Sunday, April 17, 2011

Memory Problems May Be Sign of Stroke Risk

Memory Problems May Be Sign of Stroke Risk

TEHRAN (FNA)- Findings of a new study showed that people who have memory problems or other declines in their mental abilities may be at higher risk for stroke.

The study is scheduled to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 63rd Annual Meeting in Honolulu April 9 to April 16, 2011.

"Finding ways to prevent stroke and identify people at risk for stroke are important public health problems," said study author Abraham J. Letter of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

"This study shows we might get a better idea of who is at high risk of stroke by including a couple simple tests when we are evaluating people who already have some stroke risk," Letter added.

For the study, researchers gave tests to people age 45 and older who had never had a stroke, then contacted them twice a year by phone for up to 4.5 years to determine whether they had suffered a stroke.

The average age of the participants was 67. Strokes were then confirmed by medical records. A total of 14,842 people took a verbal fluency test, measuring the brain's executive functioning skills, and 17,851 people took a word recall memory test.

The study was part of a larger study called the REasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study. During the study, 123 participants who had taken the verbal fluency test and 129 participants who had taken the memory test experienced a stroke.

Those who scored in the bottom 20 percent for verbal fluency were 3.6 times more likely to develop a stroke than those who scored in the top 20 percent. For the memory test, those who scored in the bottom 20 percent were 3.5 times more likely to have a stroke than those in the top 20 percent.

The difference in stroke incidence rates between those with the bottom and top 20 percent of scores was 3.3 strokes per thousand person-years. In general, the differences remained after researchers adjusted for age, education, race and where participants lived.

At age 50, those who scored in the bottom 20 percent of the memory test were 9.4 times more likely to later have a stroke than those in the top 20 percent, but the difference was not as large at older ages. more read...

Fighting heart disease and stroke

Liverpool, NY (WSYR-TV) The American Heart Association held its annual Heart Walk Saturday at Long Branch Park in Liverpool.

The walk raises money for lifesaving research, programs and education, while celebrating survivors of heart attack, heart surgery and stroke.

About 5,000 people took up the cause.

"Well it's encouraging to see this and there is certainly a need for this kind of event to support the cause and to make sure this is top most in people's minds,” said AHA volunteer James Jerose.

more read...

Klein could live with dementia for years, says exper

Klein could live with dementia for years, says expert

Last Updated: April 8, 2011 5:37pm
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Dementia is an umbrella term to describe a number of neurological diseases, with between 5 and 10% of them affecting the frontal temporal lobe, as is the case with former premier Ralph Klein.
Klein falls within the normal age bracket for the disease, said Price, and people diagnosed with this form of aphasia usually live an average of five to seven years, said Sarah Price, director of dementia care with the Alzheimer Society of Calgary.
“But we know people can live 20 years with Alzheimer’s Disease so it really has a lot to do with the individual themselves,” said Price.
“Their health and how much of the brain is affected, it’s all very individualized."
Klein, 68, was diagnosed April 1 with primary progressive aphasia, a form of frontal temporal dementia.
“What that means is the two regions of the brain that are primarily responsible for language, some memory and sort of how we behave in society are affected,” said Pirce.
“With this particular diagnosis, aphasia means language, the ability to understand, comprehend and articulate ourselves.
“Over time, because it’s a progressive type of dementia, other aspects will become affected that are more commonly known, like memory loss and the abilities to walk and ambulate fluently.”
Progression of frontal temporal lobe dementia is typically slow, said Price.
“Often times with any type of dementia, it’s been progressing for a couple of years until the point that the family says, ‘you know what, something is wrong.’”
About 12,000 Calgarians suffer from dementia and warning signs are often overlooked or not immediately recognized, said Price.
“You’re looking for something vastly different than someone’s normal behaviour or way of doing things,” she said.
“With the language, you’re looking for those word finding difficulties.”
Ten warning signs of dementia:
1 Memory loss that affects day-to-day function
2 Difficulty performing familiar tasks
3 Problems with language
4 Disorientation of time and place
5 Poor or decreased judgement
6 Problems with abstract thinking
7 Misplacing things
8 Changes in mood or behaviour
9 Changes in personality
10 Loss of initiative
— source: Alzheimer Society of Calgary
more read...

Mobile app MyVoice reportedly benefits people with communication challenges

Individuals facing communication challenges due to aphasia or autism can look forward towards the latest offering. University of Toronto scientists have now introduced a mobile app named MyVoice for those living with aphasia, autism and other conditions that affect speech ability. Also a server system has been created that operates on iPhone and Android devices.The novel app enables users to communicate by simply tapping words and pictures on a screen. Scientists have developed MyVoice to seemingly improve communication confidence, participation and independence. This assistive and augmentative communication device brings in location-aware vocabulary that suggests useful words and phrases based on a user’s location.
“This is an excellent example of how university research makes a direct and positive impact on the challenges that face people around the world. MyVoice is just one of the many projects our Innovations and Partnerships Office is developing with U of T faculty so we can move our brilliant research from our campuses to the global marketplace,” Professor Paul Young, vice-president (research).
The app instantly generates items like ‘Timbits’ and ‘Double Double’ for use in conversation. It comes with an average price tag of $12,000 and the full featured version for a $30 monthly subscription cost. The device is currently employed at a school in the Toronto District School Board.
The mobile app MyVoice is funded by Google, Android and  more read...

Sweet Tweets for Ralph Klein

Sweet Tweets for Ralph Klein

Calgary Herald April 10, 2011

* Story
* Photos ( 1 )

Former Alberta Premier Ralph Klein and his wife Colleen relax at their Calgary home, April 7, 2011. He has been diagnosed with progressive non-fluent aphasia, which is a type of dementia.

Former Alberta Premier Ralph Klein and his wife Colleen relax at their Calgary home, April 7, 2011. He has been diagnosed with progressive non-fluent aphasia, which is a type of dementia.
Photograph by: Don Braid, Postmedia News

Earlier this week we learned that former premier Ralph Klein has been diagnosed with "frontal temporal dementia, consistent with primary progressive aphasia." Tweeters from all over the world showed their support for the ex-premier.

Here's what some had to say:

~ Best wishes to Ralph Klein. Very sad news. "I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life." - Ronald Reagan.

~ Best wishes to Ralph Klein & his family.

~ Ralph Klein: We may not agree w/ his politics, but his wit (e.g. McGuinty's premature speculation) will B missed

~ Ralph Klein is extremely worthy of our respect, politics aside. He strived for his province, something we all would do as Premier

~ Loved this guy when I lived in Calgary in the 80's

~ Sad to hear Ralph Klein is battling dementia; stealing his voice, one that we may not of always agreed with, but one that was strong & clear

~ Thoughts and prayers going out to Ralph Klein. He may have been controversial, but I have nothing but respect for the guy.

~ I read the story about Ralph Klein and one of the things that made me saddest is that he was a voracious reader who can no longer read. : (

~ Sad to see that we're losing one of Alberta's strongest voices

Read more:

Innovative Medical Technologies Help to Rehabilitate Patients’ Mental and Physical Abilities

Employing approaches that include computer gaming methods, virtual reality and robotics, New Zealand researchers are at the forefront of developing new medical technologies that help patients regain cognitive and physical abilities following stroke, trauma or other debilitating illness.
“We are today seeing the emergence of diverse scientific efforts throughout New Zealand’s research institutions and companies that are generating innovative new technologies and products directed at helping those recovering from serious injuries or illness more fully participate in daily life,” said George Arnold, Program Manager, Health, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. “Many of these advances are resulting from the effective convergence of computer science and medical technology.”
For example, a computer game-like system developed by scientists at New Zealand’s Crown Research Institute, Industrial Research Limited (IRL), and licensed to start-up company, Im-Able Ltd., uses a handlebar-like air mouse and a series of simple computer exercises to improve arm movements, coordination and cognitive skills of patients with neurological or musculoskeletal impairment. “Patient feedback to date has been beyond our expectations, with patients reporting gains in function from use of the Able-X device, even many years after their stroke injury,” said Sunil Vather, Ph.D., Chief Executive of Im-Able. “An affordable product designed for easy use at home, the Able-X allows patients to continue their rehabilitation in their own time and speed once they have left the hospital or rehabilitation facility.” Already commercially available in New Zealand and Australia, Dr. Vather noted that the company planned to seek both U.S. FDA approval and a European CE Mark for the product during 2011.
Research at the University of Canterbury under a program led by Professor Tanja Mitrovic is aimed at extending 16 years of research advances in the field of artificial intelligence and computer-based learning to helping patients improve their cognitive skills following a stroke. “We hope to use the knowledge we’ve gained in creating responsive computer-based learning environments for students at the university and high school level, to develop systems that can evaluate an individual stroke patient’s skills and respond with appropriately challenging tasks that help improve their attention and working memory,” said Prof. Mitrovic. The multi-disciplinary research effort, which includes collaboration with Dr. Stellan Ohlsson, Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois, Chicago, is supported by a prestigious Marsden Fund grant for fundamental scientific research from the Royal Society of New Zealand.
Advances in robotics are also helping wheelchair users to increase their mobility and ability to overcome barriers in daily life, as illustrated by Rex, the robotic exoskeleton. Designed and built in New Zealand by Rex Bionics, Rex is not a replacement for the wheelchair, but it enables people who cannot walk because of spinal cord injury or with chronic physical conditions such as muscular dystrophy to stand, walk, turn, and climb stairs and slopes. “Rex enables users to stand and socialize or work, and to overcome many day-to-day obstacles like climbing a few steps into a building or using a standard kitchen,” said Jenny Morel, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Rex Bionics. “In addition, there are well documented medical benefits associated with standing and walking, such as improved circulation and bone density, better skin condition, fewer bladder infections and pressure sores that can come with extensive wheelchair use.”
“I’ve found the New Zealand medical technology sector’s creativity and desire to explore and innovate to be extremely exciting,” says Professor Jonathan Sackier of the University of Virginia, who has played a significant role in the development of many medical technologies and serves as a director to Rex Bionics. “A surprisingly large number of innovative medical products with the potential to significantly help those whose lives are affected by injury or chronic illness are coming out of this small country.” more read....

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Finding the Words: New Brain Stimulation Technique Shows Promise for People with Aphasia

A stroke, the medical term for when blood and nutrients are cut off from the brain, can have a devastating effect on a person’s ability to communicate. Words that once came naturally for even simple objects before the stroke—such as a chair, a pen, or an apple—are suddenly difficult if not impossible to retrieve. Although some people may recover their language skills in time, for others, the effects can be chronically debilitating.
Such differences in patient outcomes have scientists from the University of South Carolina delving deeper into this language disorder—called aphasia—which results when language centers of the brain are damaged by stroke, head injury, or other causes. In new NIDCD-funded research, they’ve demonstrated not only how important the location of the brain damage is in predicting how well a person will respond to aphasia therapy, they are also investigating a new method for stimulating brain-damaged regions in people with aphasia, in hopes of increasing brain plasticity and perhaps improving word recall.
In research published in the September 15, 2010, issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, Julius Fridriksson, Ph.D., studied 26 patients who experienced chronic aphasia after suffering a stroke that damaged the brain’s left hemisphere, where the language centers are found. He wanted to observe whether treating patients for anomia, an impairment associated with aphasia in which a person has difficulty naming certain objects, can help increase neural activity in key regions of the brain. (Although there are several types of aphasia and each has a variety of symptoms, anomia is a symptom that all people with aphasia have in common.) He also wanted to learn if damage to certain regions of the brain had a particularly negative effect on the successfulness of a patient’s treatment.  more read...

Using light to probe the brain's self-repair after a stroke

A revolutionary new technique is allowing Canadian researchers to map, with exquisite precision, how the brain repairs itself after a stroke.
Optogenetics gives neuroscientists the ability to control brain circuits in laboratory animals with lasers, to turn cells on or off with a flash of light. It offers a new way to probe what different parts of the brain do and could lead to new treatments for a variety of neurological conditions.

Stroke Awareness Resource Center May is National Stroke Awareness Month

awareness action icons

Introducing the
Stroke Awareness Resource Center

Welcome! Learn how to raise stroke awareness during National Stroke Awareness Month in May and throughout the year. Public knowlege of stroke is low. It is time for stroke champions to band together and elevate stroke in the mindset of everyone in the U.S. Simple prevention and treatment education can help reduce stroke incidence. Influence loved ones to adopt healthier lifestyles and  decision-makers to advocate for stroke by sharing personal stories. Explore the Resource Center and make stroke your cause today. More read.........