Managing Stress
Through Biofeedback


By Marianne P. LiBretto, L.M.H.C.


4 WAYS TO
ZAP STRESS


1. Do deep diaphragmatic breathing. This resets the brain into thinking the assault is over and the body system can return to a normal, regulated state.

2. Be aware of muscle tension in your face, jaw, and neck. Harboring tension in these areas can cause migraines, tension headaches or even chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia.

3. Watch heart rate and blood pressure. Relatively new in biofeedback is heart rhythm coherence. Research has shown a distinct correlation between positive emotions and increased coherence in heart rhythm patterns. The echnology uses pulse wave sensors to help the patient develop a greater awareness of their emotional responses to stress and everyday living.

4. Try short-term biofeedback
therapy.

—LiBretto
We all yearn for a “magic bullet” to manage stress, and the 40-something generation is no exception — juggling responsibilities around jobs, spouses, children, and even aging parents. For them, the “magic bullet” may lie in biofeedback training. An alternative therapy, it’s been used since the 60’s, but not familiar to all since it often doesn’t garner the same media attention that modalities such as acupuncture or massage therapy do.

Simply stated, biofeedback is a treatment technique that helps people become more aware and learn to control specific physiological processes. By feeding back physiological responses such as muscle tension, skin sweat, and skin temperature, via sensors attached to various parts of the body and monitoring the computer screen, a person can learn to self-regulate at will — thus changing habitual emotional and physical reactions to stressors that can cause disease or even pain. Further, health compromising habits such as smoking, drinking, and excessive eating, and other conditions such as migraine/tension headaches, hypertension, digestive disorders, asthma, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, urinary incontinence, infertility, Raynaud’s disease, and chronic pain whose symptoms may be exacerbated by stress, can be alleviated or even eliminated with biofeedback therapy. In addition to the actual therapy, home practice of the skills helps to make the changes “stick.”

Another type of biofeedback — neurofeedback, or “brain training,” uses EEG signal feedback to exercise the brain by using computer games. Cognitive functioning, memory, attention conditions such as ADHD can significantly improve through the use of this “brain gym” technique.

The versatility and acceleration of the technology and its applications is truly mindboggling. Perhaps in years to come, biofeedback training will become the norm and every home will have at least one software program installed on their home computer to help foster health and wellness.

Marianne LiBretto is a licensed counselor and medically-trained biofeedback specialist at Westbury Wellness Center. She is past president of the Biofeedback Society of New York.








Tinnitus
What’s The Buzz All About?

By Craig A. Kasper, Au.D., FAAA

NOISE
MANAGEMENT

If you are affected by tinnitus, consider this advice:

• Undergo a complete medical evaluation by a qualified physician and a comprehensive hearing evaluation by a licensed audiologist who specializes in tinnitus.

• Knowledge is power. Gather information from reliable professionals and resources.

• Consider formal tinnitus management treatments.

• Relax. Stress plays a significant role in how much tinnitus affects you. Take some time to unwind through exercise, yoga, meditation or gardening.

• Don’t be afraid to seek help. Speak with an experienced clinician who can guide you back on the path to a more peaceful and productive life.

—Kasper

If you experience ringing, buzzing or hissing in your ears, you’re not alone. Known as tinnitus (tin-ih-tus), more than 50 million people in the U.S. are affected by these phantom sounds.

For most, tinnitus is merely a passing nuisance noticeable after a loud concert or during quiet times. But for approximately 3 percent of the population, it significantly compromises their overall wellness, and some actually contemplate taking their own lives to escape the noise.

There are numerous causes of tinnitus ranging in severity from wax in the ears to more serious conditions such as neurological disorders. In the majority of cases it’s believed that tinnitus is initiated by damage to the inner ear sensorycells responsible for transmission of sound. Oftentimes this damage is the result of recreational noise exposure, certain medications or the aging process.

Although perceived as sounds coming from the ears, brain imaging studies have demonstrated that it has more to do with changes that occur in the areas of the brain that process sound. The neural hearing regions actually rearrange themselves as a result of decreased information flow from the malfunctioning inner ear cells.

Why is tinnitus a problem for some while others seem to be able to ignore it? The answer lies
in the brain once again. For those more seriously affected by their tinnitus, scientists have shown increased activity in the emotional centers of the brain. It is the emotional “fight or flight” reaction to tinnitus that ultimately makes it bothersome.

For years, healthcare practitioners have offered no hope to patients with tinnitus, telling them they “should just learn to live with it.” However, there are numerous ways to reduce the effects of invasive tinnitus including the use of hearing instruments, Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) and a relatively new medical device that was developed in Australia called Neuromonics.

Craig A. Kasper, Au.D., FAAA is the Founder and Director of Bluerock Hearing Health and the Center for Tinnitus Management in East Hills.




Breast Cancer:
Not Just a Woman’s Disease


By Anne Green, M.D.

4
Telltale
Signs


1. Breast lump or swelling
2. Skin dimpling or puckering
3. Nipple retraction (pulling inward)
4. Redness or scaling of the breast or skin around the nipple or nipple discharge.

If a breast lump is detected,
contact your physician. If necessary, you will be sent for a diagnostic mammogram and possible ltrasound. If there is a suspicious finding then a biopsy will be performed. Based on the individual case a fine needle biopsy, a core biopsy or a surgical biopsy for definitive diagnosis will be performed. Other studies that may be ordered to look for spread of cancer are: a chest X-ray, bone scan, CT scan, MRI or PET scan.

—Green
Male breast cancer is rare. About 99 percent of all breast cancers occur in women. However, men who are diagnosed with breast cancer, as well as their families will be profoundly affected. According to the American Cancer Society, in 2007 there will be approximately 2,030 new cases of invasive breast cancer in men and about 450 will die. When compared to women, men have the same survival rate in each stage of the disease.

There are several risk factors associated with male breast cancer. Aging is one. Having family members (male or female) with breast cancer especially with the BRCA 2 gene mutation also increases risk. Other risk factors include: prior radiation to the chest (like with Hodgkin’s lymphoma), chronic liver disease or genetic conditions such as Kleinfelters.

Early detection and early treatment is the key to improving survival rates. Unfortunately, many men ignore breast lumps until they become large, because they don’t think men can get breast cancer, or they are embarrassed. This leads to breast cancer in men being diagnosed at a more advanced stage. Since breast cancer is more common in women and women are more aware of the disease, they often seek treatment earlier than men.

Most men diagnosed with breast cancer will have a mastectomy as a surgical treatment because of the small amount of male breast tissue. Lymph nodes will be evaluated. Men may also undergo radiation therapy or chemotherapy depending on the type and stage of cancer.

Although breast cancer is rare in men, it can occur. Therefore, it’s important for men to contact their physician
immediately if they notice changes in their breasts. Early detection is key to diagnosis and improved survival.

Anne Green, M.D. is the Medical Director of the Breast Imaging Center at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center, West Islip.




Reclaiming Your Vision


By Mo Fouladvand, M.D.

NovaVision
VRT™

Treatment
Centers


By maintaining control over specific risk factors, you can minimize the risk of stroke. Here are some tips to follow.

*Maintain normal blood pressure. In the elderly it has been shown that systolic blood pressure elevation is the most important risk predictor for stroke.

*Stop smoking. Nicotine and carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke damage the cardiovascular system and raise the risk of stroke and heart attack.

*Maintain normal blood sugars. Diabetes is an independent risk factor for stroke.

*Have your carotid arteries checked. The carotid arteries in your neck supply blood to your brain. A carotid artery narrowed by atherosclerosis may become interrupt blood flow leading to a stroke.

—Perkins
A stroke or brain injury can leave a person with significant neurological damage, often impacting essential functions such as speech, mobility and vision. Physical and speech therapy have been the standard methods for rehabilitation for years, but up until recently, there was nothing for restoring vision. Millions of Americans have lost their ability to read, write, drive, watch TV or move around comfortably, greatly jeopardizing their independence. But now there’s good news: an FDAcleared medical treatment, NovaVision VRT™ Vision Restoration Therapy, offers hope of restoring lost vision — without surgery or pharmaceuticals.

For years, the medical community believed the brain was hardwired” and that damage to neurons was permanent. However, research in neuroplasticity shows the opposite, that the brain can train itself to regain lost function by stimulating specific neurons in a pattern over a period of time. This research was published in highly-respected medical journals by leading neurosurgeons and euroopthalmologists. NovaVision VRT is based on this science.

NovaVision VRT is a rehabilitative therapy customized for each patient. Before beginning treatment, patients undergo an initial diagnostic to determine the specifics of their visual field deficits. After the results are analyzed, patients receive their own device (which appears like a computer screen) that can be used in their home. To achieve maximum results, users should be diligent about their therapy, undergoing two, 20-minute sessions daily. Every four weeks for six months, patients receive a more advanced version of the program, designed to correlate with their progress.

Clinical results reported at the 2007 American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting demonstrated that more than 70 percent of trial participants showed improved vision after six months of therapy.

Mo Fouladvand, M.D., Neuroophthalmologist and Assistant Professor of Neurology and Ophthalmology at NYU medical center and NYU School of Medicine, specializes in evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of neurological and systemic disorders that affect the eye, brain or both.
Copyright © 2007 Island Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.