Every day, the long-term consequences of head injuries become more apparent. In particular, NFL players experience many concussions over the course of their career, leading to the various long-lasting symptoms associated with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTS). The disease is characterized by the degeneration of brain tissue, as well as the build up of tau protein. Externally, these symptoms might be expressed through social cues such as depression or aggression.
Together, new research and technology are paving a path for early detection of CTS and the tau protein abnormalities associated with it. Researchers from the University of California Los Angeles used positron emission tomography (PET) scanning with a tracer for tau protein and found significantly elevated binding values among retired players when compared with controls. These results are consistent with already-existing autopsy data coming from players that showed deposits of phosphorylated tau in neurofibrillary tangles.
The technique is also specific and sensitive enough to distinguish Alzheimer’s patients from those experiencing milder forms of cognitive impairment. According to the researchers, “using a tau marker for detection and tracking of neurodegenerative disease is critically important because severity of tau load, rather than amyloid burden, correlates with rates of neuronal loss.” so further studies into anti-tau treatments are on-going.
For further reading on the future of CTS detection, see NFL: PET Scan IDs Brain Damage in Players.
Rami Hashish , DPT has written a great article featured on the Huffington Post about the benefits and drawbacks of both running outside and on the treadmill. Most focusing on a handful of studies, Rami discusses how treadmills reduce the impact on joints while outdoor running can be good for those with Achilles strains. According to the studies he cites, treadmills can lead to reduced running speeds without the user realizing it. He also writes about how to simulate the additional energy required for running outdoors when on a treadmill. Here is an excerpt from his article:
It’s a beautiful day. The sun is shining and glistening off the ocean’s waves, causing a beautiful reflection of colors in the cloudless yet slightly misty morning sky. In other words, it’s a perfect day for an outdoor run. But it’s hot, too. And you have pale skin and burn easily. It’s also early in the morning, meaning that there aren’t too many sunbathers to gawk at, or at least check out discretely under your Ray-Bans. OK, so indoor treadmill running it is!
My good friend Forrest Gump would never contemplate the nuances of such a choice. Rather, he would just run. But we’re not Forrest Gump. So here’s the dilemma: Should you run on a treadmill or overground? To answer this, let’s disregard the rhyme and reason behind the choice and focus solely on the science.
Seasonal depression affects many of us. If you have found yourself experiencing the winter blues, try using one of the following tips to help overcome depression and restore peace and joy into your life. Here are some simple, inexpensive ideas that can help to rejuvenate your body and your mood throughout the winter season.
Even if there’s no room in the budget for going to a spa, chair and handheld massagers are available at stores like Walmart and Target that can be used in the comfort of your own living room. The next best thing to a massage is a hot bubble bath, as this helps to increase blood flow to muscles and allows you to relax. Turn on some background music. Music is the universal language of emotions and can offer a relaxing way of helping you take your mind off your worries. From timeless classics to contemporary jazz, indie to fusion, the secret is to turn the volume down so low that it is almost imperceptible. This little trick makes you focus on listening and helps silence racing thoughts.
Chronic stress can produce too much cortisol, a hormone that can ramp up appetite and lead to overeating. A simple exercise like walking just 30 minutes a day is a great way to minimize gaining weight and reduce stress.
Nap time. Too little sleep causes slowed metabolism and increased appetite, risking overeating, unhealthy food choices and inactivity. Most of us don’t get enough rest, and curling up with a good book and having some hot cider or tea before lying down can help you fall asleep faster when you are just too stressed to relax.
Keeping your expenses down is a good idea any time of the year. Studies show that financial stress is one of the main reasons adults worry. This concern can be transmitted to your kids. While most kids don’t bear the financial responsibility of their parents, they can often sense something is wrong. Drink water instead of coffee and sugary beverages. Don’t plan to make any large purchases on credit until you are out of debt. Pay yourself first, even if it’s only a dollar a week, which you should put into an account at your local credit union to avoid fees.
Take up restorative yoga, t’ai chi, or meditation. These mind body strategies incorporate improving posture, relaxing and stretching to improve balance and coordination while simultaneously decreasing stress. Take time to breathe deeply and say a prayer, or just sit down in a quiet place and simply meditate with relative peace and quiet.
Never underestimate the power of a good sex life and reconnecting with your significant other. Enough said.
Comedy is good for the soul. Whether it comes from rented movies, downloaded comedy sketches or going to improv or karaoke, a good laugh goes a long way. Consider taking your family members hiking, bicycling or skating, and keeping everyone engaged in a lighthearted physical activity. Laughter lowers stress hormones and improves blood flow, which increases your energy levels. The more energy you have, the less likely you’ll be to be overwhelmed by depression that sometimes comes with the winter season.
Have you ever been late to see the doctor and turned away, or showed up on time and asked to wait an unreasonably long period of time? Both Mark Alyn, host of Late Night Health, and I both agree that doctors being too busy to meet their patient is a pathetic excuse, and we talk about this frustrating phenomenon on the show.
Do you sometimes experience sudden, stabbing shoulder pain that you can’t explain? Is it so painful that you find it hard to concentrate on anything else?
This kind of pain can be common not only because shoulder movement is essential to the way we function but also because the shoulder is one of the largest and most complex joints in the body and is the center of a collection of muscles and tendons. Muscles require a lot of oxygen, so issues with the circulatory system can radiate out to the shoulder.
In an effort to identify some of the potential sources of pain, I was featured in a helpful article that describes some of these issues, Cause of Sudden Severe Shoulder Pain that Comes and Goes:
So where can this intense, sudden shoulder pain come from, if you haven’t recently fallen on this joint, been hit there by a baseball or broken a bone there?
“Making sure there is not a muscle or ligament tear is important, i.e., clinical exam and MRI,” says Dr. Moshe Lewis, MD, Chief of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at California Pacific Medical Center - St. Luke’s Campus in the Department of Orthopedics.
“If this is negative, presumably, the pain still has to be minimized or else therapy will only flare things more. Options include an anti-inflammatory or icing for acute pain, heat for chronic pain.”
To learn more about shoulder pain and what to do about it, read Cause of Sudden Severe Shoulder Pain that Comes and Goes from ScarySymptoms.com. If the discomfort is too great, see your doctor immediately.
Medicine wasn’t always a pharmaceutical product, but rather materials one kind find in their own kitchen. Whether you are feeling under the weather and don’t have time for another trip to the pharmacy or you are concerned about the compound effects some drugs will have on your body, you will want to know about these easy home remedies for common ailments.
One great solution for a sore throat is simply a glass of salty water. The saline solution will reduce inflammation, as well as clear out allergens and bacteria that may be causing additional discomfort.
To see how this and a few other excellent remedies work, read Mandy Seay’s Home Remedies that Never Fail.
This recipe was provided by the generous Patricia Ricci at Savour Catering.
Do you find your feet to be in aching pain when going for a run in the morning or afternoon? Is it an intense, sharp pain on the heel of your foot and arch? You are not alone. Most likely, you are one of the ten percent of Americans who have an inflammatory condition in their feet known as “plantar fasciitis”. Plantar fasciitis is caused by stress in the foot’s arch tendon, and it can affect anyone. It is one of the most common medical conditions seen in America, affecting over two million people per year. It accounts for over one million physician visits yearly. Those who are most at risk are athletes, soldiers, and obese people who find themselves standing frequently and placing heavy strain on their feet.
Athletes of all levels and abilities are particularly vulnerable, because they are frequently driven to overtrain. Today more Americans than ever are under constant pressure to succeed at the next level, and neglecting healthy and recuperative rest leads to chronic strains and tears in ligaments. Furthermore, with increasing competition from other players to take over starting roles on a team, athletes are pressured more than ever to rush through injury rehabilitation. Without proper healing time, an athlete can quickly fall into a cycle of failing to properly heal and re-aggravating inflammatory conditions.
Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of pain on the bottom of the heel. The plantar fascia, a fibrous band of tissue that supports the arches, becomes inflamed and irritated. The plantar fascia is a very thin ligament that connects the heel to the front of the foot in order to absorb stress and shock that we place on our feet. The direct result of straining this ligament? Pain, swelling, weakness, and irritation that affects daily living activities.
The symptoms are generally noted as an intense sharp heel pain when a person takes her first few steps of activity. Sometimes there is occasional relief of the pain after a few minutes. However, the feet will hurt more as the day goes on, if activity (and weight-bearing pressure) continues. Walking on hard surfaces is especially hard on the plantar fascia.
Plantar fasciitis is usually a difficult problem to completely eliminate. However, treatment is generally nonsurgical and conservative in nature. To reduce pain and swelling, many physicians recommend taking an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), or aspirin. It will also help to do preventative calf stretches several times a day, especially when waking up and beginning daily exercises. Try to not run or walk on hard surfaces, and pick shoes that have good arch support and well-cushioned soles.
Concussions are a dangerous but sometimes subtle injury that can frequently occur in sports, particularly football. Much of the time, though a person is experiencing one, there may not be any obvious physical signs like scratches or bruising that would show it. When a person experiences a powerful blow to the head, the brain may knock against the skull and a concussion occurs when the brain is damaged. Although sometimes resting is enough to recover, concussions can last for weeks, affecting your vision, balance, and even your emotions.
Safety on the field is vital, especially when considering high school football concussions are on the rise. Check out the numbers from GlobeLifeInsurance.com.
Obesity is an important topic today because it is both widespread and deadly. While genetics does contribute to the issue, we now know that inactivity is one of the biggest factors contributing to the epidemic, and desk-bound work plays no small part. Researchers are looking for a solution, and for the past year workers at the financial consulting firm Salo have been testing and loving one of them: the treadmill desk.
While users of the treadmill desk do not find themselves walking at a quick pace, but are going more of a modest 1.4 miles per hour, the results have been very positive. From Yahoo! News:
“Remarkable,” Salo director of operations Craig Dexheimer told NPR. “We didn’t even go to a gym. We just went to work!” Dexheimer says he has lost 25 pounds since switching to the treadmill desk.
Though it may be effective, it is important to use the equipment properly:
“There’s a tendency to want to jump on the treadmill and walk for hours and hours a day,” Dr. James Levine told NPR. “Don’t do that. Certainly, at the absolute maximum, do half-hour on, half an hour off, for two to three hours a day.”
The treadmill desk is a compelling alternative to other cardiovascular workouts that are inconvenient or perhaps too strenuous. It is commercially available, and if you would like to know more, read Treadmill desks might be the next office health trend by Eric Pfeiffer in Yahoo! News.