Westborough, MA May 10, 2018 Clock of the week for May 10, 2018. Here is an interesting clock drawn by a 79-year old right handed male. He is a nursing home resident who is suffering with the effects of dementia. This clock is interesting because the subject was working quickly and until he reached the number placement. This is a good clock overall but fails appreciably in the self-monitoring needed for success.
He had been both efficient and spatially accurate. Ultimately his performance was negatively effected by the problem solving element of the three-step command required for success.
WESTBOROUGH, MA March 29, 2018 Whittier Rehabilitation Hospital is proud to announce that they will be offering a Certified Brain Injury Specialist (CBIS) class at its hospital in Westborough, MA. This is a new class and is the first in classroom CBIS program to be offered in over 2 years here in the Boston area. The class is occasionally offered in web-based format. The upcoming class is being planned and will be re-scheduled for October 2018. The class will be taught by Michael Sefton, Ph.D., who is a
Certified Brain Injury Specialist -Trainer and Director of Neuropsychology and Psychological Services at the Rehabilitation Hospital. This is a new course that provides extensive education in all areas of traumatic and acquired brain injury. The certification comes through the Academy of Brain Injury Specialists and must be renewed annually. Students must pass an online test at the end of the course. Students who receive their certification will receive 1 year of the Journal of Traumatic Brain Injury as part of the certification cost for the first year.
The cost of the course is approximately $525.00 which includes the examination fee and catered lunch both days. The textbook The Essential Brain Injury Guide – 5th Edition was published in 2016 by the Brain Injury Association of America. It is extensive in its revision over the 4th Edition text. It can be purchased on-line or at the class for a discounted price.
Class prerequisites include 500 hours of direct service to patients suffering from the effects of traumatic or acquired brain injury and completed their post baccalaureate training. Others are permitted to take the class and obtain a Provisional certification that may be transferred to full certification once they have completed prerequisite educational requirements.
Contact ACBIS faculty Michael Sefton at 508-870-2222 x 2153 or email@example.com about becoming a member of the class. Interested students may also contact Beth Pusey at the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts at 508-475-0032 for more. Class size will be limited. Additional details about the Academy of Brain Injury Specialists is at https://www.biausa.org/professionals/acbis
WESTBOROUGH, MA March 15, 2018 Serious and chronic headaches are a frequent complaint of those recovering from mild traumatic brain injury. “Headache is one of the most common symptoms after traumatic brain injury (often called “post-traumatic headache”). Over 30% of people report having headaches which continue long after injury.” (TBI and Headaches, 2010) They can be quite debilitating. The NCAA Headache Task force listed headaches as among the most debilitating symptoms in the aftermath of concussion. Young women tend to have a higher incidence of post-concussive headaches than males. There is treatment for post-concussive head pain.
Migraine headaches are three times more common in females than males. Rates of emergency room visits related to traumatic brain injury (including concussions) among women almost doubled from 2001 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In my own practice here in Massachusetts I have seen more recurring headaches in females than in males. In addition, female athletes generally have a longer recovery course than some of the males I follow. I will say that males are prone to abuse alcohol when recovering from concussion that may also be a confounding variable in the trajectory toward their normal baseline.
Individuals previously treated for headaches are at greater risk of both developing post-concussive headaches and for having chronic headaches following recovery from concussion. These injuries can be caused by not only sports but also falls, car crashes, blunt trauma (getting hit on the head by an object), and assaults as noted in a 2016 Health.com report on women and concussion. I have worked with several high school athletes who had pre-injury headaches and received treatment for chronic headaches who went on to have an increased frequency of headaches after concussion. I worked with a tenured college professor who developed headaches from being hit with a basketball at her daughter’s middle school practice. This was shortly after being diagnosed with concussion from a prior head trauma.
American Olympian Lindsey Vonn suffered with the effects of concussion for months following a skiing accident in 2015 including chronic headaches. The BBC recently featured 22-year old skier Rowan Cheshire who sustained a concussion 4 years ago that kept her from competing in the 2014 Olympic Games. Cheshire had won the World Cup event one month prior to the Olympics in Sochi and suffered a severe concussion in a fall off the halfpipe. It was the first of two subsequent concussions over the next 3 years that caused severe side effects including migraine headaches and panic anxiety. Cheshire worked closely with a sports psychologist during her recovery.
One reason for the difference between men and women in concussions is that women tend to have smaller neck and shoulder muscles allowing for greater whiplash from force striking the upper body. Episodic headaches are usually set off by a single stressful situation or a build-up of stress. These are tension-related headaches which may be unrelated to concussion but whose frequency and intensity change following concussion or when under stressful life conditions. Nevertheless, unchecked stress and tension may contribute to an increased proclivity for head and neck pain and both respond very well to biofeedback and alternative interventions such as acupuncture and progressive relaxation. Daily strain can lead to chronic headaches. Coupled with concussion, stress can become inflammatory in terms of the frequency and intensity of headaches.
“Post traumatic headaches are seriously debilitating in terms of lost school and work days. They are often a late symptom in the recovery from brain injury and concussion” Michael Sefton, 2018
In early childhood there is similarity between boys and girls in symptoms profile. This changes as children enter their growth spurt. “Puberty, which marks a significant developmental fork in the road for males and females, also marks a divergence for concussions. With its onset, females increasingly experience higher incidence of concussions, different and more severe symptoms, and are often slower to recover from the injury.” Treatments for post-concussion range from complete rest to gradual re-exertion, to physical therapy and more. There is a growing trend to slowly increase physical activity once symptoms resolve and I have seen a return of symptoms in cases where physical activity is premature and in cases of second or subsequent concussion.
One clear intervention for post-concussion headaches involves a paced-breathing protocol and neurofeedback that I have been using. I teach and practice stress management using biofeedback instruments that have demonstrated reducing duration of headaches, reducing stress, and lowering sympathetic abnormalities including heart rate. The goal of treatment is to reduce the body’s reactivity and normalize the autonomic system. “Fortunately, even if post-concussion headaches don’t get better in the first few weeks after concussion, most are better within 3 months and almost all are better within a year after injury” according to Heidi Blume, M.D., at the American Migraine Foundation.
Sefton, M. (2018) Abnormal Stress response from mTBI often sometimes leads to headaches. Response comment in Emergency Medicine Journal, Volume 34, Issue 12, February 23, 2018
Roehr, B. (2016). Concussions Affect Women More Adversely Than Men: Differences between how females and males experience concussions suggest the need for gender-specific prevention and treatment strategies. Scientific American posted March, 2016. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/concussions-affect-women-more-adversely-than-men/ Taken February 28, 2018.
Lahz S, Bryant RA (1996). Incidence of chronic pain following
traumatic brain injury. Arch Phys Med Rehabil, 77(9),
Blume, H. (2016). Headaches after Concussion. American Migraine Foundation. https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/understanding-migraine/headaches-after-concussion/ Taken February 28, 2018
“Players are rarely hit by a direct linear force. They are struck from the side or oblique angle and the force causes the head to suddenly turn or twist a millisecond prior to the whiplash impact we see on television.” Sefton, 2018
Westborough, MA February 10, 2018 The link between breathing and the fear response has recently been highlighted in the Neuroscience News who reviewed a study from Northwestern University. This study coincided nicely with the ideas I have posted for several years about delayed recovery from post-concussion syndrome (PCS) about the impact of paced breathing on the body’s changing response pattern. The study looked at the link between nasal breathing and the activation of fear and memory centers deep within the brain. Behavioral data in healthy subjects suggest that changing from mouth breathing to nose breathing may have an influence on systems deep within the brain. The discussion presented in the Neuroscience paper findings “imply that, rather than being a passive target of heightened arousal or vigilance, the phase of natural breathing is actively used to promote oscillatory synchrony and to optimize information processing in brain areas mediating goal-directed behaviors” I have seen the results of this firsthand in the biofeedback work I do. Respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) is a term used to describe the changes in heart rate that are normal with oscillating rates of breathing. In some cases a patient can breath so erratically that his heart rate falls out of synchrony with sympathetic-parasympathetic regulation.
“The breathing systematically influences cognitive tasks related to amygdala and hippocampal functions.” Zelano, C. et. al. 2016
Christina Zelano, Heidi Jiang, Guangyu Zhou, Nikita Arora, Stephan Schuele, Joshua Rosenow and Jay A. Gottfried Journal of Neuroscience 7 December 2016, 36 (49) 12448-12467; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2586-16. 2016
Westborough, MA February 1, 2018 The video below is the clock of the week for this week in January, 2018. It is an interesting construction by a 81-year old male who is undergoing treatment for respiratory failure and myelodysplastic disease – a blood disorder in errant white blood cell production. He has had difficulty with all of his activities of daily living including dressing, bathing, personal hygiene and toileting. He is recovering slowly and receiving daily therapy for these physical and occupational deficits.
“Renowned neuropsychologist Dr. Edith Kaplan too had a love affair with clocks (and owls as I recall) and taught us the unique importance of this seemingly simple neuropsychological instrument.” Sefton, 2015
The “clock drawing” task is described throughout the pages of this blog and is widely used by psychologists as a screening for cognitive dysfunction. I like it because it is not threatening and is not a great challenge to the patient. That said, I have had many people say ” I am not an artist” when asked to draw the face of a clock. Interestingly, I suspect those who deny being artistically gifted (drawing a clock) may have some degree of preserved insight into their declining cognitive ability.
WESTBOROUGH, MA February 28, 2018 There is a growing consensus among providers that a multidisciplinary approach to concussion management is necessary. Along with heart rate variability neurofeedback helps to reset the sympathetic-parasympathetic mismatch using proven entrainment techniques such as increasing amplitude of sensory motor rhythm (SMR) that has been shown to quiet the body. I use both neurofeedback and traditional physiologic biofeedback modalities with all kinds of physical conditions from chronic pain to traumatic brain injury with good results. The sensor is placed at the central z-spot or Cz on the 10-20 EEG placement map. A combination of paced breathing, relaxation, and EEG SMR entrainment help bring the body into a more restful coherence and decrease the body’s physical reactivity that causes tension and a host of lingering physical issues. The emotional and financial cost of these issues is enormous over time. We use the ProComp + and Thought Technology software in our work.