11 posts tagged “brain”

From our partners at One Mind: Zack Lystedt’s football story

Posted December 17th, 2015 by

Accidents happen, anywhere to anyone. Whether it’s from playing soccer or football, snowboarding, riding a bike, competing in synchronized swimming, slipping on ice or falling off of a ladder. In sports, even with the best safety procedures in place, there are still accidents. That’s why our partners at One Mind have started the #TreatBrainsBetter campaign. In this campaign, they share Zackery Lystedt’s story:

In October 2006, 13-year-old middle school football player Zackery Lystedt collapsed from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) when he was allowed back into a game just 15 minutes after suffering a concussion. From the time of his injury, Zack spent the next three months in a coma, nine months before speaking his first word, 13 months before moving a leg or an arm, 20 months living on a feeding tube, and nearly three years before standing with assistance on his own two feet.

Zack and his family worked tirelessly to change the rules around concussion, and in May 2009, Washington State enacted the Zackery Lystedt Law, becoming the first state in the nation to enact a comprehensive youth sports concussion safety law. Today, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have followed suit by enacting strong concussion safety laws called “Return to Play” laws. This is the fastest growing public safety initiative to go into law in all 50 states. Nine years later, Zack continues daily therapies and is regularly asked to speak on the dangers of mismanaged concussions. We applaud Zack and his family for their tireless efforts to protect young athletes from returning to the game too soon.

With support from the Lystedt Family, One Mind is also working to protect athletes by advancing the research and supporting studies around concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Although strides have been made in brain research, our understanding of the brain has a long way to go – some say brain research is where heart research was 50 years ago. One Mind is working with brain scientists across the US and around the world to find answers for concussions and other brain injuries and diseases by supporting researchers collaborating to come up with answers sooner.

Learn more about One Mind and the #TreatBrainsBetter campaign.

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Joining the effort to find answers from brain diseases and injuries

Posted November 11th, 2015 by

In honor of Veterans Day, we wanted to share two stories from our partner, One Mind.

First, the story of retired Colonel Gregory Gadson, who was wounded during his military service and was living with post-traumatic stress (PTS). PTS affects more than 7.7 million Americans each year.

The second video shares the story of Roxana Delgado, Ph.D. Roxana’s husband Victor was hit by an IUD during military service. She has lived the emotional toll of being his caregiver.  

If you’re a veteran, you can connect with more than 9,300 others in the PatientsLikeMe Veterans forum. Together, we can join the effort to find answers to brain diseases and injuries.

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Tackling brain illness, together

Posted September 4th, 2015 by

Our partners at One Mind are advocating for a better understanding of the brain in general, and they’ve narrowed it down to a single statement:

Our brains need answers.

And that’s why they launched the “Needs” campaign story, underneath the hashtag #BrainsNeedAnswers. Think about it – what does your brain, or the brain of a friend or family member, need? It’s not just about researching better treatments or improving the diagnostic process for conditions like PTS and TBI. Rather, it’s about everybody coming together to share their own experiences with brain injury to help raise awareness and increase general knowledge about brain health. Tankmartin, a PTS member of PatientsLikeMe, is the centerpiece of the campaign. Read what he had to say:

If you’d like to participate in the #BrainsNeedAnswers campaign, visit One Mind’s website to learn more about how you can make a difference. And if you’re living with PTS, TBI or another mental health condition, reach out to others like you in the PatientsLikeMe community and find the answers to your own brain questions.

Don’t forget to share this post on Twitter and help spread the word for #BrainsNeedAnswers.


Talking brain donation with Dr. Deborah Mash

Posted September 1st, 2015 by

Dr. Deborah Mash is a professor of neurology and molecular/cellular pharmacology at the University of Miami School of Medicine. She’s also the director of the university’s Brain Endowment Bank, and she recently spoke with PatientsLikeMe about her research and exactly what goes into donating your brain to science. As she says, “we still know very little about that which makes us uniquely human” – read her Q&A interview below.

What led you to study diseases of the brain? 

The brain is the next biologic frontier. We have learned more about the human brain in the past twenty years than throughout all of human history. And, we still know very little about that which makes us uniquely human – our brain. I was always very interested in the anatomy and the chemistry of the brain and in disease-related Neuroscience. I consider it a privilege to study the human brain in health and disease.

How would you explain the process of brain donation to PatientsLikeMe members who might be new or uncomfortable with the idea of donating this organ to science?

Brain donation is no different than donating other organs after death. Organ and tissue donations can give life or sight to another person. Transplanted tissues are used in surgeries to repair damaged bones and joints. And these donated tissues are also important for research studies to advance best practices that are used by doctors. The gift of a brain donation supports research studies that will bring about new treatments, better diagnosis and ultimately cures for disorders of the human brain like Alzheimer’s disease, Autism, ALS, schizophrenia and depression, drug and alcohol addiction, bipolar disorder, and multiple sclerosis to name a few.

A brain donation does not interfere or delay a family’s plans for the funeral, burial or cremation. There is no cost to the family to make this final gift.

What brain bank research would you most like to share with the PatientsLikeMe community? Our ALS, MS, Parkinson’s and mental health members might be interested to hear about brain bank research for their conditions.

Studies of the human brain have led to seminal discoveries including the loss of dopamine neurons in Parkinson’s disease and the association of beta amyloid with Alzheimer’s disease. Without examining the human brain after death, these discoveries could not have happened. Medications for Parkinson’s disease were advanced because scientists identified the loss of dopamine that causes many of the symptoms.

We have new technology that provides an unprecedented opportunity to rapidly examine large-scale gene expression of human brain for the first time. This powerful approach can facilitate understanding the molecular pathogenesis of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disease that is usually fatal in five years. Motor neurons in ALS undergo degeneration, causing secondary muscle atrophy and weakness. Studies of ALS in human brain are beginning to identify multiple processes involved in the pathogenesis of ALS.

We have yet to fully understand the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS).

This disease is different for everyone who has it. The symptoms it causes and when they flare up is different not only between people but also throughout one person’s life. This makes the diagnosis difficult and complicates treatment. The science behind MS is slowed because there are too few brains donated for research. We get many more requests for well-characterized MS cases and too few brain specimens are available to support the research. This lack of donated brains from MS patients is a barrier for MS research.

Examining the brain after death is important to understand how well experimental treatments are working in clinical trials to see if the drug did what it was supposed to do. An autopsy follow-up on 13 patients from a recent Alzheimer’s drug trial showed that although the drug had cleared the beta amyloid protein, it hadn’t changed the course of the disease — an incredibly important observation needed to advance the direction of Alzheimer’s disease research. The same is true for anyone who participates in clinical trials for any brain disorder.

When you ask people (or their family members) to consider donating their brain to UMBEB or another brain bank, what do you want them to know?

A brain donation is a final gift that contributes to the health and well being of the next generation – your children and grandchildren. It is a very special endowment that lives on by advancing research that can lead to the next scientific breakthrough.

People who want to be organ donors typically sign a card letting others know their wishes, but brain donations require an additional pledge card. This is not always well promoted. How can PatientsLikeMe members who are interested in brain donation obtain the special brain donation pledge cards?

It is important to make your wish known by registering in advance. We make it an easy process and provide donor registration cards for your wallet. You can share this information with your family and friends. You can request information or become a registered donor by visiting us online at http://brainbank.med.miami.edu or call 1-800-UM-Brain.

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You are not alone in brain injury

Posted March 16th, 2015 by

#NotAloneinBrainInjury. That’s the overarching theme of the 2015 Brain Injury Awareness Month, organized by the Brian Injury Association of America (BIAA). 2.5 million Americans survive a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year, and and it’s time to raise awareness for the 5.3 million people currently living with a brain injury.1

In addition, Wednesday, March 18 is “Brain Injury Awareness Day.” There are many different ways to get involved – you can share one of six promotional posters created by the BIAA, listen to several public service announcements and even get involved with the TBI Portrait Project.

Finally, don’t forget to share your support for TBI awareness on social media through the #NotAloneinBrainInjury hashtag. Just click on the Twitter icon below or spread the word on your Facebook page.

Our co-founder, Jamie Heywood, said it best when discussing PatientsLikeMe’s recent partnership with One Mind, a non-profit organization dedicated to benefiting all affected by brain illness and injury:

“We are both of one mind when it comes to the challenges of living with and researching these understudied and largely misunderstood conditions. Our partnership with One Mind and the individuals dealing with PTS and TBI will provide insights about effective treatments from people in the real world, and drive new understanding about gaps in care. It will also provide a new resource where people are empowered to help themselves as they learn how to live better with their condition.”

If you’ve been recently diagnosed with a TBI, join the more than 1,500 PatientsLikeMe members living with different traumatic brain injuries. The community is ready to answer any and every question you might have.

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1 http://www.biausa.org/brain-injury-awareness-month.htm


Give veterans access to the care they need

Posted March 11th, 2015 by

By Peter Chiarelli, retired U.S. Army general & CEO of our partner One Mind

As originally seen in the Washington Post

Soldiers listen as U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter (not pictured) holds a question-and-answer session with U.S.military personnel at Kandahar Airfield in Kandahar February 22, 2015. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

 

The high-grossing film “American Sniper” was nominated for an Academy Award for best picture, but it deserves higher honors for highlighting one of the greatest causes of casualties in our recent wars: post-traumatic stress (PTS).

The story of Iraq war veteran Chris Kyle, who was killed by a Marine veteran suffering from the effects of PTS and other mental-health problems, makes a powerful case that PTS needs to be a higher national priority. (You’ll note that I don’t include the word “disorder” at the end of PTS; the longer PTSD label actually discourages some service members from seeking treatment.) Since “American Sniper” debuted, Veterans Affairs and Defense Department leaders have been highlighting their programs for helping veterans diagnosed with PTS. But are those programs working?

In too many cases, the answer is no. Our PTS diagnostics remain crude, and no drugs have been approved specifically for treating the condition. Complicating matters, because of genetic and other differences among individuals, patients react differently to varying drugs and dosages. Finding the right mix can be a frustrating saga of trial and error. The wrong drug or dose can, if not caught in time, become a factor in other serious mental-health and behavioral issues, even including suicide.

It only makes sense that once Defense Department doctors identify an effective treatment for a service member, that same treatment should be available when the service member leaves active duty and moves to VA for care. More often than not, however, it is not.

The disconnect occurs because Defense has an all-inclusive drug formulary that allows clinicians to prescribe almost any medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration, while VA has a very limited formulary, primarily to control costs. Medically discharged service members who are given a 90-day supply of PTS prescriptions eventually must report to their VA medical facility for refills, where they are often denied — not for medical reasons but because the medications they rely on are not on VA’s approved list.

This is not a case of one prescriber issuing Bayer aspirin while another uses Saint Joseph. Service members whose symptoms are being controlled by specific anti-depressant, anti-anxiety or anti-psychotic drugs, as well as pain and sleep medications, are forced to give them up and search for a replacement — often a painful and dangerous process — simply because Congress has failed to require Defense and VA to harmonize their drug formularies.

Let me be clear: The problem is not that doctors within the two systems disagree over which drugs should be part of their formularies. Their hands are tied. They must operate within the rules set out by Congress.

Rather than repeating the laborious process of finding another drug that works, many veterans have told me they sought out private providers to fill their prescriptions, usually paying for their medications out of pocket. Imagine how they feel about VA when their first experience with the agency is a doctor telling them they cannot fill a prescription that has relieved their PTS symptoms for months or even years. In some cases, the veteran is not even given enough of the recommended drug to safely discontinue its use.

I have testified about this serious discrepancy, most recently as a member on the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission, and have discussed it privately with members of Congress. A few have said they will try to address the problem, but most have declined, citing the added cost to VA of a fuller formulary and the time the Government Accountability Office would require to determine the budgetary impact of such a change. Shouldn’t the long-term cost, danger and social impact of denying vital medications to veterans provide a sufficiently compelling reason for Congress to act?

The obvious solution is to include the same medications in both formularies. If this is not possible, Defense Department doctors should exhaust all the options available on VA formulary first before considering any drugs not covered by VA. If neither of these options can be adopted, Defense doctors should at least warn service members that their current prescriptions will be unavailable in the VA system.

This problem needs to be fixed immediately. A directive released by VA in late January seeking to address the problem without correcting the misaligned formularies contains too many loopholes and is totally inadequate. We need a solution, and not a patch. Chris Kyle’s death underlines the urgency of providing effective treatments for PTS. We can start by getting the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments on the same page.

Learn more about One Mind.

Read what the PatientsLikeMe community is saying about Peter Chiarelli’s article.


Seeing [MS]: The invisible symptoms – brain fog

Posted February 23rd, 2015 by

Australian Jessica Anderson has been living with multiple sclerosis since she was 12 years old, and she says brain fog is the scariest symptom she experiences, especially not being able to gather and make sense of her own thoughts. During her worst moments, she can barely focus on a thought for more than 30 seconds. Listen to Jessica speak about her symptoms below.

 

You are now seeing brain fog

Photographed by Sara Orme
Inspired by Jessica Anderson’s invisible symptoms

Jessica and New Zealand photographer Sara Orme worked together to visualize Jessica’s brain fog, and her video and picture are part of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Australia’s (MSA) Seeing [MS] campaign, which is all about recognizing the invisible symptoms of MS and raising awareness for the neurological condition. Check out the previous pictures and stay tuned for more Seeing [MS] posts.

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“I just kind of went on with life.” – PatientsLikeMe member Fred shares his experiences with MS

Posted November 19th, 2014 by

We’ve interviewed a lot of members on the blog over the years, and each has a different perspective on life with MS. Fred1118 has taken sharing about his life with MS to a whole new level, documenting his life in a personal photoblog and posting the pictures with the world online. Fred shared all about his experiences in a recent interview, everything from his handicap-accessible house to how physical therapy helps him stay mobile. Read his story below.

What went through your mind when you were diagnosed with RRMS back in 1994?

I didn’t really know too much about MS at the time. I’m not sure if I had even heard of it, so didn’t know what to think. The diagnosing neurologist said, “you have a mild case of MS.” I was young and carefree at the time and didn’t really worry about it too much. I kind of just went on with life.

It looks like you’ve done a lot of work on your house to make it handicap accessible. What are some tips and tricks you can share with the community?

I would say that everyone’s needs are different. It’s a good idea to have an occupational therapist that is experienced in doing home safety and accessibility evaluations come work with you in your home to see what your abilities and limitations are so he or she can make proper recommendations. I advise that people not wait until modifications are absolutely necessary before making them. I’ve been guilty of that in many regards, including waiting too long to get a power wheelchair. I should have gotten one sooner. It would have expanded my ability to go places and do things.

We saw some pictures on your photoblog of you in physical therapy – is that a daily routine? How does it help you manage your symptoms?

I was getting in home PT 3 days a week for a few months after suffering a seizure that prevented me from driving for several months. The PT is of course not a cure for MS, but it does provide exercises and strength training options that can help you maintain some abilities. When you’re sitting in a wheelchair all day, I think you can lose some function not just from the MS, but also from being sedentary, so it’s important to exercise.

Can you tell us about your daily meal set-up? 

I have a pretty simple daily meal routine. I often eat the same things day after day. For breakfast I eat some yogurt, a multigrain type bar and a banana. That rarely changes. Lunch is almost always a sandwich (some kind of meat and cheese along with some mayo) and a piece of fruit, maybe an apple, pear or peach. Dinner varies a little. A friend who lives here with me often makes a pretty bountiful garden salad that includes lettuce, spinach, beets, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and more. Sounds good huh! In addition I’ll eat something else like canned soup, a bowl of cereal, maybe a pre-made Indian dinner that I like. Almost all meals are eaten on my wheelchair tray.

Your photoblog takes viewers through a day in your life – what inspired you to give back to others and raise awareness for MS?

I’ve been a long time volunteer with both the National MS Society and the Myelin Repair Foundation. I had never really done much volunteer work prior to my MS diagnosis. After I stopped working full time I didn’t really do much of anything productive with my time. It was actually a girlfriend who suggested contacting the MS Society to see if they had volunteer work I could do. They did, and I caught the volunteerism bug. I would recommend it to anyone. I often say that doing volunteer work is as beneficial and rewarding to the volunteer as it hopefully is to the people you’re volunteering to help.

Not everyone is as open about their personal experiences living with MS as you. What was it like working with the photographer and putting yourself out there?

I guess I’m kind of an open guy. After meeting Ted (the photographer) I felt comfortable with him and trusted him. I decided pretty much right away that I was going to be all in on this project. I figured if you’re going to do something, do it right. We hoped to have an impact with the photo essay, and only being half in so to speak wouldn’t do the job. I didn’t really do anything other than let someone take pictures of me doing things I normally do. I know Ted was amazed at how open I was. I didn’t really feel like I was doing anything all that amazing.

Photos courtesy of TGoldmanPhotography.com

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Raising awareness on Veteran’s Day

Posted November 11th, 2014 by

Right now, there are almost 22 million American veterans living in the United States, and every one of them has a story to tell. So today, we’re honoring their service by raising awareness for life after the military.

Like many others who are living with chronic conditions, the injuries our military men and women sustain are not always visible. Thousands of veterans are affected by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), 30,000 have been diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) since 2000 and many others are living with depression. Sometimes their symptoms don’t even manifest until many years after their service.

These eye-opening statistics are why we’ve recently announced a new multi-year collaboration with One Mind to help the millions of people worldwide who are experiencing post-traumatic stress traumatic brain injury, or both. We’ll work together to expand and enhance the PatientsLikeMe online registry experience for people with these conditions, to provide better resources for day-to-day living, and to capture more patient-reported data for research.

If you’re looking to learn more about US veterans, head to your nearest book store and grab a copy of “For Love of Country,” Howard Schultz’s and Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s new book (just released on November 4). Check out the video synopsis below:

 

There’s also the Concert for Valor today – it’s a free live event that is being organized on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. for veteran’s awareness. If you can’t make it in person, tune in on iHeartRADIO.

If you’re a veteran living with PTS or TBI, you can find others and connect to people who understand what you’re going through on PatientsLikeMe. There are more than 4,000 of members in the Veterans Forum, and every day, veterans are learning more about their health and the best ways to cope. Share a bond, and live better, together.

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One Mind and PatientsLikeMe join forces to help people with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury

Posted June 12th, 2014 by

Collaboration Will Uncover Real-World Experiences, Generate Patient Data That Improves Daily Living and Overall Understanding of Conditions

SEATTLE, WA—June 12, 2014—One Mind and PatientsLikeMe announced a new multi-year collaboration to help the millions of people worldwide who are experiencing post-traumatic stress (PTS), traumatic brain injury (TBI), or both. The two organizations will work together to expand and enhance the PatientsLikeMe online registry experience for people with these conditions, to provide better resources for day-to-day living, and to capture more patient-reported data for research.

Building on the headway One Mind has made in seeking out real solutions for patients, One Mind CEO, General Pete Chiarelli, U.S. Army (Retired), said the collaboration will address longstanding issues for people with all forms of PTS and TBI. “You only have to look at the way we diagnose and treat people to know that we’re decades behind in our understanding of these conditions. We have an amazing ability to save soldiers on the battlefield, but we don’t do a good job addressing their invisible wounds. And we prescribe a mix of off-label drugs because nothing has been developed specifically for their condition. We need to look to the future to improve outcomes and lives, and this innovative partnership will do just that.”

Almost 8 percent of adult Americans will experience PTS (including the disorder known as PTSD) at some point in their lives, according to R.C. Kessler’s findings from The National Comorbidity Survey (NCS) Report. In addition to veterans, victims of sexual assault and others who have experienced a traumatic event may develop PTS. TBI is broadly defined as an alteration in brain function or pathology caused by an external force that can occur at home, at work, during sports activities, or on the battlefield. In 2009, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that there were at least 2.4 million emergency department visits, hospitalizations, or deaths related to TBI across the country, and that the leading causes of TBI are accidents, sport-related injuries or other incidents.

“We are both of one mind when it comes to the challenges of living with and researching these understudied and largely misunderstood conditions,” said PatientsLikeMe Co-founder and Chairman Jamie Heywood. “Our partnership with One Mind and the individuals dealing with PTS and TBI will provide insights about effective treatments from people in the real world, and drive new understanding about gaps in care. It will also provide a new resource where people are empowered to help themselves as they learn how to live better with their condition.”

One Mind is also supporting multi-center clinical studies called TRACK-TBI and CENTER-TBI, which will follow thousands of TBI patients over three years. Both studies enroll patients within 24 hours of their injury and are focused on improving treatments through developing new diagnostics tools such as imaging protocols and biomarkers. Heywood added that in the future, the patient-reported data from the TBI community on PatientsLikeMe may be combined with the TRACK-TBI and Center-TBI data, as well as other studies, to create a rich and unprecedented set of information about people’s real-world experiences.

One Mind and PatientsLikeMe are actively seeking nonprofit and other partners to grow the online community and learn together about people’s real-world experiences. People living with any form of PTS or TBI can join fellow members of the PatientsLikeMe community today to become early users of the site and provide feedback on future customizations for the community. Go to www.patientslikeme.com for further information.

About One Mind
One Mind is an independent, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to benefiting all affected by brain illness and injury through fostering fundamental changes that will radically accelerate the development and implementation of improved diagnostics, treatments, and cures; while eliminating the stigma. One Mind believes in open science principles and creates global public-private partnerships between governmental, corporate, scientific, and philanthropic communities. Visit us at www.1mind4research.org or follow us via Twitter or Facebook.

About PatientsLikeMe
PatientsLikeMe® (www.patientslikeme.com) is a patient network that improves lives and a real-time research platform that advances medicine. Through the network, patients connect with others who have the same disease or condition and track and share their own experiences. In the process, they generate data about the real-world nature of disease that help researchers, pharmaceutical companies, regulators, providers, and nonprofits develop more effective products, services and care. With more than 250,000 members, PatientsLikeMe is a trusted source for real-world disease information and a clinically robust resource that has published more than 50 peer-reviewed research studies. Visit us at www.patientslikeme.com or follow us via our blog, Twitter or Facebook.

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CONTACTS

ONE MIND                                                              
Brooke Whitney
Office: +1 206.946.1768
brooke.whitney@1mind4research.org           

PatientsLikeMe
Margot Carlson Delogne
Mobile: +1 781.492.1039
mcdelogne@patientslikeme.com


What do you know about brain injuries?

Posted March 23rd, 2014 by

The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) explains it simply – a brain injury can happen anytime, anywhere, to anyone. That’s why March is Brain Injury Awareness Month. It’s time to learn more about traumatic injuries that can affect the brain and nervous system and share our experiences to increase awareness about everything from concussions to long-term disabilities.

If the skull gets hit hard enough, the brain can experience concussions, contusions and other types of traumatic conditions. It’s a little different for anoxic or hypoxic brain injuries – these happen when the brain receives too little oxygen, or none at all.

This month, there are plenty of ways to raise awareness about all types of brain injuries.  Reach out to your state’s BIAA affiliate to see if there are any local activities to participate in. The BIAA also has a great Brain Injury Awareness Month logo. Share it on Twitter and Facebook to spread the word on social.

If you’ve been recently diagnosed with a brain injury, you can visit the TBI community on PatientsLikeMe and share your experiences in the injuries and traumas forums. Over 900 TBI members are tracking their symptoms and sharing information about their treatments –join in today.