Fidget Spinners for Children with ADHD?

Fidget Spinners for Children with ADHD?

Fidget Spinners for Children with ADHD

You probably have heard of the craze: fidget spinners! The spinning toys come in a variety of colors and cost only a few dollars. Despite causing nuisance to many adults and school teachers (they are even banned in some school districts!), some experts say these toys can benefit some children with ADHD. Children with ADHD can be fidgety, from tapping feet to bouncing on seat. The proponents of fidget spinners say that the toy can benefit these children stay focused. However, there are many skeptics in the ADHD community. Most importantly, there are no studies or scientific evidence showing the benefits of fidget spinners. If your child appears to benefit from the toy, talk to his or her teacher. However, fidget spinners are not going to be a sufficient replacement to professional ADHD treatment anytime soon.

The Pathways team of professionals has helped thousands of people with ADHD & brain injuries. We are Dedicated to effective and compassionate care for individuals with neurological challenges.

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Fidget Spinners for Children with ADHD?

Rutgers Researchers Attempt to Slow the Progress of Traumatic Brain Injuries

Rutgers Researchers Attempt to Slow the Progress of Traumatic Brain Injuries

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Almost two million Americans each year suffer from a traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBI’s occur as a result of physical trauma to the brain. The most common symptoms include headaches, memory loss, depression, and/or personality changes. Upon violent impact to the head, a chemical called glutamate accumulates in the brain. High concentrations of glutamate are lethal to brain cells even though the chemical is responsible for learning and memory under normal conditions. Recently, scientists at Rutgers University asked the question: “can we slow the progress of TBIs by targeting glutamate?”

The study was led by Dr. Bonnie Firestein in the Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience. The approach is clever and transformative, as most previous efforts to tackle TBI mainly focus on alleviating symptoms instead of preventing progression of the injury itself. The researchers found that combining lithium and rapamycin together, nerve cells stop sending glutamate signals to other cells. This prevents cells for dying off. Lithium is already used to treat depression and bipolar disorder, while rapamycin is typically used against cancer. Most of the work was done in pitri dishes with cultured nerve cells and animal-based trials are currently underway. This may be a very important breakthrough that might especially benefit children. Young patients with concussions may benefit greatly from such a medication by preventing long term effects of cell death in the developing brain.

Przemyslaw Swiatkowski, Ina Nikolaeva, Gaurav Kumar, Avery Zucco, Barbara F. Akum, Mihir V. Patel, Gabriella D’Arcangelo, Bonnie L. Firestein. Role of Akt-independent mTORC1 and GSK3β signaling in sublethal NMDA-induced injury and the recovery of neuronal electrophysiology and survivalScientific Reports, 2017; 7 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-01826-ws

The Pathways team of professionals has helped thousands of people with brain injuries. We are Dedicated to effective and compassionate care for individuals with neurological challenges.

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Rutgers Researchers Attempt to Slow the Progress of Traumatic Brain Injuries

Biofeedback – How it Works for You

Biofeedback – How it Works for You

For those with brain injury or mental illness, wouldn’t it be nice to “hear” and “see” what is going inside your body in order to gage progress and plan for improvement? Stress, anxiety, and depression are very complex phenomenon with a basis inside the brain. Biofeedback is essentially a tool that measures how your body reacts to various neurological states. The procedure works by attaching electrodes to and various sensors to body to measure 1- heart rate 2- brain activity and 3- muscle tension. During biofeedback sessions, patients are given the opportunity to understand what is going on in their bodies when experiencing various emotional states and stresses. As one begins to learn how his or her body works, one can takes steps to learn how to meditate and relax. Over time, one will begin to take control over emotional state and hopefully improve mental condition.

In peer-reviewed studies, users of biofeedback have been able to control emotional states and activity that lead to stress and headaches. The basis of biofeedback is understanding what is going on in your body during various conditions and practicing control over brain activity. This makes sense: one needs to know how something works to bring about change!

Biofeedback is also useful for a variety of other medical conditions, including:

  • Headaches
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Chronic Pain
  • Asthma
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Sleep Problems

Biofeedback is a favorable method of treatment because there are no recognized negative side effects.

The Pathways team of professionals has helped thousands of people with brain injuries. We are Dedicated to effective and compassionate care for individuals with neurological challenges.

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Biofeedback – How it Works for You

The ADHD Lifestyle Part II: Exercise

The ADHD Lifestyle Part II: Exercise

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What if there was a way to treat ADHD without taking a trip to the pharmacy? Believe it or not, this idea is not too farfetched. Many doctors describe exercise as a natural “medication” that can treat ADHD symptoms effectively. While exercise will most likely not replace traditional treatment options, it can be used as a strong compliment. In fact, exercise often affects the same core component as the stimulants do: one’s executive functions. Memory, inhibition, attention, and prioritization are all examples of executive functions. When one has a strong grip on executive functions and becomes less impulsive, there is a greater chance of behavioral and academic success.

So how does this “medication” work? Again, let’s look to stimulants to find our answer. When children take Ritalin or Adderal, the activity of the neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine are increased. Exercise is a natural way to modulate dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine activity and availability in the brain. When these neurotransmitters are increased, one experiences heightened attention and overall greater use of executive function. If your child is struggling in school, it is a smart idea to look into organized athletic activities that involves consistent participation. It does not matter exactly which sport. Anthything from gymnastics, to karote, to cross country will provide the type of sustained aerobic activity that will be beneficial to your child. More likely than not, you will see increased improvement in conjunction with traditional psychotherapy and/ or pharmaceuticals!

The Pathways team of professionals has helped thousands of people with ADHD & brain injuries. We are Dedicated to effective and compassionate care for individuals with neurological challenges.

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The ADHD Lifestyle Part II: Exercise

Does My Child Need Ritalin for ADHD?

Does My Child Need Ritalin for ADHD?

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Especially for young students with behavioral or academic problems, stimulant medications are thought of as a one-size-fits-all “easy fix.” A parent might be tempted to pursue this route out of legitimate concern for a child and the conception that a pill can be the miracle cure.

But not so fast!

At Pathways, we recommend a comprehensive ADHD evaluation and counseling before starting stimulant medications. Why? First, the presence behavior and academic problems may not necessarily mean one has ADHD. ADHD is a specific developmental disorder relating to executive functions sn emotional control. Depending on the case, stimulant medications may have no positive benefit or, worse, lead to adverse responses. Second, medication is only one piece of the ADHD puzzle. Behavioral counseling and management is an important component of comprehensive ADHD treatment.

Last year, the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology published a paper indicating that stimulant medication is more effective as a supplemental treatment complementing behavioral counseling and management in children ages five to twelve. The results of the studies challenge the extreme reliance on stimulant medications at high doses. When parents were counseled to practice behavioral modification before the start of Ritalin treatment, children displayed more positive results in behavior at school compared to children receiving Ritalin alone. Behavior modifications are based primarily on a reward system and positive feedback. Under this parenting technique, children are rewarded for positive behavior and are taught to delay immediate gratification to get certain tasks complete.

In addition to seeing greater results in school, combination therapy that incorporates counseling and medication turned out to be more cost-saving than treatment and monitoring alone. This may be because treatment is more efficient when tailored to patients’ needs and responsibilities are also slowly taken up by the parents.

The Pathways team of professionals has helped thousands of people with ADHD & brain injuries. We are Dedicated to effective and compassionate care for individuals with neurological challenges.

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Does My Child Need Ritalin for ADHD?

Mindfulness & Your Brain

Mindfulness & Your Brain

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Since ancient Hindu and Chinese times, meditation has been promoted as a medicine for health and success. But does meditation have any basis in Western science? The answer, based on multiple recent peer-reviewed studies, has been overwhelmingly “yes!” Meditation, or mindfulness, can have significant effects on frontal-brain activity that control emotion and concentration. These cognitive changes are not merely spiritual: scientists have demonstrated effects of neural connectivity in association with mindfulness exercises. By imaging the brain, neuro-researchers have looked at frontal brain activity that is associated with executive functions, or the ability to take a pro-active approach in controlling one’s actions. Such improvements garnered from meditation may improve working memory, multi-tasking, and concentration ability.

The research makes intuitive sense if one thinks of mindfulness as the ability to concentrate. If one “exercises” mindfulness via meditation, then cognitive ability can increase as if a muscle during a physical workout. Neuroscientists are beginning to unlock the complex mechanisms in which behavior can affect brain activity.

Scientists at Stanford University and UCSF made a profound step towards connecting a form mindfulness exercise with effects at the cellular level (“neurons” are cells of the brain). In the study, researchers examined the effects of deep breathing on higher-order brain function, specifically relating to arousal. The researchers targeted a specific region of the brain that is known to control regular breathing rhythms. They then keyed in on a specific group of neurons within the breathing regulator region that, when disabled, led to dramatic decreases in alertness and response. The study implicated this region of breathing control to a region of the brain that deals with alertness, attention, panic, and arousal. The studies raise the possibility that controlled, deep breathing could promote mental calming and other effects relating to higher cognitive function.

The Pathways team of professionals has helped thousands of people with brain injuries. We are Dedicated to effective and compassionate care for individuals with neurological challenges.

Can Meditation and Relaxation Boost Your Memory and Improve Attention?

Definitely! Research has shown that meditation can physically change brain structure to increase mental efficacy the quality associated with a higher intelligence. Anxiety and stress are frequent causes of memory and attention difficulties. Biofeedback is an effective way to combat these problems.

Contact us and Schedule a Biofeedback appointment

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Mindfulness & Your Brain

The ADHD Lifestyle Part I: Diet

The ADHD Lifestyle Part I: Diet

The ADHD Lifestyle Part I: Diet

The brain is vital organ that, like the other organs in the body, depend on nutrients for healthy function and endurance. Those with ADHD are even more dependent on proper nutrients and sleep. Cognition, memory, and mood may all be affected by eating well. More importantly, unhealthy eating and poor sleep can exacerbate ADHD symptoms and make a profound difference in academic success. Studies have shown that the elimination of processed sugars and other unwholesome foods improve ADHD symptoms in the majority of study participants. Why does diet make such a profound impact? Food influences the chemicals in the brain that are involved in ADHD. Importantly, serotonin and dopamine are the major players here. In addition to influencing ADHD symptoms, serotonin levels can also influence sleep behavior.

While not technically a drug, healthy nutrients in everyday food can be thought of as a potent “medication” that may profoundly impact the performance of one with ADHD. In this light, it is important for one to take his or her “daily dose.” This includes plenty of drinking water, complex carbohydrates, and lean protein gradually and consistently taken in on daily basis. Such behavior will increase positive sleeping behavior while keeping serotonin and dopamine at advantageous levels. Conversely, simple sugars like candy or soda, may create an initial spike in these neurotransmitters, but this will be followed by a sharp decline that will leave on craving even more unhealthy food. The result is a “domino effect” and putting the brain in a chemical state that may strengthen the negative behavioral symptoms of ADHD.

Three quick pointers:

*Drink plenty of water and avoid excessive amounts of caffeine and alcohol. Importantly, stay hydrated while avoiding sugary drinks. Sugar drinks are a waste of calories!

*Eat smart: not all calories are the same! It is important to intake a proper amount of daily calories to feed the brain. However, not all calories will affect ADHD symptoms uniformly. Unfortunately for those with ADHD, impulsive tendencies often lead to consumption of simple carbohydrates such as soda, candy, and processed snacks that cause sharp unsustainable increases in blood sugar. On the other hand, complex carbohydrates, such as fruits and vegetables, will have result in more favorable and sustained neurotransmitter levels. Foods high in protein will help control blood sugar levels. When one consistently practices good habits, some of the cravings for “junk food” will be better controlled. Go for those sweet potatoes and blueberries next time you are at the grocery store!

*Get sleep! Food and sleep are intimately related and, together, they both profoundly affect the behavioral and emotional state of those with ADHD.

The Pathways team of professionals has helped thousands of people with brain injuries. We are Dedicated to effective and compassionate care for individuals with neurological challenges.

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The ADHD Lifestyle Part I: Diet

Neuropsychologists – Basic Neuropsychology Tools Video

Neuropsychologists – Basic Neuropsychology Tools Video

This video reviews common tools of the trade for Neuropsychologists. We utilize a comprehensive approach based on proven, research-based methods to rebuild and restore cognitive behavior.

The Pathways team of professionals has helped thousands of people with brain injuries. We are Dedicated to effective and compassionate care for individuals with neurological challenges.

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Neuropsychologists – Basic Neuropsychology Tools Video

Defining ADHD in Light of Brain Injuries

Defining ADHD in Light of Brain Injuries

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According to the most recent studies, experts define ADHD as a developmental disorder affecting proper use of executive functions. One can think of executive functions as the brain’s “command center,” controlling focus, organization, memory, action, and effort. In short, it is the self-management system of the brain that is tasked with operating unconscious decisions in daily life. As a developmental disorder with a hereditary component, ADHD will present itself as the brain is maturing in childhood. ADHD symptoms are chronic and will often interfere with daily functioning in routine tasks. However, these impairments are situation-dependent. For instance, one with ADHD may show reduced symptoms for an extremely exciting and adrenaline-inducing task, but show carelessness for more mundane, yet essential, tasks.

One of the controversial questions facing experts is: is it possible for adults to develop ADHD later in life if it is truly a developmental disorder? What is definitely true is that adults with no childhood ADHD will report ADHD symptoms later in life: problems starting tasks and projects, estimating time, prioritizing schedule, and completing work without procrastination. Specifically, adults that have experienced menopause or a traumatic brain injury (TBI) are more likely to present with ADHD-like symptoms. Regardless if one wishes to define these cases as ADHD, it is true that events preceding and during adulthood can affect brain function and chemical balance enough to severely impair executive functions. However, treating an adult with TBI and ADHD-like symptoms may add an extra layer of considerations and complexity. For instance, a lot of traditional ADHD treatments may exacerbate TBI symptoms and make the overall condition worse.

A 2015 study in the Journal of Psychiatric Research links TBI with ADHD-like symptoms by interviewing patients in Ontario, Canada. However, the results are not black and white. Some interpret the data and conclude that TBI’s influence the brain’s chemical and structural makeup lead to ADHD-like symptoms. TBI, in these cases, transform one’s psycho-neurological makeup leading to ADHD in adults. Other doctors, however, argue that ADHD patients are more likely to partake in high risk behavior that would lead to TBI’s in the first place. It is a classic debate of the chicken and the egg. Proper classification can be tricky, as both TBI and ADHD exhibit symptoms such as impulsive behavior, memory impairment, organization, and use of executive functions. One who is experiencing ADHD symptoms with a TBI should seek professional consultation to make sure both are treated sufficiently without stressing one or the other.

The Pathways team of professionals has helped thousands of people with brain injuries. We are Dedicated to effective and compassionate care for individuals with neurological challenges.

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Defining ADHD in Light of Brain Injuries

How Do You Know If You Have A Concussion?

How Do You Know If You Have A Concussion?

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The dreaded “C-word” is thrown around in everyday life, most notably in sports. However, many can be left unsure if they have a concussion, or mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Often, there are often no physical signs during a concussion. The most important thing to understand about a concussion is that it is a brain injury and, as a consequence, must be caused by direct or indirect impact on the brain. Brain injury caused by factors other than impact, such as an infection or blood supply to brain, are not concussions.

Well, then how do you know if you have a concussion? All concussions involve a traumatic impact to the head accompanied  by either loss of consciousness (LOC), alteration of consciousness,post traumatic amnesia or focal neurological signs. These are telltale signs that you should be concerned about the prospect of a concussion. However, an important rule of thumb is to seriously consider the possibility of a concussion anytime impact to the head is involved. As stated previously, a concussion is caused by physical injury to the brain. Note that impact can caused by collision between the brain and the skull, which is possible during periods of rapid acceleration changes (such as car accidents). When evaluating for signs of concussion, keep in mind that not all concussions are the same. Therefore, a two people with concussions may experience completely different symptoms. Moreover, the length, onset, and severity of symptoms is rarely, if ever, the same. Since some of the symptoms of a concussion can present weeks after the initial impact, it is important to continue to monitor symptoms beyond the immediate aftermath of an injury.

Often, children and adults will complain about “not feeling themselves.” The following are additional common symptoms of a concussion:

*Persistent headaches

*Difficulty or slowness in remembering, concentrating, making decisions, thinking, speaking, acting, or reading

*Confusion

*Low energy

*Fluctuations in mood

*Disrupted sleep patterns

*Light-headedness, dizziness, or loss of balance

*Nausea

*Sensitivity to lights, sounds, or distractions

*Compromised vision, smell, or taste

*Ringing in the ears

If you or loved one are suspicious of having a concussion, make an appointment for professional evaluation right away. This will help avoid further damage. For employees and athletes, professional guidance is crucial to “return to the field.”

The Pathways team of professionals has helped thousands of people with brain injuries. We are Dedicated to effective and compassionate care for individuals with neurological challenges.

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How Do You Know If You Have A Concussion?