Wednesday, June 11, 2008

msb-0312 Shauna On Neuroplasticity

msb-0312 Its Shauna On Neuroplasticity

Its rare that I encounter Flash animations this beautiful (Click on it to launch it.):



Disclaimer! Disclaimer! Disclaimer!

MSBPodcast is "not" any kind of a medical podcast.

It is by and for MSers.

Its purpose is to keep us entertained, to explain our symptoms, to remark on our discoveries, and to raise the general consciousness about our disease.

The path to illness is shadowy, murky and rough strewn.

The path to wellness is lit by the lamp of knowledge.


Feedback comes first, so...

First, let me say welcome to the new listeners through iTunes who bumped my stats up by a nice margin.

Sorry you've got MS but there are now disease modifying drugs and treatments so its not the tragedy it once was.


I'm reading a great book about what some people consider "The Apocalypse". [ ]

The sh- uh, biomass has been flung and it will impact with, uh, the rotating impeller here on Friday's show.


Meanwhile, I'm getting more and more news that shows me that using HMOs to implement health care is for idiots and imbeciles.

The New York Times had "this" [ ] article that pretty much states that if you're going to carry a uterus in working order but with only an average size cervix, the HMOs don't want anything to do with you because they don't want to pay for Caesarians.

Which kind of says it all.

The reason that so many women need Caesarians is that, consisting as it does of soft tissue, the human brain is evolving and growing at a faster pace than the rest of the skeleton. Heck. The brain case of infants doesn't fuse until months after birth already (it isn't really a skull until after it does so,).

HMOs don't care about human evolution, they care about their profit and your having microcephalic congenital idiots doesn't impact their bottom line, so take your healthy, brainy kid, your too tight birth canal and "gid outta here."

And what are we paying them for what exactly? (I keep hearing a fragment of "Edwin Starr"s [ ] refrain playing in my head. "What is it good for? Absolutely nothing! Listen to me.")

---- "strange attractor" by: "stretch armstrong"

Feed Forward comes next, so...

This is "your" segment.

Say "your" piece on this segment.

Share with other MSers whatever "you" want to share.

Drop us an email: "charles at"

---- "Some Strange Feeling" by: "Davis Coen"

Feed Me comes third, so...

Do you have a therapy, product, good or service that is of interest to MSers?

Consider advertising on this podcast.

Reminders on this segment only cost $0.03 per reminder per download of an episode. (A $30CPM targeted at MSers.)

It can/should lead to a full ad, in text, audio or video, which costs $3.00 per download.

That sounds expensive until you do the math and realize that if nobody downloads it it costs you nothing, unlike print, where you often can't even get an ad in to the specialized journals, or radio or TV where you'd just be wasting your money with the 0.0833% MSers rate of return. (That's about six times "below" the level of "statistical noise".)

But MSBPodcast is 100% in your market, and you only pay per download of your material.

No play, no pay.

Reach the MSers who would buy your therapy, product, good or service, with-out having to waste your advertising money on anyone who is "not" interested...

Send me an email at: "charles (at)"

---- "Strange Days" by: "Quiet Riot"


Here's Shauna with her own observations on "Neuroplasticity".

---- "Hey Your So Strange" by: "Love = Action"


Several weeks ago I attended a lecture about neuroplasticity. That is a fairly new word and a fairly new area of study. Scientists are discovering that the brain is amazingly plastic; that is, able to adapt to change. We are now discovering that the brain, in certain areas, is able to grow new cells, something once thought impossible. And it makes new connections constantly. There is a whole new industry being promoted around "brain health", making new connections, and regenerating brain cells. Exercise your brain! Do crossword puzzles! Stave off Alzheimer's- do Sudoku! You've seen the headlines and heard about different "programs" that aim to improve your brain fitness.

There's no doubt that some mental exercise can help you relax, learn to concentrate, and perhaps help you become better at certain puzzles. But the best thing you can do for your brain is exercise your body and give your brain an optimal environment.

Exercise improves blood flow to all parts of your body, including your brain, and that improves oxygenation and the circulation of vital nutrients required by your brain for energy and function. Exercising your body involves a complex set of actions in the brain, causing neurons to fire all over the place in response, reorganizing and reinforcing the neural networks you already have and making new connections.

An optimal environment for your brain is one free of physical impediments like alcohol or drugs, polluted air, improper amounts of sleep and stress. That's next to impossible, so reduce the impediments you are able to. You need to feed your brain as well as your body with a low fat, high fibre diet. And for me, the occasional chunk of chocolate (that's good for the mental health).

When I was first diagnosed with MS, I asked the doctors about rehab. Was there anything in particular that I could do to get back the right side of my body? Was there anything I could do to not lose it or anything else? The short answer was "No". MS is a disease of the central nervous system; it affects the communication ability of the nerves to and from the rest of the body. Trying to work limbs that wouldn't cooperate was next to useless. So no amount of rehab would help me get back what I had lost. For people with MS, rehab is used to learn how to do things differently.

As it turned out, the type of MS I have is called relapsing remitting. It went into remission and I eventually regained about 97% of what I had lost. The 3% I didn't get back is unnoticeable except to me and my neurologist. I hardly ever notice a deficit and no one else ever does, so I don't think about it much. But at the back of my mind for the past 10 years has been the idea of rehabilitation. It works for many stroke patients; it's a matter of training your brain to make new and/or different connections, to go around the injured area. Wouldn't this somehow work for people with MS? It was and still is a good quesion.

So what does this have to do with cycling you might ask? Besides being an excellent way to exercise your body, cycling has an added benefit for your brain. The simple act of riding your bike requires paying attention to your surroundings, traffic, pedestrians, rocks and mud holes. This mental stimulation while biking is going to help your brain and probably help generate new connections. I suspect the combination of mental stimulation while exercising is what has attracted me to it in the first place.

Did I know all this two years ago when I began cycling? Nope. I just knew that I had finally found an exercise that I loved. Now I know that not only is it good for my body, it's good for my brain. Whether or not there are new connections being made or new cells being generated, cycling is good for me. Just recently the National MS Society in the U.S. awarded a large grant to the University of Northern Carolina for MS research that includes developing an MS-specific curriculum in physical therapy. I can only hope that their research will involve using the brain's plastic ability to overcome some of the disability MS causes. In the meantime, I will exercise my brain by jumping on the bike.

---- "Strange Thing" by: "Marvel"


Like so may things, I'm discovering that "impossible" just means "my doctor is too intellectually crippled to bother finding out."

Luckily for us, there are lots more people out there; so if your doctor is too, uh, "otherwise occupied" by something else, (like getting payment from an HMO who's job, indeed who's justification for existing on this planet, is to "not" give it to 'em,) there are others who might see the connection and help you to make it.

---- "Dont be a stranger" by: "The Whiskey River Band"


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