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Friday, March 1, 2013

Dance Dance Revolution (DDR), may help decrease cognitive and physical effects of multiple sclerosis

Published on February 28, 2013


Studies have shown that the popular video game, Dance Dance Revolution (DDR), which requires players to coordinate their movements to the beat of music, may help improve balance and mobility in certain patient populations. Now, researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center are the first to test the game's ability to help decrease the cognitive and physical effects of multiple sclerosis (MS).

An estimated 2.1 million people have multiple sclerosis (MS), an incurable inflammatory disease which progressively impairs nerve function in the brain and spinal cord. While studies with the elderly and Parkinson's patients have shown exercise can slow cognitive decline and improve coordination, similar information is lacking for patients with MS, leaving clinicians without data to help guide prescription of exercise programs.

"The video dancing game provides a good platform for our research because it addresses multiple issues that MS clinicians and patients face. We think our data will not only help doctors and therapists make good clinical recommendations, but provide an evidence based, in-home tool for patients that helps overcome access and cost issues associated with long term physical therapy," says Anne Kloos, PhD, PT, NCS, associate clinical professor of health and rehabilitation sciences in the Ohio State College of Medicine.

Kloos became interested in DDR as a potential therapy by conducting an earlier study of individuals with Huntington's disease. In that study, Kloos and her colleagues found that the interactive video game was a fun way to boost motivation and provide a mental and physical workout, in addition to being a convenient way to deliver physical therapy.



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Parenting with Multiple Sclerosis

GREAT TOPIC - thanks Julie

By , About.com GuideFebruary 28, 2013

I am a mom. I also have multiple sclerosis (MS).
When my twins were smaller, I thought that I was in an impossible situation. I felt like I was never doing things as well as I could. I kept feeling like I was disorganized. I always felt like I was behind schedule, that I could get more things done if I was just more efficient. Many of my ideas of age-appropriate stimulation that I had heard so much about from friends were out of my reach physically – I was too tired to take them to baby music classes or story time at the library. I would look at pictures in Pottery Barn Kids catalogs and wonder why my house didn't look like that.
Then I started talking to other moms. I realized that all parents have challenges. Not many of us feel like we are completely on top of things all the time. I imagine most parents of young children look around their houses at times and ask themselves, "What the heck happened? Where is the lovely, coordinated d├ęcor that now seems to be buried in toys and strollers? Why is there so much plastic stuff in my house now?"
I started giving myself a break, trying not to be so hard on myself. I focused on enjoying these little creatures who were changing before my eyes. Sure, some days were excruciating and endless, with me wondering if I would make it until I could get them to sleep.
There were days when I gave up trying to coax anyone to eat peas, but let goldfish crackers and raisins count as a square meal. Some days found everyone in pajamas until 3:00 in the afternoon.
You know what? My girls are seven years old now and we still have occasional days like that. You know what else? It is fine. They are happy and well-adjusted kids. Sure, there are days when I wouldn't want a camera crew to walk through the house, but for the most part, we are doing great.
For any of you who are parents living with MS, I'm going to share a couple of tips that guide me in my day-to-day life with my children.

Be honest with your kids.

When my girls turned four, they started noticing if I was a little draggy or looked tired, which they never hesitated to point out. I remember looking at their little eyebrows bunched together as they asked me what was wrong. The times that I tried to put on a bright grin and convince them that nothing was wrong (even though I felt like I was about to collapse from fatigue or pain or other MS symptoms) didn't always go so well. I think they saw through the lies.
On the other hand, when I told them (in age-appropriate language) that "Mommy's head hurt" or that "I feel sleepy," they often wanted to be part of the solution. I remember tiny hands petting my forehead as I lay on the couch before they turned to a quiet game with each other.

Let your children help you.

Again, they want to be part of the solution if you let them. Kids maximize their environment and will understand that if their parents are feeling better (physically and emotionally), the whole family functions better. That translates in to more fun and less upset.
I take a pretty gentle approach to getting help, which I have found works better than "laying down the law" about chores. I try to make it fun when possible. I chat with my daughter about her day as we sort socks or she empties the dishwasher.
I also make a big deal out of it when one girl brings me a glass of water or does a task voluntarily.

Be patient with your kids and yourself.

We are all trying to figure this out. Try to be patient and figure out why your child is acting a certain way – it could be that he or she is nervous about you not feeling well or concerned that it might be their fault that you have a headache. Be patient with yourself. I lose more keys and fumble much more when I put pressure on myself to do things quickly or perfectly.

Find things that everyone can do together.

Some days, you may not have it in you to go to the park or arrange a playdate. I have lots of days where I cannot do these things. However, I do try to interact with the girls in some way. I get out the markers and ask them to draw different animals for me. I ask them to read to me or to make up a story and tell it to me. We have even had days where I piled the craft materials on the table and had them work on projects while I offered advice from where I lay on the couch. Remember, they really just want to be with you more than anything else.

Pile on the love.

This goes without saying. If you lose your temper because you don’t feel well or you get overwhelmed, pull your children onto your lap and snuggle them. Tell them that you are sorry. Tell them that you love them often.

Bottom Line

I'll be honest. None of these tips work all of the time to keep everyone happy and things quiet and harmonious. However, this is what I have found, through years of trial and error, to give me the best shot in making to the end in one piece and relatively proud of my parenting skills.
Article source 

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Taking the Stress Out of Injecting Multiple Sclerosis Medications


By , About.com GuideFebruary 28, 2013

I estimate that I have given myself about 3,000 injections of Copaxone. While I do not claim to have a solution for everyone, I do think that anyone who does anything 3,000 times more or less successfully (or at least without major disaster or complications) must have some vague idea what they are doing.
I am pretty proud that I went from being completely terrified of needles to integrating this unpleasant task into my days without it causing too much anxiety anymore. In the article that follows, I offer up some tips of what has helped me get past some of the dark moments of holding a syringe and thinking to myself, "There is NO way that I can do this."
What about you? Whether you are still in the single digits of injections or have passed up my number by several-fold, you must have some workarounds that you use to get it done. Please share some of your tips, tricks and techniques for self-injecting. Yours might be the idea that helps someone at a really hard time.


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Thursday, February 28, 2013

MS Patients Exercise Body and Mind with Tai Chi


If you're struggling with the physical and mental limitations of MS, tai chi can help improve balance and ease stress through a series of flowing, coordinated movements.

Medically reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH

Tai chi may improve balance and ease emotional stress in multiple sclerosis patients.
The long-practiced Chinese martial art can lower cortisol, a primary indicator of stress. Gentler than most forms of yoga, tai chi involves a set of ordered, slow motions that promote balance and coordination through thoughtful consideration of each movement and body awareness.
“People can benefit from the coordinated neuromuscular style of exercise and the greater lower-body strength and stability,” says William Helm, BS, HHP, a tai chi instructor and chairman of the body therapy department at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in San Diego.
How Tai Chi Helps MS
  • Balance. The slow, repetitive weight-shifting movements and emphasis on maintaining an erect spine in tai chi help improve balance, Helm says. Multiple sclerosis (MS) patients tend to compensate for dysfunctional body systems by relying heavily on others. Therefore, it’s important to strengthen joint position sense and gain muscle control.
  • Muscle tone. Tai chi moves must be done slowly and require significant lower-extremity and core strength. The knees are often slightly flexed, which works the quadriceps muscles at the front of the thigh and the hamstrings muscles in back of the thigh.
  • Relaxation. “Relaxation is one of the main principles emphasized in tai chi,” Helm says. Slow, deep, diaphragmatic breathing often has a calming effect on participants. The exercise also encourages visualization of energy flow in the body, which can serve as a stress-buster.
  • Tai Chi Exercises for MS Patients
    Talk with your doctor before starting a tai chi class, and then make sure to find an instructor who works with MS patients. Before you start training, let your instructor know about your specific health challenges so as to allow for an adapted lesson plan.
    To get maximum benefits from tai chi, MS patients should practice for at least two hours a week, Helm says. “Part of the benefit of using tai chi with MS is that once you learn the forms and sequences, you can practice them on your own daily,” he adds.
    For more information visit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society website, check out local MS support groups and visit senior centers and recreation centers that may sponsor tai chi classes.


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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Healthy Lifestyle Strategies for People with MS


Why adopt healthy habits? From eating MS-friendly foods to fighting off infections, taking steps to live healthfully can dramatically improve your multiple sclerosis symptoms. Here's how to get started.

Medically reviewed by Cynthia Haines, MD
Video found here

Exercise at least two to three times a week, eat a well-balanced diet, and get plenty of good quality sleep. That advice holds true for everyone — but it is particularly important for the more than 400,000 Americans living with multiple sclerosis, according to the National MS Society.
And Tanuja Chitnis, MD, assistant professor of neurology and director of the Partners Pediatric MS Center at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, agrees. She recommends that everyone living with MS adopt a healthier lifestyle.
Multiple sclerosis, she explains, is an autoimmune disease, which means that the immune system — the part of your body that wards off outside assaults such as infection by bacteria — begins to attack its own tissues. A healthy lifestyle is key to helping the immune system function in an optimal way.
Living with MS: Tips for Maintaining A Healthy Lifestyle
Following the general good-health guidelines outlined below can help people living with MS not only to manage their multiple sclerosis more successfully, but also to live a better life overall. Key points include the following:
Protect yourself against infection. Because infections can trigger flares of MS symptoms, it's a good idea to take measures to make yourself less susceptible to wayward germs. To begin, minimize time spent with people who are sick. If you work with the public or ride public transportation, washing your hands frequently will help minimize the number of potentially harmful substances that you are exposed to. Take extra care of yourself during cold and flu season and talk to your doctor about getting vaccinated against common infections, such as influenza (the flu). Finally, UTIs, or urinary tract (bladder) infections, can also trigger MS flares, according to Chitnis. A study by researchers at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute found that cranberry juice has properties that help prevent bacteria from attaching to cells in the urinary tract. Making cranberry juice a regular part of your diet is a simple way that you can help combat UTIs.
Exercise Regularly. Dr. Chitnis says she recommends that people with multiple sclerosis do two to three exercise sessions a week. But before you start any exercise program, you should check with your doctor, she adds. For people living with MS, exercise has definite benefits, but there are also a few considerations to keep in mind as you work out. One of the most important: avoiding overheating. "While overheating does not appear to do permanent damage, it does make symptoms temporarily worse for people living with MS," says Chitnis.
Weight-bearing exercise is a good way to strengthen bones and protect against osteoporosis, a bone-thinning disease that is more common in people living with MS. Weight-bearing exercises might include aerobics, running, dancing, and stair climbing. To prevent overheating, take frequent breaks and pay attention to how your body feels, especially when doing high-intensity exercises.
Eat a healthy diet. We've all been told to eat more fruits and vegetables, go easy on the caffeine and alcohol, and add whole grains to our diet. This is also true for people living with MS. A diet rich in vitamins and other nutrients helps ward off illness and keeps energy levels high. And people living with MS may have other issues to contend with, such as bladder and bowel problems, which are affected by the foods they eat. Read more about the effect of diet on multiple sclerosis.
Stay emotionally healthy. Evidence suggests that stress can trigger an MS flare, and this idea is confirmed anecdotally by many people living with MS. Rick Sommers, a social worker who specializes in helping people with chronic illnesses, was diagnosed with MS in 1994. Being stuck in traffic or having a rough day at work is not the kind of stress that triggers flares, he says. It's the more long-term stressors, such as anxiety about the economic downturn, that seem to hit his patients harder than the average person, he adds. Sommers notes that because living with MS and other chronic illnesses means living with constant uncertainty, finding some stress-reducing techniques, be it acupuncture or yoga or music, to help you cope in a positive way is an important part of staying healthy.

Article found here
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Popular Video Dancing Game May Reduce Cognitive, Physical Impacts of Multiple Sclerosis

Feb. 27, 2013 — Studies have shown that the popular video game, Dance Dance Revolution (DDR), which requires players to coordinate their movements to the beat of music, may help improve balance and mobility in certain patient populations. Now, researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center are the first to test the game's ability to help decrease the cognitive and physical effects of multiple sclerosis (MS).


An estimated 2.1 million people have multiple sclerosis (MS), an incurable inflammatory disease which progressively impairs nerve function in the brain and spinal cord. While studies with the elderly and Parkinson's patients have shown exercise can slow cognitive decline and improve coordination, similar information is lacking for patients with MS, leaving clinicians without data to help guide prescription of exercise programs.
"The video dancing game provides a good platform for our research because it addresses multiple issues that MS clinicians and patients face. We think our data will not only help doctors and therapists make good clinical recommendations, but provide an evidence based, in-home tool for patients that helps overcome access and cost issues associated with long term physical therapy," says Anne Kloos, PhD, PT, NCS, associate clinical professor of health and rehabilitation sciences in the Ohio State College of Medicine.
Kloos became interested in DDR as a potential therapy by conducting an earlier study of individuals with Huntington's disease. In that study, Kloos and her colleagues found that the interactive video game was a fun way to boost motivation and provide a mental and physical workout, in addition to being a convenient way to deliver physical therapy.
In early 2012, Kloos received a grant from the Ohio State Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS) to examine the effects of DDR on mobility, brain plasticity and cognition in individuals with MS. In the ongoing trial, participants exercise using DDR three times a week for eight weeks. The patients' cognitive functions are tested at the beginning and end of the trial, and functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging is used to detect brain circuitry changes.
"DDR requires a lot of cognitive processing. Players must look at a screen and time their movements to the arrows on the screen," said research team member, Nora Fritz, DPT. "Incorporating DDR into standard MS treatments has the potential to improve balance, walking, cognition and motivation."
Fritz recently received a supplementary grant from the CCTS to expand the work started by Kloos, and is being mentored by both Dr. Kloos and Deborah Larsen, PhD, PT, Director of the Ohio State School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. With the additional funding, Fritz will investigate the differences in dual tasking abilities between individuals with MS and healthy controls and whether playing DDR will improve dual tasking abilities.
Many people diagnosed with MS feel as though they have been given a life sentence of incapacitation. Kloos and Fritz are looking to restore hope and improve the quality of life for patients suffering from this disease, something that study participants feel they are achieving.
"Participating in the study and doing the dance program has helped me feel healthier and more independent. And that is really exciting," says Tracy Blackwell, a study participant.
The trial is still enrolling patients.


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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

New device designed to restore brain functions – via the tongue


February 25, 2013


A prototype tongue-buzzing PoNS device

cientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have created a device known as a PoNS, that shows promise for the treatment of traumatic brain injuries, strokes, or the effects of diseases such as Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis. Researchers at the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command are now conducting a study on the device, which works by stimulating the patient’s tongue.
The battery-operated PoNS consists of a control/power box, and a flat electrode-covered oral portion that the patient holds in their mouth, against their tongue. In a typical 20 to 30-minute PoNS session, the patient performs a set of physical, occupational, and cognitive exercises, tailored toward their disability.

Each of those exercises are paired with specific patterns of electrodes being activated on the PoNS, which in turn stimulate individual nerve endings on the tongue – the stimulation process is referred to as cranial nerve non-invasive neuromodulation, or CN-NiNM.

By learning to associate specific nerve impulses from the tongue with specific activities, the brain reportedly starts to form new neural pathways for functions such as balance. Over time, this is said to increase its organizational ability, potentially allowing the patient to regain control of mental or physical functions.

In a study conducted at the University of Nebraska, a group of test subjects with multiple sclerosis received regular treatment with the PoNS device. After eight weeks of therapy, they showed a “50 percent improvement in postural balance, a 55 percent improvement in walking ability, a 48 percent reduction in MS impact scores and a 30 percent reduction in fatigue.”
In the latest study, the Army has joined forces with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and NeuroHabilitation Corporation, which is commercializing the technology. The year-long evaluation of PoNS will begin this month, and will focus largely on the treatment of brain-injured soldiers. It is hoped that the research will lead to U.S. Food and Drug Administration clearance for the device.

Source: U.S. ArmyUniversity of Nebraska (pdf) via PopSci

article and device image found here




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How My Laptop Can Help Me Break The Glass Ceiling Despite My Disability

Written by Cathy Chester,  February 2013

“I choose not to place “DIS”, in my ability.”~Robert M. Hensel 

Last week my Wordless Wednesday photo showed a picture of a 1970’s Smith Corona electric typewriter.  Sometimes I miss using that powder blue piece of equipment.  I used to get a “tactile high” typing on each thick key in quick succession, listening to the clickety clack noises and the clanging bell sounding off at the end of every line.  I know it sounds strange, but I loved using the old girl. Yet as much as I loved my typewriter, I love the convenience my laptop affords me even more. There’s the sleekness of the design, the innovative technology it provides and the sexy empowerment I feel when I’ve mastered a new skill.

The most important reason why I love my laptop is it opens the world to me without the need to leave the comfort of my home. When you have a disability, that’s a very important reason. I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in the dark ages before computers.  My first memory of owning a computer is when my son was seven years old, and we spent a few afternoons at Zany Brainy testing the latest and greatest computer programs for children. His favorite was Putt Putt Saves The Zoo. Whenever I was tired I’d sit next to him in front of our new Dell desktop, watching him carefully maneuver that tiny purple car that was desperately trying to save the zoo.  It was the perfect babysitter.

As he got older I worried whether I’d ever be able to return to work.  I couldn’t imagine how I could hold down a full-time job, or any job at all.  How could I work when my biggest MS complaint was my constant enemy of fatigue? (I’d describe this fatigue by asking you to imagine your worst flu symptoms, then multiplying that memory by 1000%.  Your body completely shuts down, leaving you unable to walk, talk or think clearly. Your only options are to rest or nap). Today, having a laptop at my disposal allows me the luxury of working from home.  It provides endless work-related opportunities that a few years ago I never would have had.  With my MacBook at my side, I can be creative through my writing and get paid for my work. I can work on my blog at my leisure and never worry that the boss may be watching.  I can take breaks when I need to, nap when I have to and work odd hours of the day and night.  It gives me the chance to be a part of the world again, not merely watching it from the sidelines.

It’s extremely satisfying to be able to financially contribute to my family while also being a part of the working world.  Being useful helps me feel less disabled; using my abilities enables me to regain some of the self-esteem and confidence I had lost.  (Have you ever been to a dinner party when someone asks your husband what he does for a living, then ignores you and moves on because they know you’re disabled and you don’t work? Have you ever been out with friends and they talk about their respective jobs, yet no one asks you what you’ve been doing?  As a stay-at-home mom I’ve experienced this.  As a disabled woman I’ve endured this as well.) This past year I met an extraordinary group of women who share my love of writing and my commitment to enjoying my life after the age of 50.  We met on the Internet and have become fast friends.  They’ve unknowingly lifted me up, helping me feel more “able” to continue writing what I’m passionate about while rekindling my faith in the kindness of strangers.

Read More at http://anempoweredspirit.com/how-my-laptop-may-help-me-break-the-glass-ceiling-despite-my-disability, Written by Cathy Chester, Copyright © AnEmpoweredSpirit.com




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Monday, February 25, 2013

A Grandchild's thought on the MonSter



Have you ever known someone with multiple sclerosis? I have it can be a burden and a blessing. A negative because it is something you can't control. A positive because you can still live your life and feel strong.
To begin with, I have learned that multiple sclerosis isn't something you can control. There are some days that will feel easier than others. MS is a disease that affects 2.5 million people worldwide. The best approach to the situation is to make sure you have the right medication to subdue the disease. Multiple Sclerosis teases the brain. A good mind-state is essential, be optimistic. For example I have no car to drive but I still have feet.
Stay productive mentally, it helps. As long as you keep the flame lit there’s always a chance, for a cure, better medication, or just the simplest thing happiness.
In addition, it is a perfect time to overcome adversity. Many people still function and live normal lives. You can't give up when you are supposed to hurdle. Many people diagnosed, may feel the life taken out of them, it’s up to you to restore it. I previously said there are 2.5 million people worldwide being affected. Again I am telling you there’s 2.5 million worldwide living with it. Like it was told to me you can lead a horse to fresh water but you can't make it drink. The ability to thrive depends on your drive and will. For example, my grandfather a man of men has dealt with multiple sclerosis for multiple years, sometimes it fiddles with him more then he lets on, but at the end of the day he’s pushing through like an old school Chevy truck. Bottom line is there’s ways to fight this, don't lay down and take it!
In Conclusion, know there are positives and negatives for everyone that breaths air. Multiple Sclerosis is another thing to surpass. Although you can't control it, you can still control how you feel about it!
One Love!
-Luis Reyes


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