Head Injuries – Acquired ADD?


Head Injuries Affect Attention & Focus
whether the injury was mild or severe

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Brain-based Coaching Series

Boing-oing-oing-oing . . . OUCH!

As long as there have been humans, there have been hits to the head. Some of them were a actually caused by those humans!

Much attention has been paid to sports-concussions and severe forms of traumatic brain injury (TBI), especially those resulting in concussions and coma.

The milder impacts, such as those from falling off a bicycle or a ladder, the jolt from a low-speed car accident or taking a weak punch in a fistfight are far more common.

These milder injuries may not entail losing consciousness — more likely to result in a slightly dazed feeling or a brief lack in responsiveness before recovering — have gotten the attention they deserve only relatively recently

They ALL damage the brain, however.

“New data suggests blows to the head are on the rise among U.S. adults and kids, but definitive diagnosis remains elusive.” ~ Scientific American Mind

Questions remain as to how long it takes to recover, to what degree and how quickly each piece of the cognitive puzzle comes back on line reliably, as well as how to identify which brain injuries are likely to recover and why some never do.

Part of the challenge in understanding these injuries is how varied they can be.  But it is no small problem.

Making things worse still, suffering even one concussion elevates the risk of suffering another and may make it all the more challenging to recover from future damage.

Here’s a scary statistic: According to an article found on the Scientific American blogsite, the average a 10-year old can experience as many as 240 hits to the head in a single football season.

Related Post: How Do Brains Get Damaged?  Is YOURS?

Troubles Often Persist

Even when a brain-scan cannot pinpoint specific areas of damage, months after a concussion patients may still have lingering symptoms, including an inability to concentrate as well as headaches — even when initial brain scans reveal nothing amiss.

Dr. Jennifer Marin, a Pediatric emergency physician at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh says, “Explaining the concept of cognitive rest [for recovering from injury] is difficult when you can’t show an image of how the brain has been injured.”

At the hospital, she says, “we stabilize patients but then they go home and a lot of them will experience complications down the line.”

What KIND of “complications?”

Attentional deficits and reduced speed of information processing have been found consistently, in even mild head injuries, despite lack of gross deficits in intelligence or memory (Bohnen, Jolles, Twijnstra, Mellink, & Wijnen, 1995).

These deficits are frequently the most persisting cognitive complaints (Chan, 2001).

From an article on ScienceDirect from the Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology (Volume 21, Issue 4, May 2006, Pages 293-296):

Head injury typically results in diffuse damage (not in one specific spot) that produces a reduction in information processing capacity.

This processing capacity has been broadly described as the number of operations the brain can carry out at the same time.

Individuals with mild head injury demonstrate problems when they are required to analyze or process more information than they can handle simultaneously (Gronwall, 1989).

Decreased information processing has been posited to be primarily due to problems with attention (Kay, Newman, Cavallo, Ezrachi, & Resnick, 1992; Szymanski & Linn, 1992)

In addition, fatigue and/or stress, common following head injuries, have been shown to further compromise the processing speed of those who have incurred even a mild head injury (Ewing, McCarthy, Gronwall, & Wrightson, 1980; Wood, Novack, & Long, 1984).

Related Post: ABOUT Processing Speed

Or perhaps it’s because of slowed processing speed?

Research conducted by Ponsford and Kinsella (1992) demonstrated that the difficulty in performing a sustained attention task experienced by individuals who have suffered even a mild head injury may result more from a slowed speed of processing than from attentional deficits.

Fortunately, even though the speed of performance is reduced for head-injured participants, no significant reduction exists in terms of accuracy of performance (Stuss et al., 1985).

Related Posts:
Processing slower or more to think about?
Processing Efficiency is all about Juggling

REGARDLESS of the underlying problem, the effects on behavior are very much the same as the struggles of those with a particular Executive Functioning Disorder known as Attention Deficit Disorder.

Let’s take a look at what that means.

Read more of this post

Pot Smoking and Developing Brains


Studies may lead to help for PTSD
as well as a greater understanding of addiction
and schizophrenia

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Foundational Concept of the Intentionality Series
Opinions vs. Facts

Reefer Madness?

Weed, Ganja, MaryJane, Cannabis, Pot, Hemp, Herb, Reefer

Some of my Senior readers may not recognize each of them, but practically any teen can tell you that they are all names for marijuana.

You know, that stuff you can roll into a joint that – except in jest – only the most out-of-it refer to as “a funny cigarette.”

The technical term for marijuana is cannabis – for a very good reason.  Since at least 1967, various chemical constituents of marijuana have been classified as cannabinoids.

They act on cannabinoid receptors in cells throughout our bodies, and alter neurotransmitter release in the brain – but they are NOT all the same.

One toke gets you higher and another makes you well?

THC [delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or Delta-9-THC] is the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana – the stuff that gets you high – but it is not always the most abundant cannabinoid in marijuana.

Depending on the particular plant, cannabidiol can be the most abundant cannabinoid, which has many healing properties that you can read about on almost any Medical Marijuana site.

Cannabidiol is currently one of the most exciting of the 85+ known cannabinoids.

Also known as CBD, it is stepping out of the shadows and into the spotlight as a potentially breakthrough nutritional component and treatment.

It occurs naturally in significant quantities in cannabis, and it is extracted relatively easily from the seeds, stalk and flowers of cannabis plants – which include hemp as well as marijuana. (The main functional difference between hemp and marijuana is the level of THC.)

Receptor Sites and Binding

All recent studies have indicated that the behavioral effects of THC are receptor mediated. That means that neurons in the brain are activated when a compound binds to its receptor — a protein typically located on the surface of a particular cell “specialized” to, metaphorically, “speak its language.”

So THC gets you high only after binding to its receptor.  That, in turn, triggers a series of events in the cell that results in a change in the cell’s activity, its gene regulation, or the signals that it sends on to another cell.

Wikipedia – ©Creative Commons

Steven R. Laviolette and his team at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry discovered that directly activating cannabinoid receptors in a region of the brain called the amygdala, can strongly influence the significance of emotional information and memory processing.

PFC implications

Activating cannabinoid receptors also dramatically increased the activity patterns of neurons in a connected region of the brain called the prefrontal cortex [PFC].

That, in turn, controls how the brain perceives the emotional significance of sensory information, and the strength of the memories associated with these emotional experiences.

Regular readers may recall that the PFC has connections to, essentially, every other part of the brain.

It is the part of the cortex that allows us to regulate Executive Functions appropriately – items like planning, problem solving, concentration, mental flexibility, and controlling short-term behavior to achieve long-term goals.

The PFC is a major player for those of us with ADD and other Executive Function Disorders and dysregulations – including those with traumatic and acquired brain injuries [TBI/ABI].

Read more of this post

My 2016 Birthday Prayer


Today is my birthday
but, awakening from a nightmare,
I’m not feeling very happy right now

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

First, my birthday prayer:

The personal story behind both the prayer and my recurring nightmares follows below.

PLEASE God, we seriously need to upgrade the health-care system in this country. We need a clean sweep of the Mammon-worshipping insurance industry, God, clearing out everyone who is getting rich off the health challenges of the citizens of this country.

Please make everyone aware that, most importantly, we desperately need to FIX America’s woefully inadequate mental health care system, as we vastly improve mental health awareness in the entire country – including empathy for the poor, the homeless and every single one of our veterans.

Lay it on the heart of every single American with breath enough to speak, God. Let them know it like *I* know it, feel it like *I* feel it

Make them realize that action can no longer be procrastinated, regardless of whether America’s new administration is willing to understand or is otherwise uninspired to take effective steps toward solutions that are more than sound-bites and cronyism.

Let the world finally understand that jails and prisons are no place for those who are mentally ill, God, and that Law Enforcement without in-depth mental health training has NO place dealing with the mentally ill.

Amen

Read more of this post

A Brand New Year – gulp


Resolutions, Goals, Intentions & Planning
(and why we avoid setting them in place)

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Habits, Decisions, Attention Series

Setting Resolutions for the Year?

Yep!  We make ’em, we break ’em – and we feel so crummy about it that some of us even refuse to make ’em anymore.

Eventual disappointment seems lessened if we stop expecting ourselves to do better, doesn’t it?

Scary stuff, intentionality

My friend Wendy, the author of the wonderfully supportive blog, Picnic with Ants, says it quite clearly in the introduction to her December 31st article: The Future is Scary, with a side of Hope.

For context: Wendy has developed multiple physical health challenges with multiple complications she must deal with, along with being a card-carrying member of the Alphabet City club – and has recently returned from Johns Hopkins, which requires some attention to new treatment plans.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“It seems appropriate that I’m writing this on the eve of a new year, what better time to look toward the future?

For me, contemplating the future is more than a little scary…. let’s just say my anxiety about it has been more than I ever thought was possible.

I don’t dwell in the past (all of that is gone)… I don’t worry about the future (that hasn’t been written yet)… I try hard to live in this very moment, because that is all we truly have.

Yes, at times I still have moments when I get upset that I can’t do what I used to, and get upset about what might happen… but I don’t dwell on it.

Then we started making plans… how we are going to try to make things better for me… [It’s now time for] decisions about this unknown future, decisions that I have to make. Suddenly, I HAVE to look at the future. I HAVE to think about it.  And it really scares me.”

We don’t have to be in Wendy’s shoes to relate

Attempting to envision accomplishments and completions a year ahead, especially for those of us whose functional temperature can run the gamut on any given day, is a quite the challenge.

All those pre-frontal cortex-intensive decisions to consider are intense — driving us straight toward the cliffs of task anxiety!

  • We don’t want to slide quickly into overwhelm by biting off more than we can chew! Our self-esteem is at stake here, doncha’ know.
  • Still, we don’t want to woos out on ourselves by setting objectives that are not at least a little bit of a stretch, significant enough that we might expect life to become a bit more rewarding perhaps.
  • But what’s too much and what’s too little?  What’s significant and what’s destined to become just one more nattering item in an already overlong To-Do list that languishes only partially completed on far too many days as it stands NOW?
  • When life has been in a repair deficit condition long enough that we’re not sure if we will ever be able to crawl out onto level ground again — taking a cold honest look at all of the seemingly bazillion contenders for priority focus is enough to shut intentionality down completely, as we make a bee line for wine or chocolate!

As I said in a comment to Wendy’s article above:

Setting intentions for the future IS scary – only those on whom fortune has shined without abating can honestly say otherwise.

Logically and intellectually, of course, we know that we’re doomed if we don’t keep moving forward despite our fears.

HOWEVER, those who fear what might happen can never really understand the feelings of those of us who fear what might happen AGAIN (usually because it HAS happened, again and again and again-again — same tune, different verse)despite our very best efforts, positive thinking and affirmations!

Even though we DO understand that it is nearly impossible to move forward when we’ve lost our faith that things can and will EVER be different, many of us are more than a little reluctant to set ourselves up for failure and disappointment, just in case.

It’s not exactly that we lose hope, when life has been tough on us repeatedly, we tend to become almost afraid to hope (at least I do, anyway).

Don’t forget that you can always check out the sidebar
for a reminder of how links work on this site, they’re subtle ==>

Read more of this post

Is Activation “Seeking System” Dependent?


“New” Ideas Illuminate Old Realities
I think I might be in love!

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
In support of the ADD/EFD Basics Series

Swooning over Jaak Panksepp: ACTIVATION ideas
(from cruelty-free experiments exploring animal emotions)

panksepp_rat

Jaak Panksepp, the father of Affective Neuroscience, is a very interesting “pioneer” intrigued by the neuro-scientific underpinnings of both human and animal emotional responses.

He has written a fascinating book with a slightly daunting title, The Archaeology of Mind: 
Neuroevolutionary Origins of Human Emotion.

Don’t let that stop you. It’s an “accessible to more of the general public” version of ideas he put forward in his considerably more “academic” offering entitled, Affective Neuroscience, published in 1998.

This long-awaited second publication is his updated attempt to share his life’s work – since the 1960s – the results of his cruelty-free animal experiments that led to identifying what he calls the seven networks of emotion in the brain: SEEKING, RAGE, FEAR, LUST, CARE, PANIC/GRIEF, and PLAY.

He says he uses all caps because these networks are “so fundamental that they have similar functions across species, from people to cats to rats.”

If the name sounds familiar

Those of you who are also regular readers of Discover Magazine may recognize Panksepp’s name from Pamela Weintraub’s feature article on “the rat tickler” entitled Humanity’s 7 Primal Emotions from the May 2012 issue.

Readers who were smart enough to start listening to The Brain Science Podcast when I first introduced it (or to download the pdf transcripts) might have been treated to three different samplings of Dr. Ginger Campbell’s excellent interviews of Panksepp (one a “replay” of an interview from her other podcast, Books and Ideas).

The rest of you – don’t feel left out – I’ve included links to these gems and others in the Related Content ’round the ‘net section below (a section found at the bottom of most of my articles.)

“Brothers under the skin”

You will learn that Panksepp decided, after mapping “brain firing” in laboratory animals for decades, that he could come to no conclusion other than the acceptance of the reality that humans and animals share a similar emotional make-up.

An idea not always embraced by some of his scientific colleagues, he believes that his work proves that his seven networks of emotion in the brain are common to ALL mammals, great and small.

Obviously, he’s convinced me! 

PupInSlipperKittyFriends

Those of us who have lived closely with our furry friends probably needed no convincing anyway.

You would never be able to convince most of us that our animals do NOT have emotions! But you know most of those science-types — skepticism is in their DNA. Until something is proven scientifically, journal-published and replicated, it’s merely an unsupported theory.

Panksepp is a rare and outspoken voice in the science field, I suspect only partly as a result of his many years of experience exploring the neuro-similarity between human and animal emotional responses. He calls for respect for the reality that animals DO feel, not only pain, but emotions like fear, anger, loneliness, caring, grief, excitement and joy.

He is a long-term ethics advocate as a result. He champions kindness, and urges the field to rethink the way that laboratory experiments are designed. He knows from experience that it is possible to develop methods that do not cause animals pain and undue distress, yet continue to get credible results from valuable and much needed animal research.

There’s a lot more to love about Panksepp’s work — click the links I have provided below to find out for yourselves.

THIS article, however, is going to give you just enough background to begin to explore the first of his seven primal emotions: SEEKING – because I think it provides a clue to our struggles with ACTIVATION.

Read more of this post

%d bloggers like this: