Doll therapy helps people with dementia

Woman_with_dollsThe feelings many people get when they hold a sleeping baby in their arms are ones of warmth, comfort and happiness. Doll therapy can be a very therapeutic activity for those with dementia who don’t have actual babies in their lives.

Many of the behaviors that we see in those with dementia – pacing, agitation, boredom, sadness – are related to the idea that they don’t have a feeling of purpose. Providing a doll to someone with dementia (especially mothers, but this works with males and non-mothers as well) brings out the natural desire and ability to express affection, to nurture and to care for someone.

Doll therapy has been associated with a number of benefits, including a reduction in episodes of distress, an increase in general well-being, improved appetite and more engagement with others around them.  Continue reading

Longer sentences as you age?

Study investigates whether conversational interaction style can indicate cognitive impairment

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It’s important to know if your mental ability is decreasing as you age.

A lot of money is being spent on sophisticated indicators of dementia. For example, research is increasingly focused on identifying Alzheimer’s disease at the mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, stage, or even earlier (the so-called pre-symptomatic stage). Those patients would then have early access to interventions and clinical trials with the latest treatments.

A pair of U-M researchers, while investigating older people with and without MCI, recently happened upon an observation that could help: the subjects with MCI were very chatty.

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A one-stop shop

Michigan NeuroSport focuses on comprehensive care for athletes’ brains

Neuro_Medsport_004bFrom the field to the clinic to the lab, sports neurologists Andrea Almeida and Matt Lorincz are ready to sync up all aspects of Michigan NeuroSport in their new co-director roles.

With the help of their NeuroSport team, Almeida, M.D., and Lorincz, M.D., Ph.D., took the reins of the clinic this fall, dedicated to turning it into a one-stop shop for patients at all athletic levels, while they also focus on continuing to develop breakthroughs that will improve clinical care.

Current patients

The clinic treats everyone from Little Leaguers to professional athletes, and whether you got hurt while playing or you have a neurological condition that affects your sport, Almeida and Lorincz want to help.

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After stroke: A lot of life to live

Patient Jill Weatherly grateful for the gift of life

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Jill Weatherly and family

Jill Weatherly’s advice to anyone feeling the warning signs of stroke: “Get medical help when your symptoms start.” That’s what she did on July 25, 2015. Luckily, Weatherly’s husband drove her to the University of Michigan Health System Emergency Department, where the stroke team administered the clot-busting medication, tPA.

“They saved my life,” Weatherly says. “I got speech and motion back within 15 minutes. And every 15 minutes or so I could see improvement. I’m really grateful for the care.”

Weatherly and her husband were on their way to a leisurely late-morning breakfast. She was driving when she lost most of her speech and her right side went numb. With amazing presence of mind, she got out of the car, walked around to the passenger side and got in. Her husband drove the rest of the way—right to the doors of U-M Emergency.  Continue reading

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