Archive for 2012

Do you remember New Year’s Eve?

Hazy memories are a common post-party scenario on New Year’s Day, where the night before the crowd was alive with noise makers, silly hats and, for some, many different types of alcoholic beverages. Indeed, New Year’s Eve parties are nearly synonymous with alcohol consumption. And while many partygoers recognize that they will be drinking more than their normal amount of alcohol and make plans to get to and from a party safely, there also is … Read More

Why do we have pain?

Last time I wrote about how the brain controls pain. But why would the brain need a system to control pain? The answer is that although pain is unpleasant (at best!), it is often a valuable warning signal that forces us to take care of our bodies as we go about our business. What would life be like without pain? We know the answer, because there are rare individuals who are born unable to feel … Read More

The Tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary

The awful events of December 14 in Connecticut have profoundly affected the nation and amplify the fear and foreboding of our own Clackamas Town Center shooting. The rapidity, intensity and repetitiveness with which the news about these events has been spread are symptomatic of the deep wounds inflicted by this senseless violence. The families that have lost their children and loved ones, the traumatized friends, townspeople, police and health care personnel are burdened with the … Read More

Even with the rain, Parkinson’s patients can find ways to exercise

Numerous clinical studies over the past several years have shown the benefits of exercise for persons with Parkinson’s disease.  Studies have shown that exercise can improve balance and quality of life. Animal studies suggest exercise might even slow the progression of the disease. All of this means many people with Parkinson’s disease want to exercise as often as possible. As winter is now heavily upon us, the days have shortened and the rains have come. … Read More

Cholesterol: good, bad… keep track of it all

What is cholesterol and why do we care? Understanding cholesterol can be tricky. It took me a few years to convince my parents that only foods that contain animal products contain cholesterol. However, fatty foods that are cholesterol free can still raise your body’s cholesterol. So is all cholesterol bad? No, too much cholesterol is bad. And everyone regulates cholesterol differently. Cholesterol is a waxy fat-like substance that our bodies need to survive.  Animals, including … Read More

Prescription-itis: When are too many drugs too many?

I’m a neurologist and I specialize in working with people with multiple sclerosis (MS). Since I am not a surgeon, I am well trained in the use of medications to treat people. Because MS can cause many different symptoms, we often use medications to try to alleviate these symptoms. As a consequence, it’s not unusual for me to see people with MS who are taking a half dozen or more medications to treat various symptoms.  … Read More

The challenge of testing new Alzheimer’s drugs

We Alzheimer’s disease specialists get a lot of free advice. One of the most common recommendations is that we should work on a way to prevent Alzheimer’s in healthy people rather than try to fix people who already have brain damage. As I pointed out in my last blog post, all of our latest research results also point toward prevention as a more plausible goal, and our free advisors ask us: What took you so … Read More

Restless legs and the holiday season

Do you notice that you are not sleeping as well during the holiday season? There can be a number of possible reasons for that; one includes a disorder called restless leg syndrome, or RLS. RLS is diagnosed by clinical symptoms. Four necessary features must be present: 1) an urge to move the legs, usually accompanied by an uncomfortable or unpleasant sensation in the legs; 2) the urge or unpleasant sensation begins or worsens during periods … Read More

How our brains control pain

Almost all of us have experienced pain at some point in our lives, probably many times. And that is not a bad thing. Pain is often a warning that something is wrong and that we need to act to avert impending injury or allow ourselves to rest and recuperate. But sometimes pain outlasts an injury, and sometimes we have pain without any obvious injury at all. How can that be? It turns out that our … Read More

What is a stroke?

What is a stroke, and what are its warning signs? This isn’t common knowledge to many people. It should be. A stroke is basically injury to the brain or spinal cord (yes, spinal cords can stroke) caused by lack of blood to that tissue. Strokes can be due to blockage of blood vessels feeding the brain, or from the rupture of blood vessels causing bleeding in the brain. They often occur suddenly without much warning. … Read More

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