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

Michigan CPAP Bank for Patients in Need

Man_With_CPAP_MaskImagine not being able to afford a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately, that’s the case for many people who have been prescribed continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and other sleep disorders. That’s why I created the Michigan CPAP Bank, a recycling program that provides free CPAP machines and supplies to patients in financial need.

In 2012, one of my patients brought in his old CPAP machine hoping that another patient might be able to use his equipment. Because he was getting a different CPAP machine to help him breathe at night, he didn’t need the used but still functional equipment. The idea was brilliant.

Today, we have CPAP, BiPAP, auto-CPAP, auto-BiPAP, ASV (adaptive servo-ventilation) and AVAPS (average volume assured pressure support) machines at the Bank. And we have given more than 90 machines and various supplies to people who qualify for them.  Continue reading

Strokes Steal 8 Years of Brain Function

Human brain injury or damage and neurological loss or losing memory and intelligence due to physical concussion trauma and head injury or alzheimer disease caused by aging with red gears and cogs in the shape of a thinking mind.

A new study shows that having a stroke ages a person’s memory and brain function by almost 8 years

A new study from the University of Michigan shows that having a stroke ages a person’s memory and brain function by almost eight years. Stroke, a publication of the American Heart Association, will publish the results in its July issue. The study team comprised members of the University of Michigan Medical School and School of Public Health and the VA Center for Clinical Management Research. The National Institutes of Health funded the study.

We talked with Deborah A. Levine, M.D., MPH, lead author of the study and a University of Michigan Medical School assistant professor, to learn more about the study and her thoughts on stroke prevention.

What was the effect of stroke on brain function?

We found that having a stroke meant that our participants’ score on a 27-item test of memory and thinking speed dropped as much as it would have if they had aged 7.9 years.

By measuring participants’ changes in cognitive test scores over time—from 1998 to 2012—we could see that both blacks and whites did significantly worse on the test after their stroke.  Continue reading