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All posts by Angela Gabella

Good brain Better balance

Good Brain = Better Balance

Good Brain = Better Balance

Do you wobble if you stand on one foot? How about with your eyes closed? If you walk in a straight heel-to-toe line do you stumble? How about with your eyes closed? If you stand with your feet together and close your eyes do you sway to one side? Do you walk with a wide base gait? Do feel like you’re going to fall when walking down the stairs if you don’t hold the handrail?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then you have balance issues which may be an indicator of compromised brain health and increased risk of developing dementia later in life.

Balance is governed largely by the cerebellum, the area at the base of the brain that also helps with precision, coordination, and timing of motor movements, and maintaining an upright posture. The cerebellum and Vestibular system are the most active brain structures because they continually process information from gravity which allows people to stand upright. Treatment for balance issues must activate and remap connections in the cerebellum and vestibular system.

A healthy cerebellum is important because it constantly feeds a steady stream of information to the entire brain, which is necessary for overall good brain health and function.

When neurons in the cerebellum or vestibular system are damaged or connections to other brain structures break down many symptoms can develop. This may include balance issues, dizziness, stumbling, and even falling. If the brain has to work very hard to just maintain upright posture it becomes very difficult to perform more complex tasks like thinking, memory, and organizing thoughts. 

This can cause problems in other areas of the brain that may seem totally unrelated to balance. These symptoms may include restless leg syndrome, tinnitus, tremors, feeling shaky, hypersensitivity, cognitive decline, depression, fatigue, anxiety, and many more. These are signs the brain is functioning poorly and degenerating too quickly leading to an increased risk for developing dementia or Parkinson’s later in life.

You’re never too young or too fit to work on improving your balance as it’s a great way to help protect and preserve your brain health.

Treatment for Balance Problems

There are several ways to protect the health of your cerebellum. One is to perform balance exercisesYoga and tai chi are also beneficial. As your balance improves, continually challenge yourself, such as by doing your balance exercises on a wobble board or Bosu ball. Just be safe!

Follow an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle. The brain is very sensitive to inflammation, including the cerebellum. Junk foods, sugars, and processed carbohydrates, lack of sleep, too much stress, lack of exercise — these are all factors that can accelerate degeneration in the cerebellum and the rest of the brain.

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Hands and Feet- Brain

Dysautonomia- What your Hands & Feet Reveal About Brain Health

What your hands & feet reveal about brain health

Although your hands and feet are located the farthest distance from your brain, the health of your feet and hands can give you clues about the health of your brain.
Dysautonomia refers to a disorder of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) function. The disorder develops when there is an imbalance between the sympathetic or parasympathetic components of the ANS.
Dysautonomia can be seen in the hands and feet as temperature and vascular changes. The vessels that supply the most distal extremities originated embryologically from the same cells that migrate to form the small vessels around the brain.
Blood supply is crucial for delivering oxygen and glucose to all cells in the body. If blood is delivered to the brain adequately, neurons will starve of oxygen and glucose. Over time when these starved neurons are activated, they will die off due to a limited supply of oxygen.
Dysautonomia results from improper control over blood circulation. Your hands and feet can reveal dysautonomia indicating decreased oxygen supply to your brain as well. When blood circulation to your most distal extremities is poor it’s a red flag that blood supply to the brain is compromised as well. Just because you can breathe doesn’t mean your brain is getting enough oxygen.
If your brain is not getting enough oxygen it won’t function well. You may notice brain fog, declining memory, that you tire more easily, and that it is harder to learn new things. Depression is another common symptom. Poor brain oxygen is a serious matter because it accelerates degeneration of your brain—vascular dementia from lack of blood flow to the brain is the second most common type of dementia after Alzheimer’s.

Feet and hand symptoms that could point to problems in your brain

Cold hands and feet are often seen in conditions such as dysautonomia, POTs, RSD, concussion, mTBI, and complex regional pain syndrome. If your feet and toes are colder than your ankles or calves, this means circulation is poor to your feet, and hence to your brain. It’s hard to measure your own skin temperature so have someone else compare the temperature of your calves and ankles with that of your feet and toes. The small vessels that supply blood to your feet and hands which keep them warm and pink are homologous to the vessels that also supply blood to the brain. The same vasoconstriction (blood vessels shrinking) or dilation (expanding) of blood vessels that occurs in your distal extremities is also occurring in your brain. Cold fingers and a cold nose are a problem many people suffer from.

Chronic Fungal Growth in Toenails

Do you have chronic fungal nail infections, or chronic athlete’s foot? When circulation is poor the blood is not able to carry oxygen, immune cells, and nutrients to the feet to keep them healthy. As a result, infections can take root and be difficult to impossible to banish while circulation is poor. General nail health will also be poor. This is a sign circulation in your brain is also compromised.

White Nail Beds; poor capillary refill time

The nail beds of your toes should be a healthy pink color. If they are pale or white this is another symptom of poor circulation. Also, when you press down on a nail bed it turns white, but the pink color should return instantly. If it takes a few seconds for the color to return, this means blood flow to the nails is poor, as is blood flow to the brain.

Foot Cramps

Sometimes people with poor circulation get foot cramps that seem impossible to relieve. This is because there is not enough blood and oxygen flowing to the muscles in the feet. They may also get cramps in their hands. Again, these are signs that blood flow to the brain may be poor.

Treatment for Dysautonomia Through Brain-based Therapies

It’s important to rule out a health condition that can cause poor blood flow to your feet, such as hypothyroidism, anemia, a heart condition, diabetes, or low blood pressure. Normal blood pressure is considered 120/70. If either number varies 10 points when moving from seated, standing, or lying down this indicates Dysautonomia. These physical findings reveal that blood is not getting pumped into the distant capillaries of the feet and the brain.
People with low blood pressure typically also have low blood sugar (reactive hypoglycemia) and fatigue. It’s important to stabilize blood sugar by avoiding sugars and processed carbohydrates and not skipping meals. Exercise is great for increasing circulation. Short bursts of high-intensity exercise can increase blood circulation throughout the body.
Nutritional compounds can also support blood flow to your feet and your brain. Visit Precision Brain Center to receive treatment for Dysautonomia, POTs, and Vasovagal Syncope.
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Depression

Depression Symptoms

What are depression symptoms? Are you or a loved one suffering from depression and in search of treatment that addresses the root cause? Contact our clinic to learn about our Brain Rehabilitation approach that will get you back on the road to living a happy life again! Below you will find an explanation from NIMH on what depressive disorders are.

Everyone occasionally feels blue or sad. But these feelings are usually short-lived and pass within a couple of days. When you have depression, it interferes with daily life and causes pain for both you and those who care about you. Depression is a common but serious illness.

Many people with a depressive illness never seek treatment. But the majority, even those with the most severe depression, can get better with treatment. Medications, psychotherapies, and other methods can effectively treat people with depression.

There are several forms of depressive disorders.

Major depression — severe symptoms that interfere with your ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy life. An episode can occur only once in a person’s lifetime, but more often, a person has several episodes.

Persistent depressive disorder — depressed mood that lasts for at least 2 years. A person diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder may have episodes of major depression along with periods of less severe symptoms, but symptoms must last for 2 years.

Some forms of depression are slightly different, or they may develop under unique circumstances. They include:

  • Psychotic depression, which occurs when a person has severe depression plus some form of psychosis, such as having disturbing false beliefs or a break with reality (delusions), or hearing or seeing upsetting things that others cannot hear or see (hallucinations).
  • Postpartum depression, which is much more serious than the “baby blues” that many women experience after giving birth, when hormonal and physical changes and the new responsibility of caring for a newborn can be overwhelming. It is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of women experience postpartum depression after giving birth.
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is characterized by the onset of depression during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. The depression generally lifts during spring and summer. SAD may be effectively treated with light therapy, but nearly half of those with SAD do not get better with light therapy alone. Antidepressant medication and psychotherapy can reduce SAD symptoms, either alone or in combination with light therapy.
  • Bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive illness, is not as common as major depression or persistent depressive disorder. Bipolar disorder is characterized by cycling mood changes—from extreme highs (e.g., mania) to extreme lows (e.g., depression).

Signs & Symptoms
“It was really hard to get out of bed in the morning. I just wanted to hide under the covers and not talk to anyone. I didn’t feel much like eating and I lost a lot of weight. Nothing seemed fun anymore. I was tired all the time, and I wasn’t sleeping well at night. But I knew I had to keep going because I’ve got kids and a job. It just felt so impossible, like nothing was going to change or get better.”

People with depressive illnesses do not all experience the same symptoms. The severity, frequency, and duration of symptoms vary depending on the individual and his or her particular illness.

Signs and symptoms include:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Overeating, or appetite loss
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment.

Resource from The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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Biology of Repairing Brain Cells

Repairing Brain Connections

Researchers find a new pathway for neuron repair

Researchers have discovered a brand-new pathway for repairing nerve cells that could have implications for faster and improved healing. These findings demonstrate that dendrites, the component of nerve cells that receive information from the brain, have the capacity to regrow after an injury.

Using the fruit fly (Drosophila) as a model system, the researchers took what Rolls calls a “radical approach,” cutting off all of the dendrites in neuron cells.

“By cutting off all the dendrites, the cells would no longer be able to receive information, and we expected they might die. We were amazed to find that the cells don’t die. Instead, they regrow the dendrites completely and much more quickly than they regrow axons. Within a few hours they’ll start regrowing dendrites, and after a couple of days, they have almost their entire arbor. It’s very exciting — these cells are extremely robust.”

Moreover, it appears that dendrite regeneration happens independently of axon regeneration. When Rolls and her colleagues blocked the key signaling molecules that are required for axon regeneration in all animals, they found that dendrites were unaffected and continued to regrow. “This means that, not only do these neurons have an incredible ability to generate, they have two different regeneration pathways: one for axons and one for dendrites,” she said. “Because it has not even been clear that dendrites can regenerate, it’s a complete open question about what might be involved in that process.

Repairing brain connections requires an in-depth knowledge of the nervous system and a systematic approach to activating multiple sensory systems together to remap communicating connections between neurons throughout the brain.

Resource

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health Grant #R01 GM085115 and the Pew Charitable Trusts. (Rolls was a Pew Scholar in the biomedical sciences.)

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