy outcomes

According to a study, sleep disordered breathing during pregnancy can influence pregnancy outcomes, such as gestational diabetes.

Humans spend around 30 percent of their lives sleeping. Unfortunately, this time to re-energize and recharge our batteries may not always be so "restful" for everyone. Now, a recent study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology found that women dealing with this health issue may endure more problems throughout their pregnancy.
For the study, researchers examined 188 women and assessed the prevalence and trend of sleep-disorder breathing (SDB) and its effect on pregnancy outcomes.
Researchers discovered a dose-dependent relationship between the severity of SDB throughout early pregnancy and the risk of developing gestational diabetes. They also found that those with more moderate or severe SDB throughout early pregnancy were at an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes.
"This study suggests a dose-dependent relationship between SDB exposure in early pregnancy and the subsequent development of gestational diabetes," the authors noted in the study. 
However, researchers note that there was no association between SDB exposure in early or late pregnancy, as well as any of the other adverse pregnancy outcomes.
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