neurological

Talking brain donation with Dr. Deborah Mash

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 …

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“I can see that there actually is help here.” – JustinSingleton shares his experiences with PTS

JustinSingleton is an Army veteran who recently joined PatientsLikeMe back in June, and he’s been exploring the veteran’s community ever since. This month, he wrote about his experiences in an interview, and below, you can read what he had to say about getting diagnosed with PTS, managing his triggers and the importance of connecting and sharing with fellow service members.  Can you give us a little background about your experience in the military? In 1998, I joined the Ohio Army National Guard as an Indirect Fire Infantryman – the guy that shoots the mortars out of a big tube. For six years I trained on a mortar gun, but after being called back into the Army (I left in 2004), I was assigned to an Infantry Reconnaissance platoon, and I had no idea what I was doing. Before heading to Iraq, we trained together as a platoon for six months – learning not only the trade, but to trust each other with our lives. It wasn’t until March 2006 that we arrived in Iraq, and I was assigned to the Anbar Province, which at the time was rated as the worst province of the nation. I was deployed in the …

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Q & A with Mary Ann Singersen, Co-Founder/President of the A.L.S. Family Charitable Foundation

In 1998, Stephen Heywood, the brother of our co-founders Ben and Jamie, and friend of Jeff Cole, was diagnosed with ALS. They immediately went to work trying to find new ways to slow Stephen’s progression, and after 6 years of trial and error, they built PatientsLikeMe in 2004. Mary Ann Singersen also has family experience with the neurological condition. Her father, Edward, was diagnosed two years before Stephen, and she co-founded the A.L.S. Family Charitable Foundation, now a partner of ours here at PatientsLikeMe. Mary Ann recently sat down for a blog interview and spoke about her inspiration to start the organization, her philosophy about ALS and what advice she would have for anyone living, or caring for someone, with ALS. Can you share with our followers how your own family’s experience with ALS inspired you to start the A.L.S. Family Charitable Foundation?  My father, Edward Sciaba Sr., was diagnosed with ALS in 1995. Going through this ordeal really opened my eyes to the plight of not only the patients but their families as well. In 1998 he lost his battle with ALS. Our Co-Founder Donna Jordan also lost her brother Cliff Jordan Jr. to ALS the same year. (Our …

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Getting to know our Team of Advisors – Kitty

Kitty represents the mental health community on the PatientsLikeMe Team of Advisors, and she’s always ready to extend a helping hand. She’s a social worker who specializes in working with children in foster care, and below, she shares how her own journey with major depressive disorder (MDD) has helped her truly connect with and understand the needs of both her patients and others. About Kitty (aka jackdzone): Kitty has a master’s degree in marriage, family and child therapy and has worked extensively with abused, neglected and abandoned children in foster care as a social worker. She joined PatientsLikeMe and was thrilled to find people with the same condition who truly understand what she’s going through. She lost her job as a result of her MDD, which was a difficult time for her. Kitty is very attuned to the barriers those with mental health conditions might face, and has great perspective about how to be precise with language to help people feel safe and not trigger any bad feelings. Kitty is passionate about research being conducted with the patient’s well-being at the forefront, and believes patient centeredness means talking with patients from the very beginning by conducting patient surveys and finding …

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Getting to know our Team of Advisors – Letitia

You might recognize Letitia from her Patient Voice video and her PIPC guest blog, but did you know she’s also a member of the PatientsLikeMe Team of Advisors? Below, read what she had to say about living with epilepsy, her views on patient centeredness and all of her advocacy work. About Letitia (aka Letitia81): Letitia is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Florida and a National Certified Counselor specializing in mental health and marriage and family issues, who was diagnosed with epilepsy at a young age. Letitia consulted with doctors across different disciplines both nationally and internationally and did not find an effective treatment until she found out about epileptologists on PatientsLikeMe. Through consultations, she realized she was a good candidate for brain surgery and she underwent left temporal lobectomy August 16, 2012 and has been seizure free ever since. She successfully weaned herself off of Keppra this month under her doctor’s supervision. Letitia is very passionate about giving back to others, and recently met a young epileptic girl and inspired her to undergo the same life changing surgery, and so far she’s met with great results. In addition to helping the young girl and her family, people contact her …

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Getting to know our Team of Advisors – Charles

We’ll be featuring three Team of Advisors introductions on the blog this month, and first up is Charles, a veteran Army Ranger who is also living with MS. Below, Charles shared about his military background, his thoughts on patient centeredness and how he’s found his second family in the Team of Advisors. About Charles (aka CharlesD): Charles has a diverse background. He served three years in the US Army 75th Ranger Regiment parachuting from the back of C-130 and C-141 aircraft. He built audio/video/computer systems for Bloomberg Business News. He worked as an application systems engineer in banking, as a computer engineer at the White House Executive Office of the President (EOP), and as a principal systems engineer for the US Navy Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBM) program. He is currently a contractor providing document imaging Subject Matter Expertise (SME) to the IRS. Charles was diagnosed with MS in July of 2013. MS runs in his family on his mother’s Irish side – he has one uncle and two male cousins with MS. Charles on patient centeredness: With experience in website design, Charles believes patient centeredness is a lot like user centeredness when designing a web site or a portal: …

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Migraine: More than just a headache

June is National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, but isn’t a migraine just a bad headache? Nope. People like Cindy McCain (wife of Senator John McCain) and 36 million Americans living with migraines will tell you otherwise. And this month, those 36 million are raising awareness and dispelling the stigma around migraines. Headaches can have many causes – dehydration, loud noises, and even feelings of stress or anxiety can trigger pain behind our eyes and forehead. So what makes migraines different? They can still be triggered by things like intense light, noise, or certain foods, but migraines are inherited neurological disorders. They can last a long time, sometimes hours.1 Migraines can also be accompanied by auras (a visual or auditory perception that a migraine is about to strike). The people living with migraines in the US are who inspired Cindy McCain to organize the 36 Million Migraine campaign. Listen to her share her experiences with migraines on The Today Show:     If you’ve ever experienced a migraine, you’re not alone – over 7,500 people are living with migraines on PatientsLikeMe. Many have shared what triggers their migraines and how they manage the pain – join the community to share …

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Wrapping up Seeing [MS]: The invisible symptoms

Here’s a question we asked last year – how do you explain multiple sclerosis to those who don’t understand? And here are a few answers: “I’m burnt alive every day.” “A single bead of sweat can bring me to my knees.” “I can be struck down in just seconds.” Over the past year, we’ve been featuring quotes, pictures and videos from the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Australia’s (MSA) Seeing [MS] campaign, which is all about visualizing the invisible symptoms of MS and raising awareness for the neurological condition. We’ve covered nine symptoms: blurred vision, pain, hot and cold, spasticity, dizziness, fatigue, brain fog, balance and numbness. If you missed anything, watch the video below for a full recap. While there may be no more Seeing [MS] photographs, there will always be more symptoms, experiences and knowledge to share to help raise awareness for all things MS. There are more than 39,000 people living with MS on PatientsLikeMe, and many have contributed their own symptoms to the Seeing [MS] forum thread. If you’ve been diagnosed with MS, visit the community today. And a very special thanks to the patients and photographers whose hard work made Seeing [MS] possible.

Getting to know our Team of Advisors – Steve

A few weeks ago, Amy shared about living with a rare genetic disease in her Team of Advisors introduction post. Today, it’s Steve’s turn to share about his unique perspective as a scientist who has been diagnosed with ALS. Below, learn about Steve’s experience with ALS research, his views on patient centeredness and what being a part of the Team of Advisors means to him. About Steve (aka rezidew): Steve is a professor of Developmental Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was diagnosed with ALS in the fall of 2013 and his symptoms have progressed with increased debilitating weakness in his arms and hands. He was excited to join us as an advisor to lend his expertise on research methodology to the team. He has authored or coauthored an impressive 6 books, 91 peer reviewed publications, and 26 published chapters. When we talked about giving a background on research methods to the team, Steve said ‘I can teach it.’ He is passionate about helping teach others and believes “as a scientist who has been diagnosed with ALS, I regret having this disorder but I am eager to use my unique perspective to promote and possibly …

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Seeing [MS]: The invisible symptoms – numbness

“When I woke up, my hands were gone.” That’s how Adriana Grasso described the numbness she experiences as part of her MS. It’s so severe that she doesn’t even know what it feels like to hold someone’s hand. As she says, “A simple thing that we take for granted – touch – it’s gone, and there is a barrier there.” Listen to Adriana speak about her symptom below: You are now seeing numbness Photographed by Nicholas Walton-Healey Inspired by Adriana Grasso’s invisible symptoms Adriana worked with photographer Nicholas Walton-Healey to portray her numbness in a picture and video. Their work is 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. Share this post on Twitter and help spread the word for MS.

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