Category Archives: Neuroscience

The Beaumont Blog Has Moved!


beaumont blog has moved

The Beaumont Health System blog has moved to a new address: We’ll continue to publish the articles you’ve come to enjoy, along with new and improved features and content throughout the months.

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3-year-old making remarkable progress; draws strength from family

AzariaAzaria came into the world on Halloween in 2010. Maurice and Mayna, Azaria’s biological aunt and uncle, have cared for her since her birth, providing a loving home and seeing to the little girl’s every need. Her name means “helped by God.”

“She has been a blessing to our home and we can’t imagine life without her,” Mayna says.

But, Azaria’s early years have not been without complications.

Just weeks after her birth, she was diagnosed with bronchopulmonary dysplasia, a serious lung condition. A few weeks later, at two months of age, Azaria was diagnosed with an extremely rare 5q11 chromosomal translocation and familial adenomatous polyposis, a hereditary disease associated with the development of colon cancer. At age 1, doctors diagnosed her with chronic lung disease and at age 2, a seizure disorder.

This combination of diagnoses caused severe developmental delays and left Azaria unable to interact with her parents.

While life hasn’t always been easy, her parents are pleased to report Azaria is making remarkable progress with the help of her Beaumont Children’s Hospital doctors.

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When to be concerned about headaches in children

by Elizabeth Leleszi, M.D., pediatric neurologist, medical director of the Beaumont Children’s Hospital Headache Center

It’s one of the statements a parent never wants to hear from a child: “Mom, I have a headache.” What should you do when a headache strikes?

headache_center_lelesziHeadaches are a common source of complaints for children. At the Beaumont Children’s Hospital Headache Center, parents and caregivers tells us that many questions race through their minds when their child complains of a headache. They wonder how best to treat them and worry that something could seriously be wrong.

At what point does my child’s headache warrant a trip to the doctor? Could it be a brain tumor? How much is too much pain medication? And am I using it too frequently? What can I do to treat my child’s headache at home?

You should consider seeing your child’s doctor if the headache:

  • starts after your child hits his or her head
  • awakens your child from sleep at night
  • is accompanied by a high fever (greater than 100.4 F) and other signs of infection, such as a stiff neck, vomiting, difficulty with walking, changes in vision or confusion

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26-year-old NHL star has a stroke; shines light on symptoms in young adults

by Sunitha Santhakumar, M.D., stroke program director, Beaumont, Royal Oak

(Photo via AP)

(Photo via AP)

It was revealed last week that Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang suffered a stroke and will be out for at least six weeks. While his doctors don’t believe that this stroke will be career-threatening, the diagnosis still came as a shock to the 26-year-old Letang.

What is even more shocking is that stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Stroke has traditionally been considered a disease of elderly, but the incidence of stroke has been rising in the younger population. The risk if stroke in young adults less than age 45 is about 1 in 10,000.

High blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease are causes off stroke at any age but specific stroke risk factors are seen in children and young adults, including cardiac abnormalities like heart valve defects, clotting disorders and use of oral contraceptives.

Letang’s stroke diagnosis came after he developed an episode of dizziness and nausea. It was also reported that Letang’s tests showed a pre-existing heart defect, called Patent Foramen Ovale or PFO, that had gone undetected. About one in four adults are noted to have a PFO, usually present since birth. PFO is a rare cause of stroke and majority of the people never have any symptoms. It is not clear if PFO is the cause or only an association.

Young people should not ignore the signs and symptoms of stroke, even though many think that a stroke can only happen to the elderly.  Therefore, education of stroke risk factors is very important. If someone is experiencing symptoms of stroke, call 9-1-1 and come to the emergency room for immediate treatment.

According to a quote on, Letang said he hopes that making his condition public, he can help others to seek medical help if they experience the symptoms associated with a stroke regardless of their age or general health.

This information is for educational purposes only. Dr. Santhakumar has no first-hand knowledge of Letang’s case.
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Tips for Avoiding Holiday Headaches

by Esther Young, D.O., Beaumont neurologist

Avoid holiday headachesThe holidays are supposed to be fun and relaxed, so why do so many people complain of increased headaches? Although the actual holidays can be joyous, preparing for them can take a toll on a lot of people. The planning and organizing, shopping and buying, cleaning and preparing, can take a lot out of you.

The stress can cause an increase in muscle tension. Headaches have many triggers. Some of the most common can be lack of sleep and increased stress. All headache types can trigger each other. It is not uncommon for increased neck muscle tension to trigger a migraine. If we realize these simple triggers and can better prepare for them, we may be able to prevent the headaches in the first place.

Since preparing for the holidays takes time, being one step ahead of the game may eliminate some the tension. Try these tips to avoid holiday-associated headaches:

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Living with Alzheimer’s: A Caregiver’s Perspective

During the month of November, which serves as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, Beaumont will publish a three-part series on Alzheimer’s and its impact on the patient as well as caregivers and the family. Many diseases affect the patient and their family, but few take as emotional a toll as Alzheimer’s.

Read Part One and Part Two of Understanding the Impact of Alzheimer’s.


The world is full of information on Alzheimer’s disease that focuses on the patient, but it’s more difficult for caregivers to find help for themselves. It’s the loved ones trying to navigate this debilitating disease and its effect on their parents, relatives or friends that have the most difficult time learning about their options and getting advice on how to deal with their situation emotionally and financially.

Initial Caregiver Information and Support

One of the first steps for caregivers dealing with Alzheimer’s is to reach out to professionals for information and support. A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s can be overwhelming and caregivers often feel alone with the burden. Research shows that caregivers suffer increased risk of depression and illness, especially if they don’t get adequate support themselves.

The Area Agency on Aging 1-B has a number of resources for caregivers, including an information and assistance line at 1-800-852-7795. They have a number of locations in Michigan, with the central office located in Southfield. The Area Agency on Aging provides a wealth of resources and information and thousands of resources for caregivers and their ailing loved ones, while also helping to advocate on issues concerning older adults, people with disabilities and family caregivers.

The Alzheimer’s Association has a website dedicated to caregivers along with a 24-hour helpline at 1-800-272-3900. Their mission is not only to eliminate Alzheimer’s through research, but to provide and enhance care and support for those affected, which includes caregivers. The Alzheimer’s Association has a number of chapters in Michigan, including one in Southfield.  They also have a brand new blog dedicated to caregivers of patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s with helpful posts like how to navigate the holidays with loved ones.

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How to Handle a Seizure | Epilepsy Awareness Month

by Sue Turner, Epilepsy Program Coordinator

Epilepsy Awareness MonthNovember is Epilepsy Awareness Month. It is estimated that 65 million adults and children worldwide have epilepsy and that number continues to grow.

Beaumont is dedicated to its multidisciplinary approach to the disease. Developing a plan of care for the patient is the first step, but providing the patient and his or her family the proper resources to adjust and cope with epilepsy is among the many aspects of our program.

It is important to get educated about epilepsy. There are many different types of seizures and having a seizure does not necessarily mean an epilepsy diagnosis. Epilepsy is generally diagnosed after two or more unprovoked seizures. For many, the idea of being present during seizure may be scary, but if you follow the steps below you may be helpful in keeping someone safe.

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Alzheimer’s: Warning signs, treatment and support

During the month of November, which serves as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, Beaumont will publish a three-part series on Alzheimer’s and its impact on the patient as well as caregivers and the family. Many diseases affect the patient and their family, but few take as emotional a toll as Alzheimer’s. Read part one in the series: Understanding the Impact of Alzheimer’s.

It’s estimated that by 2050 nearly 14 million people will suffer from Alzheimer’s, putting an emotional and economic toll on patients and caregivers. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s and there’s no way to reverse its effects, but with early diagnosis and proper treatment and medication, it is possible to slow the damage done by the disease. It’s important to read the warning signs and seek out treatment and support to fight Alzheimer’s early on.

Alzheimer's warning signsSymptoms of Alzheimer’s can be subtle, but over time they get worse. Common warning signs of Alzheimer’s include:

  • Frequently forgetting newly learned information
  • Difficulty concentrating and resolving problems
  • Difficulty doing things they’ve always known, like operating electronics or navigating directions
  • Obvious confusion about dates, time of day or even year
  • Problems recognizing colors
  • Problems reading
  • Difficulty with speech or communication
  • Becoming suddenly careless with finances or personal hygiene
  • Emotional outbursts or inappropriate reactions in certain situations

A doctor can perform tests to determine mental status and check for warning signs and symptoms. A physical exam, coupled with a neurological exam, MRI scan of the brain or PET scan can also help determine if Alzheimer’s is present and how advanced the disease might be.

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Understanding the Impact of Alzheimer’s

During the month of November, which serves as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, Beaumont will publish a three-part series on Alzheimer’s and its impact on the patient as well as caregivers and the family. Many diseases affect the patient and their family, but few take as emotional a toll as Alzheimer’s.

understanding_alzheimersA recent study by the Alzheimer’s Association found that 1-in-3 seniors who die suffer from Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Rates of death related to Alzheimer’s disease rose 68% from 2000-2010, with the Alzheimer’s Association estimating that by 2050 nearly 14 million people will suffer from the disease. Alzheimer’s affects the patient but it also affects families, both emotionally and financially. In 2012, it’s estimated that 15 million Alzheimer’s caregivers provided more than 17 billion hours of unpaid care worth around $216 billion.

Alzheimer’s is a slow-moving neuro-degenerative disease where the nerve cells in the brain progressively die. While it results in impaired memory, thinking and behavior, confusion, language deterioration and emotional apathy, it doesn’t always affect motor function, sometimes stealing the patient’s mind but preserving the body. There is no cure and no way of reversing its effects.

Many caregivers of loved ones with Alzheimer’s feel alone and lost. Their loved ones don’t act like themselves anymore and due to cognitive degeneration, Alzheimer’s patients require near-constant care and supervision. There are many resources available to care givers, including plans based on the stage of the disease and support from professionals who can assist with day to day care as well as financial and legal planning, but caregivers need to be empowered to ask for help.

Check back for the next two installments of our blog series. Part Two of Understanding the Impact of Alzheimer’s will focus on warning signs, treatment and support for Alzheimer’s, while Part Three will look at living with Alzheimer’s from a caregiver’s perspective.

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Extra sleep on weekend doesn’t make up for sleep lost during the week

by Gary Trock, M.D., Beaumont sleep expert

A recent study, published in the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, found that sleeping in on the weekends doesn’t fix all the deficits caused by sleep lost during the work week. In other words, there is no such thing as making up for lost sleep.

Lost sleepAccording to the study, “Two nights of extended recovery sleep may not be sufficient to overcome behavioral alertness deficits resulting from mild sleep restriction. This may have important implications for people with safety-critical professions, such as health-care workers, as well as transportation system employees (drivers, pilots, etc.).”

How sleep deprivation affects the body

  • Sleep deprivation can result in hormonal, brain, neuromuscular and cardiovascular function.
  • Sleep deprivation may contribute to obesity, insulin resistance or diabetes, and hyperlipidemia by affecting Leptin, Ghrelin and glucose metabolism.
  • Sleep deprivation may affect learning and memory. It may cause or contribute to anxiety or depression and may hasten cognitive decline in the elderly.
  • Sleep deprivation may cause or contribute to hypertension, cardiovascular disease and peripheral vascular disease.
  • Sleep deprivation may affect neuromuscular development and athletic performance.

Sleeping habits to help you get the most out of your zzzs

If an individual is sleep deprived 5 days per week, sleeping longer on weekends will not reverse these potential detrimental effects. So, what sleeping habits can help you get the most out of your zzzs?

  • Have a consistent sleep routine. An adult should get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Toddlers and preteens require 10 – 12 hours. Teenagers 8 – 10 hours.
  • The bedtime and arousal time should not vary by more than one hour on weekends, compared to week days.
  • The sleep room should be used for sleep and sex. Computer work, texting, TV, homework or occupational work should not be done in the room.
  • Drunk sleep isn’t good sleep. Alcohol may hasten sleep onset, but fragments sleep, and results in poor sleep quality. Alcohol should not be consumed less than two hours before bed.
  • Chronic alcoholism, even if recovering, may permanently disrupt sleep.
  • Caffeine should be avoided after 3 p.m. if sleep onset insomnia is an issue.
  • If one cannot fall asleep on a given night, he/she should go to another room after 30 minutes, perform a non-stimulating activity, then return to the sleep room.
  • Lying in bed awake for hours and clock watching are counterproductive to good sleep.
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