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Archive for category: Brain Health

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The Benefits of OT for Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy is a condition that is most often caused by brain damage which occurs before or during the birth of an infant, or within the first few years of a child’s life.  Cerebral Palsy, can affect motor skills, muscles and movement.  Those with Cerebral Palsy are often able to lead a normal and satisfying life, and Occupational Therapists can often help them to achieve this.  The following article from My Child: Cerebral Palsy Foundation discusses some of the key ways Occupational Therapy can assist those living with Cerebral Palsy.

My Child Cerebral Palsy Foundation:  Occupational Therapy

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Cognition and Aging – Use it or Lose it

Our brains are made of billions of neurons, which interact with each other to complete specific tasks. Signals are sent from one neuron to another along neural pathways, and these determine our thoughts, emotions, insights, and so much more. Each task relies on a different neural pathway, so the pathway for reading a book is different than the pathway for putting on our shirt. The more we use a pathway, the stronger the connection becomes.

These neurons have the ability to physically change themselves when faced with new and difficult experiences. This ability is called neuroplasticity. As we are exposed to new areas, tasks, information or experiences, neural pathways are formed and existing ones are reshaped. This will continue throughout our entire lives as we learn. As we have experienced through practicing a musical instrument, memorizing our shopping list, or recalling a friend’s phone number, if we consciously focus and train our brains in a certain area, they will become faster and more efficient at performing those tasks.

So, how can we use this knowledge to try and combat age-related cognitive decline?  Check out our latest episode of OT-V:  Cognition and Aging – Keeping the Mind Sharp to learn some proven strategies. 

 

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Autism and the Role of Occupational Therapy

On April 2nd the world “lit it up blue” in support of World Autism Awareness Day.  It is estimated that Autism Spectrum Disorder affects over 3 million individuals in the U.S. and tens of millions worldwide.

Occupational Therapy plays an important role in helping individuals living with autism.  Learn many of the ways an OT can support individuals and their families in the following infographic:

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Give Your Brain a Workout

Our brains are made of billions of neurons, which interact with each other to complete specific tasks. Signals are sent from one neuron to another along neural pathways, and these determine our thoughts, emotions, insights, and so much more. Each task relies on a different neural pathway, so the pathway for reading a book is different than the pathway for putting on our shirt. The more we use a pathway, the stronger the connection becomes.

These neurons have the ability to physically change themselves when faced with new and difficult experiences. This ability is called neuroplasticity. As we are exposed to new areas, tasks, information or experiences, neural pathways are formed and existing ones are reshaped. This will continue throughout our entire lives as we learn. As we have experienced through practicing a musical instrument, memorizing our shopping list or recalling a friend’s phone number, if we consciously focus and train our brains in a certain area, they will become faster and more efficient at performing those tasks.

Just as we need to exercise the muscles in our body, we also need to exercise our brain.  But what exercises are best?

Take a look at the following from The New York Times that discusses studies on the aging brain and some advice to help you age well.

The New York Times:  How to Become a ‘Superager’

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Take A Hike– Your Brain will Thank You!

While studies show that walking in nature can boost mental health, researchers are delving deeper to study the actual effects on the brain.  Learn more about the ongoing studies in the following from the New York Times and be sure to take advantage of all the natural world has to offer this Spring.

The New York Times:  How Walking in Nature Changes the Brain

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Concussions and Football – Can New Technology Reduce the Impact?

Care of some amazing technology we’re now able to see the direct effect of a football concussion.  In this example, shared by the New York Times, a football player was wearing a mouth guard equipped with motion sensors that enabled researchers to see what was happening inside his brain at the time of impact.  Researchers are using this data to help create better safety equipment and helmets for players who risk a lifetime of head injuries and their damaging effects.

Be sure to watch the video of the effects on the player’s brain and learn more from the New York Times.

The New York Times:  What Happened Within This Player’s Skull

To learn more about the dangerous effects of head injury from football check out our previous post:  I Always Called it Dumb-Ball.

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The Link Between Stress and Heart Disease

Stress can negatively affect many aspects of your physical and emotional health including your heart.  In recent years, more attention has been paid to reducing stress to help prevent heart disease.  The following from Forbes Magazine discusses two new studies that have uncovered more information about the connection between stress and heart disease.  Read the article to learn more and check out our post, How Stress is Affecting Your Health, for solutions to reduce stress.

Forbes:  The Link Between Stress And Heart Disease May Lie In The Brain

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Can Distraction be Helpful for the Mind?

Distraction is everywhere…

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… Back to our post.  While it’s important to avoid life’s distractions and focus on the task at hand, a new study is showing that some distraction can benefit older adults with creativity and problem solving.  Learn more about the study and its findings in the following from CTV News.

CTV News:  Aging brain benefits from distraction: study

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Solutions For Conserving Your Energy

Energy is like a currency, we only have so much of it and need to spend it wisely throughout our day. Conserving energy during small tasks throughout the day helps to save needed energy for important, meaningful daily activities. If energy is a precious resource to you, planning ahead with the help of the following checklist will help you conserve as much energy as possible throughout your day.

The following FREE printable will help you to identify which activities have high, medium and low energy costs and can help you to plan your days and weeks to balance your overall energy expenditure.

energy-conservation-checklist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more helpful tools please visit our Printable Resources Page.

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Want to Reduce Cognitive Decline? Get Physical!

At any age physical activity is an important part of your overall health.  As you age it’s important to keep active for both physical and mental health, but in most cases activities should become increasingly moderate.  The following from CTV News showcases some of the best forms of exercise to boost your brain power and reduce cognitive decline.

CTV News:  Boost your brain by working out: Best exercises to slow cognitive decline