Archive for 2013

Violence in the brain? And beer …

Physicians and researchers have some pretty amazing ways of peering inside the human brain. And some of those methods — and what they might show us — have been in the news a lot lately. A couple of neurosurgeons at Boston University, who have studied former NFL football players and others who have received repeated hits to the head, say that the brain of alleged Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev should be studied in a special … Read More

Smarter brain ‘glue’ — glia cells take the spotlight

Many neuroscientists will tell you that nerve cells in the brain (called neurons) are the most important part of the nervous system. They are, after all, the primary cells of the nervous system, responsible for conducting electrical currents to encode and process our senses, thoughts, memories and emotions. But there is a growing contingent of neuroscientists who study other brain cells called glia, named for the Greek word for glue. For much of the last … Read More

Brain imaging in Parkinson’s disease

Traditional brain imaging with CT and MRI scans do not show changes in the brain when someone has Parkinson’s disease and are generally not helpful in diagnosis.  A new kind of brain scan, called a DaT scan, does show changes in persons with Parkinson’s disease and may someday become an important tool in diagnosing Parkinson’s. The dopamine transporter, or DaT, scan uses a chemical that labels the dopamine transporter in the area of the brain … Read More

OHSU Brain Institute experts at the cutting edge of treating stroke

With stroke, time is brain. When people suffer strokes, they need certain medical treatments within a limited amount of time, or their brains can be so damaged that they will have permanent disabilities. That’s why the OHSU Telemedicine Network is so vital in stroke treatment for hundreds of thousands of rural Oregonians. The network allows experts with the Oregon Stroke Center at the OHSU Brain Institute to use a two-way audio-video robot to collaborate with … Read More

The surgery that changed my life: controlling the seizures

Seventeen-years old, waking up on a Sunday morning wondering who I was, where I was, and how I became that way. That was the first time memory loss had become part of my life. However, it was not the first time I had been overcome by confusion. In fact, that cycle began at age four — on the night I had my first epileptic seizure. Epilepsy is a neurological condition that produces seizures affecting one’s … Read More

So what is a Comprehensive Stroke Center anyway?

This week the Oregon Stroke Center at the OHSU Brain Institute was very pleased to receive the following notification from our hospital accreditation organization: “Effective Immediately The Joint Commission has officially certified OHSU as a Comprehensive Stroke Program!” OHSU is the first hospital in the Pacific Northwest and one of only 27 hospitals in the U.S. to receive this certification. Well, this all does sound exciting — but what does it mean for a patient … Read More

Autism rates increasing — but why?

Autism spectrum disorders are severe neurodevelopmental disorders affecting young children that are usually detected in the first years of life. Autism is now recognized as one of the most common developmental disorders — likely to affect about 10,000 youth under age 18 in Oregon. Meanwhile, epidemiological studies have shown increasing rates of autism in most countries.  On Tuesday, April 2, as part of the OHSU Brain Awareness Season lecture series, I will speak about my … Read More

False hopes and real risks with Alzheimer’s ‘treatments’

“What do I have to lose?” I hear this question regularly from patients who want to try the latest “breakthrough” in Alzheimer’s research featured on television or YouTube.  These are typically things that either have been tested in animals with no human studies or things that have been tested haphazardly in small numbers of patients and then vigorously hyped. For example, curcumin is a component of curry that has been tested in animals, with a … Read More

Deep Brain Stimulation: life-changing treatment for tremors, and maybe more

Functional neurosurgery is surgery intended to improve brain function.  These procedures have been applied to the treatment of pain, movement disorders, epilepsy, and behavioral disorders. In the past, the techniques were mostly targeted destruction of brain tissue or pathways. In very specific areas, destroying brain tissue could actually help — by decreasing a person’s tremors from movement disorders, for instance. Now with deep brain stimulation technology, these techniques are being replaced by reversible, and non-damaging … Read More

Learning in Honolulu: understanding risks — and prevention — for strokes

Every February, healthcare providers and researchers from all over the world meet for the American Stroke Association’s annual International Stroke Conference. This year the conference was hosted in Honolulu, Hawaii and I was honored to attend and present three of my own papers on stroke. The conference was huge. There were so many interesting topics covered simultaneously that I ended up having to read about some of them afterwards. But there were a few things … Read More

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