Music memory and madness

The world is alive with the sounds of music. Babies react to sounds even before birth and that sense of hearing reaches far and wide within the brain of nearly every individual, regardless of race, ethnicity, intelligence, and politics. Music as sound is a primary language. As such, can music be associated with the integrities of memory and madness?

One of my earliest research projects studied how music may be associated with memory and madness – behavior. Those were the days when Alzheimer’s Disease was limited terminology and insurances didn’t cover cognitive disorders. New research technologies demonstrate that music may help prevent and treat memory and madness in senior populations.

In brain imaging scans, music has been shown to excite pleasure areas of the brain. Due to expenses, these studies have been very small.

According to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, the use of music as therapy shows evidence that it positively affects many behaviors and memory functions. A new, large study at the University of Wisconsin explores music and Alzheimer’s Disease effectiveness. The State of Wisconsin and the University are investing $300,000 for this study. The study is part of a Catalyst Grant program at the University. Are the simple power of sounds and music effective in reducing memory and madness?

Music therapy has been studied as being beneficial for developmental diseases such as Autism as a treatment modality but not as a cure. The music therapy for autism studies, however, have been small but yielded promising results if further investment were granted.

With a rise in senior population, the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia bring memory studies to the forefront. Therapeutic interventions and successes involving music therapy with the symptoms of memory loss offer exciting research opportunities. Wisconsin’s population of those age 65 or over is slightly higher than the USA national average. The new University of Wisconsin studies may have deep impact.

Access to different music resources are friendlier as more adults use MP3 players and cellular phones. Government (and private) sponsored organizations such as Older Adults Technology Services help seniors make use of computers and download resources. Many senior centers now offer courses to learn about computer use. Access to free music is virtually limitless through websites online. At no point in history has music been as accessible as it is now. Using music as a therapy tool may deliver some extraordinary benefits.

At a university in Belfast, a rather large and long study found that music therapy reduces depression in children and adolescents. Studies also show that music, as a therapeutic intervention can relieve anxiety, depression in older people. Depression and anxiety may somewhat lead to cognitive impairment. There are many new studies citing evidence that music reaps many benefits for all ages.

Anesthesiologists have found that post-surgical patients listening to jazz music in the recovery room are more relaxed when researchers monitored heart rate. Is mellow jazz helpful for hospital use?

Technology can often confound other technologies. New hearing aids use special integrated sound technologies that facilitate conversations. Many older people wearing these hearing aids find that listening to MP3 music on these results in unwanted noise. You may need a simpler, older hearing aid for music listening.

Listening to loud music while driving may help you feel relaxed but studies show that it can lead to distracted driving and accidents.

Using music as therapy can be conducive as an aid in treating memory and madness issues. Much of the noted research has been published in the last two years, most in the past few months It is a growing field seeking more professionals. Of course, there are some people who simply don’t enjoy music listening. That’s what makes therapy very challenging. Music may offer no positive effects or increase anxiety even more.

Music therapy has many benefits for Alzheimer’s disease. It may help by soothing an agitated person, igniting associative memories, engage the mind even in the disease’s later stages, and improve appetite and eating in some cases. It is beneficial for symptoms of cognitive loss but it is not a cure. At best, like many drugs, it may slow progression.

So, if you remember too many tip-of-the-tongue memory losses, it may be time to schedule a cognitive assessment test with a memory healthcare professional. There are many available technologies and there are conflicting opinions about the etiology of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Sometimes, for example, it may be neurovascular episodes. Take more than one test at different centers to assure a fair and less partial diagnosis. There’s much money to be made in the business of Alzheimer’s disease.

Author William Congreve (1697) wrote:

“Music has Charms to sooth a savage Breast,
To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.”

and brings about the question, Can music heal? More studies are focusing on music therapy as a means of treating memory and madness. Music may not be all-encompassing but, with greater availability, may prove beneficial. More large research on music therapy should be investigated.

Dietary sugar and gum disease

Sugar is tasty and everyone is attracted to it. There are natural forms and processed forms. They are the fundamentals of carbohydrates, natural chemicals found in fruits and vegetables. Dietary sugar helps deliver quick energy, Excess dietary carbohydrates have been associated with obesity, diabete3s, cardiovascular disease, and other health conditions. For example, when your dietary sugar intake exceeds the calories you use, they are converted to fat. Dietary sugar consumption in the United States may be as hazardous to your health as cigarettes. Dietary sugar may also result in tooth decay and gum diseases that lead to pain and tooth loss.

Nobody enjoys visiting the dentist. There are many negatives associations but, compared to the pain from cavities, bleeding gums, and tooth loss, routine dental examinations are essential. Despite finances and cost, many people in the United States avoid routine dental exams. While dental diseases have genetic components, dietary sugar is often the more common culprit.

Sugars, especially dietary sugar, are found as additives to many foods as preservatives and as attractors to taste buds. These are often the silent sugars. Most foods use processed and refined sugars that are simplex – easily absorbed. They add to sustained marketability. People in the United States do not realize that excesses of dietary sugar act like opioids as a drug in our bodies.

Opium is an illicit drug and is an opioid. Dietary sugar has played significant roles in evolution. Excess dietary sugar helps unlock opioid receptors in the brain. Biting into an apple turnover with sugared coffee makes you feel good in the morning. But many those added sugars plant themselves on teeth and gums as you chew the pastry. Sugared beverages, including coffee, can also leave sugar deposits on teeth and gums. For those craving sweets, it is a lose/lose situation. Can you change it to a win/lose situation? Can you beat bacterial plaque at gum lines? The answer is yes.

Using an electric toothbrush each morning and evening (after dinner), is essential. The Philips Sonicare brush is recommended by many dentists. The brush head resembles a standard, manual toothbrush but it vibrates and helps remove bacterial deposits on teeth and gums.

Beware of toothpastes. Many use sweeteners for flavor enhancement. Some toothpastes contain Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide in their formulas. Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate) was used as an ingredient in tooth powders used many years ago. It is believed that this form of salt was beneficial to teeth and gums. There are conflicting studies about using an antiseptic solution of hydrogen peroxide for dental health. The amount of hydrogen peroxide used in toothpaste formulas is very small. These are good toothpastes to use but they do have a somewhat objectionable aftertaste, even with flavoring.

A more portable approach for use at different times of the day is the DentalMate portable gum vibrator. The pocketable device is a gum vibrator that uses 1 AAA battery. Massaging gums helps keep blood circulating allowing the body’s natural defenses to keep your gums healthier.

Dental floss has had a 100 year history as a way of cleaning teeth and gums away from home, or after meals. While most see it as a thread, many floss companies produce portable floss picks that many find more convenient. These help release foods that seem to stick to your teeth, such as that morning apple turnover. Frequent habitual use of dental floss is a great antagonist against the tooth decay and gum sickness resulting from your sugar habit.

Does flossing turn you off? Try sugarless chewing gum using xylitol or sorbitol as sweeteners. Xylitol and sorbitol are forms of sugar alcohols and are not derived from cane sugars. Plaque causing bacteria love sugar but can’t ingest those sugar alcohols. Corncobs are the natural source for xylitol as a sweetener, though much may be synthesized in labs. Sorbitol is an artificial sweetener. The act of chewing gum helps remove particles between teeth, especially at gum levels, after eating. It is viewed as more sociable by many.

Of course, frequent visits to your dentist for a cleaning and exam every 6 months (or as directed) helps keep you on track. You can find out how your habitual vigilance is impacting your general oral health. It often helps tooth and gum longevity.

We live in a world of bacteria and viruses that can impact our health in many serious ways. There are many methods that you can control to monitor and reduce bacterial formations in terms of routine dental hygiene. As far as sugar addiction goes, that’s a habit that may be impossible to break. Developing better dental habits is one way to have your sweets and smile. Becoming more responsible with use of dietary sugar may give you more reasons to keep smiling.

ToeOFF Walk Aide is for New Balance

Imagine, if you will, that a child or adult is stricken by an event that leaves muscles inactive. There is loss of movement and, with it, losses of freedom. New technologies and research are helping mobility challenged to meet those extra challenges that bring more than the sense of normal movement. We are talking 21st-century ways to help you move much better than you’ve dreamed.

Muscular Dystrophies, ALS and Multiple Sclerosis are leading diseases that immobilize patients. There are also conditions due to compressed or damaged nerves as results of development, accidents, and war. When nerves and muscles can’t evoke action potentials to stimulate movement, you are unable to move. There are many levels of research to infer causes and effects. Biochemistry has thus far been leading symptom control. Over the past 20 years, giant strides have developed technological devices that can help promote movement, albeit better movement than none. There are perhaps only a few million people in the USA where chronic immobilization is a symptom. New tech research is helping those walk forward.

Immobilization may often occur in the mind but many suffer immobility from muscle weakness to severe paralysis. Those with spinal cord injuries may become permanently paraplegic with the inability to move their legs at all but new studies with electrical impulses can help carve ways to mobilize the immobile of body. For those with weak leg muscles, pushing walkers or using wheelchairs and scooters are the common ways of finding mobility. Precious few seek out trying to walk with braces. Braces are changing. They are no longer clunky and heavy. ToeOFF is a leading orthosis that you fit in your shoe. For those who have a form of ankle weakness, ToeOFF offers dynamic mechanical devices that help people walk more naturally. In recent years, alternate technologies, such as Functional Electric Stimulation of nerves have been emerging (FES). Is there attractive hope toward mobilizing the immobile?

Until FES experiments began in the late 1990’s, if you couldn’t walk you used a cane or crutch for support. In more severe cases, you might have used a wheelchair or would have been bedridden and constantly dependent on others.

In the mid twentieth century during the polio epidemics, leather and steel leg-braces were quite a common sight. A Persian, in the 15th century, first described the coating of plaster for fractures and other bony injuries of the limb. By the 17th century, there were braces for those who could not walk but they were heavy and cumbersome. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was stricken with polio and used braces to stand when making speeches. They were those heavy leather and steel contraptions that were difficult to put-on and take-off. His braces were extremely difficult to use. In recent years, uses of aluminum and carbon fibers make braces lighter. Adjustable rubber and/or Velcro straps make them easier to adjust. AA Swedish designed brace, sold in USA as ToeOFF, is a prescription brace that helps certain people walk better and more comfortably.

Allard ToeOFF is known as a dynamic Ankle Foot Orthosis, often referred as an AFO that aid those people that have muscular weakness from the muscle groups that disable ankles to move up and down. The result is foot drag. ToeOFF using a lightweight, mechanical carbon-fiber device that helps restore a more normal walking gait. It’s a great device and helps many people with muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, neuropathies, and myopathies that are aware of ToeOFF and the availability of the ToeOFF line and the use of other dynamic AFO devices.

ToeOFF is an appliance that allows people to easily put on and fit into different types of shoes. It is a lightweight, supportive brace specifically designed to correctly position feet for walking without foot drop. It covers the symptoms attributed to weaknesses in dorsiflexion of the ankle. Dorsiflexion problems may come from acute or chronic conditions. ToeOFF is a non-electric device that acts as a dynamic brace that normalizes the way you walk when a group of muscles don’t allow that seemingly simple action. Foot Drop is a relatively common problem among people of all ages but is also a symptom of nerve and muscle diseases. It can disable walking. ToeOFF is a prescription brace that helps facilitate “normal” walking (within degrees and limits) in those people with dorsiflexion from weak muscles.

ToeOFF has become a great aid for people with diseases where dorsiflexion is a symptom. Where other muscles are not as weak, ToeOFF is a fantasy device that helps people with muscle diseases walk. For overcoming the challenges of biped walking, ToeOFF really offers an alternative to some from being confined to a wheelchair or scooter.

Science fiction sometimes becomes reality and neurokinetic and neuromuscular researchers have more avenues and tools with which to explore how to stimulate movement and mobility for many muscle group problems. Of course, many studies are too small to deliver impact. Through various independent resources, including injured veterans from recent and ongoing Asian wars, there has been a drive to test electrical impulses as means of preventing pain and restoring movement. It seems like fantasy but small steps are being realized every day. For some, small steps bring large results.

Stimulating muscle movement to enable the motion-challenged to find motion is now being experimented with as a means to help people walk. The principle isn’t a new one. About 300 years ago, Luigi Galvani at the University of Bologna in Italy. He realized that if he sent an electric impulse at the lower spine of a frog, the frog’s legs would twitch. Similar experiments helped Galvani create neurophysiology as a study of how nerves can activate muscles in the body.

Galvani’s studies transitioned to studies of stress. In law enforcement, a Galvanic Skin Response in the hand helps determine whether a person may be telling the truth or not. The skin conductance response, also known as the electrodermal response (and in older terminology as “galvanic skin response”), is the phenomenon that the skin momentarily becomes a better conductor of electricity when either external or internal stimuli occur that are physiologically arousing. It occurs in the fight or flight response at the root of placing the body on stress alert.

A Superman on screen, actor Christopher Reeve suffered virtually total paralysis after a spinal injury. The Christopher Reeve Foundation offered grants (in the last decade) to study Functional Electrical Stimulation of nerve tissue to help induce movement. Functional Electrical Stimulation applies small electrical pulses to paralyzed muscles to restore or improve their function. FES is commonly used for exercise, but also to assist with breathing, grasping, transferring, standing and walking. FES can help some to improve bladder and bowel function. There’s evidence that FES helps reduce the frequency of pressure sores.

For research, FES is extremely valid when FES is used with a functional task such as walking, cycling, or grasping objects for a number of rehabilitative purposes and across differing diagnoses. FES has demonstrated the capacity for strengthening muscles enhancing circulation and blood flow, reducing pain, and retarding muscular atrophy.

In 2001, Case Western Reserve University, Department of Veterans Affairs, developed an intramuscular implanted system that activates the hip, knee, and trunk muscles to facilitate ambulation. At the time, the problems of electrode integrity in addition to adjusting the wavelength and amplitude signal measurements demonstrated promise.

Over the years, Federal Drug Administration worked at approving several devices that could provide enhanced results. Bioness L300 Plus adds a thigh component that facilitates knee extension and adds stability during walking as well. Other similar peroneal nerve (associated with the muscles that cause foot drop) stimulators commercially available are the WalkAide System and the Odstock devices. These systems have demonstrated long-term improvement in walking skills for persons with stroke as well as persons with multiple sclerosis and, possibly, other (thus far) incurable muscular diseases.

Alas, the rub is that virtually all these disabling diseases and conditions have no cure. Devices like ToeOFF and FES help the immobilized meet the challenges of moving. When you’re immobile or paralyzed, the facility of movement is like a light from the sky, even if only a short one.

The AFO and FES devices available for public use have been approved by medical agencies and federal groups like the FDA. This doesn’t mean that there are no side effects and contraindications as patients use them. While ToeOFF and WalkAide (and similar devices) are approved for certain conditions, each individual may be affected uniquely. Improvements may be individual specific and may not likely be generalized to work equally for a general population.

FES seems to be laying the groundwork toward the future of orthosis and. thankfully, there are products that offer advanced alternatives to the AFO. As relatively new, and somewhat unknown through the medical profession, FES is still somewhat expensive and most insurances do not cover use of a device like WalkAide. In addition, a pair of AFO (generally covered by insurance) may cost in the $1,000 to $2,000+ range. The WalkAide System may cost around $5,000 for a single and, a bit more, for a pair. Often these conditions may affect both left and right legs. Poverty and lack of adequate health insurance for those disabled by chronic nerve and muscle diseases. The merits of these prosthetics, however, could be life-changing to those afflicted by conditions.

In cases like multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy, understanding the etiology (causes) of the disease dynamics and causes is extremely important. Dorsiflexion is only one of possibly hundreds of symptoms. ToeOFF and WalkAide are examples of special devices that assist at making immobilization levels more mobile. While FES is promising for some, others may not benefit from neural electric therapies and devices.

ToeOFF and other AFO may work better with patients of muscular dystrophy and diseases of weakening muscles that are not necessarily associated with nerve damage. WalkAide may have little or no effect in those cases and, ominously, dystrophies have not been indicated to be (possibly) effective using an FES product. FES has been shown to be effective by generating electrical signals along nerve pathways and the nerves that are primarily associated at controlling muscles in certain areas. Some cases of dystrophy patients may not gain positive effects from an FES device because weakness is due to a genetic disruption of a neurotransmitter called Dystrophin and those signals may not change the efficacy of those muscles that affect foot drop and some other gait issues. That is why ToeOFF may still be the most advanced form of orthosis for muscular dystrophy patients.

Understanding those subtleties requires an integrated approach between physiatrists and rehabilitation specialists familiar with the problems behind neuromuscular conditions of different severity and sources. This is one of many reasons why ToeOFF and WalkAide are prescription products. For the most part, the etiologies of many of these conditions still require further research as well. In limited studies, however, products like ToeOFF and WalkAide remain to offer considerable help for those that can benefit by them.

ToeOFF is a partial solution and professional orthotists like David Zwicker, in conjunction with your prescribing doctor, can help patients optimize mobile functions. An AFO is an appliance and the appliance fits in a shoe, primarily a New Balance sneaker is recommended. As shoes are designed for feet and not necessarily a foot and an orthosis, the material of the shoe needs to be strong and stable enough to support it. Otherwise your balance may be compromised. You may require a wider size and may find that shoes last months instead of years. It’s a consequence that can be annoying. It’s fortunate that New Balance makes shoes with several width selections. That helps. Afflicted with moderate to severe dorsiflexion, ToeOFF helps you walk more normally than if you did not wear it. As an alternative to one of those electric wheelchairs, ToeOFF is a good device.

WalkAide does not require to be placed in a shoe. The battery powered unit may be placed anywhere on the calf around the peritoneal nerve fiber that is beneath your knee. That makes WalkAide an attractive alternative but only where nerve fibers and muscles interact with functional electrical stimulation. It may not work with patients suffering from muscular dystrophies or certain myopathies.

An orthosis, like a dynamic AFO (such as the Allard ToeOFF device) is a form of prosthetic. You might have your physical leg but the muscles related to dorsiflexion (and walking) don’t work. For the past 100 years, these prosthetics were heavy and large. While wealthy victims of Polio (i.e. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt) had to learn how to use them, ToeOFF is part of a group of AFO that are light and easy to use. Neuro-prosthetics is the study and development of medical devices that replace or improve the function of damaged neuromuscular organ systems and restore normal body processes, create or improve function, and/or reduce pain.

There is no 100% solution as of yet. It is promising that technological strides are being researched to offer immobile, afflicted people some more choices at the ease of getting around. Ranges might be limited. I guess it’s better to have some mobile range than none. There is promise in better AFO and FES development as the future unfolds. At least, there is hope.