Is drug addiction a disease?

Drug addiction is one of the biggest health problems in the world today. Governments around the world are spending billions of dollars in their fight against illegal substances, even penalizing those who have grown dependent on prohibited drugs But should drug addiction be treated as a criminal offense or as a disease?

Each country has its own way of tackling its problem on drug addiction. Governments that criminalize and penalize drug addicts often do not fix the underlying condition that leads to addiction. However, there are countries where drug consumption is not a crime but is considered a disease. And in these countries, it is the drug traffickers who are penalized.

Substance abuse should be considered and treated as a chronic disease as it can change the way the brain functions long after the person stops taking illegal drugs. And chronic diseases cannot simply be cured, but it can be controlled through intensive treatments, aftercare, monitoring, and support from loved ones throughout the recovery stage.

While people choose to take substances, how their brain responds is beyond their control. Regardless if they took illegal substances or prescription drugs, people with addiction should seek treatment as soon as possible to increase their chances of safely recovering from this disease.

Dr. Curtis Cripe is a neuroengineer with a diverse multidisciplinary background that includes software development, bioengineering, addiction recovery, psychophysiology, psychology, brain injury, and child neurodevelopment. For more reads like this, visit this page.

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Cognitive disorders: How disruptive are they?

Cognitive disorders are defined as mental health disorders that affect a person’s cognitive abilities. These include reading, learning, memory, perception, and problem-solving skills. Depending on the type and severity of one’s cognitive disorder, they could find coping with their condition rather difficult. Just how disruptive are cognitive disorders?

There are two classifications of cognitive disorders namely delirium and mild and major neurocognitive disorders. Delirium can develop rapidly in a short span of time and manifests itself in the form of confusion, excitement, disorientation, and impairment of one’s consciousness. Mild and major neurocognitive disorders, on the other hand, develop over time and are usually associated with age. But not every neurocognitive disorder manifests with old age.

Alzheimer’s is the leading and most known mild cognitive impairment with symptoms ranging from memory loss, confusion, problems speaking, and difficulty completing simple tasks. It’s most known to develop in older patients.

However, cognitive disorders like Huntington’s disease may be diagnosed at an earlier age. It has physically disruptive symptoms such as involuntary jerking, rigidity or muscle contractions, slow eye movement. Huntington’s disease is considered lethal in its final stage 15 to 20 years after being diagnosed. Usual causes of death include heart failure, pneumonia, lung failure, or infection.

It is very difficult to cope with cognitive disorders as they make the simplest tasks challenging. Depending on the disease, one could have difficulty moving their bodies or comprehending the world around them.

Dr. Curtis Cripe is a neuroengineer with a background that includes child neurodevelopment, among other disciplines. He is also the head of the Research and Development Department of the NTL Group. For more information on Dr. Cripe and his work, visit this blog.

Important breakthroughs in treating addiction.

2018-09-12_0204Scientists and healthcare providers have made much headway in treating addiction and substance abuse disorders, developing research-based methods to help people stop using those drugs and lead productive lives in full recovery. Here are some advances and breakthroughs made in this important area of healthcare.

Individualized care
This critical aspect of long-term addiction recovery has had fairly high success rates. The old ways dictate putting patients through the same treatment protocol to manage time and costs, but individualized care aims to get better at the root cause of the addiction through various therapies using a personalized treatment plan.

Predisposition to drug addiction
Scientists have studied certain changes in brain chemistry that have been tied to drug addiction. Cambridge researchers, for instance, demonstrated that changes in a neurotransmitter reception in a specific part of the brain actually pre-dates drug use. Changes in dopamine receptors and impulsivit

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y have been shown to pre-date drug use, not emerging as a result of prolonged addiction.

Medication and detoxification
Medication is usually the first line of treatment in combination with behavioral therapy or counseling. This is used to help patients detoxify from drugs, although detoxification alone without subsequent treatment isn’t enough and is likely to lead to relapse. These are tailored to address every person’s drug use patterns and drug-related medical, social, and mental issues.

One-on-one psychotherapy
This typically occurs at least three days a week in residential treatment and twice a week for the initial year of sobriety. The goal is to analyze and overcome the psychological causes of addiction, examining the trigger for drug or alcohol use.

Dr. Curtis Cripe is a neuroengineer with diverse multidisciplinary background. He currently heads the Research and Development Division of NTL Group, for advanced technology for brain and cognitive repair. Read more about addiction treatment on this page.

How sleep benefits the brain

It’s astounding how many adults take sleep for granted. For whatever reason, a lot of people seem to allot minimal amount of time for getting those much-needed z’s. And this is a huge mistake. Physicians and scientists have time and again pressed on the significance of sleep. Sleep is when the body heals itself. And it has been found that the quality and time spent in peaceful slumber has a positive effect on the brain.

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Probably one of the most significant effects of getting a good night’s rest is the delay of the onset of brain dysfunctions and psychiatric disorders such as Alzheimer’s. In a study done by researchers at Harvard Medical School, sleep problems such as insomnia are no longer simple symptoms of psychiatric disorders, rather, they are believed to be serious risk factors in the emergence of mental disorders.

Researchers have also used neuroimagery and neurochemistry to observe just how sleep strengthens the brain itself. Scientists compare the brain to human muscles that work out almost nonstop the entire day, with sleep as its ultimate period of relaxation. It has also been observed that the likelihood of the appearance of beta-amyloid, a toxic protein in the brain, increases in sleep-deprived individuals. This protein has been known to contribute to mental disorders and decreased brain function.

Getting enough sleep helps the brain retain memories longer and facilitates long-term learning. The amygdala is another part of the brain that benefits from sleep. It is the part that oversees decision-making and emotions.

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Dr. Curtis Cripe has a diverse background in neuroengineering, aerospace engineering, psychology, psychophysiology, software development and programming, addiction recovery, brain injury, and child neurodevelopment. Learn more about neurological diseases here.

Causes Of Neurodevelopmental Delay In Children

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Neurodevelopmental delays refer to the delays among children in reaching certain growth milestones. These include motor, thinking, and language skills which should manifest at a particular stage. While these delays are often temporary, others can lead to issues later on.

Scientists and doctors usually treat these delays as rooted in a variety of factors, primarily complications due to pregnancy, such as an infection or premature birth, and heredity, as in the case of Down Syndrome. Sometimes the causes are easily treatable; for example, an ear infection could be the reason for a child’s hearing loss. Such cases can be treated easily.

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Other reasons for the delay in neurodevelopment are underlying medication conditions such as myopathies, cerebral palsy, Landau-Kleffner Syndrome, fragile X syndrome, and autism spectrum disorders or ASDs.

All in all, there are various conditions that can lead to neurodevelopmental delays in our children, so there’s no single way to prevent them. More than being consumed with prevention, we must make ourselves aware of expected developmental milestones and when they should be reached. Moreover, the best advice is to consult regularly with your child’s pediatrician, as early intervention is crucial.

Dr. Curtis Cripe is the director of research and development at the NTL Group, which specializes in the creation of neuroengineering programs aimed at the diagnosis and treatment of various neurological disorders. For similar reads, visit this blog.

Neuroengineering, In Layman’s Terms

Neural engineering or neuroengineering is a recent interdisciplinary discipline brought about by the pulling together of engineering methodologies to better represent, understand, and augment the nervous system. The Journal of Neural Engineering describes this emerging field as one that “brings to bear neuroscience and engineering methods to analyze neurological function … design(ing) solutions to problems associated with neurological limitations and dysfunction.”

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The field is a practical or pragmatic one, advocating a better understanding of the brain by coming up with physical implementations while sparing conceptual prejudgment. For example, neuroengineering has very close relations to the silicon sensor system implementation and neuroprosthetics. Its main objective is to find answers to problems that are neuroscience-related while providing rehabilitative solutions for nervous system conditions.

That neuroengineering puts more emphasis on quantitative methodology and engineering as applied to the nervous system makes it distinct from more traditional neuroscience areas like neurophysiology. This integration likewise distinguishes it from purely engineering disciplines such as artificial neural networks. It draws from both neuroscience and neurology, covering various clinical, theoretical, computational, and applied research that encompasses the systems, cellular, and molecular levels.

Neuro-engineering-discipline
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All in all, neuroengineering exists because neuroscientists, engineers, and clinicians now see the need to work with one another to better deal with problems related to our complex nervous system. It is an exciting field, to say the least, as it is seen to lead to the development of novel treatments for neurological disorders like epilepsy or stroke.

Dr. Curtis Cripe is the head of research and development at the NTL Group, which specializes in neuroengineering programs aimed at the diagnosis and treatment of neurological disorders connected to head injury, depression, anxiety, memory disorders, and learning disorders. For similar reads, visit this blog.

 

Speech Delay In Children: A Guide For Parents

Delayed speech in children can be due to different factors. In some cases, the delay is caused by oral or hearing problems. The delay is also highly possible for a child with an autism spectrum disorder. In consideration of all these possibilities, parents should be proactive in honing their child’s speech and communication skills. Speech development starts at home, and steps can be done to check a child’s progress.

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Parents should create an environment that encourages a child to react and speak. Talking, reading stories, playing music, showing videos, singing, or imitating sounds will be helpful. What’s important at this stage is for the child to interact with the world through sound and speech. If the child doesn’t imitate sounds or speak after a few tries, mom or dad should understand that it might take time. Adults should make it a point to speak simple and few words so for the child to easily understand what they are saying. Three to five-word responses are good enough for toddlers.

Forcing the child to talk could cause the child to feel overwhelmed. Though some children can’t speak a lot of words, they show non-verbal reactions. This could be an indicator that though there is a delay in speech, a child can understand and respond well.

If parents feel that there is no progress in this developmental aspect, seeking the help of a child neurologist, a speech-language pathologist (SLP), or an otologist can point out the exact reason for the delay in speech.

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Dr. Curtis Cripe is a neuroengineer with a diverse multidisciplinary background that includes engineering, software development, bioengineering, addiction recovery, psychophysiology, psychology, brain injury, and child neurodevelopment. Visit this page for more information on Dr. Cripe and his work.