At night, our cells may clean our brain

Process may reduce risk of Alzheimer’s

Studies in mice indicate that our brains may go through a process while we sleep that rids them of toxins that build up during the day

Did you ever wonder what happens to our brains at night? If recent studies in mice are any indication, our brains may go through a process that rids them of toxins that build up during the day.

The studies suggest that during sleep, there is an expansion of extracellular space within the brain that corresponds with increased fluid movement around and into the deep parts of the brain. This fluid movement is associated with a more robust exchange of small compounds into and out of the brain itself.

In mice studies, some of these compounds include toxic proteins—namely amyloid beta protein, which is implicated in the development of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. How external fluid moves into, within and out of the brain tissue still remains a mystery.  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

Concussions not a death sentence for athletes

UM expert to present insight at SXSW festival

Every March, the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas becomes the epicenter of hip. At first glance, a neurology presentation doesn’t fit alongside the bands, innovative documentaries, and showcases of transformational technologies. Actually, at second glance it doesn’t either!Dejected

This is exactly why I’m partnering with Super Bowl champion and brain trauma patient advocate Ben Utecht to bring some sports neurology to SXSW. Ben is an accomplished musician and entertainer as well, so I’m hoping he can bring the hip.

Ben and I will be joined by New York Times sports contributor and Michigan State University sports journalism professor, Joanne Gerstner. Together, we hope to use the incredible social reach of SXSW to bring a well-measured, yet passionate, conversation about sports concussion to the masses. Our panel discussion “Does Playing Sports Equal Brain Damage” will be Friday, March 13, at 5 p.m. CT.

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New treatment for secondary progressive multiple sclerosis on horizon

U-M leads worldwide MS clinical trial

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a major autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the insulating
membranes (myelin) that surround the nerves within the central nervous system. MS onset is generally at the prime of life, between ages of 15 and 45. More than 500,000 people in the U.S. have MS, and there are 10,000 new cases every year. The University of Michigan Health System is actively involved in finding newer, better treatments for MS—and its related diseases.xray blog

As a physician and researcher in the area of multiple sclerosis (MS), I am often asked if there are new treatments and medications on the horizon. Thanks to years of research, the answer is yes, and I’m pleased to say that the University of Michigan is a major leader in some of the most important issues surrounding MS today. We’re trying to find the links between MS and other autoimmune diseases. We’re also conducting a new clinical trial and mechanistic study that may uncover a new treatment for secondary progressive MS. Approximately 85% of patients with newly diagnosed MS have relapsing-remitting MS . About 10-15 years after diagnosis, 50% of these patients will develop secondary-progressive MS , which is associated with significant disability. Finding a new treatment for this large group of people will make a significant impact on people’s lives. We’ve recently been given the tools to combat a disease that is a leading disabler of young adults.

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Of mice and muscles: Dystonia discovery may help patients

Persistent team of U-M scientists study neurological condition that twists muscles of kids and adults

Dystonia causes muscles in the neck and limbs to twist or contract uncontrollably, in children and adults.

Dystonia causes muscles in the neck and limbs to twist or contract uncontrollably, in children and adults.

Twist and hold your neck to the left. Now down, and over to the right, until it hurts.

Now imagine your neck – or arms or legs – randomly doing that on their own, without you controlling it.

That’s a taste of what children and adults with a neurological condition called dystonia live with every day – uncontrollable twisting and stiffening of neck and limb muscles.

The mystery of why this happens, and what can prevent or treat it, has long puzzled doctors, who have struggled to help their suffering dystonia patients.

But a persistent team of University of Michigan scientists have finally opened the door to a new way of answering those questions and developing new options for patients.

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Get your head in the game: Concussion and kids

Rapid diagnosis & proper care can help young athletes bounce back, says U-M expert

Maggie McDonald

16-year-old soccer player Maggie McDonald is back in the game after a concussion last summer

Today, the White House hosted a summit on concussions in youth sports, drawing national attention to the importance of preventing and properly treating brain injuries in kids and teens.

Among the experts selected to take part: U-M concussion expert Jeffrey Kutcher, M.D., head of the U-M NeuroSport clinic. He and his team focus solely on diagnosing and managing concussions and other brain and nerve issues in athletes of all levels.

Just hours before he left for Washington, he cleared yet another young concussion patient to return to the sport she loves. He says she’s a great example of how proper concussion care can help many patients get back in the game.

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