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'neuroscience' posts

Debilitating Facial Pain May Be Trigeminal Neuralgia

All pain can be frightening, but when patients describe sharp, electric-type pain in their face, the cause may be Trigeminal Neuralgia, a treatable pain syndrome manifesting as unilateral facial pain that can be severe in intensity. The pain occurs in one or more distributions of the trigeminal nerve. The pain usually lasts for several seconds to several minutes followed by periods of being pain free. Trigeminal neuralgia pain can be triggered by sensory stimuli to the face including talking, brushing teeth, eating, and touching the face. In some cases, there is no trigger. The annual incidence of trigeminal neuralgia is approximately 4 in 100,000. The initial workup for trigeminal neuralgia may include an MRI of the brain to rule out brain tumor or MS plaques.

In many cases, trigeminal neuralgia is caused by compression of the facial nerve most commonly by the superior cerebellar artery or the anterior inferior cerebellar artery, although trigeminal neuralgia can be due to compression by a persistent permanent trigeminal artery or odioectatic basilar artery. Other causes of Trigeminal Neuralgia can include demyelinating disease (such as multiple sclerosis) and tumor. In some cases, the cause of Trigeminal Neuralgia is  ...

New Brain Stimulator Approved to Treat Epilepsy

On November 14th, 2013 the FDA gave its approval for an implanted brain stimulator to treat patients with medically refractory epilepsy. Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders affecting nearly 1 in 100 Americans. This device has been under investigation for 10 years at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute (SNI) Epilepsy Center.

As principal investigator for the trial, I led  a team including Dr. Michael Doherty, Dr. Lisa Caylor and Dr. Alan Haltiner, along with the research department at Swedish to investigate the safety and effectiveness of the device through pivotal trials. The results showed that the responsive neurostimulator system (RNS) made by NeuroPace was indeed effective in treating patients with drug resistant seizures.

Why is this so significant? This device represents the first new non-medication treatment for seizures proven to be effective since 1997, and gives new hope to patients whose lives have been put on hold due to seizures. ...

MS in the Pacific Northwest on 12/9

All are invited to attend the presentation, “Multiple Sclerosis in the Pacific Northwest,” on Monday, Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. in Kirkland. I'll discuss multiple sclerosis as a disease, trends, changes in its distribution around the world, and how it uniquely impacts our region. The presentation is free and is open to all ages. Click here for more information.

2013 World Atlas of MS published

The 2013 World Atlas of MS has been published by MS International Foundation and is available here. The key findings are:

  1. The estimated number of people with MS has increased from 2.1 million in 2008 to 2.3 million in 2013
  2. The 2:1 ratio of women to men with MS has not changed significantly since 2008
  3. Substantial global inequalities remain in terms of access to treatment and medical care

Constraint induced movement therapy in MS may be equally effective as in stroke

Constraint induced movement therapy (CIMT), formerly called “forced use” is a treatment for impaired function of an upper extremity. It has been established as an effective evidence-based form of treatment for rehab of impaired upper extremity (UE) function for post stroke hemiparesis. The core features of CIMT are massed practice (high repetitions) and to overcome learned non-use thru behavior modification. The typical training protocol involves a 2 week period of physical restraint of the less-involved side (90% of the waking hours) and intensive training (3 hours/day) focused on movement patterns of the involved hand and arm. The physical restraint is usually a padded mitt, sling or glove thereby restricting stronger arm use.
At a recent ECTRIMS/RIMS meeting, this form of therapy was presented as being equally effective in

Research and progress for progressive Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

I am delighted to write the blog over the Progressive MS session that was given at ECTRIMS 2013.  Much emphasis has been given to the need for more research in the fields of progressive MS.  The majority of MS patients fit into this broad category: primary progressive MS, secondary progressive MS, and progressive relapsing forms of the disease.  During a session devoted to progressive MS, leaders in the field discussed several initiatives underway to address the challenges presented by these forms of the disease. 

Rehabilitation is a mainstay and key to improving the lives of patients with progressive MS. Many patients describe their progression in terms of mobility decline, which is a major target of improvement in rehabilitation programs.

The first session was devoted to confusion surrounding the definition of “progression in MS.”  We use ...

Service animals help support people with MS

On October 21, 2013 the Multiple Sclerosis Center at Swedish Neuroscience Institute hosted a meet and greet with Buddy Hayes, national speaker for Canine Companions for Independence.  Buddy, as she prefers to be called, is a military veteran and the owner of Stanford, a handsome Labrador Retriever service dog given to her by Canine Companions for Independence.

Canine Companions for Independence is the largest national nonprofit organization provider of assistance dogs in the United States.  Canine Companions proudly provides assistance dogs to people in need completely free of charge.  They use hundreds of volunteers around the country and an expert team of professionals to deliver a service that allows people to continue living active and independent lives with the help of a professionally trained dog.

Stanford has been taught to make Buddy’s life easier and safer.  For example, Stanford can help open doors, turn lights on/off, pick up dropped items, and pull her lightweight wheelchair if needed.  One of the very practical lessons a dog is taught is to go to the bathroom on verbal command.  To obtain a service dog, one must ...

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