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JULY 2019
Last Day Lagniappe
Why Your Brain Wants to Take a Break in the Afternoon...
Most of us are familiar with the energy drain that sets in around 2:00 p.m. or so. Whether you call it a lunch coma or the midday blues, it’s a brain zapping dullness that leaves you staring blankly at your monitor and thinking an afternoon run to Starbucks might not be a bad idea.

new study  gives us another way to explain the drain, and it’s all about rewards ...
specifically, the brain’s focus on seeking rewards, which fuels our  motivation , goes on
hiatus around midday.

First, it helps to understand what is meant by “rewards” in this context. You could say our reason for getting up in the morning, going to work, taking on the challenges of the day, and everything else we do is all about rewards – what we seek to accomplish, earn, learn, achieve, influence, etc. The brain is structured to focus on rewards of all sorts, almost all the time. But as this study shows, the time pattern of reward seeking ebbs and flows as the day unfolds.

The researchers used fMRI to scan the brains of a small group of volunteers at three points during the day (10 a.m., 2 p.m., and 7 p.m.), focusing on their brains’ reward systems. They found that activation in a brain area called the left putamen was highest early and late in the day and lowest in the early afternoon. The left putamen plays a big role in the processing and expectation of rewards, and this study reveals that its mojo peaks in the morning and early evening and dips around 2 p.m.

The researchers think what’s happening is the brain experiences a “prediction error” about when to expect rewards. The lowest expectation is early and late in the day, so energy to seek out rewards is higher. (One way to look at this is if you don’t expect something is coming, you expend more energy to get it.) Reward expectation peaks around midday, hence the slog. The upside is that prediction error periods serve an important purpose: We tend to learn and accomplish more during those times because of the misalignment of expectations and rewards—just one of the many paradoxes embodied in our noggins.

That explanation is speculative at this point, but the feeling is certainly familiar. Add a
drop in blood sugar after a big lunch and a  caffeine  crash after three cups of coffee in the
morning, and it’s easy to see why midday isn’t the best time to dive into that big project
you really need to ace.
Lost & Found: What Brain Injury Survivors Want You to Know

Often times, it is hard to recognize that someone had a brain injury. If you do not have an understanding of brain injuries, a loved one's actions may be confusing and difficult to comprehend.

Here are things that brain injury survivors want people to understand:

  • I need a lot more rest than I used to. I’m not being lazy.

  • My stamina fluctuates, even though I may look good or “all better” on the outside.

  • Brain Injury rehabilitation takes a very long time; it is usually measured in years.

  • I am not being difficult if I resist social situations.

  • If there is more than one person talking, I may seem uninterested in the conversation.

  • If we are talking, and I tell you that I need to stop, I need to stop NOW!

  • Try to notice the circumstances if a behavior problem arises. 

  • Patience is the best gift you can give me.

  • Please don’t be condescending or talk to me like I am a child.

Autonomic Dysreflexia
Autonomic Dysreflexia (AD) is a condition that is specific to people with a spinal cord injury (SCI). Any person who has an injury in the cervical spine or the thoracic spine at or above T6 is at risk for developing AD. This is a life-threatening medical emergency, so you and your family should be familiar with the symptoms, causes, and treatment.

What Happens?
AD occurs when there is some kind of irritation or problem with your bodily functions below the level of your injury. You nerves attempt to send signals to your brain to alert you that something is wrong.

However, due to your SCI, these messages are blocked from reaching your brain. So, special nerves that work automatically cause the blood vessels below your level of injury to constrict or narrow. This results in a rapid increase in your blood pressure.
Your brain can detect the increase in your blood pressure, so it tries decrease your blood pressure by decreasing your heart rate, causing the blood vessels above the level of injury to relax and open wider (this may cause your face and neck to become red and blotchy). Your brain also attempts to send messages below the level of injury to stop squeezing your blood vessels closed. Unfortunately, because the messages do not travel correctly through the spinal cord, your blood pressure may continue to rise. If left untreated, this may lead to stroke, seizure, or death.

On July 10th, Moreau Physical Therapy hosted a Connections Circle event in Lafayette where attendees learned about the therapeutic benefits of art from BJ Smith with the Brain Art Alliance. BJ demonstrated a pouring art technique, and all attendees left with big smiles, new friends, and their own masterpiece.
Ms. Wheelchair Louisiana 2020 competition will be held on November 2, 2019 at Baton Rouge Rehab Hospital. This program is about advocacy and education. If you are interested in participating or for more information, visit www.biala.org or send an email to: kim@biala.org
Thank you to NuMotion Foundation for sponsoring our event.

MARCH 27-28, 2020

Sign up for “Ready, Relax, Eat”
A New Program for Caregivers Launching in Fall 2019

A loved one’s brain injury or spinal cord injury has a ripple effect on the entire family. While the role of caregiving can be rewarding, it  can also be challenging, and sometimes caregivers simply need someone to lean on.

We have  spent months meeting with caregivers to determine some of their most pressing needs. One of the primary desires they often cite is respite – a break from caregiving duties – including relief from meal preparation.

That’s why BIALA has created “Ready, Relax, Eat” to give caregivers a respite from meal preparation periodically from month to month. We will launch this in the fall as a pilot project in the greater New Orleans area, then expand to other areas of the state as funding permits.
CONNECTIONS CIRCLE program will offer a FREE enrichment and social event for individuals with spinal cord injuries/disorders. Bert Burns, with UroStat Healthcare, will be hosting a talk on urology and sharing his inspirational story followed by a fun afternoon of BOWLING!

3:30 - 6:00 PM


To register or for more information, email: kim@biala.org.
Motivational Moment
“It is often in the darkest skies that we see the brightest stars."
-Richard Evans
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