Red Flags of Autism

At the outset, let us understand what autism actually is.  Autism is a neurobehavioral condition that is complex enough to cause impairment in social interaction and language and communication skills.  People with autism are found to be rigid and can have repetitive behaviors.  Owing to this complex range of symptoms, autism now is called autism spectrum disorder or ASD.  A large spectrum of symptoms comes under autism and the levels of impairment may also be different from person to person.  Severity of the disease can be from being a handicap that prevents a person from leading a normal life to a devastating disability that may require admission to a rehabilitation centre.

Unless you are an expert, detecting early signs of autism in children can be hard.  Many of these telltale signs of autism are common to all young children, but they are seen way too much in children who have autism.  Let us go through some common red flags for autism.

Signs of autism in children:

First signs of autism can be spotted in children as young as six to eighteen months.  Infants fixating on objects or not responding to people around may be showing early signs of autism spectrum disorder.  Children may not respond when their name being called.  Making eye contact becomes extremely difficult for children with autism.  They will be in their own world and sharing an experience or observing an object with parents and peers may not be happening.  They tend to engage in repetitive movements like rocking and arm flapping.  There will be difference in the way they play with toys.  Instead of actively engaging with toys, they may line them up and may be focussing on the parts of the toy rather than the whole.  Parents who notice these signs and or are concerned that their child is not meeting developmental milestones, should consult their pediatrician for a developmental screening assessment.

If signs of autism are taken into consideration in the beginning itself, it can make a sea change in treating the disorder through early intervention.  Medical studies show that about half of the children with autism can gain enough skills to be mainstreamed into kindergarten if treatment is given at an early stage.

Spot the warning signs:

As a parent, you are better placed to detect the early signs of autism.  Observe behaviors and quirks in children. Key is to educate yourself to know what is normal and what is not.

Monitor your child’s development – Autism involves a variety of developmental delays.  Keep an eye on your child’s social, cognitive and emotional milestones; it is an effective way to spot autism early on.  Not meeting these milestones on time does not necessarily mean autism, but it makes the child prone to developing developmental disorders.

Take action if you are concerned – Every child is different and every child develops at his/her own pace. However, there are specific developmental milestones that all children should be reaching by specific ages, failing which calls for a clinical consultation.

Don’t adopt a wait-and-see-approach – Don’t wait!  Talk to your doctor.  Early intervention is the key to get out of this disorder and to gain necessary skills to cope with everyday life, so thinking that “time will heal” is the worse thing to do and it will only deteriorate the problem at a time when therapies and drugs can help the children come out of it.  Not only in autism, in any developmental disorder, there should not be a wait-and-see approach.

Signs of autism in adults:

Though autism is generally found in children, it is possible that autism can go undiagnosed until adolescence.  Among adults, autism manifests itself as difficulties in socializing, communication issues, being mentally rigid.  As is the case of children, certain red flags can suggest that a grown-up is showing signs of autism.  Ironically, these signs can appear in adulthood, be it age 18 or 40.  Just as an early intervention for children with autism paves way to therapies that can lend support to gain necessary life skills, diagnosis in an adult can enhance the quality of life that would help him do tasks that require higher-functioning capacity.

Compared to children, it is a tad difficult to make a diagnosis of autism in adults, as they have lived the majority of their lives without a diagnosis.  Be it children or adult, one should look out

for the following traits to have a better understanding of this disorder:

  • Anxiety in social situations
  • Trouble empathizing (in adults)
  • Difficulty understanding body language, gestures, facial expressions
  • Trouble forming and maintaining relationships
  • Difficulty making conversation (particularly chatting, making small talk)
  • Trouble understanding or practicing socially appropriate behaviors
  • Trouble understanding double meanings (in adults)
  • Anxiety in group settings
  • Tendency to interpret information too literally
  • Difficulty making eye contact
  • Restricted or unique interests (such as obsessions with dictionaries or encyclopedia facts)
  • Obsession with rigid routines and sameness
  • Trouble making plans for the future (in adults)

For questions related to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), send a message to www.plexusnc.com/contact

Difference between Headaches and Migraines

Headaches_And_Migraines

Headaches can be a mild inconvenience to something that cripples your daily life.  Having said that, when you experience pressure or pain over your head, it is difficult to zero in on as to which type of headache you are suffering from, whether it is a typical tension type or migraine.  Differentiating a traditional headache from a migraine headache (and the other way round), is important as it would help faster relief through better treatments.  It can also keep at bay further headaches in the future to a certain extent.  However, more often than not a bout of traditional headache might be mistaken for a migraine, but there are some telltale differences.  Different factors trigger them and the symptoms themselves are different.  Let’s first understand what a traditional headache and migraine headache are.

Headaches are bitter pain in your head that can lead to pressure and aching.  The pain can be mild, moderate or severe.  In case of a traditional headache, the pain can occur on both sides of your head.  Forehead, temples and back of the neck are the areas where usually headaches can occur.  Do you know a headache can last anywhere between 30 minutes to a week?  The so-called traditional headache is a type of tension headache.  Triggers include stress, muscle strain, and anxiety.  Other types of traditional headaches are cluster headaches, sinus headaches, Chiari headaches, thunderclap headaches.

Migraine headache:

These headaches are sharp and severe compared to a traditional headache.  Migraine headaches are often accompanied by other symptoms in addition to head pain.  It can be said that migraine headaches are more debilitating than a traditional headache.  In case of a severe attack, there are people who seek care at emergency room to get a relief.  Generally, migraine headaches affect only one side of the head.  However, it can affect both sides of the head at times.  When it comes to a migraine headache, the pain is throbbing and you just won’t be able to carry out daily tasks.

Watch out the following symptoms associated with migraine headache:

  • nausea
  • pain behind one eye or ear
  • pain in the temples
  • seeing spots or flashing lights
  • sensitivity to light and/or sound
  • temporary vision loss
  • vomiting

Difference in the way the pain is felt:

The traditional headache gives the patient the sensation that an elastic band is squeezing his or her head.  The headache is set off by the contraction of muscles between the head and neck.   The pain is felt across the head and it could be either mild or moderate.  It generally loses its intensity after a couple of hours.

A migraine, in comparison, can be moderate to severe in intensity.  It is of throbbing nature at the front or the side of the head.  Even after hours and days, there won’t be any sign of abatement and it is often accompanied by other symptoms sometimes referred to as “aura”.

Difference in warning signs:

There won’t be any warning signs before a traditional headache, whereas a migraine gives warning signs (aura) beforehand.  This is on account of changing neurological effects and reactions in the brain.  Visual aura happens as there is an alteration in the patient’s perception.  It could be in the form of wavy or jagged lines, flashing lights, dots, dark or colored spots, stars or ‘sparkles’.  Visual auras coupled with sensitivity to light exacerbate the problem.

Auditory symptoms include speech and hearing disturbances.  These are usually accompanied by sensitivity to loud or complex sounds.

Psychological symptoms of a migraine headache include sudden change in mood, tiredness, thirst, hunger, confusion, feelings of fear, lack of control and memory changes.  As for the physiological ones – numbness, tingling, the sensation of spinning or vertigo, increased urination, weakness and fainting.

The symptoms above mentioned are subjective, which means two people suffering from migraine may have different set of symptoms.  But they can identify their trigger factors over time, which will help them to get themselves into a quieter and less visually active environment to prevent the symptoms developing into a full-blown attack.

Ironically, there are two types of migraines without auras as well, but they have a distinctive set of other symptoms – basilar migraines and familial hemiplegic migraines.

Difference in triggers:

Triggers of a traditional headache can be varied.  Sudden stress and anxiety can trigger off the symptoms.  Depression is also a contributing factor.  Poor posture can lead to musculoskeletal problems which in turn lead to headache.  Other causes include tiredness, dehydration, hunger, smells, squinting, noise and sunlight.

Migraine is also set off by varied reasons.  One of the main factors for migraine is chemical reaction in the brain.  Hormonal changes can also bring about migraine.  Women can experience migraine headache during menstruation.  During menopause the condition may worsen.  Low blood sugar, hypoglycemia from not eating when we need to are the other contributing factors of migraines.

Eating a sugar-rich meal can lead to migraine attacks setting in.  Other trigger factors for a migraine attack are emotional anxiety, physical factors, exercise, medicines, contraceptives, medicines, dehydration, alcohol, computer screens and diet.

Some other easily identifiable differences between a normal headache and a migraine headache are mentioned in the following table:

Traditional headache Migraine headache
Patient would not have many other symptoms. Patients usually have symptoms beyond the head pain and will be unable to carry out everyday tasks.
Rarely starts during sleep. Often starts during sleep.
Can be either episodic (lasting a few hours) or chronic (lasting for days). Usually last for a few hours or up to a few days.

For questions related to treatment of Migraines, send a message to www.plexusnc.com

Bell’s Palsy

Bells-palsy

Bell’s palsy is a condition which makes muscles on one side of your face weak or paralyzed.  Only one side of the face is affected at a time.  Because of Bell’s palsy there may be drooping or stiffness on the affected side, smile may be one-sided and you may find closing the eye on that side difficult.  However, the exact cause of this condition is still unknown, but it is believed that the swelling and inflammation of the seventh cranial nerve leads to this condition.  It is also known as “facial nerve”.  This nerve passes through a narrow, bony area within the skull. When the nerve swells, even a little bit, it pushes against the skull’s hard surface.  This affects how well the nerve works.

Anyone can fall prey to Bell’s palsy but generally people suffering from diabetes or those who are recovering from viral infections are prone to this disease.  Medical studies show that herpes simplex 1 virus may be responsible for a large number of cases.

It is often mistaken as a stroke. An easy way to differentiate between Bell’s palsy and stroke is in the latter the weakness affects not only in the facial muscles, but in the other parts of the body as well, whereas in Bell’s palsy the weakness is largely restricted to the facial muscles.  In Bell’s palsy complete recovery from the symptoms happens in about six months with proper rehabilitation.  Symptoms may continue in small number of people for life.  Rarely Bell’s palsy can recur — suggesting a possible genetic predisposition to the condition.

Symptoms of Bell’s palsy:

Symptoms of Bell’s palsy can happen all of a sudden.  You may be feeling alright when going to bed at night, but when looking in the mirror the next day, there is drooping on one side of the face.  In some people one to two days before the onset of symptoms, they feel pain behind their ears.  You may find the following changes in your body before the symptoms of the disease become apparent.  Remember, these symptoms appear only on one side of the body.

  • Rapid onset of mild weakness to total paralysis on one side of your face — occurring within hours to days
  • Facial droop and difficulty making facial expressions, such as closing your eye or smiling
  • Drooling
  • Pain around the jaw or in or behind your ear on the affected side
  • Increased sensitivity to sound on the affected side
  • Headache
  • A decrease in your ability to taste
  • Changes in the amount of tears and saliva you produce

These symptoms may reach a crescendo within a day or two

Complications of Bell’s palsy:

A mild bout of Bell’s palsy may abate within a month.  Recovery from a moderate-to-severe Bell’s palsy may take a prolonged time.  Complications include that your facial nerve may be irreversibly damaged, involuntary contraction of muscles due to abnormal growth of nerve fibers, partial or complete loss of vision of the eye on the affected side because of excessive dryness and damage of the protective covering of the eye (cornea).

Diagnosis of Bell’s palsy:

Diagnosis of the condition is tricky as there is no test that can prove conclusively that you have Bell’s palsy.  Usually, the diagnosis of the condition is made by following a technique called “diagnosis of exclusion”.  That means arriving at a diagnosis by ruling out the presence of other conditions.

A complete and close physical exam is the first step when a patient is taken to see the doctor, where the patient will try to close the eyelid on the affected side.  If it doesn’t close, it could be that you have Bell’s palsy.

Treatment for Bell’s palsy:

Treatment for the condition primarily depends on what caused the disease.  If your doctor finds out that the symptoms are triggered by the herpes virus (herpes simplex 1) or by shingles (herpes zoster), he may give you an antiviral medication, like acyclovir. This may bring down the intensity of the Bell’s palsy symptoms.  Meanwhile, your doctor will advise you to take extra care to protect the eye on the affected side.  An eye patch may be recommended as you cannot blink.  In order to moisten the eye, using an eye drop is beneficial.
To speed up the recovery, physical therapy plays a key role. The physical therapist guides you through special exercises which are designed to help you relearn facial movements depending on the specific movement problem that you have.
Facial correction splint is customized and provided by the occupational therapist which promotes early recovery.

For enquiries related to treatment of Bell’s Palsy, send a message to www.plexusnc.com

Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapy

Cognitive_Rehabilitation_Therapy

Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapy (CRT) includes treatments that address the cognitive deficits that arise as a result of a brain injury, aging or as a result of some disease process that affects the brain.

For individuals with cognitive deficits and their families, problems in “thinking capacity” may be the greatest hurdle when the patient tries to get back to “normal” life.  These difficulties involve problems in attention, concentration, memory, social behavior, safety judgment, time management, frustration tolerance, problem solving, planning and carrying out future actions. Due to this, the person’s ability to succeed at work, school, or home is at stake. Without any treatment, the long-term effects of cognitive decline can be devastating.

What is CRT?

Cognitive rehabilitation therapy is an umbrella term used to refer to treatments that address the cognitive problems that can come up after a brain injury or disease.  Because of the wide range of symptoms and severity of cognitive decline in individuals with brain injury, CRT does not mean a single treatment modality.  CRT is the process of relearning cognitive skills that have been lost or altered as a result of damage post a brain injury or disease, most commonly following traumatic brain injury or stroke.  If it is increasingly difficult to make a patient relearn a skill, then new ones have to be taught to enable the person to make up for his/her lost cognitive functions.  The process of CRT comprises making the person understand about cognitive weaknesses and strengths.  The objective here to give awareness about the problem.

Cognitive rehabilitation therapy aims at fostering function and independence in patients with cognitive impairment.  It should be noted that CRT is completely different from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a treatment discipline for emotional and psychiatric problems.

In cognitive behavioral therapy, restorative treatment takes the centre-stage and the goal of CRT is to enhance the overall cognitive system.  In CRT, solution to specific problem is also taught like memory notebooks or learning self-cuing strategies.

The level of therapy given to patients is different from case to case.  It depends on the level of alertness, orientation to surroundings and memory of recent events.  With a moderate to severe cognitive decline, individuals may receive therapy during the inpatient rehabilitation period itself.  During discharge the treatment team may make recommendations regarding the type of follow-up cognitive therapy a patient needs post discharge.  For example, if a person is suffering from moderate degree of cognitive impairment, s/he may benefit from a comprehensive outpatient CRT course that includes face-to-face treatment as well as group therapy for social/behavioral goals.  The course may include functional activities such as planning outings into the community or how to make a reentry into work or school.  These programs cover a gamut of cognitive issues and staff from multiple treatment disciplines may be required to run the program smoothly.

What one can expect in CRT?

CRT services are directed to accomplish functional changes by:

  • Reinforcing, strengthening or establishing previously learned patterns of behavior
  • Establishing new patterns of cognitive activity or mechanisms to compensate for impaired neurological systems
  • Interventions are tailored to help the individual be as independent as possible in the management of his or her everyday routines and responsibilities in their home and community

You will be requested to participate in an evaluation process which will help your CRT specialist to get a clear idea as to your unique needs and concerns.  You will participate in various assessment methods that include questionnaires, testing, interview and observation to gain an in-depth understanding of your abilities and limitations in managing your day-to-day activities and responsibilities.

Post analysis your CRT specialist will interpret your evaluation outcome and compile them into an exhaustive report outlining your strengths and difficulties.  A treatment plan is then made to guide you through all of the activities that are selected to help you ameliorate your level of cognitive decline or compensate for your difficulties.

How does cognitive rehabilitation therapy help with life skills?

The principal motive of CRT is to boost functional competence in real-world situations by retraining and adopting new compensatory strategies or equip the patient to use new cognitive tools.  This helps the patients to make most of their abilities they possess and increase self-confidence.  Training, adaptive equipments and the information that the patient received during the rehabilitation period speeds up this process.

Why Plexus for CRT?

Due to the wide range of deficits that are found in individuals with cognitive deficits, CRT is an extensive area that requires extensive expertise.

At Plexus CRT is carried out by a team of neuro-psychiatrist, occupational therapist and speech and language pathologist who carry out a detailed assessment of the deficits and set time-bound achievable goals to cater to the patient’s needs. The conditions include traumatic brain injury or head injury, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diseases and infections affecting the brain including multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, many psychiatric conditions including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, ADHD, depressive disorder, substance abuse and/or substance withdrawal.

Speech Therapy

Speech_Therapy

If your child is suffering from speech disability like trouble pronouncing words, speech therapy may help improve language and communication skills.  As the name indicates, speech therapy focuses on enhancing a child’s speech and his/her ability to understand and express language that includes non-verbal communication as well.  Professionals who provide this service are called speech therapists or more appropriately speech and language pathologists (SLP).

Speech therapy consists of mainly three parts:

  1. Coordinating the mouth to produce sounds to form words and sentences (articulation, fluency, and voice volume regulation)
  2. Understanding and expressing language (through written, pictorial, body, and sign forms)
  3. The use of language through alternative communication systems (social media, computers, and tablets)

Your child may be referred to a speech therapist or an SLP for a variety of disorders.  A therapist can deal problems related to speech, hearing and swallowing.  A speech therapist or an SLP can assess and treat the following issues:

  • Stuttering and cluttering
  • Comprehension of spoken and written language
  • Cognition related issues like attention, memory and ability to solve problems
  • Characteristics of vocal tone
  • Auditory Rehabilitation — recovery techniques associated with speech, hearing & language disorders
  • Swallowing disorders — stroke and congenital disorders
  • Other services — some therapists will specialize in other services including professional voice development, accent or dialect modification, business communication modification, and voice hygiene

Does my child need speech therapy?

Some children may be good at pronunciation and able to read at an early age but even such children can benefit from the service of a speech therapist or an SLP to enhance the process of using body language appropriately in social situations.  This will help children to be relaxed during day-to-day purposes such as making requests, holding conversation, making new friends etc.

Other instances where a child may benefit from speech therapy are medical conditions such as brain injury or infection that has impaired their ability to express themselves in a stress-free manner and an identifiable disability such as Down syndrome.  Speech therapy service often begins at a young age and continues as the children enter school.  The earlier, the better.

Speech therapy for late talkers:

If your infant or toddler has arrived at a stage where s/he is supposed to talk and unfortunately it is not happening, you may seek the help of a speech therapist.  The therapist will try different child-friendly tricks to make him/her talk, that includes playing with him.  Sometimes, taking away a favorite toy until the child asks for it motivates the little one to talk.  For some children, other modes of communication such as sign language or picture cards may be tried to encourage them to talk.  If the speech therapist senses hearing loss, your child may be referred for further evaluation such as hearing tests.

Speech therapy for swallowing and feeding difficulties:

Speech therapists assessing and treating children for articulation, language and cognition difficulties is well known, but what the general public tends not to associate with speech therapy is therapy for swallowing and feeding difficulties.  It is not rare to come across children who have trouble talking have issues with feeding.  What immediately come to mind may be children with special needs, but it’s not unusual for other kids also to have both speech and feeding difficulties.  Both speech and eating require the fine motor movements, moving the tongue, jaw and lips in a synchronic fashion.  To put it metaphorically, that is not a walk in the park for many kids.

In order to strengthen the muscles used in speech and eating, the speech therapist may come up with unique programs such as blowing toys and whistles or funny games like blowing-the-cotton-ball, blowing bubbles etc.  These kinds of activities will strengthen the muscles involved in speech and eating.

Speech therapy for stuttering:

An article on speech therapy would be incomplete without mentioning “stuttering”, something that many of us suffer.  Stuttering is a problem that is common in childhood, but it can persist and develop along the adulthood as well.  Stuttering comes under the ambit of behavioral problems.  Different behavioral modification techniques will be introduced to the child who stutters, that in turn may help rein in their stuttering.  A simple and effective method that can be used on children with stuttering is to teach them to control the rate of speech, since speaking too quickly can make children stutter more.  Practicing speech in a slower and more fluent manner can help to get rid of this impairment to a large extent.

Unfortunately, if stuttering persists even after a full course of speech therapy, child may require follow-up sessions with the speech therapist to contain the problem.  It is quite natural to take time to get out of this seemingly simple but highly persisting disorder.

Teaching a non-verbal child:

There are children who, for a variety of reasons, are unable to communicate.  They need alternative communication methods.  School-aged children may be able to communicate through computers or tablets.  These days, touch-screen gadgets have become a great boon for children who cannot communicate as they can use the same super-cool device that their classmates use.  Moreover, the speech and language therapists can use these devices to foster communication through engagement and motivation in a novel way.

For enquiries related to Speech Therapy, send your messages to www.plexusnc.com

Splints in Occupational Therapy (Hand Rehabilitation)

Splints

Hand therapy, a specialty practice area of occupational therapy, is typically concerned with treating orthopedic-based upper-extremity conditions to optimize the functional use of the hand and arm. Conditions seen by the occupational therapy practitioner specializing in this area include fractures of the hand or arm, lacerations and amputations, burns, and surgical repairs of tendons and nerves. Acquired conditions such as tendonitis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, and carpal tunnel syndrome also are treated by occupational therapy practitioners specializing in hand rehabilitation.

Occupational therapy is the healthcare profession that aims to restore a patient’s functional capacity. Using specific assessment and treatments skills, occupational therapists specializing in hand therapy offer therapeutic approaches to restore function, limit the progression of a pathology or prevent upper limb dysfunction in order to help patients resume their everyday tasks at home and at work, and their recreational activities. An occupational therapist generally does this by using splints.

A splint is used to support, immobilize, or protect the arm or hand. Splints can also be used to support function, assist and/or increase range of motion. Occupational therapists (OTs) can make custom splints for the specific needs of each person or may use pre-fabricated splints.

Splints can be static, dynamic or static progressive. Static splints are often used to put part or all of the elbow, wrist & hand at rest so that diseased or injured tissue can be supported and undergo uninterrupted healing. Dynamic or static progressive splints are used to add mobilizing tension to influence tissue healing and scar maturation, minimizing the development of restrictive scar tissue that is so detrimental to tendon excursion and normal joint motion. Static splints are generally made to protect healing structures such as a fracture, a collateral ligament strain or repair, but are also used effectively to decrease pain during functional activity with a diagnosis such as CMC arthritis or tendonitis.

Who can benefit from splint usage?

People who have experienced one the following may benefit from the use of splints:
• Previous hand or arm surgery
• Loss of joint motion
• Birth defects
• Increased or decreased muscle tone
• Orthopedic conditions
• Chronic conditions such as juvenile arthritis or connective tissue disorders
• Stroke

Use of splints:

The use of splints can come from many different conditions, but there are generally four purposes outlined for the client need of splinting viz. immobilization – stop movement, mobilization – gain movement, restriction – restrict the movement for an area and torque transmission – alter the force felt from an area.

Let’s explore some of the splints used to help with medical conditions.

• Flail arm splints are used for a brachial plexus injury
• Wrist splints are used for carpal tunnel syndrome (CPS)
• Elbow splints are usually used post surgery or post trauma. There are two basic forms: static and dynamic
• Resting splints are used for issues of flaccidity
• Dorsal protection splints are used in flexor tendon injuries
• Dynamic wrist, finger, and thumb extension splint is used for radial nerve palsy
• Opponens splint, C-bar or thumb post splint is used for median nerve injury
• Dynamic/static splint for ulnar nerve injury
• Figure-of-eight or dynamic MCP flexion splint for combined median and ulnar nerve injury

Use of splints in stroke:

After a stroke, patients may experience an unusual tightening of the muscles in and around the hand, usually on the weaker side of the body. This is called spasticity. Medical studies highlight 20 to 30% of stroke survivors experience this condition. Left untreated, spasticity can cause a patient’s joints and muscles to become so tight that it is impossible to move them, which leads to contracture. But by employing correct medical treatment, occupational therapists can prevent contracture in these patients.

Primary treatment in occupational therapy is key in helping patients understand the challenges and correct treatment of stroke during recovery. In the past and even today, therapists have treated contractures using static hand splints. It is believed these splints help provide sufficient stretch to the affected soft tissue. But today dynamic splints are increasingly used as they are very effective and can even help reduce side effects caused by static splints, such as joint damage and hypermobility.

Dynamic hand splints improve range of motion and prevent pain resulting from contracture. They allow for more mobility throughout recovery while providing support and stability for the contracture area. Dynamic splints use a technology that allows the fingers and joints to move through flexion. This helps the fingers relax, which in turn gradually returns the fingers to their natural position. Dynamic splints in particular are highly beneficial for neurologically impaired clients, especially with improving mobility and minimizing joint pain and damage. It is made with energy-storing technology, which allows patients suffering from spasticity and contracture to safely stretch their tight muscles and joints. This results in a greater range of motion and compliance in the affected areas.

Another major medical area where splints are necessary is burns. Dynamic and static splints are highly used post surgery for a number of reasons or causes. The buddy strap is most commonly used after a sports injury, or fracture of a finger.

Advantages of splints:

• Removable for wound care, bathing, or gentle exercise if appropriate.
• Easily adjusted if uncomfortable
• Any position requested can be achieved with the low-temperature plastic
• Able to clean as needed
• Can get wet
• Adjustable as swelling decreases or as able to get into a better position

For questions related to Hand Rehabilitation, send your messages to www.plexusnc.com

Stages of Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinsons_Stages

Being a progressive nervous system disorder, Parkinson’s disease impairs one’s movement severely.  Symptoms set in gradually, sometimes with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand.  Tremors are a common symptom of Parkinson’s, but disorder can lead to stiffness and slowing of the movement.  In the beginning phase of the disease, your face may show little or no expression.  Your arms may not swing when you walk.  Your speech may become soft or slurred.  With time, the condition of your health deteriorates and symptoms start to worsen.

Though Parkinson’s is progressive and worsens over time, it affects people differently.  Two people affected with may have different symptoms.  Not all people with Parkinson’s will experience all the symptoms.  Symptoms may vary in severity between patients.  The speed with which the disease worsens may also be different.  However, physicians have established stages that elucidate how the disease progresses.  These five stages are known as the Hoehn and Yahr Scale used by physicians across the world to classify patients.

Stage one of Parkinson’s disease

In this stage the symptoms of the disease appear in a milder form and only seen on one side of the body.  It is called unilateral involvement.  At this stage the functional impairment may be minimal or nil.  As the symptoms of Parkinson’s are mild, the person affected may not seek medical attention and physician may be unable to come to a clear-cut diagnosis.  Symptoms at this stage may include tremors, such as intermittent tremor of one hand, one leg may feel clumsy compared to the other or one side of the face may feel distorted, impacting the expression.  It is very difficult to arrive at a diagnosis at this stage and the physician may wait to see if the symptoms worsen over time before coming to a formal diagnosis.

Stage two of Parkinson’s disease   

Stage two is also considered early, but at this stage symptoms are characterized on both sides of the body.  It is called bilateral involvement.  At this stage, symptoms can affect the midline without impairment to balance.  It may take months or years for symptoms to progress from stage one to two.  Symptoms of Parkinson’s at this stage may include loss of facial expression on both sides of the body, soft voice, monotone voice, fading volume after starting to speak loudly, slurring speech, stiffness or rigidity of the muscles in the trunk that may result in neck or back pain, stooped posture, and general slowness in all activities of daily living.  However, at this stage the affected person may still be able to do activities of daily living independently.  The doctor can arrive at a diagnosis easily if the patient has tremor.  But it should be noted that if stage one was missed and the only symptoms of stage two are slowness or lack of spontaneity of limbs, Parkinson’s may be misinterpreted as only advancing age.

Stage three of Parkinson’s disease

It is the mid-stage of Parkinson’s and the prominent symptoms are loss of balance and slowness of movement.  Balance is compromised significantly by not being able to make the rapid, automatic and involuntary adjustments necessary to prevent falls.  The affected person may fall frequently at this stage.  All other symptoms of Parkinson’s may be evident at this stage and generally diagnosis can be made with much conviction at this stage.  Often the doctor will examine impairments in reflexes at this stage by standing behind the patient and gently pulling the shoulders to know if the patient has trouble maintaining balance and falls backward (the doctor of course will not let the patient fall).  An important aspect of stage three is the patient can still independently do their daily living activities, such as dressing, hygiene and eating.

Stage four of Parkinson’s disease

At this stage Parkinson’s has progressed to a severely disabling disease.  Patient with stage four may still be able to walk and stand unassisted, but they are visibly incapacitated.  Many may seek the assistance of a walker to move around.  Independent living is almost impossible at this stage and needs assistance with some activities of daily living.  The necessity for help to live is the important feature of this stage.

Stage five of Parkinson’s disease

This is the most advanced stage and is characterized by an inability to rise from a chair or get out of bed without assistance.  Patient is prone to fall while standing or turning.  They may even freeze or stumble when walking.  Round-the-clock care is needed at this stage to prevent falls and help the patient do daily activities.  Hallucinations and delusions may also happen at this stage.

Though symptoms worsen over time, it should be noted that some patients with Parkinson’s never reach stage five.  Also, the time taken to progress from stage to stage varies from individual to individual.  Moreover, not all symptoms of Parkinson’s may be evident in one individual.  For example, one person may have tremor, but may be able to maintain balance.  There are quality treatments available to handhold the patient through every stage of the disease.  The earlier the diagnosis, and the earlier the stage at which the disease is diagnosed, the more effective the treatment is at alleviating symptoms.

For enquiries related to Parkinson’s disease and its treatment options, send a message to www.plexusnc.com/contact

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS- AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER

Autism_Spectrum_Disorder

“WE HAVE HEARD THIS ABOUT STEM CELL THERAPY, IS IT TRUE?”
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS- AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER

Here we have compiled all the questions that are posed to us by the parents of children with ASD. Through this blog, we hope to answer all your questions.
Q1. What is the appropriate age for taking this treatment?
A1. The earlier…the better. The best age is between 4-5 years but we have done for a 2 year old also. The earlier we intervene, the better the results and lesser the time spent.

Q2. Can the child become totally “normal”?
A2. The child can be brought to near-normalcy depending upon the severity of the problem at the time of intervention.

Q3. Does your program take care of all the symptoms of autism?
A3. Yes

Q4. Will the child start speaking?
A4. Yes

Q5.How long does it take to see the changes?
A5. This duration ranges from a few days to few weeks.

Q6. What does your program include?
A6. We offer an intensive therapy program which includes stem cell therapy, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy comprising of sensory integration therapy, behaviour retraining therapy, social skills training, cognitive behaviour therapy, pre-academic skills training, and intensive individualized therapy sessions that focus on the specific needs of the child.
For details please visit http://www.plexusnc.com/services/

Q7. We have undergone different kinds of therapies. How is your program different?
A7. Our aim is to foster holistic development of the child through various means. We have a team of experts trained in Child Habilitation and the unique combination of various therapies which are customized for the child is what makes us different.

Q8. Brief procedure of the treatment?
A8. Step 1- Detailed Assessment
Step 2- Bone marrow aspiration
Step 3- Processing and isolation of mesenchymal stem cells
Step 4-Injecting the stem cells
Step 5- Simultaneous rehabilitation (if opted for)
For details please visit http://www.plexusnc.com/stem-cell-therapy/

Q9. Is there any medication to be used before or after the treatment?
A9. No, we give only supplements.

Q10. Are the stem cells taken from the patient’s own body?
A10. Yes

Q11. Is MRI/CT/PET scan or blood test to be done before the treatment? Are these tests available in your hospital?
A11. All the required tests are available in the hospital.

Q12. How long does the treatment take and how long does the patient have to stay in the hospital for the procedure?
A12. The bone marrow aspiration takes about 5 minutes and the injection takes 2 to 3 minutes. The patient has to rest for about 5 hours after the procedure.

Q13. Is there any side effect of this treatment?
A13. No.

Q14. Are all the procedures/therapies performed in the same hospital?
A14. Yes.

Q15. During the procedure will the patient be made unconscious?
A15. No, only sedation is provided.

Q16. We have stored the stem cells taken from our second baby, can we use them for therapy?
A16. We can use them but we prefer not to.

Q17. How is the treatment given- is it surgical or non surgical? Is it one-time or requires multiple settings?
A17. The procedure includes stem cell injections. It is a one-time, non invasive/non surgical procedure.

Q18. Is the treatment affordable ?
A18. Yes.

Q19. What is the success rate of this treatment in ASD?
A19. The success rate is 100%.

Q20. What is the source of stem cells?
A20. Bone marrow

To know how stem cell therapy is a ray of hope for children with ASD, please visit http://www.plexusnc.com/blog/stem-cell-therapy-new-ray-hope-autism/

please visit http://www.plexusnc.com/blog/stem-cell-therapy-new-ray-hope-autism/ 

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD)

Duchenne-Muscular-Dystrophy

Muscular dystrophies are a constellation of symptoms that make muscles weak and less flexible over time, of which Duchenne muscular dystrophy is the most common form. It is caused by defect in the gene that controls how the body keeps muscles healthy. The disease almost always affects boys and the onset of symptoms begins in early childhood. Children with DMD find it hard to stand up, walking and climbing stairs. Many eventually seek the help of wheelchair to move around. Heart and lung problems can also occur as a consequence of DMD.

Although there is not a definite cure for this disease, the outlook for people affected with DMD has been significantly improved compared to anytime in the past. Years ago, children with this disease are unlikely to live beyond their teens. Today, they live well into their 30s and sometimes into their 40s and 50s with the help of therapies and medications that can provide a sea change in containing the symptoms. Researchers are looking for new treatment modalities to improve the prospect of children affected with this disease.

Causes of DMD

DMD is caused by a defect in one of your genes. Genes store the information your body needs to make proteins, which carry out important bodily functions. If you have DMD, the gene that makes a protein called dystrophin is broken. It is this protein that keeps muscle strong, healthy and protects them from injury. The condition is more common among boys because of the way parents pass DMD genes to their children. That is why the scientists call this a sex-linked disease as it is connected to the group of genes, called chromosomes, that determines if a baby is a boy or a girl. Although it is rare, sometimes people who don’t have a history of DMD in their family can also get affected when their genes get faulty on their own.

Symptoms of DMD

If a child is affected with DMD first signs can come about before he turns six years old. Muscles in the legs usually get affected first, so he will probably start to walk much later than other children his age. Once he can walk, he may fall down quite often and find it difficult to climb stairs or getting up from the floor. After a few years, he might also begin to waddle or walk on his toes.

DMD can also affect heart, lungs and other parts of the body. As the child gets older, he might have other symptoms, including:

• A curved spine, also called scoliosis
• Shortened, tight muscles in his legs, called contractures
• Headaches
• Problems with learning and memory
• Shortness of breath
• Sleepiness
• Trouble concentrating

The muscles problems can lead to cramps at times, but usually DMD is not painful. The child will still have control of his bladder and bowels. Although some children with this condition may have learning and behavioral issues, DMD is usually unlikely to affect a child’s intelligence.

Getting a diagnosis of DMD

First, you should let your child’s doctor know the symptoms you have been noticing. The doctor may ask about medical history. The doctor will give the child a thorough physical exam and some tests may also be done to rule out other conditions that can cause muscle weakness.

If the doctor suspects DMD, he/she will recommend tests like:
• Blood tests
• Gene tests
• Muscle biopsy

Treatment

There is no definite cure for DMD, but there are medicines and other therapeutic interventions like Stem Cell Therapy that can ease your child’s symptoms, protect his muscles and keep his heart and lungs healthy.

Taking care of your child

It is heartbreaking to learn that one’s child is suffering from DMD, but remember that this condition does not prevent him from going to school, play sports and have fun with friends. If you stick to the treatment regime, know what works for the child, you can help him lead an active life.

• Encourage him to stand and walk as much as possible
• Advice him to eat right
• Stay active. Exercise and stretches can keep your child’s muscles and joints supple and help him feel better.
• Find support. Other families with DMD can be a great source of understanding about life with the disease

What to expect

As years pass by, child’s muscles can get weaker and walking becomes increasingly difficult. Many children with DMD need the help of a wheelchair to move around by the time they reach 12 years old. Although some kids live only into their teens, the outlook for the condition is much better than it used to be. Today young adults with this form of muscle weakness can go to college, can work, marry and start families of their own.

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple_Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is a potentially crippling disease of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system).

In MS, the immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibers and causes communication problems between your brain and the rest of your body.  Eventually, the disease can cause the nerves themselves to degenerate or become permanently impaired.

Signs and symptoms of MS differ from person to person and depend on the extent of nerve damage and which nerves are affected.  Some people with severe MS may lose the ability to walk without support or may not be able to walk at all, whereas others may experience long periods of remission without the development of any new symptoms.

There is no cure for multiple sclerosis.  However, treatments can help speed recovery from attacks, ameliorate the impact of the disease and manage the disease in an effective way.

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of MS may include:

  • Numbness or weakness in one or more limbs that typically occurs on one side of your body at a time or the legs and trunk
  • Partial or complete loss of vision, usually in one eye at a time, often with pain during eye movement
  • Prolonged double vision
  • Tingling or pain in parts of your body
  • Electric-shock sensations that occur with certain neck movements, especially bending the neck forward (Lhermitte sign)
  • Tremor, lack of coordination or unsteady gait
  • Slurred speech
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Problems with bowel and bladder function

Role of rehabilitation

The aim of rehabilitation is to improve and maintain function.  From the time of diagnosis onward, multiple sclerosis rehabilitation specialists provide education and treatment designed to boost good health and general well being, reduce fatigue and help you feel and function at your best, both at home and at work.  If symptoms begin to interfere with everyday activities, a multiple sclerosis rehabilitation team can address issues with mobility, dressing and personal care, role performance at home and work and overall health. They also provide evaluation and treatment of speech and swallowing difficulties and problems with thinking and memory.

When you have multiple sclerosis, you may have certain physical and cognitive difficulties. Multiple sclerosis rehabilitation includes physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and cognitive retraining.  MS rehabilitation therapies may help reduce these difficulties.

Multiple sclerosis rehabilitation is an integral part of health care practice for people with multiple sclerosis.  Since the majority of people are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, the challenges of MS affect those at the peak of their career and childbearing years.  Though MS can affect children, it is much less common in this age group.

MS can lead to significant impairment including balance and coordination problems, muscle stiffness and weakness, cognitive problems, impaired speech or vision, extreme fatigue and even paralysis.  Prognosis varies but the disease can cause loss of mobility and independence.  Interest in multiple sclerosis rehabilitation has increased in recent years as research has shown it can lead to significant improvements in patients’ quality of life. Multiple sclerosis rehabilitation is especially beneficial because of the often progressive and unstable nature of the disease.  Disease waxes and wanes, and symptoms change over time.

Multiple sclerosis rehabilitation is considered a necessary element of comprehensive, quality health care for people suffering with multiple sclerosis at all stages of the disease.

Stem cell therapy in multiple sclerosis

There is innovative research and progress occurring in terms of the potential of many types of stem cells for slowing progression of MS activity and for fixing damage of the nervous system. In light of the urgent need for more effective treatments for MS, particularly for those suffering at severe levels, the potential of all types of cell therapies must be explored.

Stem cell therapy is any treatment that uses or targets stem cells, which are the types of cells that differentiate into many different specialized cells in our bodies.  Stem cells are found in both embryos and adults.  Many types of stem cells are being explored for their potential benefits of addressing multiple sclerosis.

Bone marrow stem cell therapy in multiple sclerosis

Stem cell therapy using bone marrow has given a new ray of hope to patients suffering from multiple sclerosis.  Bone marrow is a soft spongy part of our immune system which protects us from infection and disease. It is found inside our bones, mainly in the hip bone and the breast bone. The bone marrow is where stem cells are made.

Stem cells are blood cells at the earliest stage of development. All our blood cells develop from stem cells in the bone marrow. Stem cells stay inside the bone marrow and when they are fully developed they go into the bloodstream.  A bone marrow or stem cell transplant replaces stem cells that are faulty or damaged with sound ones.

For questions related to Multiple Sclerosis and their treatment options, send a message to www.Plexusnc.com

Rehabilitation for Parkinson’s Disease

Rehabilitation-for-Parkinsons

Parkinson’s disease leads to progressive deterioration of motor function on account of dopamine-producing brain cells.  The exact cause of this disease is still unknown.  It is believed that both genetic and environmental factors influence this condition.  Most of the patients are diagnosed with this condition in their 60s, though early-onset Parkinson’s also occurs.  Parkinson’s is classified into different stages according to the severity of the condition.  Tremor, stiffness, slowness, balance impairment are some of the symptoms of Parkinson’s.

Rehabilitation is considered as an auxiliary to pharmacological and surgical treatments for Parkinson’s disease (PD) to maximize functional ability and minimize secondary complications.  A host of services for rehabilitation of both the motor and non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease is available.  Clinical studies suggest a multi-disciplinary rehabilitation approach is key in the management of Parkinson’s; therefore working very closely with other health-care professionals is very important.  As Parkinson’s affect differently in different people, their response to treatment is also different.  A tailor-made rehabilitation program is what is needed.

Professionals involved in the rehabilitation of Parkinson’s must have specialized training that allows them to provide the medical, nursing, and therapeutic care to people with this condition.  The goal is to maximize a person’s ability to function and to maintain quality of life.

The interdisciplinary team is headed by a neurologist or a neuropsychiatrist, the physiatrist takes care of the rehabilitation protocol, the physiotherapist works on improving the strength, endurance, flexibility and walking pattern/gait of the patient, the occupational therapist helps to get the patient back to the daily routine and works on improving the quality of life of the patient both at home and in the society, and the speech therapist works on the language and communication skills of the patient. All these professionals work together on various aspects and aim to bring the patient back to his pre- morbid state to the maximum.

Physiotherapy

Research has shown that regular physiotherapy benefits people with Parkinson’s disease to reduce stiffness and improve mobility, posture, balance and gait.  Strength and endurance training, flexibility, gait and balance training are also done under physiotherapy.

Occupational therapy rehabilitation

Occupational therapy services aid people return to their day-to-day activities, such as working, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, and caring for a family member or pet.  The objective of this service is to help a person with Parkinson’s disease function as independently as possible.  In order to find out which skills a person needs to work on the occupational therapist uses a process called remediation and compensation.  A person’s physical, cognitive, perceptual and visual skills are assessed and the occupational therapist determines how well a person is functioning in each of those areas.

The therapist then gradually teaches the person the skills needed to accomplish a particular task safely.  Guidance on how to use equipment, such as canes, walkers and wheelchairs is also given if necessary at the appropriate time.

Speech and language pathology services

Parkinson’s disease affects a number of aspects of communication including the ability to remember certain words, the way the voice sounds and how loud it is and facial expressions.  The extent of the damage caused by Parkinson’s on a person’s communication depends on the stage of the disease; it could be either slight or significant.  For some people, change in voice production is the first sign of Parkinson’s, whereas others may not have this change for year despite affected with the disease condition.

There are speech and language services that focus on detecting and treating a speech disorder known as hypokinetic dysarthria, a common problem in people with Parkinson’s disease.  Other problems, such as low volume, poor differentiation of the words, and rushed speech, are also treated during speech therapy.  Speech and language therapists teach methods for improving speech and maintaining the ability to speak clearly and be understood.

Most swallowing problems of the people with Parkinson’s can be managed, although the treatment will depend on the type of dysphagia one has. Treatment will depend on whether your swallowing problem is in the mouth or throat (oropharyngeal dysphagia), or in the oesophagus (oesophageal dysphagia). Treatment for dysphagia may be managed by a group of specialists that may include a speech and language therapist (SLT) and a dietitian.

Inpatient rehabilitation

Inpatient rehabilitation offers customized inpatient services for people with Parkinson’s disease.  Unlike in a hospital setting, where most treatment and monitoring are provided at the bedside, people in the inpatient program actively participate in daily treatment sessions.

The extent of the inpatient stay depends on a person’s medical and rehabilitation needs.   The length of the stay is estimated at the time of admission and adjusted if necessary.  In inpatient rehabilitation people with Parkinson’s disease and their family members work with an experienced team, which may include nurses, social workers, occupational and physical therapists, speech-language pathologists, psychologists, nutritionists and other rehabilitation experts.

Outpatient rehabilitation

Outpatient programs are designed to help people with Parkinson’s disease progress toward their rehabilitation goals.  This program is conducted under the supervision of a therapist who imparts skills required to improve strength, coordination, balance, endurance, and the ability to perform activities of daily living.

Staying active is an integral part of treatment for Parkinson’s disease.  Clinical studies have proven that exercise and physical therapy may improve some of the motor symptoms associated with the condition.  Fitness classes are also a part of this rehabilitation protocol.

Community reintegration

Here people with Parkinson’s are helped to relearn the skills that enable them to participate fully in activities at home and work, and in recreational settings.  During this program, various experts, such as physical and occupational therapists, social workers, and psychologists, work as a team to help each person with Parkinson’s disease achieve his or her goals.

The team involved in this process gives inputs to help a person function at home and at work, as well as in recreational environments.  For example, specialists may suggest assistive devices like cane or walker or modifications, such as adding a handrail or stairway at home if they find that would improve safety and accessibility of the person.

For questions related to Rehabilitation for Parkinson’s disease, send a message to www.plexusnc.com

Stem Cell Therapy – A New Ray of Hope for Autism

Autism

Autism is a neurobehavioral condition that is complex enough to cause impairment in social and communication skills. People with autism are found to be rigid and can have repetitive behaviors.  Owing to this complex range of symptoms, autism now is called autism spectrum disorder or ASD.  A large spectrum of symptoms comes under autism and the levels of impairment may also be different from person to person.  Severity of the disease can range from having issues of inattention that prevents a person from leading a normal life to a devastating disability that may require admission to a rehabilitation centre.

Current therapies for the treatment of autism attempt to reverse these abnormalities through administration of antibiotics, anti‐inflammatory agents, and hyperbaric oxygen.   In short, the presently available treatments for autism have only limited result in the overall management of symptoms and the outcomes are highly variable.  However, the development of stem cell technology has brought in a sea change in treating children with autism.  Moreover, stem cells have the potential to stimulate optimum functioning of glial cells, which in turn can boost up the repair of the damaged or weakened neurons, thus promoting improvement in impaired functions.

The behavioral challenges linked with autism disorder are often the outcome of aberrations in thinking and processing of the information.  It is through a complete understanding of these impacts and the different thinking pattern of individuals affected with autism, experts have been able to frame and formulate better treatment approaches and strategies with the help of stem cells, which help people to have a better understanding and contribute to their overall development of the character.

The rationale behind treating autism with stem cells is that autism and its complications have been significantly related to inflammatory and neuro-inflammatory problems.  Through intravenous administration of stem cells, significant development of the condition has been observed and it is done by a specialist trained in stem cell therapy.

Before analyzing different methods of treating autism using stem cells, let us first understand what stem cells are.

Stem cells are unique cells.  What makes stem cells truly different is their ability to become many different types of cells, and they can replicate rapidly.  Stem cells play a significant role in the body’s healing process and the introduction of new stem cells has shown remarkable improvement in the treatment of many disease conditions which hitherto were considered virtually incurable.  The giant leap in treating diseases with the help of transplanted stem cells started after finding out how to isolate these stem cells.

Autism is mainly treated by using:

Bone marrow stem cells

Bone marrow stem cells:

Bone marrow is the soft, sponge-like material found inside bones. It contains immature cells known as hematopoietic or blood-forming stem cells.  Hematopoietic stem cells divide to form more blood-forming stem cells or they mature into one of three types of blood cells.  They are:

White blood cells – protect us from infection
Red blood cells – carry oxygen
Platelets  – help the blood to clot.

Most hematopoietic stem cells are found in the bone marrow, but some cells, called peripheral blood stem cells (PBSCs), are found in the bloodstream.  Blood in the umbilical cord also contains hematopoietic stem cells.

Not only autism, it has been found out that almost 80 diseases can be successfully treated with the help of stem cell transplant.

For questions related to Autism Spectrum Disorder and their treatment options, send a message to www.plexusnc.com

Common Neurodegenerative Disorders

Neurodegenerative_Diseases

Neurodegenerative disease is an umbrella term for a gamut of conditions which mainly affects neurons in the human brain.  Neurons are the building blocks of the nervous system which include brain and spina cord.  Neurons normally do not reproduce or replace on their own, so when they get damaged or die they cannot be substituted by the body.

Neurodegenerative disorders are difficult to be cured and debilitating.  Over a period of time the intensity of the disease progresses, leading to degeneration or death of the nerve cells.  This causes problems with movement and mental functioning.

Some common neurodegenerative disorders are the following.

  • Alzheimer’s disease (AD)
  • Parkinson’s disease (PD)
  • Progressive supranuclear palsy
  • Motor neurone diseases (MND)
  • Huntington’s disease (HD)
  • Spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA)
  • Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA)

Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s is a type of neurodegenerative disorder that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior.  Symptoms develop gradually and degenerate over time, making it difficult for the patient to do daily tasks.  Dementia is the most prominent risk of neurodegenerative disorders, with Alzheimer’s representing about 60-70% of dementia cases.  Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of getting old, though increasing age is a known risk factor.  Most of the people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older.  It is a progressive disease as the symptoms of the disease intensify with time.

In the nascent stages, memory loss may not be that evident, but in the advanced stages the patient will not be able to carry on a conversation and respond properly to lead a normal life.  In US, it is sixth leading cause for death.  There is no sure-shot cure for Alzheimer’s, but treatment is given for symptoms on a case-by-case basis and research continues.

Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease leads to progressive deterioration of motor function on account of dopamine-producing brain cells.  The exact cause of this disease is still unknown.  It is believed that both genetic and environmental factors influence this condition.  Most of the patients are diagnosed with this condition in their 60s, though early-onset Parkinson’s also occurs.  Parkinson’s is classified into different stages according to the severity of the condition.  Tremor, stiffness, slowness, balance impairment are some of the symptoms of Parkinson’s.

Progressive supranuclear palsy

Progressive supranuclear palsy, also known as Steele-Richardson-Olszewski syndrome) is a common brain disorder that interferes with walking, balance and eye movements.  This disorder arises out of deterioration of cells in areas of your brain that influences body movement and thinking.

Progressive supranuclear palsy exacerbates with time and even life-threatening complications can occur due to this disorder, which include pneumonia and swallowing problems.

At Plexus our aim is to stop the progression of the disease and improve the quality of life of individuals suffering from these neurodegenerative conditions. We design treatment programs which are individualistic and focus on the priorities of our patients.

Motor neuron disease/Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

Motor neuron disease leads to weakening of the nerves in the brain and spinal cord.  It is rare, but serious and an incurable type of neurodegeneration.  Muscles move in accordance with the electrical output signals it receives from motor neuron cells.  Though it can appear at any age, majority of the people affected with this condition are 40 years or older.  Ironically, it affects men more than women.

The most widely found motor neuron disease is amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.  The renowned English physicist Stephen Hawking lived with ALS for many decades until his death in March 2018.

Huntington’s disease

Huntington’s disease is a genetic condition that causes breakdown of nerve cells in the brain.  It has a significant impact on a person’s functional abilities.  It affects one’s ability to move, think and cognition.  Generally people in their 30s and 40s are affected with this condition, though disease may come on earlier or later in life.

When this condition develops before the age of 20, it is called juvenile Huntington’s disease.  An earlier development of the condition leads to faster progression of the disease and symptoms may also be different.

To a certain extent, medications help to manage the symptoms of Huntington’s disease, but with treatment loss of mental, physical and behavioral function cannot be completely done away with.

Spinocerebellar ataxia

Spinocerebellar ataxia or SCA is a general term that is used to denote a group of hereditary ataxias that are marked by degenerative changes in the part of the brain that controls movement and sometimes in the spinal cord.  There are many different types of spinocerebellar ataxias ranging from SCA1 to SCA40.  Signs and symptoms of this disorder may vary in relation to the specific subtype.  Gait problems, poor hand-eye coordination and abnormal speech are some of the generally found symptoms of this condition.

 

 

Spinal muscular atrophy

Spinal muscular atrophy impairs the nervous system that controls voluntary muscle movement.  It is a genetic disease.  Majority of the nerve cells that controls the muscles are situated in the spinal cord and that is why it is called “spinal” muscular atrophy.  Like other neurodegenerative conditions, here also the muscles will not get signals from the nerve cells.  Atrophy literally means “getting smaller” and that is what exactly happens to the muscles when they do not get proper signals to act upon.

Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS)

Gullain_Barre_Syndrome

Guillain-Barré syndrome is a rare syndrome in which the nerves in your body are attacked by the body’s immune system itself.  Usually the first symptoms of this condition are weakness and tingling.  These sensations can spread fast and finally paralyze the whole body.  In its advanced stages Guillain-Barré syndrome is considered a medical emergency.  Majority of the folks affected with this condition must be hospitalized to receive proper medical care.

The exact cause of Guillain-Barré syndrome has still not been discovered.  More often than not, it is preceded by an infectious illness. It could be a respiratory infection or a stomach flu.

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for this condition, but certainly there are treatments to ease symptoms and reduce the duration of the illness.  Though complete recovery from Guillain-Barré is questionable, most people recover significantly. Weakness, numbness and fatigue are the residual effects of Guillain-Barré syndrome.

Symptoms

It may cause numbness, tingling, and weakness. It can also cause pain. These symptoms usually start in the longest nerves in the body and so first affect the feet and later the hands leading to ascending paralysis. This is sometimes called the “stocking-glove” pattern.

These may spread to your upper body and arms.  In some people symptoms may begin in the arms or face.  Muscle weakness may give way to paralysis as Guillain-Barré progresses.

The following are commonly found signs and symptoms of Guillain-Barré syndrome

  • Prickling, pins and needles sensations in your fingers, toes, ankles or wrists
  • Weakness in your legs that spreads to your upper body
  • Unsteady walking or inability to walk or climb stairs
  • Difficulty with eye or facial movements, including speaking, chewing or swallowing
  • Severe pain that may feel achy or cramp-like and may be worse at night
  • Difficulty with bladder control or bowel function
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Low or high blood pressure
  • Difficulty breathing

Symptoms in the form of weakness may heighten within two to four weeks after symptoms begin.

Types

Once it was thought as a single disorder, but later it was found that the disease occurs in different forms.  The main types are:

Acute inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy (AIDP):  The most prominent sign of AIDP is weakness of the muscles.  It usually starts in the lower part of the body and spread upward.

Miller Fisher syndrome (MFS):  In this condition the paralysis starts in the eyes.  The condition is also related to unsteady gait.  About 5% of people with Guillain-Barre syndrome are suffering from MFS.  Ironically, this condition is more prevalent in Asia.

Acute motor axonal neuropathy (AMAN) and acute motor-sensory axonal neuropathy (AMSAN):  This subtype of Guillain-Barre is not that common compared to other two, but this is more frequent in China, Japan and Mexico.

When to see a physician?

If the tingling in your toe or fingers seems to be spreading or getting worse, you can fix up an appointment with your general practitioner to rule out the condition.  Seek immediate medical attention if you have any of these below-mentioned signs or symptoms.

  • Tingling that started in your feet or toes and is now moving up your body
  • Tingling or weakness that is spreading rapidly
  • Difficulty catching your breath or shortness of breath when lying flat
  • Choking on saliva

Guillain-Barre syndrome should not be taken lightly as it is a serious condition that can worsen fairly quickly.  The sooner appropriate treatment is started, the better the chance of a good outcome.

Causes

Though the exact cause of Guillain-Barre syndrome is not known, this condition usually occurs days or weeks after a respiratory or digestive tract infection.  Rarely, recent surgery or immunization can give rise to Guillain-Barre syndrome.  Of late, some cases have been reported following infection with the Zika virus.

Our immune system usually fights against only invading organisms, but in Guillain-Barre syndrome our immune system will start attacking our nerves.  In Acute inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy (AIDP), the most common subtype of this condition, the nerves’ protective covering (myelin sheath) is damaged.  Due to this, nerves won’t be able to transmit signals to the brain, leading to numbness weakness or paralysis.

Guillain-Barre syndrome affects people across age groups, but you are at slightly greater risk if you are a man or a young adult.

The following are the triggers of this disorder.

  • Most commonly, infection with campylobacter, a type of bacteria often found in undercooked poultry
  • Influenza virus
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Epstein-Barr virus
  • Zika virus
  • Hepatitis A, B, C and E
  • HIV, the virus that causes AIDS
  • Mycoplasma pneumonia
  • Surgery
  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Rarely, influenza vaccinations or childhood vaccinations

Complications

  • As mentioned above it affects primarily your nerves. As nerves control movements and body functions, folks with this condition may experience:
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Residual numbness or other sensations
  • Heart and blood pressure problems
  • Pain
  • Bowel and bladder function problems
  • Blood clots
  • Pressure sores

In its advanced stages, Guillain-Barre syndrome increases the complications of long-term health issues.  Though not common, this condition may even lead to death due to the complications such as respiratory distress syndrome and heart attack.  About 3% of the folks may even have a relapse at some point in their life.

For enquiries related to treatment options for Guillain-Barré Syndrome, message us at www.plexusnc.com

On Our 7th Anniversary..

15 August, a day which is etched in the minds of all the Indians, a day when the world witnessed “Independence” in it’s mightiest form is celebrated with great zeal throughout the country. For us at Plexus Neuro and Stem cell research Centre, it’s also the day when Dr. Na’eem Sadiq laid the Centre’s foundation with the vision of bringing “independence” for the differently abled. For the ones inflicted by disease and disability, independence in performing their daily life tasks is itself a dream.

We at Plexus take pride in announcing the completion of 7 glorious years of celebrating independence, rebuilding lives and re-structuring futures. The journey so far has been an amalgamation of a lot of thrilling moments and lessons learnt. Starting it’s journey as a Centre with 3 rooms and 3 employees to a 5-storey building with 35 employees, Plexus has grown in space, ability, facilities and the number of awards and recognition it has received. The combination of experience, care, compassion, knowledge and empathy work as a wonder drug for our patients who come to us on wheelchair and return home walking.

The many aspects of our treatment revolve around only one entity- the patient and his/her priorities. Our custom-made treatment regimens promise to maximize “independence” for our patients and we can proudly say that we are able to fulfill our promise to most of our patients.

Thank you note from the Director

“I thank the Almighty, all the patrons and well-wishers, my extremely dedicated staff and my ever supportive and understanding children for their unconditional love and support to make me live my dreams today”.

Migraine

migrain

Migraines are bouts of intense recurring and painful headaches. Before the actual attack of migraine the person can feel warning signs and other symptoms. Unfortunately, the patient has to suffer from the extreme pain of migraine for hours or even days if timely medical treatment is not sought. People affected with migraine are likely to have an aura of sensory disturbances followed by severe headache that commonly appears on one side of the head.

Symptoms of migraine:
Symptoms of migraine can set in a while before the headache, during the headache or after the headache. Although not all migraines have the same symptoms, in general symptoms include:

• moderate to severe pain, usually confined to one side of the head but capable of occurring on either side of the head
• severe throbbing or pulsing pain
• increasing pain during physical activity or when straining
• inability to perform day-to-day activities due to pain
• feeling sick and vomiting
• increased sensitivity to light and sound, relieved by lying quietly in a darkened room

Causes of migraine:
The exact cause of migraine is not known to the medical world till now. It is believed that it stems from the abnormal activity of the brain. If someone in your family is suffering from this condition, it increases your chances of getting affected; genetics certainly has an influence on this disease. However, the following factors are likely to trigger migraines.

Hormonal changes: Women during menstruation can have migraine due to the hormonal imbalance

Emotional triggers: Stress, depression, anxiety, excitement and shock can trigger migraine

Physical causes: Fatigue and not having enough sleep, shoulder or neck stiffness, poor posture and overexertion have all been related to migraine. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and weariness can also act as triggers.

Dietary triggers: Alcohol and caffeine can set off migraine attacks. Some specific foods are also attributed to cause migraine. For e.g. chocolate, cheese, citrus fruits etc. Irrational eating habits and dehydration have also been labelled as potential triggers.

Medications: Some sleeping pills, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) medications and contraceptive pill can kick off migraine attacks.

Environmental triggers: Flickering screens, pungent smells, passive smoke (second-hand smoke), loud noises can act as triggers. Cramped rooms, temperature changes, bright lights can also be the causes of migraine.

Some interesting facts on migraine:
• Though symptoms of migraine differ from person to person some people can pinpoint the triggers or factors that lead to migraine headaches, such as tension, stress, allergic reaction etc.

• Some people get these warning signs and symptoms in advance

• By acting upon the warning signs one can prevent the migraine progressing to a full-blown attack

• Over-the-counter medications can help eliminate or reduce pain

• People who have persistent migraine should take preventive medicines after consulting the doctor

Migraine aura:
Migraine aura is something that is as important as migraine for people suffering from this condition. Auras act as a warning, alerting people that a migraine attack is about to set in. Auras include:
• confusing thoughts or experiences
• the perception of strange, sparkling or flashing lights
• zig-zagging lines in the visual field
• blind spots or blank patches in the vision
• pins and needles in an arm or leg
• difficulty speaking
• stiffness in the shoulders, neck, or limbs
• unpleasant smells

Migraine and headache difference:
One should understand the difference between migraine and headache to seek correct treatment. Headache may vary in their effect as to how severe, how long and why they happen. Unlike migraines, there may not be a recognisable pattern.

Migraine attacks present as moderate to severe headache and generally appear on one side of the head, usually accompanied by vomiting and nausea.


Treatment for migraine:

There is no single cure for migraines. Treatment mainly focuses on preventing a full-blown attack and abating the symptoms that lead to the attack. The following lifestyle changes can be introduced to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks:
• getting enough sleep
• reducing stress
• drinking plenty of water
• avoiding certain foods
• regular physical exercise

In some people special diets such as gluten-free is also found beneficial. One should seek a medical opinion if the above-mentioned lifestyle changes do not bring a visible difference in the frequency of migraine.

Medications:
If lifestyle changes fail to curb migraines, the next line of treatment is taking a course of medications. There are many different types of migraine medications, including painkillers. Some medicines might suit some types of migraine but in some other people the medications used to treat migraine can be counter-productive as it can lead to medication overuse headache (MOH) or rebound headache. This happens after taking too many medications in an attempt to prevent bouts of migraine. So due care should be taken and medicines should be taken only on the prescription of a doctor.

Have questions on migraine? Drop a message at www.plexusnc.com and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

ALS

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a type of motor neuron disease. It belongs to a group of progressive, neurological disease that leads to dysfunction in the nerves that control muscle movements. This causes muscle weakness and changes in how the body functions. In the advanced stages, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis affects the nerves that control breathing and it could be fatal.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is the most commonly found motor neuron disease. It is sometimes called Lou Gehrig’s disease, after the famous baseball player who was affected with this condition.

After the onset of symptoms most people with ALS will live for three to five years. About 10% of the people may live for another ten years or longer. For example Stephen Hawking, the renowned physicist was diagnosed with ALS when he was 21 years old. He lived till 76 and remained a leader in the field of science.

There is no cure as such, but symptoms can be relieved with treatment and quality of life can be improved.

Some key points of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
• ALS affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, leading to muscle weakness, loss of motor function, paralysis, breathing problems and eventually death.
• Most people with ALS will live between 3 and 5 years after symptoms appear.
• The exact cause is unknown, but environmental and genetic factors may be involved.
• There is currently no cure and treatment aims to relieve symptoms, provide social and emotional support, and possibly slow disease progression.

What is amyotrophic lateral sclerosis?

ALS degenerates nerve cells that are involved in voluntary muscle actions known as motor neurons. These are actions that we can control such as those in the arms, legs and face. Motor neurons are located in the brain and spinal cord. As the ALS becomes severe, these cells degenerate and die. They cease sending messages to muscles. Brain can no longer control voluntary movements and as a result muscles weaken and waste away.

As the disease intensifies, it affects more and more voluntary muscles. The person loses their control over arms, face and legs. With time, the inability to breathe without external support can lead to respiratory complications.

Types of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

There are different types, according to their signs and symptoms and whether or not there is a clear genetic association.

Sporadic ALS: This type occurs randomly and it accounts for 90 to 95 percent of cases. There is no clear risk factor or cause.

Familial ALS: As the name indicates, familial ALS is inherited. Around 5 to 10% of the ALS is familial. The child of a person with ALS is carrying a risk of about 50% of being affected with the condition. Rarely, it can affect a person in their teens. Research is still ongoing as to which genes are affected.

Causes of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

As for the exact cause of ALS, it is still unclear to the medical world. But the following possible causes are suspected.

• Disorganized immune response: The immune system may attack some of the body’s cells, possibly killing nerve cells.
• Chemical imbalance: People with ALS often have higher levels of glutamate, a chemical messenger in the brain, near the motor neurons. Glutamate in high quantities is known to be toxic to nerve cells.
• Mishandling of proteins: If proteins are not processed correctly by nerve cells, abnormal proteins could potentially accumulate and cause the nerve cells to die.

Possible environmental factors
Environment may also play a role in the spread of the disease such as:
• mechanical or electrical trauma
• military service
• high levels of exercise
• high levels of agricultural chemicals
• high levels of a variety of heavy metals

However, there is no concrete evidence to prove that certain lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of the disease.

Signs and symptoms

Generally symptoms usually appear in a person in their late 50s or early 60s, but it can show up much younger or older. Severity of the disease changes from person to person. In the early stages signs and symptoms are hardly noticeable, but become evident over time.

Common symptoms include:
• difficulty carrying out daily activities, including walking
• increased clumsiness
• weakness in the feet, hands, legs, and ankles
• cramping and twitching in the arms, shoulders, or tongue
• difficulty maintaining good posture and holding the head up
• uncontrolled outbursts of laughing or crying, known as emotional lability
• cognitive changes
• slurring of speech and difficulty with voice projection
• pain
• fatigue
• problems with saliva, and mucus
• difficulty breathing and swallowing in the later stages

Treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Stem cell therapy has been coming up with break-throughs in the treatment of diseases that were hitherto thought irrevocable and ALS is no different.

Studies have shown that stem cell transplantation shows great potential as a treatment of ALS. It has the potential to be “an important alternative strategy” in treating the disease. Through stem cell transplantation it is possible to replace degenerating or dysfunctional neurons. This approach could pave the way to circumvent the main impediments of the disease, potentially improving the symptoms and arresting the disease progression.

Stem cells have the capacity to create several signaling molecules that can modulate their surrounding environment. If stem cells could be manipulated to send anti-inflammatory and pro-survival signals, they could potentially prevent neuron degeneration and death seen in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Plexus offers both intensive and comprehensive treatment programs comprising of stem cell therapy and rehabilitative interventions to deal with the deficits caused by ALS. Our team of professionals comprise of neurologist, stem cell therapist, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, speech and language therapist that provide holistic care to the patient maximizing recovery in the shortest possible span of time.

For enquiries related to treatment of ALS, drop a message to www.plexusnc.com

Understanding ADHD

ADHD

Little children tend to be messy. It is not in their nature to keep everything neat and tidy. Off and on they tend to veer out of control. They are always on the go, make noise nonstop, waiting for their turn is next to impossible and bump into everything around them. At other times, they may drift off as if in a dreamy land, unable to pay attention or complete what they start. Unfortunately, for some children these issues may happen just too frequently. Children with “attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder” fall in that group. For them these behavioral aberrations are too frequent that they interfere with their ability to live normal lives.

Generally, these children have trouble getting on with siblings and other children at school, at home, and in other settings. It is only natural that those who have trouble paying attention usually have trouble learning. They are likely to be impulsive and this nature may put them in actual physical danger because children with ADHD find it hard to control their behavior. They can get labelled as “bad kids” without realizing what the real issue is.

Left untreated, ADHD will continue to exist as a serious life-long problem and it will snowball into getting poor grades in exams, relationship problems and inability to carry on with a job.

In modern medical science, effective treatment, including Stem Cell Therapy and customized rehabilitation is available for children who are affected with this disorder. It goes without saying that being a parent you have a very important role to play here. The first thing is to understand the disorder properly.

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a disease condition of the brain that makes it difficult for children to control their behavior. It is one of the most common chronic conditions of childhood. About 4% to 12% of the school-aged children are under its vicious grip. ADHD is commonly seen in boys, in fact three times more in boys than girls.

Symptom How a child with this symptom may behave
Inattention Finds it hard to pay attention. Tend to day dream
Often does not seem to listen what other person is saying
Be it work or play, gets easily distracted and drifts off
Does not seem to care about the details of a work
Keeps on repeating careless mistakes
Frequently does not follow through on instructions given
Unlikely to finish task
Disorganized even after repeated reminders
Frequently loses things that are importantOften forget things
Frequently loathes doing things that require ongoing mental effort
Hyperactivity Always on the go, like a mechanical device
Cannot sit in a chair for quite some time
Frequently squirms and fidgets
Talks too much
When he/she is supposed to sit quiet, will start jumping and climbing
Cannot play quietly
Impulsivity Often acts and speaks without much thought
May run into the street, unmindful of traffic
Frequently has trouble taking turns
Cannot wait for things
Often jump the gun when it comes to answering questions at school
Frequently interrupts others

Not all the children with ADHD have all the above-mentioned symptoms. They may have one or more of symptom group mentioned in the table.

To find out if the child has ADHD

We have to keep in mind that it is normal for children to exhibit the above-mentioned signs from time to time. The child may be reacting to stress at school or home. He/She may be feeling bored or going through a tough stage of life. It does not mean he/she has ADHD.
Generally, teachers are the first to notice inattention, hyperactivity and/or impulsivity and bring these symptoms to the parents’ attention. ADHD symptoms differ in children depending on which type of ADHD the child has. People often jump into the conclusion of hyperactive behavior, but actually there is predominantly inattentive type ADHD as well, commonly referred to as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Children affected with ADD are not hyperactive, but sluggish and lacking energy when compared to children with other types of ADHD. As these symptoms are less intrusive and disruptive compared to the hyperactive condition, this form of ADHD is often overlooked.

It is important for parents and teachers to have a clear idea of ADHD so that they will be better informed as to the symptoms to look out for that indicate a child is showing signs and symptoms that could be of ADHD. With proper treatment and care, these children can excel in life rather than face lifelong frustrations and struggles associated with their demeanor. So it is time to seek treatment as covering it up will only help worsen this disease condition.

For enquiries related to treatment of ADHD using Stem Cell Therapy, drop a message to www.plexusnc.com or call +91 89048 42087 or +91 80 2546 0886

TYPES OF PARALYSIS

We have learned in school that paralysis means the complete inability to move, to sense touch, or to control bodily sensations.  When we apply the term paralysis in medical parlance, the real meaning is actually significantly more nuanced because the extent to which a person is not able to move his/her body (as a whole or part) may undergo changes over a period of time.  Here physical therapy and changes in overall health play a significant role.

Simply put, paralysis means inability to move the body.  It could be either temporary or permanent.  Paralysis happens as a result of nerve damage, not because of injury to the affected part.

TYPES OF PARALYSIS

In reality there are various types of paralysis because there are number of ways that the body can be injured, though paralysis is generally classified into four categories which have to do with the part of the body that is affected.

  • Monoplegia
  • Hemiplegia
  • Paraplegia
  • Quadriplegia

MONOPLEGIA

As the name suggests, monoplegia is paralysis of a single area of the body, usually one limb. People with monoplegia are generally able to retain control over the rest of their body, but cannot move or feel sensations in the affected limb.  Cerebral palsy is attributed as cause of this condition, though number of other injuries and diseases can trigger this form of partial paralysis, including:

  • Strokes
  • Tumors
  • Nerve damage due to injuries or diseases
  • Nerve impingement
  • Motor neuron damage
  • Brain injuries
  • Impacted or severed nerves at the affected location

HEMIPLEGIA

Hemiplegia impairs the arm and leg on the same side of the body, like monoplegia the most common cause is cerebral palsy.  The intensity of this condition varies from person to person and may change as the time passes.  Usually hemiplegia starts with a sensation of pins and needles and progresses to weakening the muscles and eventually intensifies to complete paralysis.  Level of functioning of people affected with this condition varies day to day depending on the overall health, age, activity level and other factors.

Point to be noted is hemiplegia should not be confused with hemiparesis which means weakness affecting the one side of the body.  However, hemiparesis can be the warning symptom of hemiplegia, especially for people with neurological disorders.

Hemiplegia sometimes is temporary and getting the patient cured out of this condition depends on treatment, particularly early interventions such as physical therapy and occupational therapy.

PARAPLEGIA

Paralysis below the waist is called paraplegia and it usually affects both legs, hips and other functions such as having sex and elimination of waste from the body.  There is a general misconception that people with paraplegia cannot walk, move their legs, or feel anything below the waist, in reality it is very subjective and varies from person to person.  Thus paraplegia refers to significant impairment in mobility, not necessarily a permanent and complete paralysis.  In rare cases people with paraplegia recover spontaneously.

Spinal cord injuries are attributed to the most common cause of paraplegia.  These injuries hamper the brain’s ability to send and receive signals below the area of the injury.  Some other causes include:

  • Spinal cord infections
  • Spinal cord lesions
  • Brain tumors
  • Brain infections
  • Rarely, nerve damage at the hips or waist
  • Brain or spinal cord oxygen deprivation due to choking, surgical accidents, violence, and similar causes.
  • Stroke
  • Congenital malformations in the brain or spinal cord

QUADRIPLEGIA

Quadriplegia means paralysis below the neck.  It is also called tetraplegia.  All four limbs as well as the torso are generally affected.  As with paraplegia, the level of disability and the loss of function differ from person to person.  Some quadriplegic patients regain full or partial function spontaneously, while the rest gradually retrain their brains and bodies through specialised physical therapies and exercises.  At times, quadriplegia can be a temporary condition due to brain injuries, stroke, or temporary compression of spinal cord nerves.  As with paraplegia, spinal cord injuries are the major cause of quadriplegia, that include automobile accidents, acts of violence, falls, and sporting injuries, especially injuries due to contact sports such as football.

Other causes of quadriplegia include:

  • Acquired brain injuries due to infections or, stroke
  • Spinal and brain lesions
  • Spinal and brain tumors
  • Spinal and brain infections
  • Catastrophic nerve damage
  • Congenital abnormalities
  • Early brain injuries, especially pre-birth or during-birth
  • Allergic reactions to drugs
  • Drug or alcohol overdoses

STEM CELL THERAPY AND PARALYSIS

Stem cell therapy has opened a new facet of medical treatment where it provides treatment for paralysis that otherwise was considered impossible to be treated.

Stem cells treatment involves administration of concentrated cells in the targeted area to form colonies; a peculiar characteristic of stem cells, adapt the properties of resident stem cells and initiate some of the lost functions that have been compromised by the disease or injury.

To conclude, it would not be an exaggeration to say that stem cell therapy has given a ray of hope to thousands of patients suffering from paralysis.

COMPLICATIONS OF SPINAL CORD INJURIES

SPINAL-CORD-INJURIES

Spinal cord injury often results in permanent loss of sensation, strength and other body functions below the portion of the injury. In spinal cord injuries there is damage to any part of the spinal cord or nerves.

If a person has suffered a spinal cord injury of late, he/she might have noticed that every aspect of life has been taken a hit. One might feel the aftereffects of the injury mentally, emotionally and socially. However, the silver lining is many researchers are hopeful that advancements in medical science will one day make the repairs of the spinal cord injuries a reality. Research studies in this direction are being carried out across the globe. Meanwhile, many people affected with spinal cord injuries can lead a productive, independent and content life with proper treatments and rehabilitation.

As for the complications arising out of spinal cord injuries, they are manifold. They include functional, psychological and socioeconomic disorders. Apart from these there are long-term secondary complications that influence the continuation of care for patients with spinal cord injuries. Suffice to say complications are an offshoot of spinal cord injuries that may even lead to morbidity and mortality. One’s employability can also be affected, leading to overall quality of life.

As the purpose of this article is to touch upon medical comorbidities arising out of spinal cord injuries, let us focus on that aspect of the condition.

Spinal cord being critical to a wide variety of body functions, spinal cord injuries can cause both long-term and short-term complications. Managing these complications in the right way is an important part of the recovery phase.

Pneumonia And Asthma

Pneumonia and asthma are the generally found long-term complications because the muscles that aid breathing are weakened. Assisted-breathing is necessary if there is damage to the nerves passing through diaphragm. Drugs prescribed by the physician can be taken to tackle this issue. Moreover, patients are encouraged to get an annual shot of flu.

Because of the spinal cord injury heart rate can slow down remarkably or increase to an alarming level. This will lead to cardiac issues and low blood pressure eventually requiring intravenous blood infusions.

Autonomic Dysreflexia

Autonomic dysreflexia is a medical condition that happens when a stimulus underneath the site of the injury triggers a message to the brain, but that cannot be delivered, for e.g. irritation of the skin or blockage of the catheter. As a result of this the blood vessels is constricted, leading to a reduced heart rate and high blood pressure. Autonomic dysreflexia multiplies the risk of stroke and at times seizures. Sometimes this condition can be reversed if the patient assumes another position or by removal of the stimulus.

Blood Clots

Blood clots are of specific concern for patients with spinal cord injuries. As the patients are bound to be largely immobile after the injury, it reduces blood flow through the veins. In order to prevent clotting patients are often prescribed blood-thinning medicines.

Neurogenic Pain

Pain emanates from nervous tissue is called neurogenic pain. Burning and stinging sensations are prevalent. It may even occur in hands and legs that may no longer have movement or feeling. Using other parts of the body to circumvent paralysed limbs can also lead to pain, for e.g. using hands to set the wheelchair in motion.

Medical treatment includes medications, acupuncture, surgery and spinal or brain electrical stimulation.

Spasms

Uncontrolled limb movements due to reflex are called spasms. The condition comes into play when the nerves in the spinal cord are damaged by the injury. Because of the damage the nerves and the brain cannot communicate properly. However, medical treatments are available to help bring down spasticity.

In some cases these spasms are a blessing in disguise as they help improve muscle tone in the affected areas, thereby resulting improved limb stability and mobility.

Urinary Problems

Urinary tract infection (UTI), kidney infection and difficulty passing motion occur when there is damage to the nerves that control these functions. There is no coordination between body and the brain. Bowel and bladder may empty uncontrollably. Eating a fibre-rich diet and drinking plenty of water can sometimes help control these problems. In some cases, catheters and drugs are also used.

Sexual Dysfunction and Fertility Issues

Spinal cord injuries can often cause sexual dysfunction and fertility issues. Generally, men are more prone to these problems than women. Doctors may prescribe drugs and other treatment modalities to enhance fertility. Pregnancy is considered highly risky and should only be considered after consulting a qualified health care provider.

Weight Loss or Gain

As a patient with spinal cord injury cannot exercise properly and cannot have a normal diet weight of the patient can go either up or down depending on the person’s physical constitution. Therapists and nutritionists can be of great help here in enhancing the patient’s healthy habits through work outs and proper diet.

Depression

Depression is another serious complication that patients with spinal cord injuries can undergo. During the recuperating phase patients may feel sad, grief, and stress. A caring network of family and friends can bring a positive energy in an otherwise gloomy life of the patient. The role of therapists during this phase is very critical to the overall wellbeing of the patient.

Stem Cell Therapy has shown remarkable results in treating patients with Spinal Cord Injuries. Apart from the therapy, our rehabilitation program is customized to suit the needs of each patient. Rehab is given with the aim of making the patient as independent as possible.

Pressure Sores

Pressure sores are a major complication of spinal cord injuries, more common than any of the other complications. It happens due to physical inactivity. Patients with spinal cord injuries have a higher risk of venous thromboembolism and pressure ulcers. In fact pressure sores are the most common secondary complication after spinal cord injuries.

Depending on the neurological level of your injury, you may have lost part of or all skin sensations. Therefore, your skin cannot send a message to your brain when it is injured by certain things such as prolonged pressure, heat or cold.

This can make the patient more susceptible to pressure sores, but changing positions frequently, with help if needed, can help prevent these sores.

Joint and Soft Tissue Contractures

Joint and soft tissue contractures are also very common after spinal cord injuries. It is where rehabilitative intervention plays a vital part, especially physiotherapy.

Physiotherapy primarily improves range of movement and functional ability. Besides it helps relieve pain and prevents further muscle shortening. Physiotherapy for soft tissue contractures may involve:
• Passive stretching and soft tissue mobilisation to relieve stiffness and improve range of motion
• Progressive range of motion exercises to stretch and strengthen muscles safely and effectively
• Exercises to facilitate normal movement

Physiotherapy helps to restore movement while occupational therapy helps to regain functional independence in daily activities

For enquiries related to spinal cord injuries and their treatment options, drop a message @ www.plexusnc.com or call 91-8904842087

TYPES OF CEREBRAL PALSY

cerebral_Palsy

A group of disorders that impair balance, movement and muscle tone is called cerebral palsy or CP.  From the word “cerebral” it can be understood that the disorder is related to the brain and “palsy” means weakness or muscle disorder.

Cerebral palsy affects the area of the brain that controls the ability to use muscles.  When part of the brain is not developing as it is supposed to be cerebral palsy happens.  It can also affect congenitally that means the brain is damaged right from birth or very early in life.  Majority of people with cerebral palsy have that disorder right from birth, but it can also happen after birth, in that case it is called “acquired” cerebral palsy.

There is the mild problem of muscle control in people affected with cerebral palsy.  If the disease condition is chronic they will not be able to walk.  Speaking problem can also be seen in people affected with cerebral palsy.  Intellect can also be affected by this condition, though many have normal intelligence.

When a child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy, the diagnoses include both brain injury and muscle problem.

To get a better picture as to how brain damage has impacted one’s overall mobility, cerebral palsy is divided into different types.  Movement issues and the body part(s) being affected are the two principal factors based on which cerebral palsy is categorized.  Cerebral palsy is mainly four types – spastic, athetoid, ataxic and mixed type.

Let us go into each one in detail.

SPASTIC CEREBRAL PALSY

It is the most widely found cerebral palsy accounting for 70 to 80 percent of the cases.  People affected with spastic cerebral palsy often have exaggerated or jerky moves.  Damage in the brain’s motor cortex triggers spastic cerebral palsy.  It is also triggered by damage to pyramidal tracts which help transmit signals to the muscles.  This is why spastic cerebral palsy is also called pyramidal cerebral palsy.  The motor cortex is located on the both sides of the brain and the pyramidal tracts connect each side of the motor cortex.  Damage to the left side of the motor cortex causes movement issues on the right side of the body and vice versa.

General symptoms associated with this condition include:

  • Awkward reflexes
  • Stiffness in one part of the body
  • Contractures (permanently tightened muscles or joints)
  • Abnormal gait

ATHETOID CEREBRAL PALSY

Around 10% of the cerebral palsy found in children is attributed to this type.  It is also called non-spastic cerebral palsy.  In this type the muscle tone fluctuates between being hypertonic and hypotonic.  Involuntary movements in the face, torso and limbs are the tell-tale signs of athetoid cerebral palsy.

This type of cerebral palsy is caused when brain’s basal ganglia and/or cerebellum is damaged.  The basal ganglia are responsible for controlling motor function and eye movements, while the cerebellum controls balance and coordination.

Athetoid cerebral palsy is also called “extrapyramidal” as the extrapyramidal tracts in the brain help control involuntary reflexes.

General symptoms associated with this condition include:

  • Stiff or rigid body
  • Floppiness in the limbs
  • Problems with posture
  • Feeding issues

ATAXIC CEREBRAL PALSY

Ataxic cerebral palsy affects balance and coordination.  It accounts for only a small portion of all cerebral palsy cases.  Those inflicted with this condition typically have issues surrounding voluntary movement.

Ataxic cerebral palsy is not like other types of cerebral palsy because it is majorly caused by damage to the cerebellum, which controls balance and coordination.  People with this condition often have tremors and a reduction in muscle tone.

General symptoms associated with this condition include:

  • Difficulty speaking
  • Problems with depth perception
  • Shakiness and tremors
  • Spreading feet apart when walking

MIXED CEREBRAL PALSY

At times damage of the brain is not confined to one location.  In these settings, it is possible for a child to develop cerebral palsy that is characteristic of multiple brain injuries.

When a child is showing symptoms of more than one type of cerebral palsy, it is considered to be mixed cerebral palsy. Ironically, mixed cerebral palsy accounts for only less than 10% of all CP cases.

The commonly found mixed cerebral palsy diagnosis is a combination of spastic and athetoid cerebral palsy.  Parents should seek professional opinion from cerebral palsy specialists if they suspect more than one type of cerebral palsy are afoot.

General symptoms associated with this condition include:

  • Muscle tone that could be stiffer or looser than normal, leading to impaired or involuntary movements
  • Difficulty performing fine motor skills
  • Tremors or shaking
  • Balancing difficulty
  • Seizures
  • Visual or hearing impairment

Severity of the condition is dependent on the extent of the patient’s brain injuries. While the condition does not progress over time, symptoms may become more pronounced as the patient ages.

MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY

Muscular Dystrophy

Muscular dystrophy, in a nutshell, can be defined as a group of disorder that leads to progressive loss of muscle bulk and a resultant loss of strength.  1 in every 5000 people is at risk of getting affected with the main form of muscular dystrophy.  It occurs in both men and women, in all ages and races.

The main cause of muscular dystrophy is a genetic mutation that intervenes in the production of muscle proteins, a substance that we need to build and sustain healthy muscles.  Typically it is a genetic condition.  If a person has a family history of muscular dystrophy it increases his chance of being affected with the condition and passing it on to the children.  But there is a ray of hope as it is proven that certain physical and medical treatments like stem cell therapy can improve the condition to a great extent.

It would be interesting to throw some lights on the facts on muscular dystrophy.

  • Muscular dystrophy is a constellation of muscle-wasting conditions
  • Of all the muscular dystrophies Duchenne muscular dystrophy is the most common form
  • The main reason for muscular dystrophy is a lack of protein called dystrophin
  • Stem cell therapy is currently being successfully trialed to combat the disease
  • Males are more prone to muscular dystrophy

Let’s delve a little deeper into what muscular dystrophy really is.

WHAT IS MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY?

A group of over 30 conditions that result in loss of muscle strength and degeneration is called muscular dystrophy.  This degeneration happens one after another.  It affects a person’s mobility as the condition worsens.  In some cases, it can lead to breathing problems, impaired heart function, and even life-threatening complications.  Depending on the severity of the condition it could be mild, slow-progressing, moderate or fatal.

TYPES OF MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy – This is the most widely found muscular dystrophy.  It is generally seen in boys though girls can be carriers and get affected in a milder way.

Becker muscular dystrophy – This type of muscular dystrophy is similar to that of Duchenne, but the progression of this disease condition is slower.  Symptoms started showing in the teenage years, but a clear manifestation of symptoms may not happen before mid 20s.

Myotinic (Steinert’s disease) – This form of muscular dystrophy is characterised by an inability to relax muscles after contractions.  It is an adult-onset muscular dystrophy.  Neck and facial muscles are at risk of getting affected.

Facioscapulohumeral (FSHD) –  Weakness of the muscles generally begins in the face and shoulders.  When a person with this condition raises arms the shoulder blades are likely to protrude like wings.  Although usually seen in teens, it could begin in childhood or as late as 40s

Congenital – As the name indicates, this type is apparent at birth or before the age of 2.  Both boys and girls get affected.

Limb-girdle – Hip and shoulder muscles are the first casualty of this condition.  Onset can be in either childhood or teenage years.

Each form of the disease condition is caused by a genetic mutation.  A good number of these mutations are inherited, but some can happen spontaneously in the egg of the mother.

COMMON SYMPTOMS OF MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY

Below mentioned are some of the common symptoms of Muscular Dystrophy:

  • Walking unsteadily
  • Severe pain and stiffness hurting the muscles
  • Running and jumping becoming extremely difficult
  • Tending to walk to top-toes
  • Even sitting up and standing becomes an issue.
  • Disabilities regarding learning, such as taking a long time to speak than usual
  • Falling frequently
  • Fatigue
  • Mental retardation

Eventually, patient will be confined to braces and wheelchairs

As time passes on, the symptoms worsen leading to severe inability like heart related ailments,  curvature of spine, aspiration pneumonia, swallowing difficulties etc (Causes cut short as it was too long)

TREATMENT OF MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY

New-age treatment modalities are coming up to treat muscular dystrophy.  Some newer medical research studies highlight the use of stem cells to regenerate and repair the damaged muscle cells.  Stem cell therapy offers application in the treatment of muscular dystrophy.

WHAT IS STEM CELLS THERAPY?

Cells that originate at the early growth level are called stem cells.  Stem cell therapy is believed to be the finest breakthrough in medical history.  You may be aware, it has been awarded with the Nobel Prize in Medicine in the year 2012.  This ground-breaking modality of treatment has immense potential in the treatment of muscular dystrophy.  In fact it has changed the medical perception of incurable disorders and its application in a plethora of medical specialties has gained traction.

STEM CELL THERAPY IN MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY

Stem cells by its very nature have the property to regenerate impaired muscles by inducing myogenesis (a form of muscular tissue) and providing significant relief.  Whilst the anticipated deterioration of patients affected with muscular dystrophy is around 20% every year, absence of deterioration by that percentage following therapy is generally acknowledged as a significant improvement by most practicing physicians.  Stem cell therapy can halt the speed with which the muscle degeneration is happening and can avert further progression of the condition.

 

Stem cell therapy induces muscle fiber regeneration.  With the regeneration of new muscle fibers, strength, power, tone and reflex of muscles will improve, this in turn will abate most of the symptoms.  Moreover, stem cell therapy is considered to be the apt treatment form for muscular dystrophy.  It imparts progressive muscle proteins and replenishes the stem pool.

 

Frequently Asked Questions About Multiple Sclerosis

In 2015 alone, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) affected about 2.3 million people globally and claimed over 18,900 lives. The impact this neurological disease has on people across the world is a source of both curiosity and anxiety. On the occasion of World Multiple Sclerosis Day (May 30), we hope to answer some of the most urgent and important questions surrounding MS through these FAQs.

What is MS?
Derived from the term ‘sclerae’ or lesions, Multiple Sclerosis is a progressive immune-mediated disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the central nervous system. As a result, the nerve fibres and their myelin sheath — a fatty cover over them — sustain damage, exposing the nerves and hampering transmission of signals from the brain to the rest of the body. Its symptoms become more apparent with time and can be physically destabilizing.

Who can get MS?
While experts are yet to identify the causes of MS, most believe it to be an autoimmune illness, meaning that it is an abnormal response of the immune system to a naturally occurring antigen. Some of MS’ commonly accepted risk factors include:

  • Geography — population living away from the equator, above the temperate regions, usually report more cases
  • Age — people between 20 and 60 years, although it can also occur in younger children and significantly younger adults too
  • Sex — women have been found to be more susceptible than men

What are the early symptoms of MS?
Just like other neurological diseases, MS’ symptoms include:

  • Numbness, tingling, or spasms in the muscles
  • Motor dysfunction that causes unstable movements
  • Blurry vision and pain in the eyes caused by optic nerve damage
  • Bowel and bladder problems such as constipation or incontinence
  • Fatigue

How is MS diagnosed?
Medical experts have not yet established laboratory tests that can conclusively diagnose MS. Instead, doctors depend on a combination of medical history analysis, neurological exams, and tests such as MRIs, evoked potentials (EP), and spinal fluid analysis to find out whether a person is susceptible to MS or not.

What are the different types of MS?
Based on how the symptoms progress and change their course, experts have recognized the following types of MS:

  • Clinically Isolated Syndrome (CIS)
    This episode is typically how all types of MS begin — with the body’s immune system attacking the myelin sheath on the spinal cord. This may turn into MS if the attack has caused lesions on the nervous system.
  • Relapsing Remitting MS (RRMS)
    As the name suggests, patients experience frequent relapses of intense neurological symptoms, followed by periods of remissions — when these symptoms almost entirely disappear. During these remission phases, the symptoms do not show any signs of progressing further.
  • Primary Progressive MS (PPMS)
    This is the rarest form of MS. In cases of PPMS, the patient’s condition tends to get worse over time, and they experience very few remission phases.
  • Secondary Progressive MS (SPMS)
    This is a progression from RRMS, in which patients’ symptoms worsen steadily over time and the remission periods get shorter and fewer in between.

How will MS impact the patient’s life?
Evidence collected over time has proven that MS doesn’t affect life expectancy. Its symptoms, even as they become severe, rarely ever disable the patient. This means that people with MS have a fair chance at living a long and fruitful life. With the best available treatment and a healthy lifestyle, anyone with MS can continue leading their lives as normally as possible. General prescriptions for them include getting sufficient sleep, reducing stress, maintaining a healthy diet, and seeking support whenever needed.

How can Plexus help?
Our speciality, stem cell therapy, is bringing health back to the lives of many people around the world. In the case of MS, Autologous Haematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (AHSCT) extracts stem cells from the patient’s body (specifically from the bone marrow) and uses their regenerative properties to heal the nerve damage. Along with such progressive medical options, our neurologists and allied health professionals such as physiotherapists and occupational therapists, come together to facilitate a faster recovery of all our patients.

Are there any success stories of treating MS at Plexus?
Some of our patients who have made it through the painstaking journey from diagnosis to recovery are:

We hope these Frequently Asked Questions have answered your queries about MS. If you seek more clarity on how the disease can change one’s life and what Plexus can do to help, visit our Centre or book an appointment today.

Who Needs Occupational Therapy?

Driving to work. Shopping for groceries. Cooking a meal. Signing a cheque. Our days are filled with so many activities everyday that we hardly give them a thought. It’s only when something hinders our action that the importance of pain-free, unrestricted movement comes to light. Degenerative diseases or traumatic injuries often are the cause behind this.

While medication and surgery are necessary for treatment, Occupational Therapy (OT) has also gained much favor in helping patients regain independence through rehabilitation.

What is Occupational Therapy?
According to the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), this form of therapy is aimed at helping people “participate in things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities or occupations.” At first, this description may seem similar to Physiotherapy due to its emphasis on restoring physical function, but in reality OT takes a more holistic approach — helping patients with more than just injury-related issues. After all, while Physiotherapy helps patients start walking again, OT helps them put on their dancing shoes and hit the floor!

On a day-to-day basis, Occupational Therapy takes into account everything that is important to the patient and designs creative, activity-based treatment routines for them. For example,
a housewife suffering from spinocerebellar ataxia, which causes gradual movement failure, can be given knitting activities to improve the speed and coordination of her fingers. By engaging patients in activities that are relevant, Occupational Therapists ensure that they can add meaning to their lives and gain the confidence go back healthier and livelier than before.

Various domains addressed by an Occupational Therapist include:

  • Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), comprising tasks such as personal hygiene and grooming habits
  • Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs), comprising tasks such as caring for others in the family, and household activities
  • Engaging with the community, family, peers, and friends
  • Education
  • Work
  • Leisure and play
  • Rest and sleep

Who Needs Occupational Therapy?
At Plexus, our specialist Occupational Therapists cater to the specific requirements of patients from all age groups

In order to create a positive healing environment for our patients Plexus believes in using a holistic multidisciplinary treatment approach, which includes Stem Cell Therapy along with other rehabilitation sciences. Combined with the services of a caring and supportive team, these treatments have proven to put patients on the fast track to recovery and overall well-being. To know more about how you or your loved ones can benefit from our treatment options, visit our Centre or email us at info@plexusnc.com

How Does Parkinson’s Disease Affect a Person’s Quality of Life?

It’s only natural for people with Parkinson’s to worry about how the disease will affect their lives. As hard as it is, patients need to adjust to the new reality that they may not be able to carry out simple tasks as independently as before — something that can greatly dent their confidence. At Plexus, we want to help such individuals and their families overcome these challenges and continue to function as normally as possible.

The Five Stages of Parkinson’s Disease

Below are some of the symptoms that can arise at different stages of Parkinson’s disease:

Stage 1
At this stage, the progression of the disease is so mild that it could be missed by most people. On closer observation, however friends and family might notice:

  • Intermittent or occasional tremors (in one side of the body only)
  • Rigid muscles
  • Slower movements
  • Slight changes in facial expressions

Stage 2
By this stage, patients start experiencing more visible symptoms, such as:

  • Frequent tremors (in the whole body)
  • Lack of facial expressions
  • Impaired speech, characterized by overly loud or soft volume, monotonous
  • voice, or slurred speech
  • Unstable posture

Stage 3
Patients in this phase of the disease experience more frequent and intense symptoms compared to the previous phase and can benefit from treatments such as occupational therapy. Their symptoms include:

  • Frequent falls that stem from lack of balance
  • Slower reflexes
  • Mild memory loss
  • Involuntary movements

Stage 4
Patients increasingly lose their ability to perform tasks without assistance when they transition from stage 3 to 4. By now, they begin to exhibit severe symptoms that include:

  • Visible instability when they stand or walk
  • Inability to move rapidly
  • Difficulty in taking care of themselves

Stage 5
A person going through the fifth stage of Parkinson’s disease will require maximum assistance and supervision at all times. These patients are debilitated by:

  • Extremely stiff and rigid muscles
  • Inability to complete tasks and freezing mid task
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Dementia (affecting potentially 75 percent of patients)

Parkinson’s Disease And Quality of Life

During the 1950s, experts proposed a list of activities that healthy adults must be able to do in order to have a normal personal and social life. To this day, Activities of Daily Living (ADL) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) are definitive indicators of a person’s Quality of Life (QoL). Parkinson’s affects all aspects of a person’s QoL in the following ways:

Activities of Daily Living (ADL)
This category includes self-care activities that we do on a daily basis, such as:

  • Personal hygiene
    Parkinson’s often causes patients to sweat a lot, making frequent baths absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, tremors and muscle stiffness can restrict this — preventing patients from maintaining their own hygiene independently.
  • Dressing and grooming
    As the disease progresses, patients may start having trouble with clothes that have fine zippers and buttons, making assistance while dressing a must.
  • Toilet hygiene
    Constipation and incontinence are some of the regularly occurring symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
  • Eating and drinking
    Tremors in the face and dysphagia (a condition that hinders swallowing) can cause significant trouble to patients while eating.
  • Moving around
    In the early stages of the disease, Parkinson’s symptoms merely slow down a person’s pace or destabilize them when they stand. However, in extreme cases, it is also known to cause patients to freeze mid task and eventually, become entirely bedridden.

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL)
This category includes activities that may not be vital for the patient’s survival, but are necessary for independent living, such as:

  • Cleaning and maintaining the house
    With time, Parkinson’s can severely restrict patients’ movements and their ability to walk freely around the house.
  • Socializing within the community
    Regardless of the stage, patients with Parkinson’s can all benefit from the company of their friends and family. These gatherings, and the emotional benefits they offer patients, can go a long way in keeping up their morale and mental health.
  • Preparing meals
    Patients suffering from advanced symptoms of Parkinson’s often struggle with cooking by themselves — making this essential activity an insurmountable challenge.
  • Shopping for groceries and necessities
    In some patients, the onset of dementia can severely affect their ability to make rational decisions with regards to money.
  • Taking prescribed medications
    One of the symptoms of progressive neurodegeneration, which starts affecting patients’ everyday tasks almost immediately, is frequent short term memory loss. This can cause frequent lapses of memory and make patients miss the timings for their prescribed medication.
  • Using the telephone or other forms of communication
    Dysphagia and facial tremors may also affect patients’ voice and language fluency over the phone.

How Can Plexus Help?

Plexus specializes in rehabilitating patients with Parkinson’s — by making their lives as normal as possible. We do this through our personalized treatment approach, where a routine is designed based on the patient’s interests and motivations. During the course of such intensive treatment routines, our Multidisciplinary Team — comprising neurologists and therapists — works together with the patient. In addition to the medical treatment, our patients are also given a lot of encouragement and support, helping them recover faster. The result of such a holistic treatment — as reflected in Mr A’s battle with Parkinson’s — is that our patients get back to their normal lives with a renewed belief in themselves.

Timely treatment can help reduce the effects of Parkinson’s — giving patients a better chance at living a fuller life. This is what drives us to create a supportive environment for our patients at Plexus. To know more about Parkinson’s treatment in Bangalore and book an appointment, visit our Centre or email us at info@plexusnc.com.

Stem Cell Therapy A Ray of Hope for Patients with Parkinson’s Disease

With nearly 10 million people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, it is one of the most common neurodegenerative conditions in the world. It starts off with symptoms that seem harmless at first, but can over time become so restrictive that they hamper patients’ lifestyles, leading to anxiety and depression. Every year, April 11 is held as World Parkinson’s Disease Day to recognize the struggles of people with Parkinson’s and their caregivers. This year, Plexus takes the opportunity to highlight the journeys of people who put up a brave fight against Parkinson’s every day of their lives.

From depression to confidence

A 58-year-old businessman from Bangalore, Mr J, started experiencing tremors (a symptom typical to Parkinson’s) back in 2014. At first, he didn’t give them much importance and dismissed the tremors as trembling spells. However, when more serious symptoms such as muscle pain, stiffness, and involuntary movements started setting in, Mr J consulted several doctors. Unfortunately, most of them came back with a common diagnosis — Parkinson’s disease. The condition slowly began to take over Mr J’s every action, often leaving him unable to even fulfil his day-to-day tasks. To make matters worse, Mr J began suffering from facial tremors that made clear speech difficult. Soon enough, the daily battle with Parkinson’s started to eat into Mr J’s motivation to interact with people, pushing him closer to depression. He went from clinic to clinic, looking to relieve his condition with a permanent solution but was always disappointed with what he found. In April 2015, Mr J came across Plexus and its multidisciplinary team, who conducted a detailed investigation of his condition and designed a customized treatment program for him. In just two short months, Mr J’s symptoms became less intense, his speech became clearer, and he regained the confidence to live independently. Most importantly, by putting him on a fast track to recovery, stem cell therapy at Plexus helped Mr J believe in himself again.

A step towards good health

Mr A, a 35-year-old man working in London, was shocked when in 2010 doctors informed him that the slight tremor in his left arm and his gradually reducing walking speed were signs of Parkinson’s disease. The next year Mr A returned to Delhi where some doctors recommended physical
exercises — something he couldn’t really do because of extreme pain, numbness, and poor posture. For seven long years after the diagnosis, Mr A struggled with Parkinson’s debilitating symptoms and the side effects of steroids, which offered only temporary relief. By this point, having lost all hope and at his wit’s end, Mr A began a slow slide towards depression. It was his wife’s optimism and insistence on taking him to various Ayurveda, allopathy, and homeopathy practitioners that helped keep Mr A’s spirits up during this phase in his life. One day, while Mrs A was looking for treatment options online, she came across Plexus Neuro and Stem Cell Research Centre. The couple immediately spoke with Dr Na’eem Sadiq, who convinced them to move to Bangalore in 2018 for stem cell therapy. During the two-month long, intensive treatment session at the center, Mr A underwent a holistic intervention program that included physio, occupational, and stem cell therapy sessions. Throughout the course of his treatment, he was also prescribed carefully regulated nutritional supplements that met his dietary requirements. Apart from the center’s international healthcare standards, the care and attention shown by the Plexus team and Dr Sadiq’s positivity left a lasting impression on Mr A. After years of staying away from his hobbies, he celebrated his speedy recovery by participating in singing and painting competitions organized at the center. At the end of his treatment period — armed with the confidence of good health — Mr A left the center a changed man.

Owing to its success in providing relief to patients and helping them avoid both the pain caused by surgery and side effects of drugs, stem cell therapy is increasingly being suggested by doctors as a treatment option for chronic illnesses. At Plexus, we are always on a mission to take this modern miracle to the people who need it the most.

#AskDrNaeem about Stem Cell Therapy

Stem cell therapy is at the very cutting-edge of medical
science — bringing relief to thousands of people every year. Its regenerative process heals damage from neurodegeneration through a minimally invasive procedure, which in addition to being relatively pain-free compared to surgeries has nearly none of the side-effects of commercial drugs. However, many Indians are still unaware of its advantages due to a lack of reliable information sources. To bridge this knowledge gap, Plexus has decided to educate people through both online and offline channels — gaining us the trust of thousands from all over the world.

Keeping with our efforts to educate more people about the potential of stem cells, Plexus went live on March 15, 2018 on our Facebook page. During the webinar, titled #AskDrNaeem, Dr Sadiq answered queries on stem cell therapy and its benefits from almost 16,000 viewers across the globe!

As April is Autism Awareness Month, we bring you some questions on Autism that the viewers asked and the answers by Dr Na’eem Sadiq.

Is stem cell therapy safe for Autistic children?
Priya Bala, Bangalore

Stem cell therapy is perfectly safe for patients suffering from all kinds of disorders. In fact, to ensure zero risk of infections, allergies, or hypersensitivity, Plexus uses autologous stem cells that are extracted from the patient’s own body as opposed to allogeneic stem cells, which are taken from donors. Typically, stem cell therapy for Autism works best on young children. However, even in the case of older children, it has shown results in alleviating symptoms such as speech impairment, hesitation to interact socially, and repetitive behavior. We are particularly proud of a child who came to our center with these and other signs of Autism and post therapy has found a spot in a regular school.

Is stem cell therapy recommended for all age groups?
Nikita Shroff, Bangalore

Absolutely! Stem cell therapy is safe and promises results for all age groups. In our decade-long experience, we have seen the positive impact stem cell therapy can make on everyone from a
9-month-old baby (suffering from preventricular dystrophy) to a 96-year-old man (a patient of multiple strokes, Parkinson’s disease, and Dementia). As we have seen a speedy recovery in younger patients who have undergone therapy, we recommend an earlier diagnosis. But on the whole, we believe it’s never too late to consider stem cell therapy as a treatment option for chronic diseases.

Stem cell therapy is an incredibly versatile treatment option that can be applied across a spectrum of disorders — from developmental to neurodegenerative. This, combined with its safe and pain-free technique, is the reason stem cell therapy is becoming a sought-after treatment option around the world. But in the age of information overload, it is important to have your basics about stem cell therapy in place — a goal Plexus can help you achieve through #AskDrNaeem.

Follow our Facebook page to learn about how stem cell therapy can transform your life in our next session.

Tremors and What They Indicate

Tremors are often classified as a ‘social disability’ because of their unpredictable nature, and effect on our ability to perform daily functions such as walking, driving, and eating. In order to give people suffering from them a fighting chance, it is essential that tremors are diagnosed and treated early on in their lives.

Physiologically speaking, tremors are involuntary muscle movements, which may be caused by anything from hereditary influences and lifestyle patterns to degenerative diseases and neural damage. Based on their causes and how they manifest themselves in one’s body, tremors have been identified and classified into nearly 20 varieties. Of these, here are some commonly seen tremors and what they indicate:

Essential Tremors

The most commonly diagnosed type, essential tremors were once known as ‘familial tremors’ owing to their hereditary nature. People who suffer from these tremors often experience mild to severe shaking throughout their body — especially in their necks and arms. Despite the uncertainty surrounding their root cause, most scientists agree that essential tremors are caused by genetic mutation that occurs over the generations.

Cerebellar Tremors

These tremors mainly affect a person’s fine motor skills, including their ability to perform functions such as touching their nose with their fingertip or pointing in a certain direction. As the name suggests, cerebellar tremors are caused by damage to the cerebellum — the part of the brain that controls movement. Besides this, illnesses such as multiple sclerosis and hyperthyroidism, and disorders such as anxiety and chronic alcoholism, are also known to cause cerebellar tremors.

Dystonic Tremors

These tremors occur in people with dystonia — a neurological disorder that causes repetitive and abnormal muscle contractions in certain parts of the body. Their intensity can be reduced by applying pressure to the affected body part and taking complete rest till the tremors pass.

Orthostatic Tremors

Characterized by rapid shaking in the thighs and legs, orthostatic tremors are distinguished from essential tremors only by their speed and frequency. In some cases, the strain and fatigue caused by these tremors destabilizes people, making it difficult for them to maintain their posture. But in rare cases, people affected may find it easier to walk or move than to stand.

Parkinsonian Tremors

More than 25% of Parkinson’s patients experience these types of tremors as the first symptom of the disorder. Characterized by the ‘pin-rolling’ gesture of the hand, Parkinsonian tremors usually begin from one side of the body and gradually spreads to the other side.

Psychogenic Tremors

Patients with a history of mental illnesses such as anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, and depression may experience instances of psychogenic tremors. The timing and trigger for these tremors are hard to determine, but they usually reduce in intensity or disappear if the patient ignores them.

Physiological Tremors

Physiological tremors can affect anyone — even those without a history of diagnosed degenerative or neurological disorders. It may be triggered by physical exhaustion, stress, intense emotions, stimulants, and heavy metal poisoning.

People suffering from tremors may exhibit a range of reactions to them — from downplaying the symptoms to outright panic. But research has consistently proved that early diagnosis and treatment of tremors can restrict their spread and reduce their influence on patients’ lives. At Plexus, we help patients do this through stem cell therapy for conditions such as Parkinson’s disorder, dystonia, and spinocerebellar ataxia. To book an appointment with Dr Naeem, send an email to drnaeem@plexusnc.com or visit our website.

Parkinsonism – common symptoms and effective treatment options

With over 10 million patients worldwide, Parkinsonism remains one of the principal degenerative disorders today. It is a disease of the brain in which cells that produce dopamine — a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating mood and movement — in the substantia nigra (midbrain) are lost. Though generally considered a disorder of the elderly, it can manifest at a younger age, and across generations.

This chronic progressive neurological condition initially emerges as mild tremors — sometimes only on one side — before it gradually progresses to affect the entire body. Deficiency of dopamine leads to motor disorders which result in slow movements, tremors across various body parts, and rigidity of muscles. Parkinsonism deteriorates over time and at an advanced stage, could even impair walking.

Common symptoms include:

  • Hand, arm, leg, jaw, and face tremors
  • Bradykinesia or slowness of movement
  • Rigidity or stiffness of the limbs
  • Gait abnormality

The exact cause of this debilitating disease still remains unclear, and so far no form of treatment has been able to effectively cure the disease. However, various forms of medication, physiotherapy, surgery, brain stimulation, and stem cell therapy, are available to delay the onset of motor symptoms.
Usual treatment of Parkinsonism comprises of therapies that are designed to increase the amount of dopamine in the brain either by replacing or mimicking dopamine, or prolonging the effect of dopamine. Studies have shown that early diagnosis and intervention, especially in the non-motor stage, can improve symptoms and slow down disease progression.

While anti-parkinsonism drugs have been employed successfully to control the symptoms of Parkinsonism, there are a few drawbacks. These included unpleasant side effects such as drowsiness, constipation, dizziness, hallucinations, nausea, and swelling — creating the need for a more durable treatment.
For some individuals with advanced, virtually unmanageable motor symptoms, surgery may be a viable option.  One such surgical procedure is Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), where the surgeon implants electrodes to stimulate areas of the brain that are responsible for movement.

An alternative approach that has been recently explored is the use of dopamine-producing cells derived from stem cells. The stem cells are then transplanted into the patient’s brain, where they replicate the properties of the degenerated cells of the substantia nigra. As a result, symptoms of Parkinsonism gradually disappear.

What’s more, when stem cell therapy is provided at early stages of the disease, it shows excellent results. Studies show that almost all patients (80-85%) who undergo stem cell therapy gain better control over their motor movements and are less dependent on anti-Parkinson drugs — surely, a sign of better things to come.

In our endeavor to overcome Parkinsonism, we at Plexus provide quality stem cell therapy, medication, general lifestyle changes (rest and exercise), physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. If you or a loved one is suffering from this disease, contact Dr Naeem at drnaeem@plexusnc.com to book a consultation. Together, we can plan an active neuro-rehabilitation program that will help effectively tackle symptoms and improve quality of life.

Early developmental milestones — Is your child developing normally?

From the moment parents greet their newborn child, they eagerly watch the baby’s progress, anticipating every development, every marker in growth. The first five years of life are the most important as this is when the maximum amount of growth takes place. Infants learn to balance their heads, crawl, walk and learn simple responses like smiling and greeting in these early years. That said, it’s important to note that each child develops at their own pace — a pace not necessarily the same as others. Most of the time, babies reach each developmental milestone around the expected age, and if not, they catch up soon enough. It is common for a child to be ahead in one area, such as language, but a little behind in another.

The first five years. Developmental milestones to look for.

It’s natural then for parents to ask, “How do I know if my child is developing normally?” An often used method is to compare their child’s physical, intellectual and behavioral development to that of others in the same age bracket. While it’s best to check with your pediatrician, comparing with other infants and referring to a growth milestone chart can help you spot problems early. Here are some highlights of your child’s growth journey.

0 – 3 Months

Begins to develop a social smile

Raises head and chest when lying on the stomach

Notices and recognizes faces

Smiles at the sound of your voice

Starts holding head steady

Reaches for an object

3 – 6 Months

Enjoys social play (games like peek-a-boo)

Transfers objects from hand to hand

Responds to name

Rolls over, lying down

Finds partially hidden objects

Picks up toys and objects

6-12 Months

Responds to simple verbal requests

Sits without any assistance

Stands with assistance

Crawls up the stairs

Feeds self with spoon

Enjoys imitating people/things in his play

1-2 Years

Walks without assistance

Points to interesting objects

Lifts cup to mouth

Uses 2-4 word phrases to communicate

Shows interest in other children

Turns pages of a book

2-3 Years

Plays make-believe with dolls, animals, and people.

Sorts objects by shape and color

Climbs stairs and jump with two feet

Kicks ball without losing balance

Wiggles thumbs

Understands concepts of today, tomorrow, and yesterday

3-4 Years

Walks on tiptoes

Hops on one foot

Knows his name and gender

Feeds himself without spilling much

Brushes teeth and dresses without help

Unscrew jars, turns door knobs and scribbles

4-5 Years

Cooperates with other children

Plays on the swing without assistance

Balances on one foot for at least five seconds

Draws circles, triangles and squares

Counts up to 10 or more

Likes to sing or dance

When to worry and when not to.

For children who don’t meet their cognitive and motor milestones on time, it’s advisable to wait for a few months and watch for progress before raising an alarm. It’s best to consult a medical professional in case of delays longer than 2-4 months; any motor developmental delay is a warning sign. Often, an early intervention in developmental delays or developmental disabilities can go a long way in reducing the extent or nature of the problem.

Symptoms of developmental delays:

  • Any motor development delays (as per age-specific milestones), for example, a 6-month-old child with little head control
  • Low interest in playing with other children or caregivers
  • Difficulty making eye contact to get someone’s attention or communicating needs
  • Overactive and displays impulsive and inattentive behavior
  • Poor memory, difficulty remembering names, letters and numbers
  • Hard time reading and recognizing letters and words
  • Problems with fine motor skills, such as coloring and writing
  • Reluctance to use one side of the body, such as reaching with only one hand
  • Involuntary movements, spasms or tremors

As a parent, watching your children grow up is a uniquely fulfilling experience. To ensure their development is holistic and normal, we encourage you to periodically monitor their behavior for any anomalies. If you have reason to believe that their growth could be hindered at any stage, get in touch with Dr Naeem at drnaeem@plexusnc.com. Together, we can create a child-friendly environment and help bring their development back on track.

How is Osteoarthritis Diagnosed?

In a joint, soft tissue called cartilage cover the bones at the ends. They help the bones glide over each other allowing the normal function of the joints. They also help absorb shock. When this cartilage wears down the joints do not move smoothly as they are meant to. This degeneration of cartilage leads to osteoarthritis. Affected joints will be painful, tender, swollen or red. The range of motion will also be affected.

The tissues in the joint sometimes go into overdrive trying to fix the damage. Some changes that might happen include development of osteophytes or bony spurs at the edge of the joint, the synovium that produces synovial fluid might thicken and produce extra fluid, the ligaments that hold the joint together might toughen trying to make the joint more stable.

When osteoarthritis becomes severe, the cartilage wears down to a very thin layer. The bones might start to rub against each other, thickening and creating more pain. The bones might get forced out of their normal position and might even change the shape of the affected joint.

Osteoarthritis usually affects aged persons. In younger individuals, joint injuries (repetitive movement at work or sports injuries) might cause osteoarthritis. Being overweight can also out pressure on the joints and lead to osteoarthritis.

Diagnosing the condition can involve taking a medical history, physical examination and diagnostic tests.

Medical history is examined to note family history, symptoms, location of pain or difficulty, kind of discomfort experienced, details about when or how the discomfort is experienced, current diet and medication, daily activities and work, etc. Patient might indicate stiffness in the joints when getting up after sitting or lying down for a while; or a sound in the joints when moving it; or tenderness when walking or when shifting weight.

When the doctor physically examines you, they will check how well you can move the affected joint. This will give an idea of the range of movement possible in the current situation, and when the pain or discomfort is experienced. The doctor will check for joint damage, alignment, pain, swelling, etc.

An X-ray is a diagnostic tool that will be used to check changes in the joint. Joint damages can be seen using an X-ray. Bony spurs or narrowing of the space in the joint will be visible on an X-ray. An MRI will provide more insight as it gives better images of the joint and abnormalities within. It can show soft tissues that X-rays can’t. Rarely, the doctor might perform a joint aspiration. A needle might be inserted into the joint after numbing it, to draw out joint fluid. This is checked to assess the health of the joint and to rule out other medical conditions like gout.

 

Nutrition in Motor Neuron Disease

Nutrition should be actively pursued and monitored in persons with Motor Neuron Disease. Weight-loss and malnutrition figure prominently in determining the survival of persons affected by this illness. It is a great challenge for the patient and the caregivers. However, proper diet is a tool to ensure a better quality of life for the affected person.

What is Motor Neuron Disease?

Motor neurons are neurons that control the voluntary movements of the body. Due to unknown reasons, some motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord slowly go through degeneration and die. When this happens, messages from these neurons do not reach certain muscles. These muscles thus lose their function, leading to weakening of the muscles. The disease is progressive. Patients show visible wasting over a course of time.

Motor Neuron Disease (MND) cannot be cured. Nor can the effects be reversed. However, with medication and therapy, this condition can be controlled and managed. MND does not affect everyone in the same way. There are several subtypes of MND.

How does MND affect nutrition?

Motor neurons control physical activities like walking, gripping, swallowing, breathing, speaking. Thus, early symptoms can be slurred speech, difficulty turning keys, tripping often, dysphagia, etc.

Dysphagia or difficulty swallowing happens due to trouble with the throat or oesophagus, which means taking more time and effort in pushing the food down. The patient might also choke or gag. Meal times will be longer.

When swallowing difficulties worsen, gastrostomy may be resorted to. A tube is inserted surgically through abdominal wall into the stomach. The patient is fed liquid food through this tube. This method can help patient avoid the risk of choking, ensure adequate nutrition and reduce mealtime pressure on patient and caregiver.

Diet in MND

Factors such as sufficient food intake, need for greater energy, weakness in muscles resulting in difficulty chewing, etc. need to be considered when planning meals for affected persons. Keeping the patient nourished and hydrated will need constant and aggressive dietary strategizing.

Using energy-packed foods, changing the food texture according to the patient’s tolerance, while not losing out on variety and flavour are some of the concerns that need to be addressed. Water, juices, broths and soups can ensure hydration and nourishment. As with all individuals, ill or not, all food groups need to be included in the diet. A dietician can draw up an appropriate diet plan, also taking into consideration any other health concerns the patient might have. This will ensure the patient gets enough carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals to minimise weight and nutrition loss, and stave off other illnesses.

Position the patient in a bed or chair to reduce difficulty during meals. A physiotherapist can come to your aid with this. Adopt a comfortable position and use a chair with added support, like pillows, to prop up the patient. Sit them as straight as possible, with the head upright and the neck extended slightly forward. Avoid tilting the head backwards or bringing it closer to the chest.

Use cups and spoons that the patient finds comfortable. Sometimes a cup with a wider mouth may be preferred. Perhaps a straw might help with drinks. A more narrow or shallow spoon might be easier to use.

Soft, moist food can help swallowing. Puddings, purees and pates can be boosted with something extra like, more milk powder or eggs. Thick drinks flow more slowly and hence, will be easier to swallow. Fortify smoothies or milkshakes with malt or protein supplements. Use full-fat milk, or high-protein milk to base soups and porridges. Provide several small meals throughout the day.

If one meal fails, take heart, give it a break and try again. It is important to maintain a positive air during mealtimes. Failed meals can be frustrating for the patient and the caregiver.

Stem Cell Therapy for Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder marked by recurrent seizures due to abnormal electrical activity in the brain along with loss of consciousness. It affects people of all ages.

The type of seizure depends on where the sensory disruption occurs in the brain, how it spreads and how much of the brain is affected and how long the episode lasts.

The exact cause of epilepsy is unknown. It could be due to genetics or due to brain injury. The condition affects the patient’s relationships, work and general safety.

Anti-epileptic drugs work for most people. At Plexus, we have been able to effectively control seizures with proper use of the right medication. However, in some cases, drugs do not help as much as we would like them to. Sometimes seizures still occur or some patients cannot tolerate some drugs.

In such cases, stem cell therapy can help manage the condition. Stem cell therapy can help with regeneration of brain tissue. Stem cells will help reinstate normal neural activity and thus, reduce seizures.

In a normal brain, there are neurons that excite cells and neurons that stop or inhibit the action of cells. There is a balance between these neurons that helps us to function normally. In a patient with epilepsy this balance is disrupted, during seizures. This abnormal circuit is what stem cell therapy targets to correct. Stem cell treatment aims to reduce these seizures by introducing specific group of neurons with inhibitory functions. It aims to reduce the frequency or even the occurrence of seizures and restore any behavioural deficits caused by the condition.
Stem cell therapy holds a lot of promise in the management of epilepsy.

Caring for a Person with Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s or Alzheimer’s Disease is a chronic neurodegenerative disease. Its onset is usually after the age of 60-65. The causes that lead to Alzheimer’s are poorly understood. Genetics, head injury, depression, hypertension are some of the factors that are being studied. There are currently no treatments available to slow down or stop the development of the disease. Affected persons have to be cared for and require assistance to perform everyday tasks.
Most noticeable initial symptoms include short-term memory loss, which creates difficulty in remembering recently known facts or information or difficulty in acquiring new information. Apathy, or a lack of feeling, emotion or concern for the world around, is seen at an early stage and continues throughout the disease. They can be irritable, show aggression or resist care-giving. Lack of attentiveness, inability to think or use judgement, difficulty in execution of movements, losing command over one’s language — these symptoms greatly affect the way the patient, the caregiver and those around them interact.
The caregiver needs to educate family and friends regarding the changes that have occurred or are to occur to the patient in the days and months to come. When the disease progresses, patients may not recognize even close relatives or even immediate family members. This can create emotional stress within the family and can affect the way they interact with the affected person.

Sundowning (increased behavioural problems occurring in the evening with sundown) is seen in persons at an advanced stage of the disease. They can be increasingly confused and upset. Tremors might increase. Restlessness can interfere with sleep. This means the caregiver who monitors the patient also needs to keep odd hours and this can take a toll on them.

One of the risks associated with Alzheimer’s is wandering. Wandering can be dangerous for the patient as they might be lost with no way to find their way back, they might be inappropriately dressed for the weather outside, or can get into an accident. Caregivers have to constantly be aware of their patient’s whereabouts. They might need to restrict the limits to which the patient can move about unattended, like within the home or a monitored yard. Or they might need to be with the patient during the entire duration while the patient is outdoors or in unfamiliar surroundings. This calls for the complete attention of the caregiver, which is no small task.

Motor activity might become less coordinated, hence, the risk of falling increases. Making the surrounding safe and accident-free is an important concern. The home or the place the patient visits often needs to be made safe and appropriate for the affected person.

Everyday activities like hygiene, grooming, dressing, eating and exercise need to be carried out in a set routine to bring order in the patient’s life and to make caring easier and systematic.
If the caregiver is a family member, remember to give yourself time. Rope in another family member or a trusted friend to take time off for your personal activities or to run errands. Enlist a professional caregiver if you need to be at work. Find out about good adult day care facilities close to home that will look after your loved one when you cannot be present.

Even with all the care and attention you give to your loved one, remember that they may respond negatively or with indifference, which is unintentional. Manage Alzheimer’s one day at a time.

Understanding Dementia Better

When an elderly person over the age of 65, starts to forget things and gets easily confused, it might be a good idea to get a medical evaluation for dementia. Put simply, dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a group of diseases that lead to a decline in the ability to think, reason and lead an independent normal life.

When a person has cancer, one automatically asks, cancer of what? Similarly, when talking about dementia, we need to know which type as it’s not a specific disease but a syndrome. It happens due to damage to brain cells and is not a normal part of ageing, even though it’s commonly seen in elderly people.

It includes problems such as inability to dress or eat, solve daily problems or control their emotions; they become easily agitated and their personalities undergo a sea of change. It’s hard on the family to lose a member this way. They lose their memory and are unable to recognize people close to them. Their mental agility, understanding, judgment and language skills are all affected and they become prisoners of their own minds.

Different disease conditions like Alzheimer’s, Lewy body disease, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia all lead to irreversible progressive dementia. Other disorders linked to dementia include traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and Huntington’s disease which is due to genetic mutations in the brain and spinal cord. As some forms of dementia are treatable and can be reversed, it’s important to visit a doctor at the earliest to determine the underlying cause.

With longevity of life increasing in the developing and developed nations, the number of people living with dementia is increasing. Treatment is usually conservative and dependent on which part of the brain is affected with damage of the nerve cells. Some form of dementias get progressively worse with time while others may be caused by vitamin deficiencies or reaction to medications and hence easily reversible.

Numerous dementia-like conditions that can be reversed with treatment include those due to nutritional deficiencies, subdural hematomas, reactions to medications, metabolic problems and endocrine disorders, infections and immune disorders, brain tumors, anoxia, poisoning and normal-pressure hydrocephalus.

Uncontrollable risk factors for dementia include ageing, a family history, Down syndrome and mild cognitive impairment; other risk factors that can be controlled include smoking, alcohol, diabetes, depression and sleep apnea.

Diagnosing dementia can be challenging and include a complete medical history, physical examination, psychiatric and neurological evaluation as well as a battery of tests including MRI, CT and PET scans.
Certain drugs can be used to manage the symptoms of dementia along with the help of an occupational therapist and a modification of the home environment to make it less cluttered and dangerous. Some schools of thought believe that nutritional supplements, music, art, massage and aroma therapies may be beneficial for dementia too.

Significance of Stem Cell Therapy in the Current Scenario

The only ray of hope for people with chronic intractable disease conditions presently is through the use of stem cell therapy. Unfortunately however, this comes with its own share of controversies over ethics of the origins of these cells.

Though a lot of research is going on globally, there are still only a few approved clinical uses of stem cell therapy. Application on many other disease conditions is still in their nascent stages and will need time. There are only a few approved researches and treatment centers in India, one such is the much-awarded Plexus Neuro and Stem Cell Research Center in Bangalore, which has been making leaps and bounds in this area.

Stem cell therapy is in itself a relatively new field that needs greater boost from the government to propel it forward and make it available to patients who don’t have any hopes of recovery so that they can finally have easily accessible treatment within their own country. Though there is a lot of biomedical research going on in India, what is needed currently is an effective network amongst the institutions, and trained manpower to guide them and build partnerships with large companies to provide path-breaking treatments aimed at untreatable conditions. There should be more institutes dedicated to this field with its inclusion into the medical curriculum at a larger scale. This would encourage students and young scientists to take greater interest and create the required mass impact in this field.

The potential in this form of therapy resides in the potential ability of stem cells, which are primal cells of all multi-cellular organisms, to differentiate out into a wide range of specialized adult cells through cell division. There are two sources of stem cells: autologus and allogenic. Autologus stem cells are derived from the same person through the use of their stored umbilical cord blood cells or through their bone marrow cells. Allogenic stem cells on the other hand can be derived from bone marrow, peripheral blood (venous blood), umbilical cord blood, related family donors or from HLA-typed or un-typed unrelated donors.

By virtue of the knowledge of the self-renewal ability of stem cells, a lot of energy and research is going into the field of organ regeneration and transplantation as well as into replacement of tissues such as skin and muscles after damage and burns. As regulators of the stem cell multiplication at both the genomic and proteomic levels have been identified, it’s become easier to control stem cells culture in vitro in the artificial conditions of the lab. In developed countries, they have already become a therapeutic option for many disease conditions, but the developing countries are still lagging behind. In India, progress has been established on many fronts, but a lot of work is still required to bring it to the mainstream level.

Migraine Headaches

A migraine is a primary headache disorder that causes severe throbbing or pulsating pain, usually localized to one side of the head. What makes migraine headaches outstanding are the accompanying symptoms of nausea, vomiting, inability to tolerate light, speech difficulties and sensitivity to sound or smell. Migraine attacks cause severe debilitating pain that can last for hours to days and interferes with the normal day-to-day activities of the person.

The pain generally gets worsened by physical activity and about one-third of people complain of having an ‘aura’; this is a type of visual disturbance that varies in its extent and intensity and creates blind spots. An aura usually occurs prior to the beginning of a migraine and can serve as a signal to take timely precaution.

Approximately 15% of the world population is affected by migraines with women being more affected than men. It often starts with puberty, goes on to become worst during middle-age and starts to become less common after menopause in women. Migraines are thought to be due to a mixture of environmental and genetic factors with about two-thirds of the cases having a family history. They are believed to be a result of abnormal brain activity leading to temporary alteration in the brain signals, chemicals and blood flow.

Some of the potential triggers for migraines include the following: allergies, low blood sugar, physical or emotional stress, bright or flickering lights, loud noises, temperature changes, strong smells or tension headaches. Other triggers could be dehydration, alcohol, hormonal changes such as with the menstrual cycle, menopause or birth control pills. Certain foods containing tyramine, MSG or nitrates can also lead to migraines. The irony is that avoiding these triggers doesn’t always mean one can escape a migraine and the triggers themselves don’t always produce a migraine either.

There are no specific tests to confirm migraines, although the International Headache Society recommends the ‘5,4,3,2,1 criteria’ to diagnose these class of headaches. This includes:

  • 5 or more attacks
  • 4hours or 3 days in duration
  • A minimum of 2 unilateral locations of pulsating moderate to severe pain
  • A minimum of 1 additional symptom

To rule out other conditions, the doctor might order an initial EEG, MRI or CT scan.

As there is no exact treatment for migraines, the focus is on prevention along with some lifestyle changes including avoiding stress to reduce the incidence of these migraine attacks.

Commonly given medications include painkillers in combination with caffeine, anti-vomiting and anti-depressant pills. Of recent, intranasal and injectable medications are being prescribed for faster relief. And when nothing else works, neurological surgery to decompress the pressure on the extracranial sensory branches of the trigeminal and cervical spinal nerves can be performed to stop migraines in such ppatients.

With the right management, it’s possible to live a full life even when there is a weakness towards migraines.

Learning Disabilities

Learning disability is a neurological disorder that includes several different areas of brain functioning such as reading, writing, spelling, remembering, reasoning and organizing information. Put in layman’s terms, learning disability is just a different way of ‘wiring’ of the brain in some people. In no way does it imply that the person is any less intelligent than the next person.

Learning that your child has learning disability can sound very scary at first but if you pause and look around, you will find that there are a host of very successful people out there who have made it in life despite having learning disabilities! Highly respected people like Albert Einstein, Alexander Graham Bell, Winston Churchill, Walt Disney, Whoopi Goldberg and a former Vice President Nelson Rockefeller all had similar problems, but it didn’t affect their climb to the top.

In some cases, children with learning disabilities (LD) are even smarter than their peers; if they are taught in the conventional way, it hampers their mental growth, but parents need to take the time out to understand their strengths and weaknesses and together with the intervention and support from professionals, they can train the child to handle their specific difficulties and grow up to distinguished careers in later life. So if the child is taught in a manner that’s different from the typical school system, the child can learn, with the key word here being ‘learning differently’.

There are many kinds of learning disabilities and most students are affected by more than one kind; the degree, frequency and intensity of the disability have to be also kept in mind when accessing the students’ abilities. Major types of LDs include dyslexia (reading difficulties), dyscalculia (mathematical difficulties) and dysgraphia (writing difficulties); Auditory and Visual Processing Disorders (difficulty in understanding language) and Nonverbal Learning Disabilities are some of the other challenges a child with LD may have to face.

LDs first get noticed when the child has problems in speaking, reading, writing, solving a math problem or paying attention in class. There are many kids however who develop a smart way of covering up their learning issues and the disability only pops up during the teen years when schoolwork is more complicated.

It’s still unclear how LDs develop, but some theories postulate it could be due to genetic influences where disabilities run in the family, brain development, both before and after birth and also due to environmental impacts whereby environmental toxins or poor nutrition lead to LDs.

Although a diagnosis of LD is upsetting, it’s actually the beginning of treatment for your child’s disability; you now know that your child needs a special tutor to train him in learning skills that will help him cope-up with regular school classes.

As there is no cure of LD and it’s a life-long situation, it’s never too late to get help and start adapting.

Infantile Spasms – Not Classical Epilepsy

Infantile spasms were first diagnosed in 1841 and represent a rare form of seizure disorder that affects very young children. The average age of presentation is four months, although some children have been known to start presenting symptoms from as early as one month of age and a few up to the age of 2 years.

As the symptoms are very subtle, it’s difficult for parents to recognize it as a serious problem. Most people think of seizure disorders in terms of someone falling down and having full-body convulsions. In infantile spasms disorder (IS) this is not the case; it’s usually described as ‘bobbings’ that involve the complete head heaving forward towards the knees and then relaxing into the normal straight position. These ‘bowings’ and ‘relaxings’ occur repeatedly in rows with few second intervals and could last about 2-3 minutes. These clusters of spasms occur several times a day and an EEG performed on such children throws up hypsarrythmia between and during the spasms. Such children may also have underlying neurological and developmental problems. In very young children, IS may present as little head drops that do not appear too serious; even the pediatrician might not be able to pick it up as they resemble the normal startle reflex. Due to the abnormal positioning of the body during spasms, infantile spasms have been variously describes as ‘salaam seizures’, ‘nodding spasms’, ‘jack-knife spasms’, ‘West syndrome’ and ‘infantile spastic epilepsy’.

Though it’s difficult to diagnose, its best to start treatment at the earliest with anti-convulsing medications as the longer the child goes untreated, the greater the chances for other developmental disabilities and autism. There are over 200 disorders associated with IS and some of these include brain tumors or cysts, metabolic conditions, tuberous sclerosis, genetic abnormalities, brain malformations and brain injuries due to a variety of causes including brain infections, trauma or low oxygen at birth. With progress in neuroimaging technology (MRI and CT scans), the proportion of confirmed cases of IS has increased over the years. Studies have shown that one in every 2,200-4,500 children born, have IS and boys are more prone to developing this disorder than girls.

Proof for determining the presence of infantile spasms lies in the EEG pattern which usually show a characteristic random high-voltage slow waves and spikes that are almost continuous and known as hypsarrythmia.

Treatment is usually successful with anti-convulsing medications and associated injections of ACTH hormone; it takes about 1-2 weeks before the child starts showing improvement. However, if there is another underlying cause for the IS, like the presence of brain tumors or cysts, then these need to be surgically removed first.
IS normally disappears after the age of 3-4 years, though it may reappear as a part of epilepsy syndrome in later years in a few people.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

One of the most destructive habits known to man must be the habit of worrying. Worrying or getting anxious about routine things robs one of the joys of daily living, makes mountains out of where mole hills exist. Winston Churchill had once mentioned knowing an old man who on his deathbed said that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of his which never really happened.

Similar is the case with people who suffer from the generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). It is characterized by an irrational, excessive and exaggerated worry and apprehension of everyday events without any obvious reasons. Such people anticipate disaster at every turn and get anxious about family, health, money issues, work difficulties or even friendships and interpersonal relationships.

This worry is often unrealistic and the person lives in a constant state of fear and dread; sometimes it even leads to physical manifestations such as fatigue, headaches, sweating, restlessness, insomnia, hot flashes, difficulties in breathing and swallowing, muscle tension and aches, as well as stomach symptoms including stomach clenching, increased acidity, etc. For the person to be diagnosed as having GAD, the symptoms should persist for six months minimum. The symptoms are similar to what is seen in panic disorders and obsessive compulsive disorder, though each one is unique.

Having to live with GAD can be very challenging and in many cases, the disorder may develop during childhood itself; in most cases, this condition can be treated successfully with medications and psychotherapy. Using relaxation techniques like meditation can yoga can help the patient cope up better with the disorder.
As with other similar mental health disorders, the exact cause of GAD isn’t clear and may have something to do with genetics and a few other risk factors. Some of these risk factors include the gender of the person, as women are more often diagnosed with GAD than men. The personality of the person should also be considered as those with timid and negative outlooks tend to be more prone to GAD. There is also some evidence that GAD runs in families.
Having GAD can make life a little complicated as it slows the person down mentally; it takes them time to process information or perform tasks efficiently. It also saps the energy and gives sleepless nights, leading to more confusion; it becomes a cycle that eventually leads to depression, insomnia, substance abuse, and cardiac and digestive issues.

Your doctor may ask you a whole lot of questions regarding your history, moods, experiences, intakes, habits before taking a decision on a diagnosis.

Treatment includes medications such as anti-depressants, anti-anxiety and sedatives; psychotherapy is also included in the treatment regime and it may take a while before the doctor gets the exact combination to get you on the road to recovery.

Down syndrome

With women increasingly delaying conception and child birth, the incidence of babies born with Down syndrome (DS) is one the rise. A baby born to a 30-year-old mother has a 1 in 1000 chance of being born with DS, but this increases to 1 in 400 when the mother is a 35-year-old and to 1 in a 100 by the time the mother is a 40-year-old. Of course this doesn’t go to say that DS is only related to the age of the mother as other factors contribute too.
It is one of the most common chromosome abnormalities in humans and is also known as trisomy 21, a condition in which a person is born with an extra pair of genes, better explained as the child having 47 chromosomes in each cell instead of 46. The condition was first fully described in 1866 by a British doctor named John Langdon Down, after whom the disease eventually came to be known.

This condition is typically associated with characteristic facial features which include a flat face, small ears, and eyes with an upward tilt and a small mouth with tongue sticking out, short stature, short necks and mild to moderate intellectual disability. The average IQ of a young adult with DS is sadly equal to that of a normal 8 or 9-year-old only. The physical and mental problems associated with DS vary widely and likewise the treatment and medical support needed for leading a healthy life.

Though DS cannot be prevented, it can be detected early in the womb itself and pregnancy can be terminated in some countries. Parents of children have normal genes and the mutation in the children occurs just by chance. It’s a life-long condition that requires a lot of patience, care and support towards the children with DS to enable them grow up to enjoy health, happy and productive lives. Education and proper care can help improve the quality of their lives.

Those children with mild DS can cope up in normal school classes but others may need specialized educational institutions for learning. These children also have poor immunity and generally reach their growth milestones such as sitting up, crawling, walking, speech, and self-care skills like feeding and dressing themselves, a little later in life. They have poor muscle tone in their body and babies may appear floppy. Such kids also bear the burden of being more prone to health issues such as congenital heart defect, leukemia, thyroid disease, pulmonary hypertension, hearing and vision defects, seizure defects and mental disorders to name a few.
People with DS need regular medical evaluation so that complications can be addressed in time. As there is no treatment for Down syndrome, all the family and society as a whole can do is to be as supportive as possible towards people with this condition.

Compression Neuropathy

Nerve compression syndrome or compression neuropathy is a medical condition whereby a focal nerve lesion is produced due to sustained pressure on that particular nerve. It’s also known as entrapped neuropathy wherein the pressure could be exerted from an external or an internal source. It usually occurs at one particular joint area and can lead to excruciating pain, sometimes resulting in nerve damage and eventual muscle wasting if left untreated. The most commonly involved nerves in compression neuropathy include the carpal, peroneal, radial and the ulnar nerves.

Nerve entrapment typically produces symptoms of muscle weakness, pain, burning sensation, tingling and numbness or even paralysis. The symptoms affect just that part of the body which is supported by the trapped nerve. Pressure reduces the flow of blood in vessels nourishing the nerve, leading to a local ischaemia, thereby affecting the function of the nerve, and eventually leading to damage to the covering sheath of the nerve (demyelination) and finally, scarring.

Common forms of compression neuropathies include carpal tunnel syndrome, where the wrist along with the thumb, index and middle finger are involved and the cubital tunnel syndrome where the elbow is involved, causing hand weakness and pain in the wrist and the ring and pinky fingers. Other forms of nerve compression neuropathy syndrome include peroneal neuropathy which affects the knees and the tarsal tunnel syndrome which leads to altered feelings in the foot and toes resulting in numbness and tingling and weakness of the foot muscles. The Handlebar Palsy is another form of compression neuropathy, commonly experienced by long-distance cyclists; the prolonged periods of direct pressure on the ulnar nerve in the wrist with the weight of the upper part of the body bearing on the handlebars, leads to the aptly-named handlebar palsy.

Amongst all types of nerve injuries, compression neuropathies are considered to be the commonest and often time result in microvascular changes leading to swelling and inflammation of the surrounding tissue or structures, thereby reducing space within the area and resulting in nerve compression. In other instances, the injury could be caused by outside mechanical forces or due to pathological changes like tumors or cysts.

Diagnosis of compression neuropathy is easy when it’s due to external injuries, but lack of a physical trauma can make it difficult to find the reason behind the excruciating pain and tingling. Physical examinations along with the Tinel’s and Phalen’s tests are helpful in diagnosing conditions of compression neuropathy. Some other imaging tests that are useful include X-rays, MRI and Nerve Conduction Velocity (NCV) studies.

The underlying medical cause of the nerve compression has to be treated first, and in cases where there is no underlying medical condition, then surgery is the next option to relieve pressure on the compressed nerve after proper diagnosis. Sadly, complete recovery from symptoms isn’t always possible in some chronic cases, even after surgery.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Demystified

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a somewhat complicated medical condition that is characterized by extreme fatigue that has no apparent link to any underlying disease within the patient. The debilitating fatigue or tiredness may worsen with physical or mental activity and doesn’t get better with rest. This condition is very hard to explain and reduces the quality of life of the person as well as limiting their ability of carrying out daily activities.

This syndrome has also been referred to as myalgic encephalomyelitis or as systemic exertion intolerance disease; although all three share the same major symptoms, there are slight variations between the three disorders. It’s been suggested that more than one underlying condition may be responsible for CFS and these could include biological, infections, genetic or psychological factors.

Aside from the main symptom of fatigue, CFS has eight official symptoms that are central to its classification; these include memory or concentration loss, enlarged and tender neck and armpit lymph nodes, sore throat, variant headaches, unexplained muscle pain, multi-joint pains without swelling or redness, un-refreshing sleep and extreme exhaustion after physical or mental activities.

The symptoms of CFS vary in each individual but for proper classification as CFS, fatigue and at least four of the above symptoms must exist in the patient for at least six months. Since CFS follows a cycle of remission and relapse, it becomes difficult to treat these patients.

In earlier days, CFS was considered a controversial diagnosis but it is now recognized as a real medical condition that can affect anyone; it’s however more commonly seen in women as compared to men and the age when it’s more prevalent is in people in their 40s’ and 50s’.

As with the diagnosis, the cause for CFS is also controversial and largely unconfirmed. It’s been speculated to be related to hypotension, weak immune system, genetic predisposition and hormonal imbalances. CFS could be the end-result of multiple different conditions as it’s been noted that about 10-12% of people with Epstein-Barr virus, Ross River virus and Coxiella burnetti infections go on to develop symptoms that resemble the criteria needed for a diagnosis of CFS.

Certain complications can develop with CFS and include depression, social isolation, lifestyle changes as well as incompetency at work. This rings a bell for urgent medical attention and treatment which usually focuses on relieving symptoms only. Anti-depressants and sleeping pills are the main medications used to relieve the patient as there is no known cure. The patient is also advised about self-care measures to reduce stress, restrict use of stimulants, have a paced routine and undergo physical and psychological therapy.
Alternative therapies like acupuncture, massage and yoga are being promoted for controlling the pain. Its however difficult to determine what will work as the symptoms are linked to the mood of the patient and vary day-to-day.

A Little about Diabetic Neuropathy

India is slowly becoming popular as the world’s hub for diabetes. One of the most important parameters for diabetes control is regulation of sugar consumption as high blood sugar levels can lead to nerve injuries throughout the body; this is known as diabetic neuropathy and mainly affects the legs and feet. This serious condition can be prevented by keeping a tight control on blood glucose levels and leading a healthy lifestyle. It’s believed that small blood vessels that supply nerves get damaged when sugar levels are high, leading to painful neuropathy. Depending on which system is affected by neuropathy, it can lead to pain, tingling, disability or numbness in the extremities or to problems related to the digestive tract, the urinary system, kidneys, sex organs, blood vessels or heart. The symptoms range from being absent to being mild, to being fatal or near fatal. Symptoms also usually take time to develop over years and the risk rises with increasing duration of diabetes; about 60-70% of diabetics have some form of neuropathy or the other with the incidence being greatest in those with diabetes for 25 years and above.

Causes of diabetic neuropathy (DN) could include metabolic factors such as high glucose and fat levels in the blood, low levels of insulin, autoimmune inflammatory factors leading to nerve damage, damaged blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to the nerves, mechanical injury to nerves through trauma, hereditary weakness to nerve diseases, excessive smoking or alcohol abuse, etc.

Symptoms of nerve damage include wasting of the hands and feet muscles, diarrhea/constipation, indigestion, nausea and vomiting, weakness, dizziness or faintness, urination problems and erectile dysfunction in men and vaginal dryness in women. All these are aside from the common feelings of pain, numbness and tingling in the extremities.

There are four main types of diabetic neuropathies: peripheral, autonomic, focal and proximal, with each affecting a different part of the body. Proximal neuropathy affects the legs, hands, fingers and toes while the autonomic variant affects the bowel and bladder function, sexual response and perspiration; it also affects the nerves that supply the heart, lungs and eyes. Autonomic neuropathy is very dangerous as it causes hypoglycemia unawareness. Focal neuropathy can affect any part of the body leading to weakness in a bunch of muscles while proximal neuropathy causes pain in the thighs, or buttocks, leading to weak legs.

DN can be diagnosed by checking muscle strength and reflexes, sensitivity to temperature, light touch or vibration and blood pressure and heart rate.

Treatment involves maintaining normal glucose levels to prevent further nerve damage, a healthy lifestyle and taking regular diabetic medications or insulin. And by relieving pain with anti-seizure medications and managing complications appropriately along with the use of anti-depressants.

The best way of course, is to prevent DN by keeping blood sugar levels in the safe range!

Cerebral Palsy and Stem Cell Therapy

Cerebral palsy is a broad term used to describe a set of permanent movement disorders that appear early on in life and primarily affect that part of the brain that controls movement, balance and posture. The word ‘cerebral’ refers to that part of the brain dealing with motor function while ‘palsy’ refers to a complete or partial paralysis of voluntary muscle movement frequently accompanied by uncontrolled tremors.

Although much remains unclear about the exact causes of this disorder, evidence suggests that most of the problems occur during pregnancy, the birthing process or shortly after birth. Infections during pregnancy such as toxoplasmosis, bacterial meningitis, rubella or viral encephalitis have been implicated in cerebral palsy. Other factors include poor oxygen supply to the baby’s brain, before, during and immediately after birth as well as preterm births or being part of multiple births. Exposure to methylmercury during pregnancy and head injuries sustained during the early years of life could also contribute to cerebral palsy.

This condition is usually missed by doctors and parents alike during the early years of life and becomes prominent as a non-progressive brain damage during the second or third year.

The commonest symptoms include delay in developmental mile stones, like delayed neck control, trunk control, standing and delayed walking, poor muscle coordination, muscle stiffness, weak muscles and trembling and jerks. Other abnormalities are in speech, vision, hearing, swallowing, sensation and intellectual reasoning.

Cerebral palsy has been documented throughout history with the first mention being made by Hippocrates in the 5th century BCE. Although it cannot be cured, a lot can be done to prevent problems and help your child make the best of his abilities. The field of physical therapy,  Occupational therapy, speech therapy, and medications have been used to help muscle stiffness as well as surgery to take care of overactive nerves and lax muscles .

Over the last few years, researchers have been involved in stem cell therapy to see their potential effect on neurodegenerative disorders. The therapy involves harvesting stem cells from patients’ bone marrow and injecting it near the brain and spinal cord to help repair the injured area of the brain. At Plexus Neuro and Stem Cell Research Center, Bangalore, this therapy has produced far superior results as compared to the traditional therapy. Several hundreds of patients have benefited from this and have become almost normal. So parents should take heart as hope is there for a more comprehensive treatment for those with cerebral palsy now!

Parkinsonism and Stem Cell Therapy

Known as Parkinson’s Disease, Parkinsonism is a disorder of the elderly population. It commonly occurs after 60; however, it can present at a younger age as well and can run in families too. With numerous sufferers worldwide, Parkinsonism remains one of the principal health problems.

Well, Parkinsonism is basically a degenerative disease of the brain in which cells that produce dopamine in the substantia nigra (a component of the mid brain) are lost owing to degeneration.

Dopamine happens to be a neurotransmitter that is responsible for the neuronal circuits in the mid brain that regulate movements. Deficiency of dopamine leads to movement disorder which results in the manifestation of slowing of movements, tremors felt in hands & various other body parts as well as rigidity of muscles. Parkinsonism worsens over time and at an advanced stage, walking becomes difficult as well. The disorder increases morbidity & mortality among the elderly owing to hypostatic pneumonia & other similar diseases.

Usual treatment of Parkinsonism comprises of synthetic dopamine, dopamine analogue and others. Well, the basic principle of the drug therapy is to replace dopamine or rather take drugs having anti-cholinergic properties to control tremors. While anti-parkinsonism drugs have been employed successfully to control the symptoms of Parkinsonism, there are a few drawbacks of taking drugs that create the need of a more durable treatment.

Stem Cell Therapy – A precise way of treating Parkinsonism

Using stem cells to cure different diseases has perhaps passed through the stages of infancy & childhood now; currently, it appears to be an established mature treatment used successfully to treat many diseases. The main benefit of stem cell therapy is that it doesn’t aim at just controlling the symptoms; rather, it cures diseases.

Parkinsonism seems to be one of the diseases wherein stem cell therapy has indicated promising results. A number of facilities across the world are now providing stem cell therapy to treat Parkinsonism.

What exactly is stem cell therapy?

Stem cells are extracted from the cord blood of the newborns (which actually is of no use) for the neonate. These stem cells are collected & stored for future use. Experts consider this therapy as 100% safe and effective. Stem cells, thus taken, are transplanted into the brain. There, they take the prosperities of the degenerated cells of substantia nigra. As a result, symptoms of Parkinsonism disappear gradually over time.

In addition, it has been found that when stem cell therapy is used at the earlier stages of a disease, excellent results are seen and almost 85% patients receive complete cure of their disease; the remaining get good control of the disease along with lower doses of several anti-Parkinson drugs.

Several health care centers, specializing in this therapy, use cord blood as the chief source of stem cells. They have proved that stem cell therapy is a natural way to treat Parkinsonism – it is fully safe and there isn’t any risk of side effects.

 

Autism and Stem Cell Therapy

Autism

Autism is a neural development disorder that is characterized by impaired communication, social interactions, repetitive behavior, mood alterations, metabolic and digestive issues. There is also autism spectrum disorder that who describes several conditions categorized under neuro-developmental disorders. The key features of such disorders include communication difficulties and social deficits, stereotyped or repetitive behaviors & interests, sensory issues, and in a few cases, cognitive delays. All these symptoms become noticeable generally in the initial two years of childhood, affecting information processing in brain by means of altering the way nerve cells connect as well as organize.

Possible causes of Autism

Genetic components as well as exposure to external agents which cause birth defects appear highly possible causes of autism. Heavy metals, pesticides and immunizations that contain mercury (rubella, mumps and measles), and antidepressants during pregnancy may also play a role in causing the disorder.

Stem cell therapy and Autism 

Over half the children that are diagnosed with Autism are typically prescribed psychoactive drugs and/or anticonvulsants. Patients usually respond uncharacteristically to medications – the medications may have adverse effects; plus, there isn’t any known medication that relieves autism’s core symptoms – social and communication impairments.

Well, good news for sufferers of this disorder and their families is Stem cell therapy. It appears to be an effective medical approach to treat autism. The therapy is based on the distinct potential of the stem cells to influence immune system, metabolism, and restore the damaged cells and tissues. Stem cell therapy positively affects all the body systems and organs, including the principal organ – the brain.

As you are aware of, when autism affects a person, areas of the brain that regulates memory, concentration, speech and attention are damaged. Stem cell therapy enhances blood & oxygen flow to the brain (enhanced perfusion), replaces the damaged neurons and induces the formation of new arteries. Then, after some time, these stem cells tend to acquire the properties of the cells surrounding them and then multiply into these cells. As a result, white and gray matter is restored and consequently, neurologic symptoms subside and intellectual capacity improves.

On the whole, stem cell therapy is a safe and effective method for treating autism. It can help a lot of children suffering from autism as well as autism spectrum disorders of varying degree. But, one should remember that stem cell therapy is not the sole course and should be integrated with other therapies. Stem cell therapy is typically integrated with diet and educational programs so as to get optimal results.

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes mellitus, commonly referred to as diabetes, is a chronic condition affecting the ability of the body to use energy obtained from food. It is an autoimmune disease.
Diabetes is of three major types:

  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Gestational diabetes

Each type of diabetes mellitus has something in common. Generally, the body breaks down sugars and carbohydrates consumed into glucose, a special sugar. Glucose fuels all the cells in the body. However, the cells require insulin, a hormone, in the bloodstream to take in glucose & use it for energy. When a person has diabetes mellitus, the body either does not make sufficient insulin or it cannot make use of insulin it produces; sometimes the combination of both occurs.

As the cells cannot take in the glucose, it tends to build up in the blood. High blood glucose levels can damage the petite blood vessels in the heart, eyes, kidneys, or the nervous system. That is why diabetes, when left untreated, can lead to stroke, heart disease, kidney disease, nerve damage and blindness.

Causes of diabetes
Health care providers don’t know the exact cause of diabetes. However, the following factors are known to increase the chance of getting diabetes:

  • Asian-America, African-American, Hispanic, or Native American race or ethnic background
  • Being overweight
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Physical stress
  • njury to pancreas owing to infection, surgery, tumor, or accident
  • Use of specific medications like steroid & blood pressure medications
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels in the blood
  • High blood pressure
  • Age (risk seems to increase with age)
  • Consumption of alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Pregnancy (gestational diabetes)

Well, it is vital to note that just sugar doesn’t cause diabetes. Consuming a lot of sugar may lead to tooth decay, but may not cause diabetes.

Most common signs & symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Intense hunger
  • Disproportionate thirst
  • Weight gain
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Irritability
  • Increased fatigue
  • Cuts & bruises do not heal properly / quickly
  • Blurred vision
  • More skin & yeast infections
  • Gums become red and/or swollen – they pull away from teeth
  • Frequent gum disease/infection
  • Itchy skin
  • Numbness or tingling, particularly in feet and hands
  • Sexual dysfunction among men

Diagnosis of Diabetes Mellitus
Diabetes is often detected by performing a urine test to find out whether or not excess glucose is present. And, this is usually backed up by a complete blood test that measures blood glucose levels & can possibly confirm whether the cause of the symptoms is diabetes.

Treatment of Diabetes Mellitus
People suffering from diabetes should take responsibility for their daily care. This probably includes monitoring of blood glucose levels, maintaining physical activity, dietary management, keeping stress and weight under control, monitoring oral medications & if required use of insulin.

Common sports injuries

The most common sports-related injuries include:

Strains & Sprains
Strains and sprains are the common sport injuries reported so far. These can occur while being involved in any type of sports injury. So far, these are the most familiar sports injury and can take place in almost any kind of physical activity.

A sprain is likely to occur when a ligament tears or overstretches. Sprains can range from small to complete tears wherein the ligament is severed. Wrists, knees and ankles are the common most areas that are prone to sprains. On the other hand, a strain is a pulled muscle that occurs when fibers within a tendon or muscle stretch too far or ratherc tear. Strains can range from being minor to severe.

Knee Injuries
Every year, millions of people visit orthopedic facilities for knee related injuries & problems. Some of the mild knee injuries include runner’s knee, iliotibial band syndrome and tendonitis. Severe knee injuries often involve bruising or damage to ligaments or cartilage. The four principal ligaments in the knee which are commonly injured are: posterior cruciate ligament, medial collateral ligament, anterior cruciate ligament and lateral collateral ligament.

Shin Splints
A shin splint involves pain along the tibia (shin bone). The pain is generally at the posterior part of the lower leg, however, can also occur in the ankle and foot or in parts where the bone meets calf muscles at the bone’s inner edge (medial shin splints).
Shin splints are pretty common with runners & even more-so when a runner runs on hard surfaces. Improper running techniques, failing to stretch or warm up, running in shoes which lack proper support or possessing “flat feet” – all can lead to shin splints.

Fractures
Fractures are commonly called as broken bones and are a common sports injury generally caused by a small one-time injury to the bone (acute fracture). Sometimes, repeated stress over a bone (stress fracture) also occurs.
Most of the fractures are classified as emergencies & may even require surgery to fully repair. A stress fracture is likely to occur most of the time in feet or legs from sports which cause repetitive impact like a jumping or running sport.

Dislocations
Dislocations take place when force pushes the bones out of alignment in a joint. Dislocations are also referred to as luxation. Contact sports like football or an activity like excessive stretching or falling also can cause dislocations. A dislocation will generally need medical treatment & is treated as an emergency. The bone that is dislocated can be put back in place, however, the connective tissue that surrounds the joint suffer severe damage. The common joints which are mostly dislocated include those of the fingers and hand, especially with the shoulder located close behind. Knees, elbows, and hips can also be dislocated but tend to be less common.

Famous faces of Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a chronic mental disorder that influences the way you think and behave. People affected by schizophrenia can seem like they have lost touch with reality. They experience hallucinations (most commonly reported being, hearing voices), delusions, disorganized thinking and speech. People with schizophrenia are greatly affected socially due to their apparently bizarre behaviour, which can be misconstrued by people they interact with. They eventually fail to distinguish between what is real and what is imagined.

Schizophrenia symptoms usually start to show in people between the age of 16 and 30. Symptoms start gradually and progress into adulthood. It is seen among younger children rarely. Symptoms can be categorized as positive (hallucinations, delusions, agitated body movements, unusual thought processes), negative (reduced emotions/speech/expressions, difficulty in starting or following through activities) and cognitive (lack of focus/attention, lack of ability to understand or use information, inability to use information immediately after learning it).

Schizophrenia can be caused due to environmental and genetic reasons. It is known that schizophrenia runs in the family. But sometimes individuals develop symptoms even without a family history of the condition. Also, people with one or more family members who have the condition do not develop schizophrenia themselves. No one gene is attributed to the development of schizophrenia. It is considered that several different genes contribute to the risk. A combination of the genes and some aspects of the environment the person is exposed to can cause the condition to develop. Such environmental factors could be: parent being malnourished during pregnancy, substance abuse, some infections, difficulties during birth, and psychosocial factors. Researchers also suggest that imbalances in brain chemicals can also be a factor in causing schizophrenia.

Males are more affected than females. Diagnosis is arrived at based on behaviour observed and experiences related by the patient.
There are various categories of schizophrenia:
-Paranoid schizophrenia
-Disorganized schizophrenia
-Catatonic schizophrenia
-Residual schizophrenia

When schizophrenia is accompanied by depression, it is said to be schizoaffective disorder.
Medication and rehabilitation programmes in combination can help manage schizophrenia and can help the affected person lead a better life. Counselling, support groups, supervised housing programmes for people similarly affected can go a long way in bringing back confidence in the individual and in integrating with the society again.

Vincent Willem van Gogh – World renowned artist
Vincent van Gogh, born 1853, was a Dutch post-impressionist painter. He produced numerous works of art including portraits, self-portraits, landscapes and still life. During this period, schizophrenia had not yet been discovered as a mental disorder. He was posthumously diagnosed by several doctors as having suffered from this condition based on accounts of his behaviour.

ohn Nash – Mathematician/Nobel Prize Winner
Born in 1928, John Forbes Nash Jr., was an American Mathematician. He has made significant contributions to the field of game theory, differential geometry and partial differential equations. His theories are used in economics. He was a mathematical genius from an early age — he had attained a Bachelors and a Masters degree in Mathematics by the age of 19. In 1959, Nash began showing signs of schizophrenia. Years of treatment followed. After 1970, he returned to his academic studies and won the Nobel Prize in 1994. In 2015, he was awarded the Abel Prize. He was bestowed with several other prestigious awards and honorary degrees.

Lionel Aldridge – Football player
Lionel Aldridge, born 1941, was a professional football player who played for the NFL. He retired from professional football in 1973 and turned to being a sports analyst. He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in the late 70’s. In spite of his past success and fame, the condition led him to being homeless. Eventually, he was treated and he became an advocate for the homeless and the mentally ill.

Syd Barrett – Musician, founder of Pink Floyd
Syd Barrett, born 1946, was a musician, songwriter, guitarist and in particular, the founder of the famous band, Pink Floyd. Although Barrett never publicly confirmed his condition, it is reported that he left the band due mental illness and substance abuse. He died in 2006 due to pancreatic cancer.

Mary Todd Lincoln – Wife of Abraham Lincoln
Mary Todd Lincoln, born 1818, was the wife of America’s 16th President, Abraham Lincoln and was the First Lady of the United States. They had four sons, out of which only one son outlived her. She also witnessed her husband’s assassination. She had a history of mental illness, mood swings, angry outbursts and excessive spending. Many psychologists hypothesise that she suffered from schizophrenia and/or bipolar disorder.

Rufus May – Clinical Psychologist
Rufus May, born 1968, is a clinical psychologist, who is known for using his own personal experiences with mental illness to advocate recovery approaches for those suffering from similar conditions. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 18. He completed training in clinical psychology and uses his experiences to work with patients.

Eduard Einstein – Son of Albert Einstein
Eduard Einstein, born 1910, was the second son of Albert Einstein. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 20. He was a very intelligent and successful student and was preparing to be a psychoanalyst. However, he began showing signs of schizophrenia.

Brian Wilson – Musician, Member of The Beach Boys
Brian Douglas Wilson, born 1942, is a famous musician, singer, songwriter and record producer who famous for his popular album “Pet Sounds”. He battled with a history of drug and alcohol abuse, chain smoking and overeating. He suffered from auditory hallucinations and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. He is credited with soundtracks provided for movies like Forrest Gump, The Departed, The Wolf of Wall Street and Apocalypse Now. He was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.

Charles “Buddy” Bolden – Pioneering Jazz Musician
Charles “Buddy” Bolden, born 1877, was a highly regarded, incredibly talented Jazz musician. He is credited to have created the Jazz movement, evolving from ragtime music. Psychiatrists suggest that due to his mental handicap, he was probably required to improvise, since he could not read music and his motor functions were impaired. Thus, he improvised ragtime music to create jazz as we know it today. From 1900 to 1907, his band saw a phenomenal reception mainly due to his pioneering efforts at jazz. As he was impaired cognitively, he had to constantly improvise. His talent was acknowledged and well-appreciated by all. He was even known to play in eight bands at one time. In 1907, at the age of 30, his condition deteriorated, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and was institutionalised. He died 24 years later.

Dementia

Dementia is general term used to describe several symptoms including impairments to memory, thinking and communication.

Dementia – Possible symptoms

  • Recent memory loss
  • Changes in mood
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks
  • Disorientation
  • Loss of initiative
  • Misplacing things
  • Personality changes
  • Problems communicating
  • Problems with abstract thinking

Causes of dementia
Dementias are usually caused by brain cell death & neurodegenerative disease. Dementia can also be caused by a stroke, a head injury or a brain tumor.

Vascular dementia results from brain cell death generally caused by conditions like cerebrovascular diseases like stroke. This stops the normal blood flow, depriving the brain cells of the life force, oxygen.

Post-traumatic dementia is related directly to brain cell death that is caused by injury.
Several types of traumatic brain injury, especially if repetitive, like those received by sports players, seem to have been related to certain dementias that appear in the later stages of life.

Dementia is also caused by

  • Prion diseases like Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
  • Reversible factors
  • HIV infection

Types of Dementia

  • Alzheimer’s Disease is characterized by the “plaques” which form between the cells that are dying in the brain and the “tangles” within the cells (caused due to protein abnormalities). Brain tissue in an individual with Alzheimer’s has fewer nerve cells & connections, resulting in the shrinkage of the total size of the brain.
  • Dementia with Lewy bodies happens to be a neurodegenerative condition that is linked to abnormal structures enclosed in the brain. Changes in the brain involve a protein known as alpha-synuclein.
  • Mixed dementia normally refers to the diagnosis of two / three types occurring together. Say, for instance, at the same time, a person would show both Alzheimer’s disease & vascular dementia.
  • Parkinson’s disease is marked by the presence of Lewy bodies as well. While Parkinson’s is often thought of as disorder of movement, those with Parkinson’s can go on to develop several dementia symptoms.
  • Huntington’s disease is often characterized by particular types of uncontrolled movements; however, also includes dementia.

Dementia – Diagnosis

Well, there isn’t any one test to diagnose dementia. Doctors normally diagnose Alzheimer’s and several other types of dementia primarily based on a vigilant medical history, physical examination, lab tests, and several characteristic changes in thinking pattern, day-to-day function & behavior linked with each type.

Dementia – Treatment

Treatment of dementia mainly depends on its cause. In case of a majority of progressive dementias, there isn’t any cure and o treatment to slow or stop its progression. However, there are certain drug treatments which may temporarily improve the symptoms. Medications that are used to treat Alzheimer’s are generally prescribed to help patients with symptoms of other different types of dementia as well. Sometimes, non-drug therapies also alleviate several symptoms of dementia.

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a chronic mental disorder that influences the way you think and behave. People affected by schizophrenia can seem like they have lost touch with reality. They experience hallucinations (most commonly reported being, hearing voices), delusions, disorganized thinking and speech. People with schizophrenia are greatly affected socially due to their apparently bizarre behaviour, which can be misconstrued by people they interact with. They eventually fail to distinguish between what is real and what is imagined.

Symptoms of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia symptoms usually start to show in people between the age of 16 and 30. Symptoms start gradually and progress into adulthood. It is seen among younger children rarely. Symptoms can be categorized as positive (hallucinations, delusions, agitated body movements, unusual thought processes), negative (reduced emotions/speech/expressions, difficulty in starting or following through activities) and cognitive (lack of focus/attention, lack of ability to understand or use information, inability to use information immediately after learning it). Males are more affected than females.

What causes Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia can be caused due to environmental and genetic reasons. It is known that schizophrenia runs in the family. But sometimes individuals develop symptoms even without a family history of the condition. Also, people with one or more family members who have the condition do not develop schizophrenia themselves. No one gene is attributed to the development of schizophrenia. It is considered that several different genes contribute to the risk. A combination of the genes and some aspects of the environment the person is exposed to can cause the condition to develop. Such environmental factors could be: parent being malnourished during pregnancy, substance abuse, some infections, difficulties during birth, and psychosocial factors. Researchers also suggest that imbalances in brain chemicals can also be a factor in causing schizophrenia.

Diagnosis is arrived at based on behaviour observed and experiences related by the patient.

Types of Schizophrenia
There are various categories of schizophrenia:
-Paranoid schizophrenia
-Disorganized schizophrenia
-Catatonic schizophrenia
-Residual schizophrenia

When schizophrenia is accompanied by depression, it is said to be schizoaffective disorder.

How to manage Schizophrenia
Getting diagnosed as schizophrenic would be a shock to any person. The related symptoms that lead to the diagnosis would already have taken a toll on the individual’s mental and physical health. But getting diagnosed means the patient has crossed the first step towards wellness. This is because more often than not, the symptoms of schizophrenia get dismissed as stress, unwarranted behaviour, or gets confused with signs of other conditions.
Treatment and support can bring the patient’s life back on track, enabling them to lead fulfilling personal and professional relationships, and to be productive. Since the root cause of the development of schizophrenia is still not clearly known, treatment focuses on the management of the symptoms of the condition, lessening their effect on the patient. Current symptoms require treatment, future development of new symptoms need to be prevented, and the patient’s daily life-tasks might need to be organized with support from family, friends and their school/workplace.

Medication and rehabilitation programme, in combination, can help manage schizophrenia and can help the affected person lead a better life. Counselling, support groups, supervised housing programmes for people similarly affected can utilised to ensure a holistic approach towards recovery.

Individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia must first accept the diagnosis and open up communication with the doctor regarding symptoms experienced, difficulties with medication or any other concern. Getting involved in support therapies that suits the patient will help embrace difficulties and overcome them. Patients will learn to motivate themselves and set personal goals and challenges. Making changes to the lifestyle can work in tandem with medication and therapies — eating a balanced diet, avoiding alcohol and drugs, getting regular night-time sleep for a minimum of 8 hours, positive social interaction and plenty of exercise or physical activities.
All this can go a long way in bringing back confidence in the individual and in helping them successfully integrate with the society again.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is a neurodevelopment brain disorder characterised by hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention. It affects the functioning and development of persons affected by this condition, and influences their quality of life.

Hyperactivity would include excessive activity inappropriate for a given situation, like fidgeting, jerks, nonstop talking, taps, moving about constantly, etc. Impulsivity would include hasty actions without much forethought, usually with an eye on immediate gains or rewards, like blurting out inappropriate comments without considering the effect on the listener, or show emotions without control, or act without thinking about the consequence, impatience to get something without waiting for the individual’s turn, etc. Inattention is the lack of ability of the individual to focus on an activity or perform a task or complete it with persistence.

ADHD is, thus, a multi-component disorder of which impulsivity is considered as the central feature. The presence of each component can vary from patient to patient and across their lifespan. Although it is common to have some degree of inattentiveness or impulsivity or hyperactivity among children, in individuals affected by ADHD, these signs occur more frequently, are more severe and affect their quality of life.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders categorises ADHD depending on the behavioural symptoms as:
1.Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Predominantly Inattentive Type
2.Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type
3.Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Combined Type

ADHD is usually seen in children and teens and can continue into adulthood. It is usually diagnosed during early school years, between the age of 3 and 6, when children are unable to pay attention. It is more prevalent among boys than girls.

What causes ADHD?
Although, researchers are unable to pinpoint the causes of ADHD, contributing factors that might lead to the condition are:
-Genetics: Heredity can be a likely factor. It can run in the family.
-Brain damage or disorder: Changes to the frontal lobe of the brain can lead to changes in the way the individual handles emotions and impulses.
-Chemical imbalance: Chemicals produced in the brains can lead to ADHD
-Unhealthy pregnancy: Substance abuse, alcohol abuse, smoking, poor nutrition or infections that the mother went through during pregnancy can affect the baby’s brain and thus, lead to ADHD.
-Exposure of young children to environmental toxins such as lead in paints.

Unlike what is commonly construed, sugar consumption or poor support at home or school, do not cause ADHD.

Managing ADHD
ADHD cannot be cured, or prevented. However, there are ways in which it can be managed. And the characteristic signs of ADHD can be medically controlled. Medication, therapy, counselling (education and training), or a combination of various approaches can help to improve how the patient functions.

Medication for ADHD is usually a ‘stimulant’. It might sound unusual to treat this condition with what is known as a stimulant. However, these stimulants increase brain chemicals such as dopamine and norepinephrine which help in attention building and thinking. Such medications, like any other, are to be taken under strict medical supervision, as they do come with side effects and risks. Doctors might prescribe non-stimulants, if patients report serious side effects when taking stimulants.

Recent advancement in medical research has shown promising results in the use of stem cell therapy for treatment of ADHD. Stem cell transplant is a relatively new medical intervention. It replaces damaged cells in the brain with healthy ones. ADHD affected persons can benefit from these new brain cells that function normally, thus, easing several behavioural problems associated with the condition.

Psychotherapy approaches such as behavioural therapy, family/marital therapy, etc. can assist the patient and persons interacting with them. Behavioural therapy will help the patient change his or her behaviour. Controlling their anger, completing their tasks, or organizing daily activities, etc. can be easier for the patient by managing on their own. Family members, carers at school or colleagues at work can help by providing clear instructions or set routines the patient can follow. They can also provide the patient with positive or negative feedback about accomplished activities. Social skills can be learnt, thereby, improving their social interaction. Therapy for the family or spouse of the affected person will help them understand what the patient is going through and how they can help to ease the patient into a managed state.

Educating parents and schools about ADHD can help pick out early signs in children. Teaching people around a patient how to help, by providing routines and schedules, by encouraging positive behaviour, setting up situations in which the patient can respond with appropriate responses and thus, encouraging themselves, can ensure a successful overall management of the condition. Training the patient in social skills can help improve their social interaction, by teaching them how to behave in social situations.

ADHD can often cause negative or stressful emotions among the parents or the spouse, as most symptoms of the condition can be mistaken for poor behaviour before the individual is diagnosed with ADHD. Stress management techniques for those around the patients can help keep them calm and can encourage them to support the patients.
Support groups can open a world of assistance by way of sharing experiences and, by that, provide relief in knowing that the affected families are not alone.

Osteo Arthritis (OA) of The Knees

Osteo Arthritis of the knees is the natural form of arthritis that is brought about by the wear and tear of the knee joint cartilage.
The knee joint relies on the cushioning property of the cartilage for its normal functioning. When this cartilage wears away, it leads to a situation where the bones of the joint directly scrape each other leading to pain and inflammation.

Reasons
Age is one big factor while considering OA of the knees in general. As the years pass by, the ability of one’s cartilage to heal diminishes. For some people, besides age, it can be a hereditary reason too. It can also occur due to excess body weight. Women above the age of 55 are likely to develop the condition, more than age in the same age group.

Repetitive injuries
A lot of activities, sports and jobs involve situations that may place a lot of stress on the knees. Weight lifting, running on hard surfaces, playing tennis, soccer and long-distance running really put the knees to the test and hence, participants must always take precautions to avoid damage, long term.
Sufferers of Rheumatoid arthritis are also prone to develop osteoarthritis.

Signs

  • Stiffness of the knee
  • Joint pain while engaging in activities
  • A feeling of warmth in the knee
  • Treatment

Treatments for OA
Treatments vary from exercises to strengthen the knee joint to surgery. Weight loss is also an effective treatment for knee pain relief as it lessens the load. Pain relieving drugs, anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids and hyaluronic acid are also used for treatment in the form of injections.
If you would like to know more about Osteo Arthritis of the knee or its treatment methods, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

Ozone Therapy

Ozone Therapy
The history of Ozone goes back to the 1840s and initially, it was used to sterilize medical equipment. Later, it was used to disinfect water in European countries and world war 1 saw its application in the war fields in the form of wound disinfection. Ozone therapy is a treatment that intends to increase the amount of oxygen available to the body by the introduction of Ozone into the body.

How is it introduced?
Ozone can be introduced to the body in multiple ways. It can be administered subcutaneously, via the muscles or through the body’s orifices such as the vagina and rectum. The blood may also be taken out from a patient, ozone introduced and introduced back into the body. This process is called autohemotherapy.

How does Ozone work?
The introduction of ozone provides more oxygen at cellular levels. This is anti-aging and promotes the healing of many diseases such as cancer, and also aid its prevention.

The benefits
Ozone acts as a cell energizer, improves circulation, oxygenates haemoglobin.It cleanses the liver, kills parasites, neutralises acids, detoxes body cells, prevents nerve diseases and lot more. The benefits are endless. Ozone also has the potential to disburse the heavy metal toxicity in the body, fights herpes and aids with mental stability.
Ozone injections are also helpful for the treatment of herniated discs.
Ozone therapy is available with us. If you would like to know more about the benefits of Ozone therapy, please feel free to get in touch with us.

What Is Hydrotherapy And How Effective Is It?

Hydrotherapy is a treatment that involves the use of water for pain relief. The term stands for a large number of approaches and methods that make use of the properties of water such as pressure and temperature to increase the blood circulation to specific parts of the body and thereby treat various diseases.

History
Hydrotherapy is not a new treatment. There are records of it having being used in 4500 BC. It used to be integral to the Roman culture. It is currently used in sports medicine, rehab clinics and by physical therapists.

Uses
Hydrotherapy is used around the world to treat a multitude of conditions which include headaches, acne, colds, arthritis, stomach problems, stress and sleep disorders. People respond differently to hydrotherapy depending on the intensity of the treatment and its duration. It is used by many to soothe inflamed joints and muscles and to promote the general physical wellness.

In the present day, treatments make use of pressurized jets, mineral baths, underwater massages and more. The treatment is used as a means to deliver heat and cold to various parts of the body and seek to produce vasoconstriction and vasodilation. Hydrotherapy is widely used for the treatment of burn victims.
If you would like to know more about Hydrotherapy, its uses or its benefits, please feel free to get in touch with us. Hydrotherapy is available with us.

Tremors

A tremor is an involuntary movement of a muscle or a group of muscles. The motion is rhythmic and involves the to and fro motion of one or multiple body parts. While most tremors occur in the hands, it can also happen in the face, arms, legs etc. Though tremors are not life threatening, they could lead to a lot of inconvenience and can also be socially not very welcome. Also, they may be a sign of an underlying medical condition.

What causes it?

It is primarily caused by issues in the parts of the brain that control these muscles. Neurological disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease can cause it. Strokes, brain injuries and neuro degenerative diseases can cause it too.

Besides these medical conditions, tremors can also be brought on by drug abuse, low blood sugar, hyperthyroidism, insulin reaction, mental stress, dementia and exposure to cold. Nicotine can cause it too.

Task and Position specific tremor

These tremors are observed only while engaging in a particular activity. When not engaged in this activity, the individual is tremor free and can function normally. The tremors experienced while writing is a fine example of this.

When to call the doctor?

  • One should seek help if a sudden tremor develops out of the blue or if an existing one worsens.
  • When the tremors begin to seriously affect your daily activities.
  • When you suspect that the tremors are a side effect of medication.

As with any kind of medical condition or illness, an early diagnosis is always an advantage. If you feel like you need to know more about Tremors and their causes, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

The Stages Of Chronic Kidney Disease

When it comes to Chronic Kidney Disease or CKD, the kidneys don’t fail all at once, but rather happens in stages that stretch over a few years. This aspect of CKD makes it possible for it to be treated and slowed down, if identified early, with the help of medication and lifestyle changes.

Determining CKD’s various stages

The various stages of CKD are determined by the Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR). Measuring the GFR is the best way to gauge the scenario and determining the stage of CKD helps doctors resolve to the tests and treatments that each of these stages calls for.

How is Glomerular Filtration Rate calculated?

A mathematical formula is used by doctors to calculate GFR and this formula is based on the patient’s age, gender, race and the levels of Creatinine in their blood. Creatinine is the waste that is expelled from the muscles of the body. When the kidney function dips, creatinine levels escalate. Though there are 5 stages of classification, the kidney function is normal in stage 1 and is only slightly diminished in stage 2.

Here are the 5 stages of CKD and their GFR values:

  • Stage 1 Normal or high GFR ( > 90 mL/min)
  • Stage 2 KD is mild (GFR = 60-89 mL/min)
  • Stage 3A CKD is moderate (GFR = 45-59 mL/min)
  • Stage 3B CKD is moderate (GFR = 30-44 mL/min)
  • Stage 4 CKD is sever (GFR = 15-29 mL/min)
  • Stage 5 CKD is in the End Stage (GFR < 15 mL/min)

As CKD worsens, dialysis or kidney replacement must be resolved to, so as to maintain one’s health. If you would like to know more about CKD treatment and kidney care, please do not be hesitant to get in touch with us. The earlier CKD is detected, the better it is. Do spread the word as well.

Is Dyslexia A Mental Health Problem?

At present, Dyslexia is not considered as a mental problem anymore, though about 30 years ago, it wasn’t the case and dyslexic patients were treated by psychologists then.

The most common learning disorder

Dyslexia is the most common learning disorder and it goes on throughout one’s life. The earlier it is diagnosed and treated, the better it is though people can take up treatment, however later they are and benefit from it. The origins of the disorder are neuro-biological. Dyslexia, due to its nature can easily go undiagnosed at school.

Here are few facts about the disorder.

  • The actual cause of Dyslexia is still not understood.
  • Dyslexia, primarily, manifests as difficulty in reading.
  • The ideal form of treatment involves the active co-operation of parents and teachers.
  • The diagnosis takes into account of the child’s information processing technique, with regard to hearing, seeing and activities which involve participation.

What happens when Dyslexia is not identified?

When the condition goes unidentified, the child usually shows severe signs of depression and exhibits low self-esteem. The child may have behavioral problems at home as well as school. Children can also feel very demotivated and can likely develop an intense dislike for one’s school and the activities around it. Dyslexia takes different forms as well. It can be:

  1. Primary Dyslexia – The most common kind and is due to the dysfunction of the left side of the brain.
  2. Secondary Dyslexia – This type is caused by problems in brain development during the baby’s formation in the womb.
  3. Trauma Dyslexia – This type is brought on by a physical injury to parts of the brain that control reading and writing.

If you would like to know more about this condition or if you feel that someone close to you might have Dyslexia, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us. Help is at hand!

Epilepsy And Seizures

treatment of abnormal behavior

Seizures are body movements or behavior that are abnormal which are the result of unusual electrical activity in the brain. This is usually the symptom of Epilepsy, though not all people who have experienced a seizure necessarily have epilepsy. Epilepsy actually is a group of disorders that result in recurrent seizures.

Non-epileptic seizures are not triggered by the unusual electrical activity in the brain and are caused by stress or other psychological issues. The visible symptoms, though, are the same as that of an epileptic one and hence the diagnosis is trickier. Non-epileptic seizures come up with normal EEG readings and the body does not respond to epileptic medication; vital clues for ruling out an epileptic seizure.

What causes Epilepsy?

The regular way of communication between brain cells is in an orderly manner and somehow at times, these signals become abnormal and gives way electric chaos which ends up causing seizures. This abnormal activity might happen to a specific part of the brain alone or can be generic. Epilepsy can be both genetic and acquired.

Genetic

Epilepsy can be brought on by one’s genes. Some cases of epilepsy (1%) are due to a single gene defect. This is the form of epilepsy that is mostly seen in young people.

Acquired

Epilepsy can occur from a tumour, a stroke or a trauma to the head. It can also manifest from previous infections to the central nervous system or brain damage suffered at the time of birth. This kind is mostly observed in adults.

Treatment

Epilepsy is treated with drugs, mainly. In situations where drugs fail, surgery is resolved to. The very type of treatment employed would be based on several factors including one’s age, frequency of episodes, medical history etc.

If you’d like to know more about Epilepsy or have any query regarding it, you are most welcome to get in touch with us.

OCD In Children

It is indeed a very natural thing for children to have their own share of worries and doubts but the ones with OCD are unable to stop worrying and it doesn’t matter how much they want it to stop! OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is a disorder where a person is unable to say no to one’s obsessions and compulsions in many life situations.

In the past, children with OCD were often wrongly diagnosed with other conditions as doctors widely believed that OCD was a very rare condition for a child to have. In reality, OCD occurs in 1% of all children and recent studies show that about half the number of adults with OCD had experienced the clinical symptoms of it a young age. This, in particular, stresses the importance of making the right diagnosis at a young age.

Symptoms

Though the symptoms vary much from child to child, some of the most widely observed ones include:

  • An exaggerated fear of contamination from being in contact with people and articles.
  • Doubts if one has properly locked the door, washed the plates, turned off the lights (and many more such) etc
  • Counts numbers. The child believes that if counting doesn’t happen during certain activities, it would trigger ‘bad’ things to happen to dear ones.
  • Fears harming close ones and friends
  • Compulsive cleaning, bathing etc
  • Ritualistic behaviours where the child has to touch certain body parts to go about other activities smoothly
  • Compulsive reassurance seeking from parents
  • Specific rituals around bedtime that affect sleep

What to do?

If you notice any form of obsession or compulsion regarding your child activities, don’t not jump to a conclusion right away. Make sure you get in touch with an expert regarding OCD to get to the bottom of things as soon as possible. Parents should go about this carefully, as some children fear that speaking out their worst fears to a parent or a doctor would make them come true.

Treatment

The treatment for children with OCD is almost the same as what adults go through. A particular form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy called ‘Exposure and Response Prevention’ has been found to be the most effective, by researchers.

If you’d like to know more about OCD or its treatment, you are most welcome to get in touch with us anytime.

Reducing Stroke Risks

Stroke, as it is well known, is a haemorrhage – where a blood vessel or a group of vessels rupture under fluid pressure, thereby failing to supply blood and therefore, oxygen, to body cells that have always been wired to expect it, thereby causing their death. When this happens to a blood vessel supplying blood to brain cells, cellular death results and the victim can be paralysed partially, completely or can even die. Reducing stroke risks would mean reducing the intensity levels on a multitude of parameters that influence a stroke.

It would only be advantageous for one when a person reads up on the factors that affect a stroke – on everything from blood pressure to cholesterol levels. The key elements in reducing the risk of stroke would be to take good care of the circulatory system by keeping it free of blockages and by keeping the blood pressure at a healthy level.

Here is a some information regarding few of the parameters which affect a stroke.

Blood pressure

One must ensure that the blood pressure is well within the accepted limits. Excess pressure can also affect the heart and can strain the walls of the blood vessels. A moderate amount of physical activity every day goes a long way in this.

Smoking

Smoking leads to the formation of fatty buildups in the Carotid artery – the one which supplies blood to the brain. Smoking also makes the blood thicker and also, nicotine, raises blood pressure. All this makes smoking a habit to keep away from, especially in the context of reducing stroke risks.

Less Sodium

To put it straight, the more salt you eat, the higher would be your blood pressure. Try to avoid excessively salty food. The more salt in the blood causes more water absorption, thereby increasing the fluid pressure inside the vessels.

Drink less alcohol

Alcohol should be consumed very less. The healthy limit for men is 2 drinks (60 ml) a day and for women, it is 1 drink a day.

Eat a balanced diet

A diet free from saturated fats and excessive sugar is the safest. This prevents the arteries from clogging up and also ensures the right cholesterol levels.

To know more about stroke or its risks and ways of reducing them, please feel free to get in touch with us.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Most of you reading this would be already aware of the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ that was making its rounds in social media in the year 2014. That was how the world responded to bring attention to this unique condition which was previously unknown to many till that point of time. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or simply ALS, is a disorder of the nervous system which involves the death of its most basic functional units – the neurons.

The characteristics of ALS are muscle twitching, muscle stiffness and muscle weakness that gradually worsens due to muscle wasting.

Early signs

Early signs and symptoms of ALS include:

  • Experiencing difficulty in the usual daily activities like walking
  • Weakness felt in the legs, feet and ankles
  • Clumsiness and weak hands
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Slurred speech
  • Muscle cramps and twitching of the arms and tongue

Most frequently, the disease begins in the limbs and then spreads across to other parts. ALS, however, does not interfere with bladder control, thinking ability or one’s senses. ALS is inherited in most cases, but scientists still have not got to the bottom of things. Currently, researchers are studying several probable causes including gene mutation, disorganized immune response and chemical imbalance.

Established Risk Factors

Risk factors that have been established for ALS include Heredity, age and gender. 5-10% of people with ALS have inherited it from their family. ALS is mostly found in people of the age group 40-60. Till the age of 65, men are more likely to develop the disorder than women, though this likelihood disappears after the age of 70. Smoking and lead exposure are also under study to be understood further. It is most interesting to note that recent studies have established a connection between military service and the condition though what exactly in the military service is responsible, is yet to be known.

If you would like to know more about ALS or if you have any queries regarding this condition, please do feel free to get in touch with us!

Low Sperm Count – Oligospermia

A male is said to have a low sperm count if the number of sperms in one ejaculation is lower than expected of normal. In real life figures, semen with less than 15 million sperms/ml is considered to be of low in sperm count. The condition is called Oligospermia. It doesn’t necessary mean that all men with a low sperm count are not able to father children; the odds are just lower.

Obviously, the main sign of a low sperm count is the inability to conceive a child and there aren’t too many other tell-tale signs for it. In many cases, a low sperm count could be the result of another underlying condition – it could be an inherited chromosomal disorder or a dilated testicular vein or any other condition which blocks the flow of sperm.

Causes

Sperm production is actually a very complex procedure and it needs the testicles to be functioning normally along with the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus. A low sperm could be the result of a number of reasons.

It could be a medical reason, an environmental one or even one that results from the lifestyle. While Varicocele, tumours, prior surgeries, vein blockages and infections make it to the list of the medical reasons, the environmental factors list would comprise chemical exposure, heavy metal exposure, radiation exposure and also overheating of the testicles.

A low sperm count could also be resultant of drug use, excessive alcohol use, smoking, stress and excess body weight. Some occupations which involve prolonged sitting like truck driving have been associated with a low count, but as yet, there is no significant data available to support this notion.

Some of the symptoms

  • Issues with sexual functioning.
  • Pain in the testicular area
  • A decrease in the amount of body hair
  • A low sex drive

When to seek help?

If one has been trying to conceive for over a period of 1 year in vain, medical help must be sought immediately. Help must also be sought if one already experiences the symptoms mentioned here. Patients who had undergone a groin, scrotum or penis surgery need to be particularly aware of these symptoms.

If you would like to know more about a low sperm count or have queries regarding it, please do feel absolutely free to get in touch with us right away!

The Transient Ischemic Attack; A Warning And An Opportunity

A Transient Ischemic Attack or TIA is very similar to a stroke, but usually lasts only a few minutes and does not leave any permanent damage behind. It is quite often dubbed as the ‘mini-stroke’ and statistics point that one person in every three to experience the TIA experiences a stroke itself within a year’s time of it. The TIA hence, can be viewed as a warning sign and also as an opportunity to make amends and changes to prevent that stroke, which is now very probable and close at hand.

The signs of TIA

TIAs last only a few minutes and the symptoms disappear in an hour’s time. The symptoms are the same as that of a stroke which is in the early stages of setting in. The numbness is felt on the face and arms, especially on one side of the body. Blindness may also be felt, on one eye or both. The speech is slurred and there is dizziness and lack of overall body coordination.

The causes

The causes of the TIA are again, the same as that of an Ischemic Stroke. In an ischemic stroke, there is the complete blockage of the blood supply to the brain, whereas here, the blockage is rather brief which is the reason why there isn’t any permanent damage to the body.

The buildup of cholesterol-containing fatty deposits known as plaques is the main cause. The blockage could be in an artery or on a branch that supplies the brain. These plaques have the potential to reduce the flow or even cause the formation of a clot. A moving clot inside an artery that supplies the brain from the heart can also be a reason.

What to do?

At the time of the TIA, help must be sought immediately. The very event alone signals the formation of obstructions in the blood vessels – a sign that means that things aren’t really great at the moment inside the blood vessels and there are things to be done and changed.

Regarding strokes and TIAs, there are factors like family history and age which come into play which can’t really be controlled. On the other hand, one’s lifestyle and habits are all controllable contributing factors. If one is a smoker, quitting is vital after the TIA. Poor nutrition, heavy drinking, and physical inactivity must be immediately dealt with. Blood pressure and cholesterol levels also must be brought down as soon as possible.

If you would like to know more about TIA or if you are seeking treatment for it, please do get in touch with us at Plexus.

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a very serious disorder that influences the way an affected person thinks, acts and feels. The affected face have trouble distinguishing between what is real and what is imaginary. They have trouble expressing normal emotions and could be socially withdrawn or even unresponsive.

Popular Misconceptions

There are a lot of popular misconceptions regarding the condition. In truth, the sufferers of Schizophrenia are not violent in their majority and most do not pose any threats to the safety of others. Also, the condition is not brought in by ill parenting or childhood experiences or a weak mind. It is also to be noted that the Schizophrenia is a form of psychosis and its symptoms aren’t identical for all.

What causes it?

There is still much mystery regarding the causes of Schizophrenia. Some theories point at hereditary genes while some put it on the imbalance of the brain. It could also occur from viral infections and also from forms of immune disorders.

It has been recognized by many scientists that the disease runs in families. Highly stressful events and viral infections can also cause it. The condition also surfaces when the body goes through a change; hormonal or physical, like puberty and the young adult years.

People with Schizophrenia are also known to have a chemical imbalance associated with their brain chemicals Serotonin and Dopamine. These chemicals are actually neurotransmitters and allow the nerve cells to send messages to each other. A disruption in the balance would mean that those affected by Schizophrenia will get easily overwhelmed by stimuli, such as loud sounds and bright lights. Such problems in processing smells, sights and sounds eventually lead to hallucinations and delusions.

At Plexus, treatment is offered for sufferers of Schizophrenia. If you have any queries regarding Schizophrenia or if you are looking out for possible treatment methods for it, please do feel free to get in touch with us.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Autism is a brain disorder that often makes it hard for one to communicate and relate to other human beings. The condition makes it difficult for the different parts of the brain to work in sync with each other. Currently, Autism spectrum disorder includes conditions that were previously called Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism.

The term Spectrum refers to a wide range of levels of impairment, skills and symptoms. While ASD only mildly impairs some, many sufferers of the condition are severely disabled.

Causes of ASD

Scientists still haven’t got to the bottom of it, but research points to genes and the environment as possible causes.

Genetics

It has been observed in identical twins that if one has ASD, then 9/10 times, the other sibling has it too. In the case of non-twins, if one sibling has ASD, the other is 35 times more likely to get it that usual. Perhaps this has got a lot to do with their genes being the same. On the other hand, it has also been observed that most people who develop ASD have no family history of it.. This actually suggests the possibility of gene mutations – they can be inherited, but some just occur for no obvious reason. Mutations can actually be harmful, helpful or even have no effect.

Environmental Factors

These factors would be everything around us – the food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink and everything else that hits the body. The environment also includes the mother’s womb, where the mother’s health can directly affect the earliest stages of brain development.

The classic symptoms of ASD

  • Very little eye contact
  • Sufferers tend to look and listen less to people in their environment or fail to respond to other people
  • Sufferers rarely seek to share their enjoyment of toys or activities by pointing or showing things to others
  • Unusual responses when others show anger, distress, or affection

Please do feel free to get in touch with us if you have any queries regarding Autism Spectrum Disorder or if you are seeking treatment for it. Autism is handled at Plexus.

UNDERSTANDING ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE

Alzheimer’s is a disorder of the brain where the death of brain cells causes loss of memory, which, in turn affects an individual’s thinking and behavior. It is a type of dementia which is progressive i.e. starts slowly but gradually increases with age.

Alzheimers is one of the most common form of dementia that occurs to people mostly above the age of 60. However, in some cases Alzheimer’s also affects people between 40 to 50 years of age.

Alzheimer’s – A Progressive disorder and symptoms

A person suffering from Alzheimer’s shows mild symptoms of memory loss initially but with increasing age he/she may lose the ability to carry out a conversation or respond to the environment. Some of the symptoms of a person with Alzheimer’s are as follows:

  1. Memory loss
  2. Difficulty in solving problems
  3. Confusion over time and place
  4. Difficulty in judging things
  5. Difficulty in understanding visual images
  6. Misplacing things
  7. Difficulty in communication/writing
  8. Withdrawal from social activities
  9. Mood swings and personality change
  10. Difficulty with day to day activities

These are some common symptoms of Alzheimer’s but these symptoms should not be considered as common old age related symptoms. There is actually a thin line of difference between  the above mentioned signs of Alzheimer’s and typical age related problems. For instance, an Alzheimer’s patient will make a poor judgment and have difficulty in making decisions whereas an old person may make a bad decision once in a while.

Causes of Alzheimer’s

As mentioned above death of brain cells causes Alzheimer’s. A neurodegenerative disorder, in Alzheimer’s, the brain cells collapses over a course of time leaving fewer nerve cells and connections towards the end. At last the total brain size shrinks. But the gradual collapsing of brain cells cannot be seen or tested while a person suffering from Alzheimer’s is alive. When autopsy is conducted on the dead brain of an Alzheimer’s patient, one can see tiny inclusions in the nerve tissues called ‘plaques’ and ‘tangles’- two abnormal structures responsible for damaging and killing nerve cells. Plaques are found between the dying cells in the brain – from the build-up of a protein called beta-amyloid. The tangles are within the brain neurons – from a disintegration of another protein, called tau.

Treatment for Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s is not curable but there are various drugs available in the market to reduce the symptoms such as memory loss and confusion for a limited period. In US, two types of Drugs from a class called cholinesterase inhibitor and memantine (Namenda) are approved for symptomatic relief. The cholinesterase drugs include:

  • Donepezil (brand name Aricept)
  • Alantamine (Reminyl)
  • Rivastigmine (Exelon)
  • Tacrine (Cognex).

Besides medication, behavioral and cognitive therapy helps a lot in the treatment for Alzheimer’s. Infact, behavioral and cognitive therapy is more significant as a major part of treatment for people suffering from Alzheimer’s comes from these therapies provided by various health care workers. These health care workers always strive to provide a better quality of life to Alzheimer’s patient as they gradually lose their independence.

Today there is a worldwide effort going on to find ways to treat Alzheimer’s and delay it’s onset. Various researches are on to find ways to cure the disease. Researchers are also working on stem cells to develop cure for Alzheimer’s. Scientists have made breakthrough discoveries which indicate that modified stem cells may offer ways to treat Alzheimer’s disease. However, it is too early to come to any conclusion as of now.

Since Alzheimer’s is not curable, it is always good to take preventive measures in order to lessen the risk of becoming an Alzheimer’s patient. There are some unavoidable risk factors like age (people over 65 years of age have greater risk of catching Alzheimer’s), family history (this is
the second biggest risk after age since people coming from a family with Alzheimer’s are prone to this disease) and thirdly sex of an individual (usually females are more prone to this disease than men). However, there are some preventable risk factors like reducing the risk of diabetes or heart disease, which, in turn may cut the risk of Alzheimer’s.

Prevention is always better than cure so leading a healthy lifestyle is the way forward to fight Alzheimer’s.

Stem Cell Therapy For Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a central nervous system disorder which is considered to be an immune-mediated disease. In MS the body’s own immune system wrongly perceives the myelin sheath (the protective fatty layer around nerve fibres in the central nervous system) as foreign material and attacks it. Eventually, damage to myelin makes the nerves susceptible to deterioration and upsets the communication between the brain and rest of the body.

Depending upon the severity of damage and the nerves affected, symptoms of MS may vary. Visual disturbances, thinking and memory problems, numbness or tingling, muscle weakness, dizziness, fatigue, spasticity, impaired co-ordination and balance, shooting pain in the spine, walking difficulties and/or speech problems are some of the common symptoms of MS.

Multiple sclerosis may manifest as one of the four forms:

  • Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS): It is the most common type of MS characterised by acute and unpredictable symptom relapses. The flare-ups may continue for days or weeks followed by partial or complete recovery.
  • Secondary-Progressive MS (SPMS): RRMS in due course may turn into SPMS in which the disease progresses steadily with or without relapses and remissions.
  • Primary-Progressive MS (PPMS): In PPMS the symptoms gradually worsen from the beginning of the development of the disease and there are no relapses or remissions.
  • Progressive-Relapsing MS (PRMS): It is a rare form of MS in which the disease progresses with worsening symptoms and acute lapses but no remissions.

Multiple sclerosis may strike at any age but people between the age 20 and 50 are more commonly affected. There is no cure for MS however, in recent years a lot of progress has been made by the researchers in the field of MS treatment and stem cell therapy has particularly raised high hopes of recovery among the patients.

Whilst the regular treatments, such as interferon, copaxone, or immune suppressants help in reducing the severity of disease by blocking immune responses against the myelin sheath, these treatments do not reverse the damage that has already been caused to the nervous system tissue.

On the other hand, stem cell therapy which utilizes the mesenchymal stem cells obtained from umbilical cords of normal and healthy babies has been found to be potentially effective against negative immune response as well as in diminishing the nerve cell damage by restoring the damaged myelin sheath (re-myelination).

Before transplantation into the patient’s body, the umbilical cord derived mesenchymal stem cells go through a vigorous quality analysis in the laboratory. The body’s immune system does not perceive umbilical cord derived mesenchmyal stem cells as foreign, therefore they are not rejected and without trouble differentiate into healthy myelin sheath cells.

Across the globe, a number of clinical trials of stem cell therapy have shown positive results on MS patients with significant improvement in disability levels. When used as an adjunct therapy along with occupational therapy and physiotherapy, stem cell therapy shows dramatic results and significantly improves the quality of life.

PARKINSON’S DISEASE AND DEPRESSION

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurological condition wherein there is a gradual decline of brain cells that produces a chemical called ‘dopamine’ responsible for controlling movement (not the strength). Parkinson’s is a progressive disorder which means it only gets worse with time and age. Usually people over the age of 50 years are affected by Parkinson’s but there are also some cases where younger people are affected.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease

Following are the symptoms of Parkinson’s:

  • Rigidity
  • Tremors of the hands, arms, legs, jaw and face
  • Changes in speech and gait
  • Impaired balance and coordination
  • Bradykinesia or slowness of movement etc.

Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease (PD) has no cure till today and the exact cause of PD is also not known. However, the symptoms of Parkinson’s may be controlled by using a combination of drugs, therapies and occasional surgeries. Drug treatment is the most significant method of treating the symptoms of PD. Drugs help in increasing the level of dopamine that reaches the brain and stimulate the parts of the brain where dopamine works. However, drugs may have different impact on different individuals. Some important drugs for PD are: Levodopa, Dopamine Agonists, Apomorphine, Glutamate Antagonist, Anticholinergics, COMT inhibitors, MAO-B inhibitors.

Therapies like occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, Physiotherapy etc. helps a lot in controlling the symptoms of PD.

Surgery is usually not recommendable in PD. Only those patients who are not responding to medicines are adviced for surgery in PD. Again surgery can give some people better control over their symptoms but it is definitely not a cure. The main types of surgery available for the treatment of PD are as follows:

a. Deep brain stimulation
b. Lesion Techniques
c. Other surgical treatments

Besides, researchers are also working on stem cells to provide treatment for PD.

Depression and Parkinson’s Disease

Depression is a mental illness. In fact during contemporary times, depression is one of the most serious mental illness affecting individuals. Affects of depression are such that it completely changes one’s behavior, personality and body. According to study, depression reduces an individuals quality of life.

Symptoms of depression are as follows:

  • Anxious or empty feeling and persistently sad
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Feeling guilty, worthless or helpless
  • Feeling restless or irritable
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyable
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Difficulty in concentrating, remembering details or making decisions
  • Insomnia or sleeping all the time
  • Overeating or loss of appetite
  • Suicidal tendencies
  • Digestive problems, headaches, cramps, aches and pains etc

Depression and Parkinson’s disease

There is a thin line of difference between Depression and Parkinson’s disease (PD). Symptoms such as feeling tired, lacking energy, sleep problems etc which are found in Depression may also be found in PD. Hence, People suffering from PD may also experience Depression. There is more difficulty in treating people affected by both the diseases. An individual suffering from both depression and PD experience greater levels of anxiety and have more movement problems as compared to those who have just Depression or PD.

Causes of Depression

Causes of Depression may be attributed to family history or physical problems such as Problems with Thyroid, improper diet, lack of nutrients etc.

Treatment for Depression

Following are some of the common treatments for Depression:

  • Counseling will help an individual to understand any underlying cause of depression
  • Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) or talk therapy may help an individual to churn out negative thoughts from their system and improve their thoughts and behavior
  • Anti-depressants prescribe by the Psychiatrists may be used to treat moderate or severe depression.

While Parkinson’s disease itself is very stressful and upsetting so a lot of people with Parkinson’s experience Depression. But it is important to remember that there is always medical help ready to be offered. Health care workers are very active in looking after Parkinson’s patient and for depression there is also medical help available. Effort should be made from the patients to get in touch with the medical professionals for their treatment. Besides, regular sleep, good diet, some gentle exercise would help an individual from fighting against Depression.

Occupational Therapy In Cerebral Palsy: An Integral Part Of The Treatment Plan

Occupational Therapy or OT helps individuals who are affected with cerebral palsy to actively engage in daily work activities which hold meaning for them. There is a family centered philosophy that is used in conjunction with children who are suffering from Cerebral Palsy. Most occupational therapists work closely in partnership with affected families so that their priorities and concerns are addressed. Some occupational therapists can address problems which are connected to sensory, motor and cognitive impediments that result from Cerebral Palsy and this affects the participation ability in the daily activities. The therapist who is treating the patient may ask for certain changes to be incorporated in the play space, changing the structure of the building and seating techniques which allows the child to go on an improved curve of learning and healing.

Occupational Therapy basics

The OT or Occupational Therapy is an important part of cerebral palsy holistic treatment. The ability of the patient to carry on routine tasks and basic activities in a structured way. Occupational therapy focuses on the adaptation, compensation and achievement of all function levels. There are a number of physical functioning abilities and cognitive abilities, latent emotional needs and ability to adapt to situations factors which needs to be considered by the expert occupational therapist before an occupational therapy program is structured and the therapeutic interventions.

Kinds of sensory and perceptual impairment in C.P and how OT helps

Children who have CP have reduced sensory perceptions and a stunted perception of the visual power of the brain. To conquer this the occupational therapist may plan and look for implementation of SPM or sensory perceptual motor training for kids who have CP so that they become competent of producing organised behaviour pattern. Functional and daily abilities of people with CP are vastly enhanced with SPM training treatment and management.

People with cerebral palsy have increased chances of contracting pressure sores on various parts of the body. The bones in the body may also crack under pressure and the patient may become confined to the wheelchair. The therapist can educate the child, caregiver and the concerned family members about the prevention of pressure sores and checking out the skin for potential irrelative areas and the importance of changing positions in a scientific way.

The visual and motor impairments are particularly prominent in children with CP and this is why children who are suffering from this disease have problems in comprehending the organisation and order of some tasks which are basically required for self care. An occupational therapist can also help sketch a morning routine with a proper schedule and reminders and therapeutic interventions. The steps involved in the performance of the tasks will be broken down into small tasks which will be manageable.

In case the child or adult is not able to function normally then the occupational therapists will help addressing motor impairments in several ways. Progressive training can increase the resistance and strength of muscles and this is very important in the context of a Cerebral Palsy patient.

Frequent Headaches And Brain Tumour- Is There Any Link

Every person who has suffered from headaches at some point has felt that there might be a possibility that they might be suffering from brain tumour. Because of the perceived severity of the concept of brain tumour there is an underlying fear which crops up in the mind of every patient who happens to suffer from a headache. However medical research data from top research institutes say that out of 70% of people who had been diagnosed with brain tumour only 8% of patients have pointed out that having a headache was the only definitive symptom they had felt about the brain tumour.

Signs of the link between headache and brain tumour

The signs of nausea or vomiting are commonly linked with severe headache which happens due to the development of tumour in the brain. However the fact is that pressure is only exerted on the brain when the tumour is big enough and when this happens vomiting and spasms are observed. The headache which is linked to brain tumour usually happens more in the morning. Moreover in the case when brain tumour is present the resultant headaches always occur in the same spot. The spot which is linked to the brain tumour is generally the seat of an intense throbbing pain which can even make the victim unconscious by its intensity.

So if you have migraine problems then your headaches will occur sporadically at different sides of the head. The migraine headache does not come with other kinds of symptoms like vomiting, nausea and fainting.

Preventive action in case of recurring headaches

There are a number of things you should immediately do in case you have been suffering from recurring headaches.

  • Consult a reputed doctor who can thoroughly examine the cause of your headaches. A neurosurgeon is the best bet.
  • Go in for a complete neurological examination that investigates all the focal nerve points in the brain and then delivers the correct diagnosis.
  • If the results of the neurological examination are not clear then you might want to go in for imaging studies like Magnetic Resonance imaging (MRI) scan.
  • If you have sinusitis or blockage in the nasal pathway the headaches might have been triggered by that. Once you take appropriate medication you have to watch and see if the headaches reduce in intensity.
  • Try to lead a healthy life and stay away from excessive smoking, drinking, other addictive substances and stress.
  • In case you notice nasal bleeding, seizures, excessive fatigue, fainting spells and vomiting during the course of your headaches then you need to definitely consult a neurosurgeon.

It is a commonly observed fact that headaches are a clearer indicator of suspected brain tumour (both benign as well as malignant)in childhood. 70% of children who have complained of recurring non migraine headache have been shown to be particularly vulnerable to the development of brain tumour. Though there is no exact scientific link which conclusively proves a direct connection between brain tumour and headaches, it is still better to adopt a preventive approach.

Coping With Spinal Cord Injury

An accident which concerns itself with the spinal cord can have terrible repercussions on life. Injury to the spinal cord is a life changing concern as suddenly suffering from a disability like this can leave a person confused and scared. It is easy to wonder how a spinal cord injury can affect the victim so deeply but the explanations are very scientific. Coping with the spinal cord injury may not be easy but with the right medical attention, optimism and guidance it is possible to lead a fulfilling and a productive life.

The time that immediately follows an injury to the spinal cord may often result in paralysis. This can be confusing and extremely traumatic. There are counsellors who can play a positive role in helping the survivors of such injuries reach a level where they can accept what has happened to them and then strive towards leading a better productive life. Sometimes the counsellor works together with survivor and family to ensure an optimum quality of life.

Coping skills for spinal cord injury survivor

The first phase post the spinal cord injury is called the acute phase. The victim is encouraged to talk about all aspects of the incident which has happened. A lot of knowledge is gathered about the emotional, physiological and cognitive condition of the spinal cord injury survivor in question. The victim is then helped to reach a suitable list which contains all the tasks which he/ she can still do independently. Encouragement is provided to continue doing those tasks. For the tasks that require assistance, the victim is coached to gracefully accept help for the same. Financial, employment paperwork and data for insurance is gathered as these are all critically important for a spinal cord injury survivor.

Rehabilitation basics for Spinal Cord Injury

There are some milestones which are focused on when a person suffering from spinal cord injury is brought back on the path to rehabilitation. The first focus is recovery and on getting back to a semblance of independent existence in context of productive life, social context and work. Commitment to therapy is required and a positive attitude is actively cultivated. All little achievements of the recovering individual are celebrated and simple tasks are started in a structured way before any complicated task is approached. There are many long term goals set for the patient once a holistic psychological and medical assessment is done.

Role of medical team members in Rehabilitation process

There is an interdisciplinary team which is handed over the special task of rehabilitating the victim of the spinal cord injury and each member of the recovery team has a special role to play. There are nurses who work as the primary education provider, emotional booster and care givers. A number of therapists like recreational, vocational physical therapists and occupational ones impart life skills which help in restoring functionality. Physicians are available for prescribing medication and assessing the physical state. Psychologists are also assigned for facilitating the much needed emotional release as such a form of injury usually leads to deep emotional scars.

Managing Cerebral Palsy Through A Comprehensive Treatment Approach

Cerebral Palsy is a neurological disorder that affects the brain and nervous system of a human being during infancy. Cerebral Palsy occurs due to insufficient supply of oxygen to the brain during birth.

According to dictionary, the term ‘Cerebral’ refers to that area of the brain which is affected and Palsy means complete or partial muscle paralysis, often accompanied by loss of sensation and uncontrollable body movements or tremors. This means a child suffering from cerebral palsy would experience delay in development of significant milestones in his/her life.

Some of the symptoms of a child suffering from Cerebral Palsy are as follows:

  • Uncontrollable neck movement
  • Uncontrollable trunk movement
  • Inability to walk and use his/her hands
  • Difficulty in speech
  • Has Seizures
  • Besides some children may also have behavioural problems.

There are several types of Cerebral Palsy:

  • Spastic Cerebral Palsy: It is characterized by muscle stiffness in body parts is the most common form of CP.
  • Dyskinetic Cerebral palsy: Dyskinetic cerebral palsy is divided into two categories – Athetoid, where the whole body is affected by muscle problems and Ataxic, where, a child will have difficulty in judging relation between objects. For instance, a child will find difficulties in tying shoelaces or buttoning shirts.
  • Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy:A child with Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy will experience muscle problems much earlier. For instance, inability to control the head when sitting up in the case of a baby.

Causes of Cerebral Palsy

The major cause of Cerebral Palsy is deprivation of oxygen in the brain during labour and delivery.

There are also some cases of cerebral palsy where damage to the brain occurs during the first six months of pregnancy.

According to experts a premature baby or a low weight baby will raise the risk of cerebral palsy. Besides there are other factors like multiple births, sexually transmitted disease (STDs), damaged placenta, consumption of alcohol by the pregnant mother, consumption of illegal drugs by the pregnant mother etc. where chances of cerebral palsy runs high.

There are also some cases where cerebral palsy occurs after birth. This could be because of meningitis, a head injury or poisoning.

Comprehensive treatment approach

Cerebral Palsy (CP) is one of the most common disorders affecting children across the world hence management of CP is very complex and challenging. Moreover, CP cannot be cured but it can be managed through a comprehensive approach. Firstly the needs of the child should be identified and there on treatment should be provided.

In the treatment of CP, a range of methods including physical therapy, medical, surgical, technical etc. can be utilized.

Physical therapy is the most common form of treatment in CP where physiotherapists and occupational therapists work towards improving movement and mobility of a child. They also work on improvisation of speech and communication skills. Physical therapy is important because in some cases it can also prevent surgery.

Medicines could be another method of treatment where medical professionals will prescribe medicines as per the requirement of an individual. Neurologists and Psychiatrists play significant roles in the management of these kind of medicines.

Surgery could be the last resort in CP. One must understand that it is more important to manage a child with CP and not correcting deformities.

Assistive technology is another method of treating CP. Many people suffering from CP use special devices like crutches, special seats, wheelchairs, casts, special shoes etc. to improve upon their functional impairments.

Since Cerebral Palsy is incurable, research is on to find a cure for CP through Stem cell therapy. However,research in stem cell therapy for Cerebral Palsy is still at an early stage. Researchers have recently found that injecting stem cells can help protect or repair damaged nerve cells. Investigations are on in this regard before any result could be declared.

While a lot of care is required for a child suffering from Cerebral Palsy, it must be understood that the main objective is to help the child achieve as much independence as possible throughout his/her life.

Coping with Parkinson’s disease

Living with any kind of debilitating disease can be extremely stressful and Parkinson’s disease is no exception. For a person who was previously performing all routine activities by self, becoming reliant on family members for carrying out even basic functions can certainly be depressing and frustrating.
Constant tremors, body stiffness and impaired balance do not just impose a blow on the physical abilities of a person but also psychologically afflict an individual. Hence, coping with the condition can often be a challenge for the patient as well as family members.
Following self-help measures can greatly ease the struggle for a Parkinson’s patient:

  • Be sure to seek medical help at the earliest.
  • Follow the right course of treatment to avoid complications later.
  • Feel free to clarify doubts related to symptoms, treatment options, medicines, side-effects and prognosis, from your doctor.
  • Being informed about every aspect of your disease can prove very helpful. Apart from seeking information from the doctor, one can also browse credible web sources on Parkinson’s such as http://www.parkinsonssocietyindia.com/ and http://www.parkinsonsdiseaseindia.com/ for better understanding of the disorder.
  • Isolating yourself and brooding over the problems alone can worsen health. Instead, discuss your worries and concerns with people close to you. This will not only elevate your mood but you will also realize the number of people willing to offer support.
  • Manage stress. High stress levels can eventually lead to depression and may adversely interfere with the treatment. Hence, it is essential to deal with stress effectively and have a positive outlook towards life. This can be achieved by-

Engaging in stress-busting activities which pacify and revitalize the mind (deep breathing, meditation, watching nature etc.)
Being in the company of optimistic people
Having a healthy diet
Getting adequate sleep

Whilst living with Parkinson’s disease can be tough, caring for a patient suffering from Parkinson’s too can be a daunting and exhausting task. Since Parkinson’s is a chronic and progressive disorder it inflicts significant emotional distress on caregivers. Therefore, adopting effective coping strategies is also crucial for a caregiver.
Following coping measures can substantially help caregivers in beating away the everyday stress:

  • Be realistic and understand what you can do and what you cannot to help the patient. It is important to realize that you can only take care and support the patient but cannot cure his or her problem.
  • Taking sole responsibility of the patient’s health can put you under too much pressure. If other family members live together then allocate responsibilities to each one in order to simplify things.
  • Do not make the patient completely dependent on you, unless otherwise required. Depending upon the severity of symptoms, allow the patient to carry out activities which can be managed on his or her own. This will not only boost the patient’s confidence but will also help you to have extra time for other activities.
  • Organize your daily routine. By performing routine activities in an organized manner you will be equipped to handle stress more effectively.
  • Take out time for yourself. It is essential to indulge in pleasant activities from time to time in order to relax the clogged and weary mind. Watch a positive movie, spend time with friends or do anything that you love to alleviate stress.
  • Share your feelings. Venting your anxieties and worries to people close to you has a calming effect on the disquiet mind. But make sure you do so with people who are optimists and not pessimists.
  • Regularly follow mind relaxation techniques such as yoga, guided meditation and controlled breathing.
  • Do not neglect your health as caring for a Parkinson’s patient can be taxing for your own body and mind. Moreover, if you wish to provide long-term support to your loved one, you need to be careful about your own well-being as well. So rejuvenate your mind and body with healthy meals, adequate sleep, exercise and positive thinking.

Treatment Options For Spinal Cord Injury

The spinal cord is a part of the vertebral column also known as the backbone of our body. A thin tubular bundle of 31 pairs of nerves, the spinal cord runs down from the base of the brain to the second lumbar vertebrae of the spinal column (mid back).
From the vertebral column the nerves branch out into the arms, legs, chest and abdomen. These nerves act as a communication channel and transmit messages from the brain to other parts of the body allowing movements of arms and legs, regulating functions of vital organs such as heart, lungs and bladder and also controlling numerous reflexes.
A spinal cord injury (SCI) damages the spinal cord nerves leading to physiological consequences to parts of the body controlled by nerves at and below the level of the injury. Depending on the site and severity of the injury the symptoms manifest. There may be respiratory or circulatory problems, bladder or bowel problems, sexual dysfunction, loss of sensation, loss of muscle function, paralysis of lower part of the body (paraplegia) and/or complete paralysis (quadriplegia).
SCI is a highly incapacitating medical condition and it is estimated that the severity of disability following SCI is nearly 72%1. On a brighter note, in recent years there have been many advancements in the treatment of spinal cord injury, and researchers have raised their hopes for better management of the condition.
One of the most promising treatment for SCI is stem cell therapy. It is the only treatment which has a potential to reverse the damage caused to the spinal cord. All other treatments focus on preventing further injury and enabling patients to return to an active and productive life.

What is Stem Cell Therapy?

Stem cells are like mother cells which have the phenomenal ability to transform into different types of cells depending upon the organ of the body in which they are transplanted. They are usually obtained from the bone marrow of hip or thigh bone.
Once transplanted in the damaged spinal cord, stem cells convert themselves into healthy tissue, thereby reversing the injury. When used in adjunct with other support treatments, stem cell therapy can completely rehabilitate the patient.

Other treatments:

  • Steroids:They decrease the amount of damage to the spinal cord by reducing inflammation. However, steroids work only if they are given within eight hours of the time of injury. Moreover not all patients are suitable candidates for steroid therapy because of associated risks.
  • Immobilization: By using cervical collar, special mattress or bed, immobilization may be done to prevent spine movement and further damage.
  • Surgery: In case broken bone fragments, foreign objects, herniated disks or fractured vertebrae seem to compress the spine then surgery may be needed to remove them. In many cases surgery may also be done to stabilize or align the spine.
  • Support therapies: Once the condition of the patient stabilizes following initial treatment, assistive devices and support therapies such as physical and occupational therapies and psychological counselling may be required to improve rehabilitation. For problems of the lungs, heart or gut specific treatments are initiated.

References:
1- http://www.rehabcouncil.nic.in/writereaddata/spinal.pdf

Understanding Epilepsy Beyond ‘Fits’

Epilepsy is a disorder of the central nervous system (CNS) and results from the surges in electrical signals inside the brain, causing recurring seizures or convulsions. It occurs when permanent changes in the brain tissue cause it to be too excitable, leading to transmission of abnormal signals and unpredictable seizures.
Epilepsy has afflicted the human race since times immemorial and the earliest detailed account of the disease is mentioned in the Babylonian text on medicine which was written over 3000 years ago. For centuries people with epilepsy were stigmatized as they were considered to be demonically possessed or mentally ill because of the ‘fits’ or seizures. The Greeks believed that epilepsy was the result of a curse from the gods. Socially, epilepsy patients were shunned, secluded and were not considered fit to marry.

It was Hippocrates, the father of medicine, who in 400 B.C. suggested that epilepsy was a natural brain disorder which could be treated with medicines and diet. However his theory failed to have an impact on the minds of people who were overpowered by the prevailing supernatural view. It was only in the 18th and 19th centuries that the electrical theory of brain function and epilepsy became popular.
Thankfully, with the advancement in medical science and significant research findings many of the myths about epilepsy have now been eradicated. But there are still many parts in the world where epilepsy patients face the brunt of social stigma and remain untreated.

Epilepsy can occur as a result of either brain injury; infection; tumour, abnormal brain development or metabolic or genetic causes. However, majority of the cases are idiopathic (with unknown cause).
Depending upon the brain region affected, epilepsy seizures may manifest into different forms. Whilst in some cases the symptoms are mild such as brief jerks, brief head drops or a blank stare for a few seconds, in other cases symptoms may be severe enough to interfere movement or routine activities and may even cause hurt.
Earlier the epilepsy treatment is initiated, better is the prognosis. To achieve positive treatment outcomes, determining the area of the brain affected and the kind of seizures being experienced is imperative. This is done through EEG (Electroencephalography), MRI (Magnetic Resonance Testing) and/or PET (positron emission tomography) scans.

The conventional treatment for epilepsy involves the use of anti-epileptic drugs and most cases of epilepsy respond well to carefully chosen medications. In children epilepsy may co-exist with other developmental disabilities such as mental deficit and speech and behavioural problems which need to be addressed through support therapies.
In complex cases where a patient experiences multiple forms of seizures, anti-epileptic drugs may fail to alleviate the symptoms. For such patients, surgery or implanted devices such as vagus nerve stimulators may prove helpful. Stem cell therapy is another promising treatment option in cases where conventional treatment has failed and can potentially cure the patient.

Living with epilepsy can lower a person’s confidence and self-worth. However, sometimes the attitude towards the condition and the patient may be more incapacitating than the condition itself. Hence, apart from adequate and timely treatment it is essential to be supportive and caring towards an epileptic patient.
Dr. Naeem Sadiq
Plexus Neuro Neurocentre