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Archive for November 20th, 2013

ADD Help: Where to Get Help for ADHD

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Do you suspect your child may have ADD/ADHD (see What is Attention Deficit Disorder), but don’t know where to go for ADD help? Only a health care professional, trained in evaluating children for ADHD, can evaluate and diagnose your child. Why? It is normal for children to have trouble sitting still in situations they find boring. In school, they may talk excessively, fidget, squirm, and fail to complete homework assignments on many occasions. A qualified clinical professional can determine if your child’s problems with focus, attention, and appropriate social behavior are normal, due to ADHD symptoms, or caused by other neurological and psychological conditions.

Pediatrician – The First Step Toward ADHD Help

Take the first step toward ADHD help by talking to a physician. Many parents first talk to their child’s pediatrician about their concerns. Describe your child’s behavior to his pediatrician. By asking a few questions, the doctor can determine if ADHD could be the cause. He will look for other factors that could cause the undesirable behavior; things such as divorce, a death in the family, or other major life changes can temporarily cause your child to exhibit undesirable behaviors that mimic behaviors associated with ADD/ADHD. The doctor will also conduct a thorough physical exam to ensure your child does not have other diseases or mental health disorders that could cause the negative behavior.

Some pediatricians treat children with ADHD in their offices, others refer them to a mental health professional, such as a pediatric psychiatrist, who provides the ADD, ADHD help.

Teachers – The Next Step Toward ADD Help

Take the next step toward ADD help for your child by discussing the disorder with his teachers. Your pediatrician or pediatric mental health professional may have already talked to your child’s teachers about his behavior during the process. Tell the teachers that your child’s health care provider confirmed the ADHD diagnosis. Report any prescribed ADHD medications your child takes to the teachers and school nurse. You may want to speak to the school guidance counselor as well to ensure your child has all the possible support he needs.

Cooperation – The Final Step Toward ADHD Help

Take the final step toward ADHD help for your child by teaming up with your child’s doctor, teachers, and other family members. Work together to create goals and come up with practical ways to reach those goals. Parents can help their child by helping him create lists of tasks and homework assignments. He can check off each item as he completes it. This will build confidence and self-esteem. Designate a certain space and time for homework. Sit with your child during homework time to answer questions, offer help, and praise him for work well done.

Get help for ADHD. Your child deserves to have all the tools he needs to succeed in school, socially, and his adult professional life. Talk to your pediatrician or family doctor today.

Fitness Counteracts Cognitive Decline from Hormone-Replacement Therapy

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Women pondering hormone-replacement therapy also should consider regular exercise. A new study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign suggests that being physically fit offsets cognitive declines attributed to long-term therapy.

“This study not only tells us that there is a benefit to being highly fit, it pinpoints where in the brain it matters for postmenopausal women who have been using the two strategies,” said lead author Kirk I. Erickson, a postdoctoral researcher at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at Illinois.

The study appeared online this month in advance of regular publication in the journal Neurobiology of Aging. By using magnetic resonance imaging and voxel-based morphometry (VBM), researchers documented the combined effects on specific areas of the brain based on fitness of short- and long-term users of hormone therapy.

Researchers also looked at how well 54 postmenopausal women performed on a computerized version of the Wisconsin Card Sort Test, in which constantly changing rules challenge memory, inhibition and task-switching abilities known as executive functions. The women were divided into groups based on use or non-use and duration of hormone therapy and existing fitness levels.

“We found that higher fitness levels enhance the effects of shorter durations of hormone treatment and offset the declines associated with long-term use,” said Arthur F. Kramer, a Beckman researcher and psychology professor. “It may be that a combination of HRT and exercise boosts both cognition and brain structure of older women.”

Participants ranged in age from 58 to 80, with a mean age of 70. Hormone status and duration of use were assessed based on their self-reports, and aerobic fitness was measured by monitoring respiration, heart rate and blood pressure during a treadmill test.

MRI images of the participants’ brains were taken, segmented into 3-D maps and analyzed by VBM, which allows for high spatial resolution of the volume of gray and white matter. The women also were screened for duration of hormone use, aerobic fitness levels, age, education, socioeconomic status, age at menopause and for dementia.

VBM analysis revealed that four regions of gray matter — left and right prefrontal cortex, left parahippocampal gyrus and left subgenual cortex — varied with duration of hormone treatment. Longer hormone usage resulted in significantly less tissue volume in these areas. However, higher fitness scores were tied to greater tissue volume.

While there were no significant effects of the interaction of hormone duration and fitness on white matter in general, higher fitness levels were tied to greater prefrontal white matter regions and in the genu of the corpus callosum, a key area that interconnects frontal areas of the brain.

“Critically, the tissue volume measures in all four gray matter regions revealed that high fitness levels were associated with a more modest decline in regional brain volume than low fitness levels with increasing durations of hormone therapy,” the researchers wrote. “High fitness levels also were associated with a significant sparing of the neural tissue of women not receiving hormone replacement therapy.”

Durations of therapy of less than 10 years showed enhanced tissue volume compared with all other groups, and the decline in tissue volume only began after 11 to 15 years of hormone-replacement therapy.

Erickson and Kramer noted that their findings in women were in line with previous animal studies that have found that estrogen and fitness have similar mechanisms in the brain. Estrogen and fitness both stimulate brain-derived neurotropic factor, a molecule tied to the production of capillaries, plasticity and neurons.

These preliminary findings are based on only a small sampling of women and need to be considered in a much broader clinical setting, Kramer said. However, the findings mirror similar studies in his lab that are continuing to show the benefits of physical fitness in older people.

Co-authors with Erickson and Kramer were Stanley J. Colcombe, a research scientist at the Beckman Institute; Paige E. Scalf, a postdoctoral researcher in Kramer’s lab; Edward McAuley, a Beckman researcher and professor of kinesiology and psychology; McAuley’s former doctoral student Steriani Elavsky; and Donna L. Korol, professor of psychology.