Multiple sclerosis: Unusual treatment holds new hope

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When I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in October 2000, I was only 26 years old. I had played football in college. I’d been active. I kept thinking, Now this. I was married but had no children at that point, and I wondered—with MS—what would my life have in store for me?

In a few years, the doctors I was seeing—even though they were neurologists—said they couldn’t do anymore for me than what they were already doing. One of the doctors put three medications in front of me and said, “This is what’s available for MS now. Choose one.” That’s how they approached the problem.

And that’s when I thought, I’m going to the University of Michigan.  Continue reading

A family affair

Mother-daughter duo attend conference for brain anomaly that’s affected three in their family

It’s been 14 years and six surgeries since the Korcal family learned the phrase “Chiari malformation.”

The anomaly of the brain is characterized by a protrusion of a small part of the brain through the bottom of the skull and into the spinal canal.

First, eldest son Andrew Korcal was diagnosed at age 14, and then they realized it was also the reason for teen daughter Amanda’s lifelong struggle with headaches. Once her children were stable, mom Layna went to get her diagnosis, but her Chiari likely won’t require a surgery. She’s hoping her youngest son continues not to display any symptoms.

Chiari2

“Andrew and Amanda had different complications, but they both had really good outcomes,” Layna said.

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Sleep apnea: Do you have it?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a disorder in which your breathing is repeatedly obstructed or restricted fully or partially for periods of 10 seconds or longer while you sleep. Although millions of people have sleep apnea, most don’t know it because the symptoms happen while they’re sleeping.

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the brain sends the signal to the muscles and the muscles make an effort to take a breath, but they are unsuccessful because the airway is blocked and prevents a good flow of air.

Sometimes the bed partner or a family member of a person with sleep apnea will tell them that they snore. While snoring is a good indicator of obstructive sleep apnea, there are other symptoms they should also be aware of.
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Dementia and the benefits of nature: Walking

Walking is great exercise for people with dementia.

The naturalist and conservationist John Muir once said, “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” Muir proved to be prescient. Recent studies show that being in nature and exercising outdoors have positive benefits for everyone—including people with dementia. Exercising outdoors, in nature, is known as “green exercise.”

Benefits of green exercise for people with dementia

A research literature review published by Dementia Adventure points out that adults living with cognitive changes who participate in green exercise experience better sleep patterns; longer sleep duration; and improved continence, mobility and eating patterns.

One of the studies found that having a connection to nature can enhance verbal expression in people living with dementia. Another showed that nature-based activities for people living with dementia bring joy and sensory stimulation.

In fact, research during the last decade in particular has also demonstrated the following benefits for people with dementia:   Continue reading

Art and biology come together in U-M illustrator’s medical images

Along with the latest high-tech tools and procedures, the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Michigan Health System also depends on one talented woman with a pencil.

Megan Foldenauer, Ph.D., a certified medical illustrator (CMI), was recently featured in the news for her work as a UMHS medical illustrator.

An aneurysm image by U-M Medical Illustrator Megan Foldenauer, from the Department of Neurosurgery.

An aneurysm image by U-M Medical Illustrator Megan Foldenauer, from the Department of Neurosurgery.

“There’s an art to taking a photograph and then reducing it to its essential components,” she told Local 4 News in a July segment about the continued relevance of low-tech medical sketches.

Foldenauer was studying biology as a high school senior when a teacher explained that her talent for illustrating her lab reports might turn into more than a hobby. She continued to study science, along with art, so she’d be able to illustrate the most important parts of medical images. Foldenauer’s pieces aid understanding that a complex photograph tends to muddle.

“Part of what I do is to offer that kind of visualization of that information for patients so that they can learn about their body,” Foldenauer told Local 4 News.

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Home Sleep Studies For Your Convenience

Casey Cox RPGST Technical Coordinator

U-M Technical Coordinator Casey Cox demonstrates how leads are placed for a home sleep test. Cox is a Registered Polysomnographic Technologist (RPGST).

Do you need a sleep study to determine if you have a sleep disorder? The University of Michigan Sleep Disorders Center offers reliable in-home sleep studies for your convenience. In fact, about 15% of our sleep studies are conducted at home instead of staying overnight at a U-M Sleep Laboratory.

Eligible candidates

The sleep medicine physician determines the best candidates for an in-home sleep study. We typically choose patients who are confident turning the equipment on and off and hooking themselves up to the electrodes. Patients who have recently had a stroke, cardiac or pulmonary issues, or who are morbidly obese are not good candidates.

About home sleep testing

Some private companies send out self-tests in the mail to patients, and then the patients mail in their results. That requires patients to apply the leads and do everything on their own with no support.

With our program, you come to the Sleep Lab for a 30-minute appointment. We show you how to put your leads on and provide you with specific instructions. Then you go home to do the test. We also give you troubleshooting information.

And, of course, you can always call our Sleep Laboratory with questions. There is a lab technologist available during the night to answer any questions regarding the home study. Continue reading