May is Older Americans Month, and as we take time to recognize the valuable contributions of older Americans past and present, we also want to share how our field of functional neurology can be helpful to those experiencing the neurological effects of aging.
As we age, our bodies are subject to changing hormone levels, deterioration of blood vessels, decreased circulation, and slower system responses. Here are some of the ways these changes affect the brain and what we do to treat them. As always, an evaluation by a healthcare professional is important to determine if you’re experiencing the expected and normal cognitive effects of aging or more serious signs of dementia.
Difficulty with Balance and Posture
Fear of falling may be one of the most common concerns among older adults. This fear may lead them to cut back on vital brain-stimulating activities and routines, like exercise and social interactions, which can further accelerate the aging process.
We diagnose and treat balance and posture problems in the following ways:
One of the most common changes associated with aging involves memory and multitasking. Older adults might be slower to recall a word or name they’re trying to remember. They may experience difficulty multitasking or disengaging from a second task to go back to the primary one (such as answering a phone call while cooking a meal).
Functional neurology treatments like the Vielight® and cold laser therapy that focus on increasing cellular energy can help restore the functions that aid memory and multitasking. Photobiomodulation is another non-invasive therapy that can stimulate cell growth, improve circulation, and reduce the symptoms that can cause sluggish brain functions.
The parasympathetic nervous system controls many bodily functions by way of the vagus nerve. One of these functions is the regulation of mood. As we age, this system’s responses slow down, which can lead to symptoms of depression and anxiety. Therapy designed to stimulate the vagus nerve can help reduce these symptoms.
It might not come as a surprise that digestive functions can also be thrown off balance by aging– we’ve often discussed the connection between gut and brain health. Luckily, vagus nerve stimulation has also been shown to decrease gastrointestinal inflammation, speed digestion, and improve satiety, or the cues that signal to you when you’re hungry and full.
The Good News
As the National Institute on Aging notes, there are also positive cognitive changes that come with aging, such as a more extensive vocabulary and depth of knowledge. And research shows that older adults can improve their brain function, so if you are experiencing neurological symptoms that a healthcare provider tells you are normal signs of aging, you might benefit from an evaluation with us.
Testimonials from our patients show the success they’ve had in regaining cognitive function after treatment from Neurohealth Services.
Call our office at (317) 848-6000 for a free consultation today.
There’s a lot of talk on the internet about home remedies and miracle cures. You’ve probably seen ads with the words “this one trick,” so you might be skeptical about what treatments and supplements actually work. Our team at Neurohealth Services stays on top of the latest research so we can help you understand the best way to recover from brain injuries and maintain optimal brain health. Here are some routines and home remedies we recommend.
An anti-inflammatory, nutrient-rich diet
Your diet and nutrition really do have an impact on your brain health, so if you’re struggling with cognition or you just want to maintain brain health, a diet rich in omega-3s, antioxidants, and minerals such as magnesium, iron, zinc, and copper can help.
Oils high in omega-6 fat, such as corn oil and soybean oil, are more likely to cause inflammation. Try olive oil, avocado oil, or flaxseed oil instead. An anti-inflammatory diet should include plenty of leafy greens, nuts and seeds, omega-3 rich fish, and fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges. Spices like turmeric, ginger, and garlic have scientific studies to back up their anti-inflammatory properties.
Sage is an herb that studies have shown has promising, cognitive-enhancing effects in adults, and might even aid in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Recent research also shows the nutrient choline, found in eggs, nuts, fish, cauliflower, and broccoli, may improve brain function. Please consult with us, or ask your primary doctor before starting any kind of a new diet or nutrition regimen.
You might see certain devices and activities advertised as “brain games” but the truth is that there is not a lot of scientific evidence to support most of those claims. However, there are types of cognitive stimulation that Harvard Health says do promote neuroplasticity. Reading, practicing a new language, or performing tasks that require both manual and mental dexterity, such as drawing and painting, may be effective in the type of mental stimulation that enhances cognitive function.
Exercise has a wide array of benefits, not the least of which includes delivering oxygen-rich blood to the brain. Exercise promotes neuroplasticity in the same way as other cognitive activities, and it also improves blood pressure and cholesterol and reduces stress, all of which are good for the heart and the brain.
This form of exercise promotes brain health by stimulating the midline cerebellum, the area of the brain responsible for movement, coordination, and posture. By repeatedly activating the core muscles, you are stimulating this part of the brain. Pilates is one method that incorporates these strategies. Always ask your doctor or schedule a consultation with us before taking on a new exercise program.
Meditation and breathing
Sound too easy? Studies have shown a direct link between meditation and focused deep breathing and increased levels of noradrenaline, a neurotransmitter that helps the brain grow new connections.
If you’ve been struggling with cognitive function and it’s disrupting your daily routine, schedule a consultation. NeuroHealth specializes in diagnosing complicated neurological disorders and developing individualized treatment plans to address our patients’ specific conditions.
Call our Indianapolis neurology office at (317) 848-6000 and get on the path to recovery today.
It’s no secret that we all feel better when we’re clear-headed and well-rested. Unfortunately, many Americans struggle with ongoing neurological symptoms, including insomnia, brain fog, dizziness, headaches, and visual and balance problems. Brain injury, illness, or stress could be the underlying cause. Because brain health impacts all areas of the body, diminished brain function from an injury or illness, when left untreated, can have a ripple effect. Following are seven primary areas impacted by brain function.
Mood Swings, Stress, Anger
There are a variety of causes for mood swings and not all of them point to a chemical imbalance. It’s important to get the correct diagnosis in order to treat it effectively, so if you’ve been struggling with symptoms of depression, stress, and anger, it may be time to evaluate your brain function. Areas in the frontal lobe are responsible for emotional control, critical thinking, and mood. Our office specializes in the evaluation and treatment of brain function. Our state-of-the-art testing can evaluate your frontal lobe and guide you in treatment to help these symptoms.
When a person experiences inflammation that leads to diminished brain function, one of the body’s most important means of healing is often the one that’s the most elusive: sleep. And this inability to get quality sleep often exacerbates symptoms. Lack of sleep can lead to an increasingly diminished emotional state and continued problems with mood, memory, and concentration. Our patients who previously relied on medicines and sleep aids for their symptoms have reported feeling and sleeping better after as few as five days in our NeuroReset program.
It’s well known that a concussion can cause blurred vision, double vision, and sensitivity to light and sound. But did you know that other neurological conditions can also cause problems with visual tracking, focus, depth perception, processing, and spatial awareness? We see these symptoms most often in athletes who have suffered a brain injury, but we also see vision disturbances in patients with a variety of neurological conditions. Our comprehensive treatment approach includes oculomotor rehabilitation designed to treat these symptoms.
Many people suffering from diminished brain function experience difficulty with balance and hand-eye coordination. The GyroStim is one type of vestibular therapy that provides relief from these symptoms by allowing the patient to perform a variety of exercises and challenges while seated in a multi-axis rotational chair controlled by a computer program.
Concentration, Memory, Mental Clarity
You may have heard the term “brain fog,” especially if it’s something you’ve experienced as a result of an illness, injury, or other neurological disorder. Disruptions in concentration, memory, and mental clarity impact all areas of our life, even if we don’t have demanding full-time jobs or school commitments. We use an approach called photobiomodulation, which applies a low level of laser stimulation to specific areas of the brain in need of treatment. This treatment has been shown to stimulate healing, improve circulation, and reduce the swelling and inflammation that cause these disturbances.
Our patients are often surprised to learn about the connection between gut and brain health. Trauma to the brain activates a stress function via the vagus nerve, which can lead to heartburn, gas, bloating, and other discomforts. An anti-inflammatory diet can often relieve these symptoms, but if you’re still experiencing delays in recovery after making dietary adjustments, further evaluation may be necessary.
In the same way that inflammation can cause disturbances in the gastrointestinal system, this type of stress response can also cause skin irritation. Additionally, high cortisol associated with the emotional distress of coping with a brain injury or neurological disorder can aggravate an existing skin condition. If dietary or topical treatments don’t appear to be working, and neurological symptoms are also lingering, the condition may warrant further evaluation.
New Year, New Brain
If you’ve been struggling with ongoing neurological symptoms that are disrupting your daily routine, you’ve come to the right place. Our patients describe in testimonials how they have found relief from numerous symptoms after finally pinpointing the root cause of their discomfort. NeuroHealth specializes in diagnosing complicated neurological disorders and developing individualized treatment plans to address our patients’ specific conditions.
Call our Indianapolis neurology office at (317) 848-6000 and get on the path to recovery today.
March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, and to help direct needed attention to the large number of brain injures that go untreated and undiagnosed, we’ve compiled 7 things you need to know about concussions and why it’s important to seek treatment.
1. A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury
It’s caused by a sudden jolt or impact causing the brain to shift within the skull. A concussion does not require a blow to the head.
2. You should limit screen time after a brain injury
The CDC recommends limiting screen time and loud music before bed, sleeping in a dark room, and sticking with a daily routine for sleeping and waking. Ease back into activities that cause eye strain and fatigue.
3. Women and girls are at higher risk for concussions
But more research is needed to determine the reason why. A 2018 study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine found female athletes are at nearly twice the risk of experiencing sports-related concussions than male athletes. The study concluded this may be due to biomechanical or hormonal differences, or even the fact that female athletes are just more likely to report their symptoms.
4. Concussion treatment promotes faster recovery
One of the myths we often hear about concussions and other brain injuries is that only time can heal them. At Neurohealth Services, we offer an array of neurorehabilitative treatment tools designed to locate and stimulate specific areas of the brain compromised by an injury. Our patients have reported significant relief of concussion symptoms following our specialized treatments.
5. Concussion symptoms are not always obvious or immediately apparent
Symptoms of post-concussion syndrome (PCS) can include insomnia, confusion, memory loss, or mood swings. Children may not have the vocabulary to describe their symptoms as well as adults and may report “just not feeling right.”
6. Post-concussion syndrome is often difficult to diagnose
Up to 95% of brain scans may appear normal after a concussion, even when specific networks have been compromised. If symptoms persist or become worse, it’s important to seek treatment in order to prevent further delays in recovery.
7. Ask for guidance on when you can safely return to activities
Routine activities such as work, school, sports, and driving may cause fatigue when your brain is healing, which can prolong recovery. We recommend gradually returning to these activities and easing back if symptoms return or worsen.
If you are still experiencing concussion symptoms that are disrupting your daily routines weeks or months after an accident or injury, please seek treatment with NeuroHealth Services. Our functional neurology team specializes in treating patients who have been unable to find relief elsewhere. Call (317) 848-6000 to schedule an evaluation today.
Many of our patients experiencing Post-Concussion Syndrome (PCS) come to us weeks or months after a head injury, when they have been unable to find relief anywhere else. Unfortunately, a number of myths still surround concussion symptoms and treatment that can delay people from seeking help. Following are five common myths about concussions and the facts that can help accelerate recovery.
Myth #1: A concussion requires loss of consciousness
In fact, a concussion can happen even when a patient never loses consciousness. Only about 10% of concussions include loss of consciousness (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center). Don’t let a mild injury stop you from seeking treatment if you’re feeling symptoms like headaches, dizziness, irritability, and vision problems.
Myth #2: A concussion requires a blow to the head
A concussion results from the sudden jarring movement of the brain shifting inside the skull, which can be caused by a jolt or shake as well as blunt force. Whiplash from a car accident can cause a concussion just like a blow to the head.
Myth #3: A concussion can be prevented by wearing a helmet
Again, because the injury is caused by a jolting of the brain, a helmet won’t necessarily prevent it from happening. According to the CDC, helmets are designed to reduce the risk of a serious brain injury or skull fracture. There is no helmet that is designed to prevent a concussion.
Myth #4: You must wake a person every hour after a concussion
This myth originated from the outdated belief that falling asleep following a concussion could cause a patient to fall into a coma. We now know to check for symptoms before a patient goes to sleep, ensuring these symptoms are not overlooked. If you’ve suffered a concussion, your healthcare provider probably offered guidance on your treatment. If your injury was severe enough to require monitoring, they may have recommended an overnight hospital stay.
Myth #5: Concussion symptoms are apparent immediately following an injury
Many patients we see report that they didn’t experience concussion symptoms until days after an incident. Because symptoms can progress gradually after an injury, they might not be instantly debilitating or even apparent. It’s especially important to seek treatment if symptoms worsen or new ones arise.
If you’re still experiencing symptoms that disrupt your daily routine days or weeks after an injury, download our post-concussion syndrome (PSC) fact sheet for more information and call (317) 848-6000 to schedule an appointment.
Functional neurology shows promise in the treatment of post-Covid 19 vestibular and neurological symptoms
As early as 2019, the Mayo Clinic began reporting that people, even those who had experienced relatively mild Covid-19 symptoms, suffered what was called “long Covid” or “post-Covid-19 syndrome.” Researchers noted the onset of vestibular symptoms such as vertigo that hadn’t been present during the initial infection.
In 2020, the Journal of Neurological Sciences published further research identifying Post-Covid 19 Neurological Syndrome (PCNS), noting symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, depression, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, and even symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). They also noted that because the pandemic was still ongoing, it was too early to know the full effects of PCNS.
In a 2021 article in The International Journal of Audiology, researchers pointed to reports of vestibular symptoms associated with Covid-19 but noted more research would be necessary to fully understand the scope of these symptoms.
So while we don’t have a complete picture of the scope of these occurrences, we do know that therapies proven effective in treating vestibular and neurological symptoms caused by other disorders and injuries can also be effective in treating these symptoms caused by Covid-19.
Our team at Neurohealth Services in Indianapolis has treated a number of patients still experiencing neurological and vestibular effects of Covid-19. Because we specialize in treating patients who’ve been unable to find relief elsewhere, we have experience using advanced diagnostic tools to uncover metabolic, immune, and psychological factors that may be hindering recovery.
Our neurorehabilitation therapies designed to target specific areas of the brain to stimulate cell repair and regrowth, increase circulation, and reduce inflammation have shown to be effective in patients experiencing PCNS.
If you’re experiencing long-term symptoms related to Covid-19 such as dizziness, insomnia, confusion, headaches, fatigue, anxiety, or depression, call us at (317) 848-6000 to learn more about the treatment options that are available.
Did you know gut and brain health are connected? Many people are surprised to learn that digestive problems are common after a concussion.
Head trauma activates stress response in the digestive system
Trauma to the brain activates a stress function in the gut which can cause changes in appetite, increased gas and bloating, heartburn, acid reflux, food sensitivity, and irritable bowels. These issues can lead to something called intestinal permeability, or leaky gut, which can cause critical delays in the concussion recovery process.
Fighting inflammation speeds recovery
Avoiding foods that cause inflammation is one way to accelerate concussion recovery.
Try to avoid or limit these foods as much as possible:
If you need help with concussion or post-concussion symptoms, please call us at (317) 848-6000 or request a post-concussion fact sheet here.
By Brad R. Ralston, D.C., DACNB, FABBIR
One of the most common problems I find in patients who have post-concussion syndrome is hypoglycemia (low blood sugar/low glucose). Low blood sugar is characterized by feeling weak, tired, shaky, angry, or nauseated. Some patients who have those symptoms fail to realize that the cause is low blood sugar and that eating would make them feel better.
People have certain habits and tendencies in regards to their eating. People who were skipping meals before a concussion are likely to skip meals after a concussion and not realize the impact that has on their long-term recovery. In addition, because your activity level drops dramatically in the days following a concussion, your normal appetite triggers are not as prevalent.
This is why low blood sugar is a problem: Glucose is the fuel that powers your brain, and when you’re not eating enough, your brain isn’t getting the energy it needs to function normally. You need to provide adequate fuel for your brain every day, especially following a concussion.
What Happens to the Brain and Body After a Concussion
After sustaining a concussion, the body enters a hyperexcitable phase characterized by sensitivity to light and sound and overstimulation of the brain. During this phase, the brain uses all of its stored glucose. To restore glucose reserves, you need to eat regularly and get adequate caloric intake; otherwise, your brain will continue operating on decreased glucose, which interferes with your recovery.
So, what can you do to boost your brain’s healing power? We often recommend that patients who have a concussion try to eat an Atkins-style or keto-style (higher-protein, higher-fat, low-carb) diet for a couple of weeks. Fat feeds the brain, and it’s superior to carbohydrates in supplying long-lasting fuel for the brain.
After a few weeks on this brain-recharging diet, we can test your fasting glucose levels to see if they’ve stabilized. If they have, you should notice an improvement in your symptoms.
If you need help with concussion or post-concussion symptoms, please call us at (317) 848-6000.
If you have been researching how to improve your health, you may have heard of leaky gut, also known as intestinal permeability. If that conjures an unpleasant image of your gut contents leaking into the rest of your body — that’s not too far off the mark.
Leaky gut happens when contents from the small intestine spill into the sterile bloodstream through a damaged and “leaky” gut wall. This contamination of the bloodstream by not only partially digested foods but also bacteria, yeast, and other pathogens begins to create a foundation for chronic inflammatory and autoimmune health disorders.
Symptoms and disorders linked to leaky gut include fatigue, depression, brain fog, skin problems, joint pain, chronic pain, autoimmune disease, puffiness, anxiety, poor memory, asthma, food allergies and sensitivities, seasonal allergies, fungal infections, migraines, arthritis, PMS, and many more. Basically, your genetic predispositions will determine how leaky gut manifests for you.
Leaky gut is referred to as intestinal permeability in the scientific research. It means inflammation has caused the inner lining of the small intestine to become damaged and overly porous. This allows overly large compounds into the small intestine. The immune system recognizes these compounds as hostile invaders that don’t belong in the bloodstream and launches an ongoing attack against them, raising inflammation throughout the body. Also, some of these compounds are very toxic (endotoxins) and take up residence throughout the body, triggering inflammation wherever they go.
At the same time, excess intestinal mucous and inflammation from the damage prevents much smaller nutrients from getting into the bloodstream, which can lead to nutrient deficiencies and poor cellular function.
Leaky gut is increasingly being recognized as a common underlying factor in most inflammatory symptoms and disorders.
Medicine finally recognizes leaky gut
Conventional medicine has long ridiculed leaky gut information and protocols as quack science and alternative medicine folklore, but newer research now establishes it as a legitimate mechanism. In fact, pharmaceutical companies are even working on drugs to address leaky gut. Research has established links between leaky gut and many chronic disorders. It’s good this long-known information is finally being validated in the dominant medical paradigm as the gut is the largest immune organ, powerfully influencing the rest of the body, as well as the brain.
Current studies link intestinal permeability with inflammatory bowel disorders, gluten sensitivity, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, type 1 diabetes, depression, psoriasis, and other chronic and autoimmune conditions. Given what we know about the connection between gut health and immunity, it’s vital to include a gut repair protocol in overall treatment of inflammatory and autoimmune disorders.
How to mend leaky gut
Sometimes, repairing leaky gut can be as simple as removing inflammatory foods from your diet. Other times it’s more complicated. Most importantly, you need to know why you have leaky gut. Either way, however, your diet is foundational.
Many cases of leaky gut stem from a standard US diet of processed foods and excess sugars. Food intolerances also contribute significantly, especially a gluten intolerance. A leaky gut diet, also known as an autoimmune diet, has helped many people repair intestinal permeability. Keeping blood sugar balanced is also vital. If blood sugar that gets too low or too high, this promotes leaky gut. Stabilizing blood sugar requires eating regularly enough to avoid energy crashes. You also need to prevent high blood sugar by avoiding too many sugars and carbohydrates. Regular exercise is also vital to stabilizing blood sugar and promoting a healthy gut.
Also, failure to eat enough fiber and produce leads to leaky gut by creating a very unhealthy gut microbiome, or gut bacteria. Our intestines (and entire body) depend on a healthy and diverse gut microbiome for proper function. A healthy gut microbiome comes from eating at least 25 grams of fiber a day and a wide and rotating variety of plant foods.
Other common things that lead to leaky gut include antibiotics, NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, excess alcohol, hypothyroidism, and autoimmunity.
A leaky gut protocol can help you improve your health, relieve symptoms, boost energy, make you happier, and clear your brain fog. Ask my office for advice on improving your well being through a leaky gut diet and protocol.
Ask my office for more advice on managing autoimmunity or brain inflammation.
Should you have any health questions please call the office at 317-848-6000.
Although we start life with roughly 100 billion neurons, we start to lose neurons the moment we are born due to the effects of stress, toxins, inflammation, aging, trauma, disease, and other factors.
So why can some people’s brains stay sharp and vital into old age?
The answer is not in the number of neurons, but in neuroplasticity, the ability of your brain to learn and adapt to change by creating additional links to neighboring neurons.
While strength in numbers is good, strength in connectivity is better when it comes to the brain.
Each neuron can send out thousands of connections to other neurons. As we age, even though we lose many neurons and the ones we retain become slower, neuroplasticity means cells become better over time at making more connections.
The resulting network of connection gives us the ability to complete complex tasks and even be that senior with a sharper mind than a PhD student.
However, neuroplasticity depends on two main factors: stimulation and the right chemical environment.
For example, a stroke patient who has smoked for 20 years (toxins and low oxygen), never exercises (low oxygen), and eats sweets and fast food every day (blood sugar issues) is going to have a different potential for recovery than someone who has a healthy diet, exercises regularly, and avoids environmental toxins. Their levels of plasticity are very different.
One way to gauge your brain's potential for plasticity: Ask if it's easier to learn new facts or skills than it was five years ago. If it's easier, your brain has developed greater plasticity. If it's harder, you have inefficient plasticity.
If you are in the second category, don't despair. Given the right tools and environment, your brain can improve its plasticity.
How to support your brain's plasticity
Our brains are incredibly adaptive, and given the right care — oxygen, fuel, and stimulation, they can stay healthy and sharp well into old age.
Anti-inflammatory diet. A diet that supports stable blood sugar and addresses inflammation and food sensitivities is the foundation to restoring and supporting your brain's plasticity and health.
Eat plenty of healthy fats. Our brains are composed largely of fats,and we need to eat plenty of healthy fats to support them. Focus on fats such as cold-water fish, olive oil, avocado oil, nuts, and coconut oil. Supplementing with omega 3 fatty acids is a great way to support brain health.
Exercise daily. A body that moves has a brain that gets oxygen. Exercise also increases BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor), an anti-inflammatory brain chemical that helps eliminate brain fog and improve brain function.
Stress reduction. Chronic stress causes a cascade of physiological effects that reduces oxygen and increases brain inflammation. Try these time-tested ways to reduce your daily stress level:
Prioritize sleep. Without adequate sleep, the brain and body experience increased inflammation and cannot function at their best. To improve sleep, adopt these daily habits:
Address food sensitivities. Food reactivity can cause systemic inflammation that leads to brain inflammation and degeneration. Ask your functional medicine practitioner for help in determining your sensitivities.
Address hormonal imbalances. When hormones become imbalanced you lose neurotransmitter activity and brain function. PMS, perimenopause, menopause, and low or high estrogen in women as well as low testosterone in men can compromise brain health and function. Simple lab testing can help determine your next steps.
Brain Based Exercises: My office specializes in prescribing specific brain based exercises to work on targeted areas of the brain we find to be under activated through our testing. Exercises to improve plasticity in networks of the brain can alleviate symptoms such as Migraine, Dizziness, Post Concussion Syndrome, ADHD and more. If exercises are performed 3-5 times a day for 3-6 months the brain can drastically improve over this short period of time. If you just don't feel like yourself, schedule a neurologic examination with us today!
Contact my office for more information on how to improve yours.You can call us at 317-848-6000 or contact Dr. Ralston directly as email@example.com.