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Parents of every student-athlete ABSOLUTELY MUST READ!

Because the medical treatment of concussions and other sports-related brain injuries is still developing, here’s an article parents of every student-athlete ABSOLUTELY MUST READ!

http://www.miaminewtimes.com/2011-08-18/news/student-athletes-suffer-the-stings-of-concussions-while-lawmakers-fail-to-help/

It’s especially important for parents because a young person’s brain is not fully developed or mature until his early to mid-20s and a trauma that may be less significant – “getting your bell rung” – may be potentially far more devastating for a 7, 10, or 18 year iold.

We won’t summarize it or minimize it. We’ll only say that all youth sports carry a risk of traumatic brain injuries – well, maybe with the exception of crocket, tiddlywinks and marbles. In fact, Americans sustain as many as 3.8 million sports- and recreation-related concussions, 235,000 hospitalizations and 50,000 deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And, “Ninety percent of concussions went undiagnosed. In fact, today you can talk to an athlete and ask the amount of concussion they’ve had and give them an actual definition, and that number will increase,” Chris Nowinski of the Boston-based Sports Legacy Institute told Village Voice Media

Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D.

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30 minutes a day of exercise adds four years to life expectancy

It’s a promised “return on investment” that, if it involved money, would get folks arrested for running a Ponzi scheme. But, here’s the newest science-based facts: 15 minutes a day or 92 minutes per week of mild to moderate exercise extended lifespan by three years compared to inactivity.

Those were the results of a twelve year study of 416,175 Taiwanese and reported by senior author Xifeng Wu, MD, PhD, professor and chair of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Department of Epidemiology. “Exercising at very light levels reduce deaths from any cause by 14 percent,” reported Dr. Xifeng. “The benefits of exercise appear to be significant even without reacting the recommended 150 minutes per week based on results of previous research.”

Benefits Of ExerciseLead author Chi-Pang Wen, MD of the National Health Research Institutes of Taiwan, and colleagues found that a person’s risk of death from any cause decreased by four percent for every additional 15 minutes of exercise up to 100 minutes a day over the course of the study and exercising for 30 minutes a day added about four years to life expectancy – regardless of age group, gender or risk of cardiovascular disease.
At onset, study participants completed a questionnaire covering their medical history of lifestyle information. They characterized their weekly physical activity for the previous month by intensity  – light (walking), moderate (brisk walking), vigorous (jogging) or high vigorous (running) – and time. Participants also characterized their physical activity at work – sedentary to hard physical labor. Those who reported less than one hour a week of leisure time physical activity – 54 percent – were classified in as inactive, while others received ratings of low, medium, high or very high based on duration and intensity of their exercise.

The researchers also analyzed thirteen other variables: age, sex, education level, physical labor at work, smoking, alcohol use, fasting blood sugar, systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, body mass index, diabetes, hypertension and history of cancer. Those who engaged in low-volume exercise had lower death rates than inactive people – regardless of age, gender, health status, tobacco use, alcohol consumption or cardiovascular disease risk.

At present, the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week – a guideline met by only one-third of U.S. adults. While the study considered only Taiwanese participants, the findings of reduced mortality through even moderately intense exercise are likely to hold true for other populations, said Wu, even though the amount of time spent or workout intensity required for a health benefit might differ. “These findings can stimulate people to exercise as much as they can and to not be frustrated that they can’t reach the 30 minutes per day guideline,” said Wu.
The exercise project was funded by the Taiwan Department of Health Clinical Trial and Research Center of Excellence and the Taiwan National Health Research Institutes.

Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D.

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Who Is Your Doctor Really Working For?

If you rely only on the popular media for critical information about your health, you’ve probably missed some critical information and you”ll want to check out National Public Radio’s series “How To Win Doctors And Influence Prescriptions” before checking in the next time with your favorite doctor and happily accept the prescription he or she offers – http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130730104.

And, to better protect yourself from his/her – perhaps needless – offer or a prescription that will not help you but might serve to enrich him/her, turn to ProPublica.com’s report “”Doctors on Pharma Payroll Have Blemished Records, Limited Credentials.” Propublica examined the records of seven companies, covering $257.8 million in payouts since 2009 for speaking, consulting and other duties. http://www.propublica.org/article/dollars-to-doctors-physician-disciplinary-records

The NPR series investigates how drugmakers systematically select physicians, referred to as “thought leaders” – Big Pharma public relations lingo for “shills” to speak on behalf of their products. NPR notes one case in which a high-prescribing physician received $1,500 to speak and, following his presentation wrote an additional $100,000 to $200,000 in prescriptions for the pating drug company.

ProPublica cites the case of pain physician William D. Lead; the Ohio medical board concluded that he he performed “unnecessary nerve tests on 20 patients and subjected some to “an excessive number of invasive procedures,” including injections of agents that destroy nerve tissue. Nonetheless, despite the this information being posted on the board’s public website, Big Pharma’s eli Lilly and Company used him as a promotional speaker and advisor – paying him $85,450 since 2009.

And then there’s the Pennsylvania doctor James I. McMillen. In 2001 the U.S. food and Drug Administration ordered the doctor to stop “false or misleading” promotions on the painkiller Celebrex, saying he minimized risks and touted it for unapproved uses. But the rheumatologists also managed to collect $224,163 over 18 months – shilling to other physicians for three other leading drug makers about their products.

Especially important for all patients is the ProPublic search that will allow you to determine if your physician has received money from drug companies for speaking or research. Click in your physician’s name and state – http://projects.propublica.org/docdollars – and the data base provides information on the almost $258 million distributed to 17,700 healthcare providers by AstraZeneca, Cephalor, GlazoSmithKline, Eli percent of the $300 billion U.S. market in 2009. The available date is from payments made in 2009 and 2010. While most of the money went to physicians, nurses and pharmacists are also included and practitioners names and addresses are listed as the companies released them. Because some providers may have similar names, it is important to check addresses and verify with your healthcare provider if he/she is the person actually listed on the databank.

Wise healthcare shoppers will review all of the NPR series and log in both the NPR and ProPublica sites into their favorite Web sites – to facilitate quick checks on their doctor’s records and backgrounds before heading out the door to any doctor’s office.

Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D.
7740 Southwest 52 Avenue
Miami, Florida 33143
(305) 271-0973 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (305) 271-0973 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

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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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Importance of Quieting The Brain

August 5th, 2009 by Dr. Paul Nussbaum

In addition to a good night sleep and plenty of rest to enable the brain to consolidate information learned during the day, the brain also benefits from quiet moments during the day.

A quiet moment does not involve any goal, task completion, or endpoint. It is about process and about being in the here and now. A quiet moment can occur anywhere at any time so long as you permit your brain to shut down and to turn inward.

Removing structure and demand from your existence enables your brain to freely roam and to explore ideas and feelings that get shut out with structure and task driven behavior. Your most creative moments will come from such experiences.

It is not easy to create quiet moments. You need to establish parts of your day when you remove all chores, all responsibilities, and all task demands. It is simply time to be, for you to exist. It might mean a walk, sitting on a bench or under a tree, or playing an instrument. There is no conscious deliberation, it is meditative and introspective.

Sounds easy, but it is not. Give it a try and perhaps you will get in touch with your creative side!

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Study Shows Television Slows Child Development

For almost three generations parents have been telling kids to “turn off that television.”

            Now comes scientific evidence that, if parents want to help their children begin speaking and learning to understand the spoken word they’d better “turn off the television.”

            That’s the word from lead researcher Dimitri A. Christakis, MD, MPH, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute and professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington school of Medicine.

            Young children and their adult caregivers uttered fewer vocalizations, used fewer words and engaged in fewer conversations when in the presence of an audible television. Television during infancy has long been associated with language delays and attention problems but, until now, researchers were not able to pinpoint the reasons why.

            This study of 329 infants aged two months to four years old found that each hour of audible television was associated with significant reductions in child vocalizations, vocalizations duration and conversational turns. Children in the study wore business card-size digital recorders on random days for up to two years. The recorders captured everything the child said and heard during continuous 12 to 16 hour periods.

            On average, each additional hour of television exposure was associated with a decrease of 770 words – a seven percent decrease in words heard –  the child heard from an adult during the recording session and 500 to 1,000 fewer adult words were spoken per hour of audible television. Although adults typically utter approximately 941 words per hour, when the television is on parent’/adult-communication to infants is almost completely eliminated. From 500 to 1,000 fewer adult words were spoken per hour when the television was audible.

            In fact, in 2001 the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Public Education specifically recommended against screen-time for children under two yeas of age, urging more interactive play instead.

            For more information, see: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090601182830.

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