Every rare diagnosis reaffirms importance of research

Rare Disease Day is Feb. 29

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Heather Hawkins enjoys as normal a life as she can, while dealing with a rare condition called ARSACS.

Every time he treats a patient with a rare condition, Vikram Shakkottai is reminded that these rare diseases might affect more people than we think.

The neurologist and director of the University of Michigan Health System’s Ataxia Clinic has seen a spectrum of symptoms from one patient to the next who have the same diagnoses. It’s why he believes advancing research and genetic testing is so important.

Dr. Shakkottai pursued genetic testing with patient Heather Hawkins, who came to see him a few years ago to talk about trouble keeping her balance. Continue reading

Don’t cheat on good sleep during Super Bowl weekend

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Many of us will stay up late this Sunday night to watch the Super Bowl (It’s projected to end around 10:30 p.m.). Even though we’ll be cheering on the couch past the time we’re normally in our bed, those job, school, and family obligations will still require most of us to wake up early on Monday.

The good news: it’s possible to avoid cheating yourself on sleep while catching the big game.

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A revolution in MS treatment

Advances in the past 20 years have improved prospects for many with MS

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Actress Jamie Lynn Sigler recently revealed she’s been dealing with multiple sclerosis (MS) for 15 years, since she was 20 years old and starring in “The Sopranos.”

People across the country were wondering, ‘How did this successful and busy actress keep her MS diagnosis a secret from the press?’ Sigler said in interviews she was symptom-free for a long time, and now takes medication to keep her symptoms stable.

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‘A small timetable to get healthy’

Off-the-track concussion brings Olympic hopeful athlete to Michigan NeuroSport

Neuro_Medsport_061_BLOGShe’s no stranger to sports injuries, but hurdler and Olympic hopeful Candice Price had no idea what to do next when she was hurt in a bad car crash this fall. Price found herself with a concussion, and then debilitating headaches and some trouble keeping her balance.

“This has been one of the most challenging injuries,” Price says, “and there’s nothing visual I can point out to people, it’s just an injury to my brain.”

Price, an Ann Arbor-area native, visited sports neurologist Andrea Almeida, M.D., at the Michigan NeuroSport clinic right away to figure out how to improve her symptoms and get back to preparing for Rio de Janeiro this summer for the 2016 Olympics.

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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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Do you really need that MRI?

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

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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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