Archive for September, 2009

Using Caution Regarding Blows to the Head is Very Important

         With the start of the academic year and intramural and interscholastic sports, parents and coaches have a special role in protecting young athletes from head injuries.

            That is the caution of Francis J. Flynn, Psy.D, CAP, director of the Brain Training Centers of Florida.

            “Any trauma that leads to injury of the scalp, skull, or brain has to be considered a trauma,” cautions Dr. Flynn, who noted that there are two types of head injuries – closed, resulting from a hard blow to the skull from hitting the skull or being hit; and open or penetrating, resulting the skull actually being broken and/or entered by an object.

            “It’s risky, even life threatening, to underplay the importance of even minor hits to the head, especially if the student athlete becomes disoriented. “There’s no such thing as ‘just a little hit to the head’ or being ‘a little dizzy for a couple of minutes,’” cautions Flynn.

            While concussions – in which the brain is shaken – are the most common type of traumatic brain injury, contusions or brain bruising can also be a be a cause for concern. A subarachnoid hemorrhage is bleeding in the area between the brain and the thin tissues that covers the brain; a subdural hematoma – usually the result of a serious head injury – is a collection of blood on the surface of the brain. Acute subdural hematomas are among the deadliest of all head injuries, with blood filling the brain area very rapidly and compressing brain tissue. Surprisingly subdural hematomas can occur after a very minor head injury – especially among the very young and elderly – and may be unnoticed for days or weeks. In any subdural hematoma, tiny veins between the brain and its outer covering – the dura – stretch and tear. Subdural hematomas often result from reoccurring falls and repeated head injuries.

            Parents and coaches should recognize the symptoms of possibly serious brain injuries:

 

·         Confused or slurred speech

·         Weakness

·         Decreased consciousness and alertness

·         Eyes – pupils – different sizes

·         Difficulty with balance or walking or loss of movement or feeling

·        Headaches

·        Mood and personality changes, including confusion and irritability

·        Lethargy (unexplained feeling tired) or confusion

·        Muscle aches – especially neck and shoulder pains

·        Loss of consciousness

·        Nausea and vomiting

·        Seizures

·        Numbness

·        Visual disturbances

·        Drooping eyelid(s)

                In the event of any of these symptoms after even the slightest blow to the head, individuals should see a physician – in an emergency room, if necessary, cautions Flynn.

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Cheap Drinks At College Bars Can Escalate Drinking Among College Students

ScienceDaily (Sep. 2, 2009) — It’s no secret that alcohol use among college students can cause a number of problems, including injury, violence and even death. A new study has examined the impact of drink discounts at college bars, finding that low alcohol prices at drinking establishments pose genuine threats to public health and safety.



Results will be published in the November issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.

“It may seem intuitive that cheaper alcohol can lead to higher intoxication levels and related consequences – such as fighting, drunk driving, sexual victimization, injury, even death – especially among the vulnerable college student population,” said Ryan J. O’Mara, a graduate research fellow at the University of Florida and corresponding author for the study. “Nonetheless, ‘drink specials’ and other alcohol discounts and promotions remain a common feature of college bars in campus communities in the United States. This study’s results challenge assertions sometimes made by the management of these establishments that drink discounts are innocuous marketing practices intended only to attract customers to better bargains than those provided elsewhere.”

“What makes this study unique,” added John D. Clapp, professor and director of the San Diego State University Center for Alcohol and Drug Studies, “is that it was one of the first to examine this relationship at the bar-patron level using methods that carefully examined price – that is, what people actually spent – and biologically measured intoxication.”

“Most of this prior research has relied on population-level data, for example, comparing alcohol taxes and alcohol sales at the state level,” explained O’Mara. “Our study examines this price-behavior relationship at the individual, or consumer, level in a natural drinking setting. We did this study in college bars because previous research has shown that young adults are more sensitive to alcohol price changes than older populations who generally have more disposable income.”

O’Mara and his colleagues collected data on 804 patrons (495 men, 309 women) exiting seven bars adjacent to a large university campus on four consecutive nights during April 2008 in the southeastern United States. The data included anonymous interview and survey information, breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) readings, as well as each patron’s expenditures per unit of alcohol consumed, based on self-reported information given regarding the type, size, number, and cost of consumed drinks.

“We estimated each patron’s cost per gram of ethanol (pure alcohol) consumed at a bar,” said O’Mara. “For example, one male participant consumed five 12-ounce bottles of a domestic beer (4.2% ethanol), or approximately 56 grams of ethanol. He paid $5.00 for all of these drinks, so we calculated that he spent about nine cents per gram of ethanol consumed at a bar. His BrAC upon leaving the bar district was just above 0.08, the presumptive legal limit for driving in the US. We found that increases in cost per gram of ethanol were associated with lower levels of intoxication. For example, patrons with the lowest level of intoxication, a BrAC of less than 0.02, paid on average $4.44 for a standard drink or 14 grams of ethanol versus patrons with the highest level of intoxication, a BrAC of more than 0.16, who paid $1.81 per drink.”

In other words, researchers found that for each $1.40 increase in the average price paid for a standard drink, the patron was 30 percent less likely to leave the bar district with a BrAC above 0.08. Essentially, higher alcohol prices were associated with less risk of being inebriated when driving away from a bar.

“It is not surprising that moderate price increases in standard drinks significantly reduce the risk of intoxication,” noted Clapp, “as this relationship is well established at the population level. However, given that college students tend to have limited disposable income, determining potentially protective price points for drinks is important. The main research innovation of this study is methodological; their measurement approach to determining alcohol cost per gram advances the way such costs are typically determined.”

“In our current economic recession,” said O’Mara, “it is quite possible that some people with little disposable income are highly sensitive to alcohol price changes. A future study should seek to determine which specific populations are most vulnerable to drink discounting at bars.”

He added that he is skeptical that bars and nightclubs that cater to college students would voluntarily eliminate drink discounts. “I suspect their primary aim is to generate revenue,” O’Mara said, “which unfortunately conflicts with protecting public health and safety.”

Clapp agreed. “Bars often argue that college students cannot afford to drink at ‘regular’ prices and thus inexpensive alcohol is a business necessity,” he said. “Moreover, bar owners often argue such cheaper drinks do not result in drunkenness or other problems. This study suggests otherwise. Students will purchase more expensive alcoholic drinks and, when they do, become less intoxicated. It would seem from a both a business and public-health standpoint, inexpensive drinks are a problem.”



Adapted from materials provided by Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

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Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research (2009, September 2). Cheap Drinks At College Bars Can Escalate Drinking Among College Students. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2009, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2009/09/090901163910.htm

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Neurospirituality

In the beginning – only a couple of generations ago, there was neuroanatomy; then came neurology and neurophysiology, and neurochemistry.

And now… Neurotheology or Neurospirituality. The emerging new field that not only studies the brains and brain functioning of men and women committed to a wide range of spiritual practices, but may actually lead to greater spiritual experiences – even for non-believers.

“We’ve known for years that Buddhist monks and Catholic nuns can boost their ‘brain power’ through prayer and meditation, but the newest research appears to indicate that everyone, including atheists and agnostics, can experience many of the mental benefits derived from religious practices,” reported Francis J. Flynn, Psy.D., CAP, president of Brain Training Centers of Florida.

Flynn points to How God Changes Your Brain, a “critical new work” by Andrew Newberg, as a “must read” for men and women interested in personal/spiritual growth or simply experiencing the profound benefits of spiritual practices.

Newberg, director of the Center for Spirituality and the Mind at the University of Pennsylvania, and co-author Mark Robert Waldman, a therapist at the Center, point out that “neurotheology” – the study of the brain’s role in religious belief – is starting to allow scientists and understand what happens in believer’s brains when they contemplate God.

Newberg and Waldman draw attention to “god circuits” – neural systems in several different parts of the brain – that become active in the practice of mediation. These same circuits, including the parietal-frontal circuit and parts of the frontal lobe, play a role in creating and integrating ideas about God.

“This new work is especially exciting for men and women who are already actively involved in meditation – for spiritual growth or as a part of a 12-Step program of recovery,” notes Flynn. He reports that in the past year the Brain Training Centers of Florida has served several clients with histories of “from five to more than thirty years of daily meditation. In every case, they reported that their Brain Training experiences intensified and deepened their meditation practices – adding new, albeit anecdotal evidence  to the effectiveness of combining the newest in computer sciences and neurological studies to ancient forms of spirituality.”

“It’s possible that even the most religiously committed men, and individuals who are simply seeking a greater connectedness to the Universe or their individual Higher Power can now experience significant personal breakthroughs using the gift of technology,” noted Flynn.

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