Monday, June 29, 2015

Smartphone users: Beware of muscle neck ailments

Smartphone users: Beware of muscle neck ailments

Gokul Rajendran,TNN | Jun 29, 2015, 11.24 AM IST
Times of India Trichy

TRICHY: Your mobile phone may be smart, but you must be smarter (and cautious too) when using it, or you face the risk of calling for serious health problems.

Improper use of smartphones is one of the main causes of serious health hazards relating to the neck muscles of a user.

Ever since smartphones became popular, the posture of mobile users has completely changed. The constant users of smartphones are not bothered about bending over onto their device to make the most of the options loaded on their favourite gadget.

The forward bending of neck over the phone for a long time leads to neck muscle strain, forward postural deformities, continuous pain, neck stiffness, migraine, wryneck and back pain. "The smartphone users should make sure that they are not bending their neck more than 20 seconds continuously, otherwise they will have to face numerous problems. Though it may be curable, the people can avoid the complications by looking at the phones at the right angle without straining their muscles," Dr S A Karthikeyan, principal of Government College of Physiotherapy at Trichy, told ToI.

Some physiotherapists warn that prolonged illnesses such as vertebral prolapse and spine damage caused by forward bending may even need surgery to be cured.

"The affected people can feel relaxed after taking pain killers which may not be a permanent cure. If they are diagnosed earlier, it can be even treated with minor strengthening exercise or by wearing neck collar. Otherwise, they may have to undergo surgery," said physiotherapist Dr M Barani Sethu.

The hospitals have also been witnessing more number of patients with muscular bone and joint problems, cervical spondylitis, adhesive capsulitis problems caused by bending of the neck to use the smartphone.

Besides the muscular and bone related problems, the smartphone users are also prone to loss of memory, attention deficiency, delay in reacting to a situation, hearing problems, loss of sperm count, cardiac alignment problems and ringtone phobia, say doctors.

The doctors also raised concern about the width and weight of the phone. The cellphone makers are not bothered about the measurement of the devices, which will affect users, they said.

Neurologist Dr M A Aleem advises people to use small size and light weight phones. "The latest trend of using bigger and heavy phones is not advisable because they strain the hands holding the devices. It will lead to numbness in the long run. The handset should fit the normal expanding position of the hand," said Dr Aleem.

The doctors advise that the problem can be prevented if the smartphone users adjust their holding position to the level of their eyes so that they need not bend over onto the phone.

The constant users of smartphones are not bothered about bending over onto their device to make the most of the options loaded on their favourite gadget.

Friday, June 19, 2015

International Yoga Day 2015 June 21

First International Yoga Day 2015 June 21


Dr M A Aleem MD DM
Consultant Neurologist
ABC Hospital
Tamilnadu India

First I Thank our Prime Minister Narandra Modi for initiating to adopt an International day for our 5000 years old Yoga

Yogis had larger brain volume in the somatosensory cortex, which contains a mental map of our body, the superior parietal cortex, involved in directing attention, and the visual cortex. The hippocampus, a region critical to dampening stress, was also enlarged in practitioners, as were the precuneus and the posterior cingulate cortex, areas key to our concept of self. All these brain areas could be engaged by elements of yoga practice. The yogis dedicated on average about 70 percent of their practice to physical postures, about 20 percent to meditation and 10 percent to breath work, typical of most indian and Western yoga routines.

Yoga can supposedly improve depressive symptoms and immune function, as well as decrease chronic pain, reduce stress, and lower blood pressure.  These claims have all been made by yogis over the years, and it sounds like a lot of new age foolishness. Surprisingly, however, everything in that list is supported by scientific research. 

It may sound like magic that posing like a proud warrior or a crow could have such extensive effects, but it's not magic.  It's neurobiology.  This next statement may sound to you either profound or extremely obvious, but it comes down to this: the things you do and the thoughts you have change the firing patterns and chemical composition of your brain.  Even actions as simple as changing your posture, relaxing the muscles on your face, or slowing your breathing rate, can affect the activity in your brain (beyond, of course, the required activity to make the action).  These changes are often transient, but can be long-lasting, particularly if they entail changing a habit. 

yoga works not because the poses are relaxing, but because they are stressful.  It is your attempts to remain calm during this stress that create yoga's greatest neurobiological benefit.

Your brain tends to react to discomfort and disorientation in an automatic way, by triggering the physiological stress response and activating anxious neural chatter between the prefrontal cortex and the more emotional limbic system.  The stress response itself increases the likelihood of anxious thoughts, like "Oh god, I'm going to pull something," or "I can't hold this pushup any longer".  And in fact, your anxious thoughts themselves further exacerbate the stress response. 

Interestingly, despite all the types of stressful situations a person can be in (standing on your head, running away from a lion, finishing ) the nervous system has just one stress response.  The specific thoughts you have may differ, but the brain regions involved, and the physiological response will be the same.  The physiological stress response means an increase in heart rate, breathing rate, muscle tension and elevation of cortisol and other stress hormones.

The fascinating thing about the mind-body interaction is that it works both ways.  For example, if you're stressed, your muscles will tense (preparing to run away from a lion), and this will lead to more negative thinking.  Relaxing those muscles, particularly the facial muscles, will push the brain in the other direction, away from stress, and toward more relaxed thoughts.  Similarly, under stress, your breathing rate increases.  Slowing down your breathing pushes the brain away from the stress response, and again toward more relaxed thinking.

So how does this all fit together?  As already stated before, the stress response in the nervous system is triggered reflexively by discomfort and disorientation. The twisting of your spine, the lactic acid building up in your straining muscles, the uneasy feeling of being upside down, the inability to breathe, are all different forms of discomfort and disorientation, and tend to lead reflexively to anxious thinking and activation of the stress response in the entire nervous system. However, just because this response is automatic, does not mean it is necessary.  It is, in fact, just a habit of the brain.  One of the main purposes of yoga is to retrain this habit so that your brain stops automatically invoking the stress response

Some people might think that the stress response is an innate reflex and thus can't be changed.  To clarify, the response is partly innate and partly learned in early childhood.  Yes, the stress response comes already downloaded and installed on your early operating system.  However, this tendency is enhanced, by years of reinforcement.  In particular, you absorb how those around you, particularly your parents, react to stressful situations.  Their reactions get wired into your nervous system. However, just because a habit is innate, and then reinforced, does not mean it is immune to change.  Almost any habit can be changed, or at least improved, through repeated action of a new habit.

The poses most people associate with yoga are just a particular way of practicing yoga called the asana practice ("asana" translates to "pose").  The asana practice challenges you in a specific way, but life itself offers plenty of challenges on its own.  Under any stressful circumstance you can attempt the same calming techniques: breathing deeply and slowly, relaxing your facial muscles, clearing your head of anxious thoughts, focusing on the present.  In fact, applying these techniques to real life is what yoga is all about.

Yoga is simply the process of paying attention to the present moment and calming the mind.  Over time you will start to retrain your automatic stress reaction, and replace it with one more conducive to happiness and overall well-being.
I am requesting our PM Modi to declare Yoga as our Indian National Excercise . I am Thanking our Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa for including Yoga in school textbook in Tamilnadu the first state in India did this.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Obesity and Brain

Obesity and Brain

Putting on the pounds not only transforms your belly, but it also alters your brain, a number of studies suggest. These brain changes may, in turn, fuel overeating, leading to a vicious cycle that makes losing weight and keeping it off challenging.

There are five ways obesity changes our the brain they are

1.Obesity causes food 'addiction'

Gaining weight may desensitize the brain to the pleasure we get from sugary and fatty foods , prompting us to eat more cookies and cake than we did when we were leaner, research shows. A similar effect is seen in drug users, who eventually require more cocaine or heroin in order to achieve their original high.

In a study published Sept. 29 in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers scanned the brains of women as they drank a milkshake. They saw the sugary drink activated an area known as the striatum. Half a year later, the researchers repeated the experiment on the same women some of whom had gained some weight. The more weight the women had put on in the interim, the less their brains responded to the milkshake in the second experiment.

Research on animals has also shown rats fed a diet rich in sugar and fats are less sensitive to the pleasure-inducing neurotransmitter dopamine.

2.Obesity may make us more impulsive

In obese children, a region of the brain in charge of controlling impulsively, called the orbitofrontal cortex, appears to be shrunken compared with that of lean children, according to a study presented this year at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry meeting in New York. Moreover, the smaller this brain region was, the more likely the adolescents were to eat impulsively, the researchers said.

While the study did not prove a cause-effect link, it's possible that the children's obesity reduced the size of their orbitofrontal cortex , the researchers said. Obesity is known to cause changes to the immune system, boosting inflammation in the body. This increased inflammation may impact the brain and "lead to a vicious cycle, where the obesity leads to inflammation, which damages certain parts of the brain, which in turn leads to more disinhibited eating and more obesity," said study researcher Dr. Antonio Convit, of the New York University School of Medicine.

3.Obesity raises the risk of dementia

Having more belly fat is associated with a decrease in total brain volume in middle-aged adults, according to a study published in May in the journal Annals of Neurology. It's possible that the extra fat triggers inflammation, which puts stress on the body and perhaps impacts the brain, the researchers said. The finding suggests something particular about belly fat, also known as visceral fat the fat located between organs in the abdominal cavity may play a role in reducing brain size. Visceral fat releases a unique profile of hormones, which may impact the body in a manner different from the hormones released by subcutaneous fat, or fat under the skin, the researchers said.

Previous studies have found that people with smaller brain volumes are at higher risk for dementia, and tend to do poorer on cognitive tests.

4.Yo-yo dieting may prompt binge eating under stress

It's not just putting on weight that alters the brain taking it off does too, studies suggest. Dieting may change how the brain responses to stress , so that the next time we find ourselves in a bind, or just plain frazzled, we eat more, according to a study published Dec. 1 in the Journal of Neuroscience.

In the study, researchers put a group of mice on a diet so that they lost 10 to 15 percent of their body weight. Then, the mice were allowed to put the weight back on, similar to the way human dieters often see the pounds creep back. When the mice were exposed to stressful situations, such as hearing sounds at nighttime, they ate more food than those who had never been placed on a diet.

The mice also had what are known as epigenetic changes changes in the way genes are expressed that don't involve changes in the gene sequences themselves particularly in genes involved in regulating responses to stress. The researchers said these modifications may have altered the animals' eating behavior during stress.

5.Obesity harms memory

Obesity may impair memory, at least for women after menopause. A study published July 14 in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society looked at memory test scores for 8,745 women ages 65 to 79. The researchers found a 1-point increase in an woman's body mass index (BMI) was associated with a 1-point decrease on a 100 point memory test.

Hormones released by fat could impair memory, the researchers said. These hormones can cause inflammation, which may affect cognition.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Parents take the ‘smart’ route to motivate kids

Parents take the ‘smart’ route to motivate kids

TNN | Jun 7, 2015, 03.21AM IST
Times of India Trichy

TRICHY/ CHENNAI: Gone are the days when scoring well in exams earned you a watch, shoes or at the most a bicycle. In the age of latest gizmos, parents promise nothing less than smart phones, tabs and highend bicycles if their children manage to clear the first hurdle of their life with flying colours.

R Manoharan from Trichy bought his son a smart phone when he scored 492 marks in his Class 10 exams. "As a father it is my responsibility to fulfill my son's wishes especially when he has kept his part of the deal and done well in the exam," he said. Needless to say the 15-year-old was enthused and excited about his new gift. "The smart phone is a necessity these days and it is not for showing off but to have the entire world at your fingertip," said Manoharan. Many parents say they have actually been able to encourage their children with the promise of a costly gift.

But psychologists and academicians are not much in favour of the trend. "More than a gadget, parents should ensure that their children have enough relaxation in the post-exam days. They can take them for a vacation or even to some nice picnic spot instead of letting them be holed up in the room with their laptops or smart phones," said former vice-principal of KAPVGMC, Trichy, Dr MA Aleem.

Many councellors say that having a smartphone doesn't ensure more knowledge especially at such a young age. "Children do not know how to use a smart phone for their own good and the gift may end up harming them," said motivational counsellor Paul Guna Loganath, Trichy.

Promise of expensive gifts can also act as distraction as in the case of 15- year- old David D'Souza (name changed) from a state board school in Chennai whose parents promised him a high-speed bike provided he fared well in his board exams. He was in Class 11 and the boy could not focus on his studies. Every time he opened his books, he could only dream of his bike, visualize its colour and make and failed to concentrate on his studies. He had to seek help of a counsellor to bring back his concentration. "The gift, meant to motivate him, ended up being his biggest distraction before exam," says adolescent physician and paediatrician, Dr S Yamuna.

Many parents are of the opinion that smart gifts can be given only if they are used under parental supervision. Sam Daniels, a media personality, gifted his daughter a smart phone after her Class 10 results and even shared the news on his social networking site. "For children a cell phone is a must these days, especially because they go out for tuitions and other classes. I have not activated 3G pack on my daughter's phone and she is allowed to use only the wifi at home. We keep an eye on the sites she browses and she is not allowed to keep the phone switched on at night." Daniels acknowledges that excessive use of gizmos may be detrimental but a costly gift doesn't mean unlimited access and the trick lies in maintaining that balance, he feels.

Psychologists, however, say that expressing emotion, hugging and kissing children for studying, encourage them more to strive harder towards their goals than any latest gadget ever will.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

World Environment Day 2015 June 5 Theme : sustainable lifestyles.

World Environment Day 2015 June 5 Theme : sustainable lifestyles.

Every year, the United Nations Environment Program honors World Environment Day on June 5 to raise awareness about environmental issues and call for action.

The UN Environment Program just announced the theme of this year’s event: sustainable lifestyles.

The topic is a particularly powerful one, because there’s room for everyone to take a moment to question how we live and how it impacts the planet. The theme asks everyone to evaluate our consumer habits: how we shop, eat and travel.

The UN Environment Programme says creating more sustainable lifestyles is crucial.

By 2050, if current consumption and production patterns remain the same and with a rising population expected to reach 9.6 billion, we will need three planets to sustain our way of life. Living well within planetary boundaries is the most promising strategy for ensuring a healthy future.