Dealing With Concussions

Hicks kids and Dan 044Neuropsychologists (sometimes referred to as neuro-scientists), have studied the effects of concussions for many years. Anything new? Yes, recent findings highlight a couple of significant factors:

The first is that concussion effects may linger for a long time after symptoms of dizziness and headaches have disappeared.  One small study found brain changes up to year after even mild concussions. This does not surprise me. We often found that when some children had been cleared after medical examination, academic skills such as spelling and problems with concentration continued for many months. Recent studies, although small and needing replication, support our past observations in clinical practice.

The second factor is that mental exertion following a concussion could worsen the effects of the concussion. This flies in the face of advice to limit physical contact but to use that time to study and maintain school progress. This new finding makes good sense. An analogy would be a sprained ankle where stressing the ankle would make things worse. These youngsters,especially students between the ages of 12 and 15, may have problems with concentration long after the effects of their concussion  have supposedly disappeared.

This makes me wonder about electronic games, texting, and Internet work that requires switching from one task to another and maintaining high levels of concentration. Just telling the postconcussion child to take it easy and play video games may not the in the child’s best interest, although more research is necessary .

Parents need to be aware of these possibilities and resist intense academic work and perhaps even video games and other digital communication systems until all symptoms have truly dissipated. Maybe this is one time that watching TV is better than studying.


Did John Wayne need Viagra? Nope.

monk cover and civil war 156 To tell you the truth, I don’t know much about how John Wayne functioned, but he certainly was the epitome of masculinity. When he walked into a room people knew they were up against a strong, confident, male — make that cowboy. I remember when he went to Harvard to lecture students while carrying a wooden rifle. Yes, no one associated him with sissy dudes like Roy Rogers and Gene Autry.

In The Digital Pandemic, reestablishing face-to-face contact in the electronic age, I wrote at length about the importance of nonverbal communications.  Facial expressions and how a person stands, sits, or moves can sometimes convey more information than the spoken word. We send hundreds of nonverbal communications. each day, but we may be unaware of their impact because they become habitual ways of functioning.

But how someone sits and stands apparently can affect hormones and behavior. Physical posing can reduce symptoms of stress and increase testosterone. And with an increase in testosterone we get more aggressive behavior and more risk-taking. Does this spark of testosterone reach into the bedroom?

Pilot studies suggest that people have high and low body-power language. Sue Shellenbarger pulls together some of the current research in an article in The Wall Street Journal, Wednesday, August 21, 2013.

Sp spread your legs and lean forward, men. Masculine posing may be man’s last stand against the feminization of the John Wayne’s of our world.


Why The Increase in ADHD?

107_0798In the last six years the rate of diagnosis of ADHD has jumped 15% according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What are some of the possible factors behind this increase in ADHD symptoms?

Over diagnosis is certainly a possibility, although the criteria for diagnosing the behavior associated with ADHD have not changed.

The second possibility is pressure from parents and teachers to have the child take the “magic pill,” and hopefully do better in school. Remember, Ivy League college scholarships are worth over $200,000 for four years.

Another factor is that children with ADHD do better when they play outside on grass. They do better than indoors, but also better than outdoors on concrete. Times have indeed changed. Children are spending half as much time outdoors as they were before 1992 and 8-18 year old kids spend 7 hours and 38 minutes using entertainment media in a typical day, not Including computer time for schoolwork. Only 6% of kids even play outside on their own. Most of them are in daycare or school and come home only for a snack and bedtime. School and city playgrounds are deemed unsafe, mainly because of the fear of lawsuits. (Continue with answers)