Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The BRAIN Initiative: Why brain mapping matters

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President Obama’s BRAIN Initiative (Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) pushes for brain mapping as a way to seek treatment for brain injuries and brain-related diseases, like Alzheimer’s and autism.

In brain mapping, the anatomy and function of the brain and spinal cord are examined “through the use of imaging (including intra-operative, microscopic, endoscopic and multi-modality imaging), immunohistochemistry, molecular and optogenetics, stem cell and cellular biology, engineering (material, electrical and biomedical), neurophysiology, and nanotechnology.” These procedures will provide an image of not only the structure of the brain but also its cellular and subcellular elements.

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One of the strong supporters of the brain mapping initiative is the Society for Brain Mapping and Therapeutics, which believes that brain mapping will revolutionize the healthcare industry as there will be reduced healthcare costs and morbidity. More jobs will also be created through biotech spinoffs.

The National Institutes of Health notes that the BRAIN Initiative is a timely project. Although there have been scientific breakthroughs in the last decade that explain how the brain works, treating neurological and psychiatric diseases will require a new generation of tools that will allow researchers to record signals from brain cells more frequently and efficiently.

The BRAIN Initiative will be launched next year with a federal funding of $100 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the National Science Foundation.

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Follow this blog dedicated to neurosurgeon Dr. Aria Sabit for more relevant information about the brain and spinal cord.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

High-sugar diet makes a dull brain, a new study reveals

Sugar lovers, be warned. A study published in the Journal of Physiology provides another reason to lessen the intake of sugar, stipulating that a high-fructose diet may not only lead to obesity, but also exacerbates cognitive abilities leading to poor learning and memory deficits.

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In their series of experiments, the researchers observed that rats fed with a diet lacking omega-3 fatty acids and high in sugar demonstrated lowered learning performance and poor memory during a Barnes maze test. The researchers then reported that this type of diet increases (1) insulin and triglyceride levels, and (2) insulin resistance index -- determinants of metabolic syndrome (MetS). The high-fructose diet affected insulin receptor signalling and synaptic plasticity, leading to metabolic dysfunction and impaired cognitive abilities.

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The study also showed that the lack of essential fatty acids raises the risk for metabolic dysfunction, implying that a supplementation of omega-3 fatty acid can be consequential to counteract the harmful effects of unhealthy eating habits such as poor learning and memory deficits.

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Experts advise including the following food items in one’s diet to improve brain health:

  • Nuts
  • Fish
  • Soybeans
  • Tomato juice and spaghetti sauce
  • Olive oil, nut oils, fish oils, flaxseed and avocados

A critical part of Dr. Aria Sabit’s job as neurosurgeon is to help educate patients on brain health. This Facebook page links to more articles and studies on brain health and neurosurgery.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Repetitive motion injuries: The perils of daily grind

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No one is immune to the strains of daily routines and activities. Commuting to and from work, working overtime, and running errands here and there can take their toll on the body, resulting to a condition known as repetitive motion injuries. Also known as repetitive strain injury or cumulative trauma disorder, repetitive motion injury (RMI) develops from the microscopic tears in the tissue which the body is unable to repair immediately.

Neurosurgeons, like Dr. Lisa Guyot and Dr. Aria Sabit, note that these muscular conditions are among the most common injuries in the US, and they are exacerbated by the strains of daily activities. Incorrect posture, twisting of the arm, muscle fatigue, trauma, and systemic diseases, in addition to repetitive motions, can lead to RMI. The pain can be debilitating enough that people could find it hard to perform their tasks well, affecting their productivity at work.

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The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) asserts that the disorder usually affects athletic people and those who play musical instruments. NINDS adds that people who perform carpentry, gardening, and computer work, as well as assembly line tasks, and meatpacking and sewing duties are also more vulnerable to RMI.

Generally, people with the disorder are advised to minimize or stop performing tasks which cause the symptoms. It is recommended that they take a break from their daily activities to give the body enough time to heal the affected areas. They’re also advised to perform warm-up and stretching exercises, and take painkillers or use splints to manage symptoms.

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Dr. Aria Sabit had been in the news for successfully treating a patient who had been suffering from repetitive motion injuries for 10 years. Learn more about the miracle surgery on Facebook.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

What is restless legs syndrome?

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Fidgeting, twitching, and swaying arms and legs are normal manifestations of boredom or anxiety– when one is a child. In adults, these could be early signs of a more troubling disorder.

Willis-Ekbom disease, more commonly known as restless legs syndrome or RLS, is a rare neurological disorder characterized by having an urgent and irresistible need to move one's body. Unlike movements done unconsciously, patients suffering from RLS feel a more pressing urge to move their limbs in order to prevent an inexplicably uncomfortable sensation. These sensations range from feelings of pain, aching, prickling, or itching in the muscles, bringing meaning to the saying "an itch you can't scratch." Some patients even describe their sensations as the feeling that something is crawling up or under the skin. It would be safe to say that even people without RLS would feel the need to shake this sensation off. After moving their limbs, RLS patients claim the unusual sensations they feel cease momentarily. Some report, however, that resting usually makes the symptoms worse.

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RLS could be hereditary and can develop before birth. Research into the causes of RLS have focused on dopamine imbalance and insufficient iron content in the body, but no definite causes have been determined.

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To help patients understand the disorder, the Mayo Clinic provides information on RLS, as well as simple steps and lifestyle changes to manage the symptoms. Though similar, RLS should not be confused with ataxia. This Dr. Aria Sabit blog post explains ataxia is characterized by lack of muscle control during voluntary movements. With RLS, however, patients have full control and deliberately move their limbs in seemingly unintentional ways.

RLS may be present with symptoms similar to other neurological disorders. Follow this Dr. Aria Sabit Twitter page for more information.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Concussions: One-time injury with long-term consequences

Dr. Aria Sabit received his degree from Virginia Commonwealth University and finished his residency at the University of Medicine and Dentistry, New Jersey. He specializes in minimally invasive spine procedures.

When the topic of concussions comes up, one thinks immediately of football. It’s understood that the NFL has acquired one of the highest numbers of head injuries in professional sports history. Consequently, neurosurgeons have found that more and more NFL players fall victim to memory loss, sudden personality swings, and inexplicable inability to concentrate. All three symptoms can be attributed to the effects of receiving repeated blows to the head.

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Repeated concussions– mild trauma to the brain– can also result in chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). This interferes and inhibits comprehension and the ability to perform near-instinctive processes like learning, planning, and organizing. Progressive degenerative diseases like CTE can lead to a number of other complications and disorders if head trauma continues. Patients in professional football, hockey, wrestling, and other contact sports fields have been known to develop dementia, aggression, confusion, and depression over time.

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Even retired NFL players are not out of danger. A study discussed on TIME asserts that having a career in professional football leaves a person more likely to develop mild cognitive impairment – which can lead to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease– than men of the same age and health conditions who did engage in the sport.

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Unfortunately for pro athletes, medical technology is not currently able to detect the propensity for developing cognitive degeneration as a result of head trauma. This should serve as a warning to retirees, coaches, and professionals supporting football to find better ways to protect players from brain damage.

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Dr. Aria Sabit: The symptoms of slipped disc

Dr. Aria Sabit is a neurosurgeon trained in minimally invasive spine procedures. He completed his medical degree at Virginia Commonwealth University and finished his residency at the University of Medicine and Dentistry in Newark, New Jersey.

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Spinal disc herniation, or "slipped disc" in layman’s terms, is a medical condition where the central portion of an intervertebral disc bulges out. This is exacerbated by tears in the outer ring of the vertebra and often results in severe pain. Slipped discs are commonly caused by trauma, strenuous lifting, or idiopathic causes, but its symptoms can be managed through analgesics and therapeutic treatments. Although minor herniations can heal within weeks, severe herniations may not heal on their own and may even require surgery.

Dr. Aria Sabit is affiliated with Michigan Brain and Spine Physicians Group PLLC.

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Spinal disc herniation is often dismissed as back muscle ache, but immediate diagnosis is imperative to speedy recovery. To detect the symptoms of slipped disc, people suffering from extreme or chronic back pain should look out for the following symptoms:

• Persisting pains in the thighs, knees, or feet for which there seems to be no cause
• Chronic neck or low back pain that seems to radiate outward
• Inexplicable loss of bladder or bowel control
• Sudden decrease in sexual performance or erectile dysfunction

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It should be noted that it is unlikely a person is suffering from slipped disc if their back pain manifests in spasms. Herniated discs usually cause continuous pain in specific parts of the body and usually only occur in one half of the body. It should also be noted that it is possible for slipped discs to occur without causing any pain at all.

To read more about Dr. Aria Sabit, visit this MySpace page.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Heads up: Dr. Aria Sabit and the neurological implications of celiac disease

Neurologists, like Dr. Aria Sabit, are aware of how serious celiac disease could be. The disease, also called sprue, is a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine, thus preventing it from absorbing nutritious parts in food essential to human health.

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Celiac disease is also known as gluten intolerance due to a reaction in patients to gluten, which is found mainly in wheat, barley, rye, and even oats. Medical experts are yet to pinpoint the exact cause of celiac disease. What is known, however, is that the immune system in patients with the disease reacts to gluten by damaging the villi in a person’s intestines, the area responsible for absorbing nutrients as food passes through.

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Neurologists, like Dr. Aria Sabit, are aware that, aside from malnutrition, celiac disease has several neurological implications. Among these are cerebellar ataxia, peripheral neuropathy, epilepsy, dementia, and depression. Recent studies have come to include migraine, encephalopathy, chorea, brain stem dysfunction, myelopathy, and mononeuritis multiplex as neurological effects of celiac disease.

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A recent study assembled a group of celiac disease patients and evaluated the levels of brain abnormality present. Based on factors as balance disturbance, headaches, and sensory levels, the study found that celiac patients had a significantly lower cerebellar volume than the control group used for the study, as well as significantly less gray matter density in several regions of the brain.

Read more about Dr. Aria Sabit and the Michigan Brain and Spine Physicians Group PLLC on BrainandSpineBlog.Wordpress.com.