Do you really need that MRI?

Just because an imaging test is typically done doesn’t mean it’s the best choice

Woman getting head scan

Too many tests at the doctor’s office could cost you more than just dollars. In addition to the huge hit to your wallet, there’s also the potential harm of false positives, and just because a test has traditionally been done for a condition doesn’t mean it’s the best way to treat it.

U-M neurologist Brian Callaghan, M.D., M.S., is helping lead a national push to determine what neurologic tests or services are performed more than they should be.

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Surviving brain tumor

Patient Donell Hall

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Patient Donell Hall on the job 6 months after brain tumor surgery

Imagine having one of the worst migraine headaches of your life while you’re driving to work, pulling over to call 911 and then waking up to find yourself in a hospital, awaiting emergency brain tumor surgery.

That was what happened to Donell Hall in November 2014.

Since the age of 14, the TV/video/broadcast producer had recurrent massive headaches. Every headache rendered him temporarily unable to speak clearly, which he thought was a side effect of a bad migraine.

But on that day in November everything changed. As Hall was being prepared for surgery to remove what turned out to be a brain tumor, he met Dr. Shawn Hervey-Jumper and some of the other Functional Wellness team members.  Continue reading

Restless leg syndrome: Do you have it?

Restless_leg_Dec_1_2015_blogRestless leg syndrome (RLS) is an uncomfortable sensation that gives a person the urge to move their legs. This sensation has been described in many ways; sometimes it can feel like a pain, a tingling or a “creepy-crawling” sensation. It is important to know that RLS happens when a person is awake, not asleep, although many people with RLS may move their legs while asleep. And it gets worse or occurs predominantly at night.

About 14% of people in the U.S. have restless leg. Some people feel that it is difficult to explain to their doctor and may not seek treatment. It is, however, a real sleep disorder that has consequences when it interferes with a person’s quality of life.

With RLS, everyday activities such as sitting down to watch TV in the evening or riding in a car or plane can be difficult.  Continue reading

New microscope offers hope for tumor patients

New technology series

University of Michigan's Dr. Daniel Orringer with the new SRS microscope which promises to make brain tumor and other cancer surgeries safer and more efficient

University of Michigan’s Dr. Daniel Orringer with the new SRS microscope which promises to make brain tumor and other cancer surgeries safer and more efficient

Here at the University of Michigan we are testing a new microscope that will radically change brain tumor surgery—making it safer and more efficient. So far, we have used the microscope on tissues from 89 patients with great success.

Timing and location are important

One of the most difficult things for a brain surgeon is figuring out exactly where a brain tumor starts and stops because brain tumor tissue can be hard to distinguish from the rest of the brain. The new stimulated Raman scattering (SRS) microscope allows us to see the edges of a tumor in a few seconds instead of waiting the 30-45 minutes it usually takes for a frozen tumor section to be developed.

Right now, we are using the microscope on an experimental basis through grants from the National Institutes of Health and the University of Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization for Life Sciences Program. We are using the microscope almost exclusively on neurosurgical cases. I’m also collaborating with Matt Spector, who is a head and neck surgeon, to look at squamous cell carcinoma.  Continue reading

For Parkinson’s: Everyday activity better than strenuous exercise

Woman doing laundryHere’s my latest prescription for Parkinson’s: Do the dishes, fold laundry, work in your garden and walk around your neighborhood.

Patients with Parkinson’s disease are often told to engage in (vigorous) exercise, but when my colleagues and I studied 48 individuals with Parkinson’s we found that everyday activities were much more effective than occasional strenuous exercise. We discovered that it is not so much the exercise but the routine activities from daily living that protect motor skills.

Exercise is fine, but there are many barriers to exercising. These include transportation, expense and time commitment. Furthermore, people typically exercise for only a short time and a few times per week.  Continue reading

Jet lag? There’s an app for that!

Young Woman in Airport Jeg Lag blogIf you have ever crossed time zones by plane and felt so exhausted afterward that it takes days to get back to normal, you have experienced jet lag. Now, with a new app called Entrain, you can monitor your body’s circadian rhythms using your smartphone—and adjust faster to new time zones and schedules.

Jet lag is the result of a disrupted circadian clock. Entrain simulates your circadian clock and makes mathematically optimal lighting recommendations to help you adjust as quickly as possible to new time zones and schedules.  Continue reading