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[WEB SITE] Researchers develop new prediction method for epileptic seizures

Epileptic seizures strike with little warning and nearly one third of people living with epilepsy are resistant to treatment that controls these attacks. More than 65 million people worldwide are living with epilepsy.

Now researchers at the University of Sydney have used advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning to develop a generalized method to predict when seizures will strike that will not require surgical implants.

Dr Omid Kavehei from the Faculty of Engineering and IT and the University of Sydney Nano Institute said: “We are on track to develop an affordable, portable and non-surgical device that will give reliable prediction of seizures for people living with treatment-resistant epilepsy.”

In a paper published this month in Neural Networks, Dr Kavehei and his team have proposed a generalized, patient-specific, seizure-prediction method that can alert epilepsy sufferers within 30 minutes of the likelihood of a seizure.

Dr Kavehei said there had been remarkable advances in artificial intelligence as well as micro- and nano-electronics that have allowed the development of such systems.

“Just four years ago, you couldn’t process sophisticated AI through small electronic chips. Now it is completely accessible. In five years, the possibilities will be enormous,” Dr Kavehei said.

The study uses three data sets from Europe and the United States. Using that data, the team has developed a predictive algorithm with sensitivity of up to 81.4 percent and false prediction rate as low as 0.06 an hour.

“While this still leaves some uncertainty, we expect that as our access to seizure data increases, our sensitivity rates will improve,” Dr Kavehei said.

Carol Ireland, chief executive of Epilepsy Action Australia, said: “Living with constant uncertainty significantly contributes to increased anxiety in people with epilepsy and their families, never knowing when the next seizure may occur.

“Even people with well controlled epilepsy have expressed their constant concern, not knowing if or when they will experience a seizure at work, school, traveling or out with friends.

“Any progress toward reliable seizure prediction will significantly impact the quality of life and freedom of choice for people living with epilepsy.”

Dr Kavehei and lead author of the study, Nhan Duy Truong, used deep machine learning and data-mining techniques to develop a dynamic analytical tool that can read a patient’s electroencephalogram, or EEG, data from a wearable cap or other portable device to gather EEG data.

Wearable technology could be attached to an affordable device based on the readily available Raspberry Pi technology that could give a patient a 30-minute warning and percentage likelihood of a seizure.

An alarm would be triggered between 30 and five minutes before a seizure onset, giving patients time to find a safe place, reduce stress or initiate an intervention strategy to prevent or control the seizure.

Dr Kavehei said an advantage of their system is that is unlikely to require regulatory approval, and could easily work with existing implanted systems or medical treatments.

The algorithm that Dr Kavehei and team have developed can generate optimized features for each patient. They do this using what is known as a ‘convolutional neural network’, that is highly attuned to noticing changes in brain activity based on EEG readings.

Other technologies being developed typically require surgical implants or rely on high levels of feature engineering for each patient. Such engineering requires an expert to develop optimized features for each prediction task.

An advantage of Dr Kavehei’s methodology is that the system learns as brain patterns change, requiring minimum feature engineering. This allows for faster and more frequent updates of the information, giving patients maximum benefit from the seizure prediction algorithm.

The next step for the team is to apply the neural networks across much larger data sets of seizure information, improving sensitivity. They are also planning to develop a physical prototype to test the system clinically with partners at the University of Sydney’s Westmead medical campus.

 

via Researchers develop new prediction method for epileptic seizures

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[WEB SITE] Learning stress-reducing techniques may benefit people with epilepsy

Learning techniques to help manage stress may help people with epilepsy reduce how often they have seizures, according to a study published in the February 14, 2018, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“Despite all the advances we have made with new drugs for epilepsy, at least one-third of people continue to have seizures, so new options are greatly needed,” said study author Sheryl R. Haut, MD, of Montefiore Medical Center and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, NY, and member of the American Academy of Neurology. “Since stress is the most common seizure trigger reported by patients, research into reducing stress could be valuable.”

The study involved people with seizures that did not respond well to medication. While all of the 66 participants were taking drugs for seizures, all continued to have at least four seizures during about two months before the study started.

During the three-month treatment period all of the participants met with a psychologist for training on a behavioral technique that they were then asked to practice twice a day, following an audio recording. If they had a day where they had signs that they were likely to have a seizure soon, they were asked to practice the technique another time that day. The participants filled out daily electronic diaries on any seizures, their stress level, and other factors such as sleep and mood.

Half of the participants learned the progressive muscle relaxation technique, a stress reduction method where each muscle set is tensed and relaxed, along with breathing techniques. The other participants were the control group-;they took part in a technique called focused attention. They did similar movements as the other group, but without the muscle relaxation, plus other tasks focusing on attention, such as writing down their activities from the day before. The study was conducted in a blinded fashion so that participants and evaluators were not aware of treatment group assignment.

Before the study, the researchers had hypothesized that the people doing the muscle relaxing exercises would show more benefits from the study than the people doing the focused attention exercises, but instead they found that both groups showed a benefit-;and the amount of benefit was the same.

The group doing the muscle relaxing exercises had 29 percent fewer seizures during the study than they did before it started, while the focused attention group had 25 percent fewer seizures, which is not a significant difference, Haut said. She added that study participants were highly motivated as was shown by the nearly 85 percent diary completion rate over a five-month period.

“It’s possible that the control group received some of the benefits of treatment in the same way as the ‘active’ group, since they both met with a psychologist and every day monitored their mood, stress levels and other factors, so they may have been better able to recognize symptoms and respond to stress,” said Haut. “Either way, the study showed that using stress-reducing techniques can be beneficial for people with difficult-to-treat epilepsy, which is good news.”

Haut said more research is needed with larger numbers of people and testing other stress reducing techniques like mindfulness based cognitive therapy to determine how these techniques could help improve quality of life for people with epilepsy.

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[WEB SITE] Monitor stress, seizures, activity, sleep

Embrace it’s wearable device designed to improve the lives of the people with epilepsy.

 

“Embrace is glorious in design, very sleek and attractive. Living in a world of seizure helmets and wheelchairs it is nice to have such an unobtrusive and attractive device.

 

A gorgeous smart watch for you

The case is made of strong, polished metal with either an elegant leather or an elastic fabric band. Embrace is the thinnest smart watch of this kind ever made. It snaps on, then tightens with a magnet for perfect fit. […]

Source: Monitor stress, seizures, activity, sleep

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[WEB SITE] Stress and Stress Management Post-TBI – BrainLine

Stress and Stress Management Post-TBI

Question: 

Why does stress bring back my TBI symptoms with a vengeance? It feels like a knife reopening a wound. What goes wrong in the brain after injury that makes this happen?

Answer: 

Stress occurs when there is a gap between the current task demands and the resources you have to meet those demands. Your brain interprets this as a threat. Acute stress — as in immediate physical danger — produces a physical reaction (the fight-or-flight response) that includes increased pupil dilation, perspiration, increased heart rate and blood pressure, rapid breathing, muscle tension, and increased mental alertness. However, less immediately threatening or prolonged stressors, such as ongoing money problems, too many things to get done in one day, even something like unexpected company, will produce these reactions. They may occur to a lessor degree, but ongoing stress reactions, even mild ones, will result in your body preparing for a long-term protective response.

Fatigue, concentration lapses, irritability, and lethargy result as the stress continues without relief. You probably recognize these as some of the TBI symptoms you feel coming back with a vengeance. Having experienced a TBI makes you both more susceptible to these symptoms, and these symptoms make it more difficult for you to effectively use whatever coping or compensatory strategies you may have developed to manage your TBI symptoms.

Learning to manage stress is important for all of us, and of particular importance to the recovery process after TBI. Techniques such as relaxation, time management, goal-setting, organization, cognitive-behavioral techniques, and lifestyle modifications can all be helpful in managing stress. It is recommended that you get some help and support in figuring out which of these techniques will be most useful for you from a mental health provider, a case manager, a life coach, a support group, or even a good friend if the stress levels are not overwhelming or seriously affecting your life. There are plenty of resources available for stress management, and a lot of information online, but sifting through it and tailoring it for your particular needs may be challenging without some support.

For more information on stress and stress management, click here.

Source: Stress and Stress Management Post-TBI | BrainLine

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[BLOG POST] Common Epilepsy Triggers – Epilepsy Talk

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[WEB PAGE] Stressed out? Try talking to yourself in the third person

New research shows that talking to yourself in the third person may help to relieve stress and anxiety.

From meditation to physical activity, there are various things that we can do to regain control over our emotions during stressful times. But what if there was an easier way of doing that? New research investigates the effect of talking to yourself in third person on emotion management.

A team of researchers, led by scientists from Michigan State University in East Lansing and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, set out to examine the neuropsychological effect of talking to oneself in the third person on controlling one’s emotions.

The researchers’ hypothesis was that talking to oneself in the same way that one would about others would provide some much-needed psychological distance, which may help to control emotions.

The new study – which is published in the journal Scientific Reports – consists of two neuroscientific experiments that tested this hypothesis.

Using an electroencephalograph

In the first experiment – which was conducted at the Clinical Psychophysiology Lab and led by Prof. Jason Moser, of Michigan State University – participants were asked to look at emotionally aversive images (for example, a man pointing a gun at their heads) and neutral images.

They were asked to view these images in both conditions: the first-person condition, and the third-person condition.

In the former, the participants asked themselves, “What am I feeling right now?” But in the latter condition, they asked themselves, “What is [participant’s name] feeling right now?”

The participants’ brain activity was monitored using an electroencephalograph.

Referring to themselves in the third person reduced the participants’ brain activity across the neural mechanisms that are known to be involved in emotional regulation – and it did so almost immediately, within 1 second.

Interestingly, the brain activity – as recorded by the electroencephalograph – did not show an increase in cognitive control markers, which suggests that the strategy is effective at managing stress in a cognitively effortless way.

Talking to oneself inside an fMRI machine

In the second experiment, participants were asked to recall emotionally distressing experiences from their past in both first-person and third-person conditions.

This time, however, their brain activity was monitored using a functional MRI (fMRI) machine.

The second experiment revealed decreased activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, an area known to be a marker for self-referential emotional processing.

So, the third-person technique decreased activity in the brain area involved in processing painful autobiographical emotional memories.

However, reinforcing the findings of the first experiment, the second experiment did not reveal increased activity in the brain network involved in the cognitive control of emotions, the frontoparietal network.

This suggested, once again, that talking to oneself in the third person may be a simple and cognitively inexpensive way of reducing negative emotions on the spot.

Essentially, we think referring to yourself in the third person leads people to think about themselves more similar to how they think about others, and you can see evidence for this in the brain. That helps people gain a tiny bit of psychological distance from their experiences, which can often be useful for regulating emotions.”

Prof. Jason Moser

“What’s really exciting here,” says the leader of the second study, Ethan Kross, of the University of Michigan, “is that the brain data from these two complementary experiments suggest that third-person self-talk may constitute a relatively effortless form of emotion regulation.”

“If this ends up being true – we won’t know until more research is done – there are lots of important implications these findings have for our basic understanding of how self-control works, and for how to help people control their emotions in daily life,” concludes Kross.

Source: Stressed out? Try talking to yourself in the third person

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[WEB SITE] Stress and Epilepsy – Epilepsy Foundation

 

  • Seizures and epilepsy affect all ages. While they tend to occur for the first time in young children or older adults, each age group has unique concerns and problems.
  • We aren’t sure just why stress may trigger a seizure.
  • While there is no definite evidence that reducing stress help seizures, a recent study showed that nearly 9 in 10 people who actively managed their stress believed it reduced their risk of seizures.
  • Try to avoid stressful situations if it makes sense to do so, and if you can avoid it.

Stress is one of the most common seizure triggers for people with epilepsy.

 

How often does stress trigger seizures?

It’s hard to know exactly how often stress triggers seizures, since stress means something different to everyone. It’s also hard to judge how much of an effect stress has on a person.

Stress comes in different forms and has a different meaning for everyone. It can come from a major life event or from more everyday activities that can potentially put us in a bad mood. Some studies have found that major life stressors, either good or bad, could affect seizures. Others have found that a build up of ‘daily hassles’ or stress seems to be more important. Since people are very different, it’s likely that stress can affect people in different ways at different times of their life.

VIDEO: Dr. Michael Privitera, MD talks about the relationship of stress and epilepsy, and an innovative new study to explore how stress reduction may also reduce seizures. 

How does stress trigger seizures?

We aren’t sure just why stress may trigger a seizure. Stress is an expected and unavoidable part of life. It is our body’s reaction to any change that requires a physical and emotional response. Stress is known to cause worry, depression, frustration and even anger. Stress may affect people in many ways. Consider the following:

  • Stress makes or releases certain hormones related to the nervous system that can impact the brain.
  • Areas of the brain important for some types of seizures, for example partial seizures, are the same areas of the brain involved in emotions and responding to stress.
  • Stress can cause problems sleeping which is also a seizure trigger.
  • Chronic stress can lead to anxiety or depression. Sleep problems are symptoms of these mood problems. Being anxious and depressed can also worsen stress, causing a vicious cycle with more seizures and mood problems.

What can I do to manage stress and prevent seizures?

While there is no definite evidence that reducing stress help seizures, a recent study showed that nearly 9 in 10 people who actively managed their stress believed it reduced their risk of seizures. Common sense tells us that if something is bothering you, see what you can do to avoid it or make it better.

Managing stress is very personal and specific to your situation; however, there are some universal activities and recommendations.

  • Use a diary and write down what’s likely to cause stress for you.
  • Try to avoid stressful situations if it makes sense to do so, and if you can avoid it! If you can’t avoid it, can you let go of the worry it’s causing you?
  • When a stressful situation is unavoidable, make sure you are doing your best to get enough sleep and take your seizure medications on time.
  • Find ways to diffuse a situation. Avoid people who cause anger and anxiety if you can. Try to approach them differently – it may help calm down the stressful situation.
  • Exercise regularly. Lots of research has shown the exercise helps lower stress.
  • Do your best to relax. Try exercise, yoga, tai chi, Pilates, a massage, cat naps, or relaxation and controlled breathing techniques.
  • Limit long naps during the day. Sleeping during the day will cause sleep problems at night and make people feel worse.
  • Keep to a daily routine. Pace yourself and take frequent breaks.
  • Set priorities for what is important in your life and let the rest go.
  • Seek help. Talk to your doctor, nurse, or counselor. Let them know what’s bothering you.
    • Make sure the epilepsy team knows that stress is affecting your seizures.
    • Seek counseling or psychotherapy. If you think you may have anxiety or depression, talk to you doctor about treatment options.
    • Join a support group or online support community. Reach out to the Epilepsy Foundation affiliate near you.
Authored by: Michael Privitera, MD | Sheryl Haut, MD | Patricia O. Shafer, RN, MN | Joseph I. Sirven, MD on 7/2013
Reviewed by: Joseph I. Sirven, MD | Patricia O. Shafer, RN, MN on 3/2014

Source: Stress and Epilepsy | Epilepsy Foundation

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[WEB SITE] UC study explores how low risk stress reduction treatments may benefit epilepsy patients

Patients with epilepsy face many challenges, but perhaps the most difficult of all is the unpredictability of seizure occurrence. One of the most commonly reported triggers for seizures is stress.

A recent review article in the European journal Seizure, by researchers at University of Cincinnati Epilepsy Center at the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute, looks at the stress-seizure relationship and how adopting stress reduction techniques may provide benefit as a low risk form of treatment.

The relationship between stress and seizures has been well documented over the last 50 years. It has been noted that stress can not only increase seizure susceptibility and in rare cases a form of reflex epilepsy, but also increase the risk of the development of epilepsy, especially when stressors are severe, prolonged, or experienced early in life.

“Studies to date have looked at the relationship from many angles,” says Michael Privitera, MD, director of the UC Epilepsy Center and professor in the Department of Neurology and Rehabilitation Medicine at the UC College of Medicine. “The earliest studies from the 1980s were primarily diaries of patients who described experiencing more seizures on ‘high-stress days’ than on ‘low-stress days.'”

Privitera and Heather McKee, MD, an assistant professor in the Department of Neurology and Rehabilitation Medicine, looked at 21 studies from the 1980s to present–from patients who kept diaries of stress levels and correlation of seizure frequency, to tracking seizures after major life events, to fMRI studies that looked at responses to stressful verbal/auditory stimuli.

“Most all [of these studies] show increases in seizure frequency after high-stress events. Studies have also followed populations who have collectively experienced stressful events, such as the effects of war, trauma or natural disaster, or the death of a loved one,” says Privitera. All of which found increased seizure risk during such a time of stress.

For example, a 2002 study evaluated the occurrence of epileptic seizures during the war in Croatia in the early 1990s. Children from war-affected areas had epileptic seizures more often than children not affected by the war. Additionally, the 10-year follow up showed that patients who had their first epileptic seizure during a time of stress were more likely to have controlled epilepsy or even be off medication years later.

“Stress is a subjective and highly individualized state of mental or emotional strain. Although it’s quite clear that stress is an important and common seizure precipitant, it remains difficult to obtain objective conclusions about a direct causal factor for individual epilepsy patients,” says McKee.

Another aspect of the stress-seizure relationship is the finding by UC researchers that there were higher anxiety levels in patients with epilepsy who report stress as a seizure precipitant. The researchers suggest patients who believe stress is a seizure trigger may want to talk with their health care provider about screening for anxiety.

“Any patient reporting stress as a seizure trigger should be screened for a treatable mood disorder, especially considering that mood disorders are so common within this population,” adds McKee.

The researchers report that while some small prospective trials using general stress reduction methods have shown promise in improving outcomes in people with epilepsy, large-scale, randomized, controlled trials are needed to convince both patients and providers that stress reduction methods should be standard adjunctive treatments for people with epilepsy.

“What I think some of these studies point to is that efforts toward stress reduction techniques, though somewhat inconsistent, have shown promise in reducing seizure frequency. We need future research to establish evidence-based treatments and clarify biological mechanisms of the stress-seizure relationship,” says Privitera.

Overall, he says, recommending stress reduction methods to patients with epilepsy “could improve overall quality of life and reduce seizure frequency at little to no risk.”

Some low risk stress reduction techniques may include controlled deep breathing, relaxation or mindfulness therapy, as well as exercise, or establishing routines.

Source: UC study explores how low risk stress reduction treatments may benefit epilepsy patients

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[WEB SITE] Life after stroke: Tips for recovering communication skills – Medical News Today

Every year in the United States, more than 795,000 people have a stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Furthermore, the United Kingdom’s Stroke Association note that 1 in 3 people will experience communication problems after a stroke.
[stroke]
Stroke can lead to ongoing communication problems, but recovery is often possible.

Unfortunately, we often judge people on how well they communicate. From the outside, a person who has difficulty speaking may appear to have difficulty thinking, too, but this is not necessarily true.

For a person who has had a stroke, the ability to think and communicate depends on the part, or parts, of the brain that have been affected.

Having a stroke can be a frightening and frustrating experience. Not being able to tell people what is going on in the aftermath can extend the trauma.

Friends and family members, for their part, can also find themselves tongue-tied. They may feel embarrassed, lost for words, or they may think that this is no longer the person they once knew.

Post-stroke rehabilitation can help people to regain some or all of their skills. Speech therapists specialize in communication, but nonspecialists can also play a key role.

It is important for friends and relatives to understand that what a person expresses on the outside, after a stroke, is not necessarily what is going on in their head. They should also remember that, although a person faces new challenges after experiencing a stroke, they are still the same person.

This article will offer some tips from people who have “been there” that can give us the necessary skills for helping someone get back to communicating after a stroke.

How does a stroke affect communication?

A stroke is a brain injury that results from bleeding or a blockage in the brain. The effects can be sudden or gradual, and the damage may impact various aspects of mental and physical health.

These include:

  • Motor skills
  • The senses, including reactions to pain
  • Language
  • Thinking and memory
  • Emotions.

A stroke can affect a person’s use of language in a variety of ways.

Not only can the processing of language be impaired, but paralysis or physical weakness in the face, tongue, or throat muscles could make it hard to swallow, control breathing, and form sounds.

The type and extent of communication problems will depend on the form of stroke and what kind of injury has occurred. The damage and resulting levels of ability will also vary.

The Stroke Association describe three conditions that affect communication after a stroke: aphasia, dysarthria, and dyspraxia. A person may experience one or a combination of these.

Aphasia

Aphasia, or dysphasia, results from damage to one of the “language control centers” in the brain. While it influences communication, it does not impact intelligence. It may affect just one type of communication – for example, reading, listening or speaking, or a combination.

Fast facts about stroke

  • Stroke can lead to paralysis or weakness on one side of the body
  • There may be difficulty with thinking, awareness, attention, learning, judgment, and memory
  • It can be hard to understand or form speech
  • Mood and emotions can be affected.

Learn more about stroke

Damage to a part of the brain known as Wernicke’s area can lead to receptive aphasia.

This makes it difficult to understand long and complex sentences, especially if there is background noise, or if more than one person is talking. The person may feel as if others are speaking in a foreign language. Their own speech may also become incoherent.

If there is damage to Broca’s area, expressive aphasia can result.

The person can understand others, but they will be unable to explain themselves. They can think the words, but they cannot speak them or put them together in order to make coherent, grammatically correct sentences.

A person with expressive aphasia may be able to make sounds or say short words or parts of sentences, but they may miss out important words or use the wrong word. They might have the word “on the tip of the tongue,” but not be able to get it out.

It may seem to the speaker that they are talking normally, but to a listener, it can sound like nonsense. Listeners may believe that the speaker is confused when they are not. They just cannot get the ideas across.

Damage that affects multiple areas of the brain can lead to mixed, or global, aphasia with challenges in all aspects of communication. The person may no longer use language to convey thought.

Dysarthria and dyspraxia

Dysarthria and dyspraxia relate to the physical production of speech sounds.

A person with dysarthria can find the words, but they cannot form them because of a physical problem, such as muscular weakness. This may cause the words to come out slurred or in short bursts. This slurring does not necessarily reflect the person’s state of mind. It is likely that only their ability to communicate is limited.

Dyspraxia involves difficulty with movement and coordination, so that the muscles needed for speech sounds may not work properly or in the correct order. This, too, can affect speech.

Other changes

Other changes that can make it hard to contribute to conversations include:

  • A loss of voice tone, normally used to express emotions
  • Fixed facial expression
  • Problems understanding humor
  • Inability to take turns in conversation.

These can make the person appear depressed, even if they are not.

Some people are aware that they are experiencing these changes. If so, letting others know what the problem is can help to combat the issue.

However, a person with anosognosia will be unable to recognize that anything is wrong, due to a lack of insight resulting from damage to the brain. This can hinder recovery.

Further problems

Depending on the damage that has occurred, vision and hearing problems can also affect communication and writing ability.

Tiredness is a common result of stroke. Conversation might also be tiring, because it demands so much effort.

After a stroke, stress and personality changes can occur. Stress can exacerbate communication problems, especially if the person becomes impatient with themselves, or if others become impatient.

Mood changes, due to the stroke’s effect on the brain, can further add to the strain.

What does a speech therapist do?

Speech therapy is a key part of rehabilitation after a stroke.

A speech therapist will help people with swallowing; this can be severely impaired, and it has an impact on language production.

[speech therapy]
Speech therapy can involve practicing forming words.

Language practice activities that speech therapists may use include intensive exercises in:

  • Repeating words
  • Following directions
  • Reading and writing.

Examples of more extensive practice are:

  • Conversational coaching
  • Rehearsing speech
  • Developing prompts to help people remember specific words
  • Working out ways to get around language disabilities, such as using symbols and sign language.

Communication technology has expanded the range of ways to practice and improve communication. An example of this is pressing a key to activate a voice simulator.

Some tips from people with first-hand experience

Medical News Today asked two men, Peter Cline and Geoff, about their experience in regaining communication skills after a stroke. Peter, an engineer, had a stroke at the age of 59 when he was just starting a holiday in Tasmania. Geoff, who ran his own business until his retirement, was living in Spain when he became ill.

Both men have worked hard to regain their communication skills.

We asked what advice they would give people in order to help them communicate with someone following a stroke.

They gave us this list of dos:

[singing group]
Songs help some people to relax and communicate.
  • Do look directly at the person when you are speaking to them
  • Do speak slowly and clearly, but use a normal tone of voice
  • Do use short sentences and stick to one topic at a time
  • Do ensure there is no background noise
  • Do reassure the person that you understand their frustration
  • Do write things down, if it will help
  • Do find out about the person’s employment, interests and passions – now and before the stroke – and try to relate to these
  • Do give people a chance to say what they want to say, without jumping in or correcting them.

They also gave us some don’ts:

  • Don’t finish the person’s sentences for them
  • Don’t speak too fast
  • Don’t push them too much
  • Don’t speak to the person while they are driving, for example, because they cannot concentrate
  • Don’t assume that because the person is having difficulty understanding, they must be stupid
  • Don’t “talk down” to the person, or speak to them as if they are a child
  • Don’t keep “rabbiting.”

Geoff told MNT that he feels his communication skills “go up and down.” It becomes harder for him to communicate when he is tired, and when there are more than two people in the conversation.

Both Geoff and Peter have made remarkable progress in their communication skills, and they each offered some words of encouragement for people who have had a stroke.

Geoff’s advice is:

“Take time to recover, and, when communicating, take time to explain, and don’t let yourself feel rushed.”

Peter says:

  • Persevere and don’t give up. Things will gradually improve but not as quickly as you want them to
  • Expect peaks and troughs in your recovery
  • Enjoy relaxing with something you are familiar with, for example, old films, music, or whatever your “comforter” is.

Peter explains that after a stroke, an individual can feel as if they are inside a bubble. “It helps if you can get someone to understand that,” he says.

Activities that can help

Friends and family can engage in regular practice activities to help someone recover their communication skills after a stroke.

It may be helpful to arrange regular slots for communication practice, at a time when the person will not be tired.

Here are some activities for sharing, depending on individual styles and taste:

[photo album and conversation]
A photo album can be useful for prompting conversation.
  • Songs, especially if the person was a keen singer before. Some people can sing after a stroke, even if they cannot speak, because singing and speaking use different parts of the brain
  • Card games that involve the person saying the name of the card
  • A photo album, to share and discuss the people and events in the pictures
  • A personal file, with information about the person’s life, jobs, and family, in order to provide topics of conversation and nonverbal clues when access to key words is difficult
  • A diary, with records of visits, events, and conversations. Friends and family can be encouraged to write in it, to help the person track their progress
  • News stories to read in advance and discuss during the session.

If an important conversation is coming up – with the insurance company or hospital, for example – these slots can be a good place to prepare.

Other tips for self-help

If a person has difficulty expressing a word or idea, encouraging them to write or draw what they mean can help. Some people can spell a word, even if they cannot say it.

Strategies that people have used to practice alone include:

  • Rehearsing speech sounds, such as vowels and consonants
  • Using children’s books to practicing reading and writing
  • Reciting poems or nursery rhymes
  • Saying the names of famous sports personalities
  • Watching the news, and copying how the newsreader speaks
  • Persevering in conversation with friends or family, however difficult it is

It is important for friends and family to continue to treat the person as an intelligent adult, and to be aware that while their ability to communicate has changed, their identity has not. They are still who they are, with interests, skills, and a past.

In addition, everyone is different, and the effects of stroke vary. For this reason, there will not be a “one-size-fits-all” solution.

Full recovery is not always possible, but patience, help, support, and practice can go a long way in helping people to regain their communication skills after a stroke.

Source: Life after stroke: Tips for recovering communication skills – Medical News Today

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[WEB SITE] 6 Things That Can Trigger a Seizure Even If You Don’t Have Epilepsy

Harrison Ford has played a hero in the movies, but in real life, he gives that distinction to his 26-year-old daughter, Georgia. Earlier this month, the actor revealed that Georgia has epilepsy, and that it took years for her to get the proper treatment. “I admire her perseverance, her talent, her strength,” he told the Daily News.Epilepsy isn’t always easy to identify. The disorder typically isn’t diagnosed until a person has had two or more “unprovoked” seizures—that is, seizures that don’t have a clear trigger, explains Vikram Rao, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of neurology at the University of California, San Francisco.It turns out there are multiple things that can trigger a seizure, which is essentially a surge of electrical activity in the brain. And just because you have one, that doesn’t mean you’ve got epilepsy. But you should always get checked out by a doctor afterwards, says Dr. Rao.Here, six things that are known to trigger seizures even in people who don’t have a neurological condition—and what to do when a seizure strikes.

Stress

Seizures triggered by stress look similar to epileptic seizures, mainly because they can have the same symptoms—numbness, confusion, convulsions, and more. But there are differences in the brain electrical activity between the two types. In fact, research suggests that somewhere between 5% and 20% of people with epilepsy may be misdiagnosed and, in fact, suffering from seizures provoked by anxiety or underlying trauma.RELATED: 25 Surprising Ways Stress Affects Your Health

Low blood sugar

Your brain is a huge consumer of glucose, says Dr. Rao. When your blood sugar levels drop too low—a state called hypoglycemia—your brain has trouble functioning normally and the result could be a seizure. Since hypoglycemia is a potential a side effect of diabetes medications, diabetics may be at a higher risk for this type of seizure.

Heatstroke

You already know that playing soccer for hours on a scorching-hot day can be dangerous. In that kind of heat (and under that kind of exertion), people can have trouble cooling themselves down. Once your internal thermostat reaches about 104 degrees Fahrenheit, you risk damaging your organs, including your brain: “The brain doesn’t function as well at higher temperatures,” says Dr. Rao. Once heat illness sets in, the brain can misfire, possibly triggering a seizure.

Alcohol Withdrawal

An estimated 2 million people may experience alcohol withdrawalevery year, according to a 2004 study in the journal American Family Physician. People can develop a tolerance to (or dependence on) alcohol, and the wiring in their brains can reflect that. So when some people quit cold turkey, it leaves their brains in a new, altered state that can set them up for a seizure, usually within 48 hours after their last drink, says Dr. Rao.

Certain medications

Antidepressants like bupropion (a.k.a. Wellbutrin and Zyban) have been associated with seizures in certain studies. And some antibiotics, like penicillins and quinolones, and pain medications like tramadol (sold under the brand name Ultram) might increase the risk of seizures too.

Sleep deprivation

Too-little sleep is a powerful trigger for seizures, says Dr. Rao. (He’s seen seizures in college students who’ve stayed up for days in a row cramming for an exam.) “No one knows the exact reason behind this,” says Dr. Rao, “but sleep is restorative. We spend one-third of our lives sleeping, so we know it’s important.”RELATED: 30 Sleep Hacks for Your Most Restful Night Ever

What to do if someone has a seizure

Oftentimes, less is more. Rule number one: Keep the person safe. That means making sure she doesn’t accidentally hurt herself, either on a nearby sharp object or by falling down the stairs.As Anto Bagić, MD, PhD, the chief of the epilepsy division at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center puts it: “There’s no ‘heroic’ measure necessary.” Don’t try to restrain the person (she might panic and lash out even more aggressively) and do not put anything in her mouth (she might choke on it). Besides, it’s a myth that people can swallow their tongue during a seizure.Either give her some space or, if necessary, guide her to a safer area, Dr. Bagić explains. If she’s lying on the floor, gently turn her on her side so that her saliva doesn’t block her airway.Most seizures resolve themselves within five minutes, so if it goes on for longer than that, you should call 911, says Dr. Bagić. More often, however, the person will regain consciousness after a few minutes—and when she does, stay calm.“When people are coming back [from a seizure], that’s when they’re at their most vulnerable,” says Dr. Bagić. “It can be scary if the first thing they see is people staring at them or panicking.”Another key point: Stay with the person until you’re sure that she’s completely recovered. Do all that, and it’ll be heroic enough.

Source: 6 Things That Can Trigger a Seizure Even If You Don’t Have Epilepsy – women health benefits

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