Stroke survivors continue to heal through the power of music

The Backstrokes: Marlane Venner, Brad Caster, Carol and Ed Edmo, Lee Jordan, Lynn Sweeney, Anne Tillinghast,
Phil Liu and his mother Ellen.

Back in early 2013, we heard about a group of stroke survivors who found their voice and some healing through music in a group known as The Backstrokes. We’re pleased to report that the music group continues to play together…

Since the original blog post, The Backstrokes have been going strong.

We have been joined by guitarist, Keith Parkhurst–a long-time Portland musician, who is naturally good at connecting with people, and finding out what songs they like to sing.

Most of our core group still attends regularly, and we continue to celebrate noticeable improvement in speech and overall communication skills, showing that ongoing recovery continues to be possible even ten years or more after a stroke.

Some of our members also attend speech therapy at the Portland State University Aphasia Program. According to them, singing on a weekly basis, or more, is helpful in “speeding up” the results of those efforts.

Liz & Kate Sterry, Marlane Venner and Anne Tillinghast at the recent Heart & Stroke Walk finish line.

Last fall, we were very happy to add a second group that invites members to bring instruments they already play, or are learning.

The goal of this group is to develop the skills needed to play along with others in impromptu settings.

This is not only an attempt to engage more of the brain in healing, but also to try to facilitate more social and community involvement, which can be severely limited by impaired speech.

For the past two years, Marlane Venner, has been attending both Backstrokes groups, as well as volunteering with us at two skilled nursing facilities.

In spite of numbness and partial paralysis in her right hand, she is also learning to play the ukulele.  In the past few months, her speech has improved enough to start telling me about herself and her life.

She happily states that she is “getting better!” She attributes this, in part, to the variety of  social interactions around each music activity, and from “pushing the envelope” in learning new skills.

This growing friendship is profoundly rewarding on a personal level, and professionally, it encourages us to keep trying new ways to engage people to play music, or in Marlane’s words, to keep “pushing the envelope!”

Learn more at thebackstrokes.com

Hear The Backstrokes play on this KOIN news report from 2013:

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Anne Tillinghast is passionate about inspiring others to sing and play music. She worked at the Oregon Stroke Center at OHSU for 13 years before starting The Backstrokes group for Stroke Survivors in 2012. Her varied work experience also includes singing to help teach language skills in developmental preschool classrooms, and using camp songs to wrangle sixth-graders during their week’s stay with the Multnomah County Outdoor School program.

Your health questions answered: What can I do to lower my risk of stroke?

You ask. OHSU health experts answer. This month, one of our stroke experts is on the hot seat. 

Q: Stroke runs in my family: What can I do to lower my risk?

A: The most important thing you can do to lower your risk of stroke is to keep your blood pressure under control.

Also, conditions such as high cholesterol and diabetes can run in families and increase your stroke risk.

If you have an irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation), talk to your doctor because it can increase your chance of stroke, especially as you age.

Your lifestyle plays a part, too.

For example, quitting smoking cuts your risk of stroke in half. Moderate exercise, such as brisk walking for 30 minutes daily, also can help keep you healthy.

Diet counts, too.

Reduce your consumption of red meat and processed foods, and eat more fruits and vegetables instead.

Managing stress also can lower your blood pressure, thus lowering your risk.

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Helmi Lutsep, M.D. is vice chairwoman of neurology and sees patients at the OHSU Stroke Center, which was recently recognized by the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association for achieving the highest level of performance in stroke care. 

Researcher seeks better ways to care for people post-concussion

The research surrounding concussions has been a heavy topic of discussion and strides are being taken to incorporate research findings into clinical and practical care of people post-concussion.

This attempt to provide evidence-based care to our athletes was recently punctuated at the the Sports and Health Research Program Stakeholders Board Meeting, organized by the Foundation for the National Institute of Health (NIH) in Washington DC.

In attendance were several NIH funded investigators, NIH program officers and representatives from organizations such as the NFL, NHL, FIFA and the Olympic team.

During this meeting, I shared an update on my research, which uses inertial sensors for on-site gait and balance testing after college athletes have sustained a concussion.

My team is particularly interested in investigating how balance and gait measures change after injury and how long those abnormalities last for individuals hoping to return to their sport.

Our research uses wireless inertial sensors, attached to the athletes ankles and waist to objectively quantify subtle abnormalities that reflect impaired balance or coordination, often missed by routine examination.

Interestingly, the inertial sensors we use in our research were developed by a local start-up company here in Portland called APDM.

Our team of researchers represents a multidisciplinary and multi-institutional collaboration between myself, the principal investigator in the Department of Neurology, and Dr. Jim Chesnutt M.D. (co-investigator) in the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation.

We collaborate with three local universities: Portland State University, Lewis & Clark University, and George Fox University.

The funding provided by the NIH has been pivotal in moving forward the relationship between the sports and scientific communities here in Portland.

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Laurie King, Ph.D., PT studies the clinical implementation of emerging practices and technology for improving assessment and rehabilitation in patients with neurologic disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and traumatic brain injury. 

We’re celebrating Take Your Sons and Daughters to Work Day

Last Thursday, April 23, we celebrated Take Your Sons and Daughters to Work Day here at the OHSU Brain Institute. Today, we welcome a very special guest blogger, seven-year-old Patrick…

Today I went to work with my mom. I loved it. I hope I can go next year.

I pet pupys named Hope, Carolina, and Hunter, (they were very nice.)

I got trivia from the shcool nursing. I liked answering the quetions.

I learnd that I HAVE TO wear a helmet when riding a bike, because if I don’t I mite get a concussion.

I loved being at OHSU!!!!!

Patrick, age seven

I’m looking at brains!

My mom carried my stuff for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Patrick is a second grader at The International School in Portland. His mom is the Social Media Coordinator for the OHSU Brain Institute.

Reflections: Memory, melody and jazz

We’re gearing up for the Portland screening of the film “Una Vida” on Monday, April 27. A panel discussion from three neuro-experts will follow the film, including artist Tim DuRoche. Tim will share his expertise on New Orleans jazz and the intra-psychic impact of music on the mind. Today, he talks memory and music as our “On the Brain” guest blogger…

UNAVIDA-POSTERAs I look forward to the screening and post-film discussion of Nicholas Bazan’s Una Vida on April 27 at OMSI’s Empirical Theater, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about jazz, memory and how music acts as such a powerful beacon – whether we realize it or not.

Because jazz spans the 20th century, it is a floodgate for mood and memory, flickering gone reflections: a first kiss, a 50th anniversary, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, many innumerable rites of passage.

Jazz players are often hired for musical situations known as “casuals” —which can be a corporate gig, wedding reception, art opening, Christmas-time-at-the-Fred-Meyer-deli— it’s pretty hard to do this for too long without getting “the request.” I began to think about this years ago: that a request is often about wanting access to something that is more than a simple song.

Some musicians play cooly with a listener’s insatiable appetite for reminiscence and avoid the request or are resentful of the simple pleasure that comes with “playing our song” for those requesting not only our permission to embark, but our trust and collaboration as a harbormaster of these kernels of identity and remembrance.

Honoring the request can be an inescapably intimate act —profound, really—to be trusted with the raw materials of someone else’s memory…to act as a conduit, accelerating and reversing time for another, suggesting, reminding, or date-stamping snapshots of desire and a life together through a song and a dance.

You wouldn’t want to shatter a five-year- old’s hopes for Santa, so why would you toy with the fragility of emotion that is welled-up between the box-step of “Deep Purple” or the faraway-from-home-in-a-trench immediacy of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas?”

There are certain songs (and times like the winter holidays brings them out in spades), fire-lit songs that make you feel like cardigan-clad Perry Como or Jimmy Stewart. These songs move us. Every time. They’re simple. Yet they remind us of what’s important. Perhaps what’s been lost.

And it was music that tripped the switch. It’s palpable. Chord struck. Juxtaportation commences. Moment shared. It’s part of the social contract and the möbius strip of the creative exchange and it happens so often between total strangers.

It is a remarkable illustration of Martin Buber’s idea that all real living is meeting.

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Tim DuRoche

 

Tim DuRoche is a jazz musician, radio-host, writer and public artist living in Portland. He works as director of programs for the World Affairs Council of Oregon

Meet Helen Richardson, BRAINet chair and volunteer

In celebration of Volunteer Week, OHSU Brain Institute volunteers are “taking over” the blog to share their unique perspective.

Helen Richardson is the Chair of the BRAINet Board.

Why did you become a volunteer for OHSU?

I’ve always been fascinated by the brain. When I discovered BRAINet, I knew it was an organization I wanted to be part of. Getting to learn about current research from those doing the work and then being able to help pass along this information in language the public can understand for me is a wonderful way to educate myself and help provide an important service to others.

How long have you volunteered in this position?

I’ve been a member of BRAINet for at least 6 years.  This is my second year of service on the Board.

What does your position entail?

I chair monthly meetings of the Board and our Steering Committee as well as welcome attendees to our monthly luncheon/lectures. I interact with the public at many of the numerous activities BRAINet is involved with such as the OMSI Brain Fair. I also coordinate with Bobby Heagerty to help meet the goals of the OHSU Brain Institute.

What’s the best thing about being a volunteer?

The best part of being involved with BRAINet is having the opportunity to continue learning in the company of the bright and capable Board members and staff.

Tell us about a favorite moment.

When I was helping at the Brain Fair, a woman came up and asked what our organization was about. When I told her about the luncheon/lectures, her eyes lit up and she said, “I didn’t know something like this existed. How do I join!?!” Her excitement and enthusiasm touched me and reinforced how important it is to provide this service to the community.

The Brain Research Awareness and Information Network (BRAINet) is the volunteer outreach organization of the OHSU Brain Institute.

You too can play an important part in generating enthusiasm for brain research and, most importantly, in making vital connections within the community. Please join us!

 

Meet Patricia O’Shea, Brain Resource Center volunteer

Patricia O'Shea

Patricia O’Shea, Brain Resource Center volunteer

In celebration of Volunteer Week, OHSU Brain Institute volunteers are “taking over” the blog to share their unique perspective.

First up: Patricia O’Shea, who volunteers at our Brain Resource Center and is an active member of BRAINet.

Why did you become a volunteer for OHSU?

I attended some of the first Brain Awareness events, back when they were held at OMSI.

I’ve always been a very curious person with a strong interest in neuroscience.

I started out volunteering at the OHSU Brain Fair and then became a member of BRAINet, eventually landing here at the resource center.

How long have you volunteered in this position?

I am in my fifth year as a volunteer. There are currently two of us and we could use one more. I work about 4-6 hours per week. It keeps me feeling useful, productive and I’m exposed to a wide circle of very interesting people.

What does your position entail?

I maintain the free resources for OHSU patients regarding various neurological conditions. I always jump up to help patients with whatever they need that day. Sometimes, I’m helping facilitate and orient them to where they can learn more about their condition. I can help explain their condition, but I never give medical advice.

Other times, I’m helping out-of-town visitors get around Portland. I talk to everyone, human-to-human, and help where I can, even if it’s just finding someone a glass of water.

What’s the best thing about being a volunteer?

It’s a very exciting time in brain development research. There are incredible advancements that have been made in imaging techniques and other research that informs the development of targeted therapies. Researchers are chipping away at finding the underlying causes of various brain disorders. People should feel very hopeful.

The Brain Resource Center is located on the 8th floor of the Center for Health and Healing. 

You’re invited to a special screening of Una Vida: A Fable of Music and Mind

Una Vida Movie Poster

You are invited to a very special screening of the award-winning movie Una Vida: A Fable of Music and The Mind.

The film is based on the book written by Nicolas Bazan, M.D., Ph.D., internationally known neuroscientist and born storyteller.

Recently previewed in Portland as part of the OHSU Brain Institute’s Brain Awareness Lecture Series, Dr. Bazan is hosting a special showing of the film in honor of and as a benefit for the Alzheimer’s Association, Oregon Chapter.

Details:

Monday, April 27, 7:00 p.m.
Location: OMSI Empirical Theater
1945 SE Water Avenue, Portland

Ticket Cost: $20 (all proceeds beyond costs will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association, Oregon Chapter)

Seating is limited so get your tickets today!

The movie will be followed by a panel discussion with three neuro-experts:

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For questions, please contact Kate Stout, stoutk@ohsu.edu or 503-494-0885.

Family touched by Alzheimer’s gives back

Barbara Sloop shared her story at the 2012 Guild Luncheon.

Richard Sloop, M.D., was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in the late 1990s. The news hit the family hard, and raised serious questions: How do we handle care? What will be required?

Dr. Sloop, a 1956 graduate of the OHSU School of Medicine (then called the University of Oregon Medical School) had been a successful surgeon in Salem for more than thirty years and raised five children with his wife, Barb.

“It was like hitting a brick wall,” said Barb Sloop. “I had no idea how to move forward. I had to learn about being a caregiver.”

The family renewed their connection with OHSU when Dr. Sloop became a patient of neurologist Lisa Silbert, M.D., M.C.R.Joe Quinn, M.D., and many others.

After Dr. Sloop passed away in 2007, the family wanted to give back. In addition to donating money and making provisions in her will to support OHSU research that will someday lead to a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, Barbara wanted to help other families hitting that post-diagnosis “brick wall.”

The Sloop family in 2005.

Barb suggested to Dr. Quinn, “I think we should start a program for families like ours. We need to help the families of newly diagnosed patients.”

Dr. Quinn listened, and together they launched a monthly meeting for families with a new Alzheimer’s diagnosis. The program has been going strong for seven years.

The meetings take place at the Center for Health and Healing and are attended by an OHSU neurologist, who answers medical questions; a representative from the Portland Alzheimer’s Association, to help people find support services; and Barb, who fields questions such as how to communicate with family members and how to deal with stress.

“There’s so much you don’t know – the different stages the disease can take, all the legal implications – all this can be overwhelming. Meeting people who are walking the same road and giving them the benefit of my experience has really helped me in my own recovery,” said Barb. “The brain is an amazing piece of work, and we need to keep supporting this research.”

Plan for today. Give for tomorrow. Change the world. Learn more about Gift Planning at OHSU.

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Susie Frank
Senior Communications Officer
OHSU Foundation 

Celebrate National Doctors Day by saying thank you

In celebration of National Doctors Day, our friends over at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital sat down with Dr. Nate Selden to ask what inspired him to become a physician – and what continues to inspire him in his day-to-day life as the Campagna Chair of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Doernbecher and Director of OHSU’s Neurological Surgery Residency Program.

Below, find an excerpt of Dr. Selden’s post, originally published on our Doernbecher “Healthy Families” blog.

Day to day, I never use any of the information I studied in biochemistry. I do use my knowledge of neuroscience, however, not just to treat brain diseases, but also to understand how young adults learn and improve.

One of my most rewarding activities as an academic neurosurgeon has been to develop new systems for teaching safety and professionalism to young trainees using simulation courses, as well as new ways to objectively assess progress towards safe, independent practice.

Every neurosurgeon we train well will take care of thousands of patients that I will never even see; that is high impact! 

Keep reading here.

Thank you to all of our generous and hardworking physicians here at the Brain Institute.

We invite you to leave a message for your favorite doctor on our Facebook page, or consider giving back in their name.

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