Understanding autism spectrum disorder

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is considered a neurological or developmental disorder because its symptoms generally manifest during early childhood. The American Psychiatric Association created a guide for diagnosis of mental disorders, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), listing the symptoms of ASD. It is important to note that those with ASD exhibit a varying range of symptoms, which is why Dr. Curtis Cripe, a neuroengineer, has developed programs of diagnoses and treatment.

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The symptoms that are present in ASD cases, according to the DSM-5 are the following:

• Problems in communicating and interacting with other people
• Restricted, repetitive patterns of interests, behaviors, and activities
• Symptoms that affect the ability to function well in school, work, and other areas of a person’s life

 

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Scientists and researchers have tried to determine the cause of the disorder, but so far, none has been established. There are, however, some risk factors, such as having a sibling diagnosed with the disorder, having parents at an advanced age when the child was conceived and born, and having genetic disorders, including Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome, Rett syndrome, and more.

There is no standard treatment for ASD. Dr. Curtis Cripe recommends a program that begins with brain map, neurocognitive, and neurodevelopment assessments identifying the affected areas of the brain. Upon determining the specific parts of the brain that are out of balance or underdeveloped, an individualized, integrated procedure can be planned and implemented.

Dr. Curtis Cripe has engineered cognitive rehabilitation and neurodevelopment programs helping patients with developmental disorders, such as autism, ADD/ADHD, and others. Learn more about him and his work through this website.

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.

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.

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.

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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.

 

Common Neurological Disorders And Their Symptoms

Recent studies estimate that there are more than 600 known neurological disorders. These conditions primarily disturb the workings of the spinal cord, nerves, brain, as well as nervous system, and the malfunctioning of any of these components can result in speaking, breathing, moving, and learning issues. Here are some common neurological disorders:

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Stroke
A stroke attack takes place when the blood flow to the brain stops, further damaging the brain cells. There’s hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke, both caused by blood clots or blockages of the blood vessels. Some symptoms are dizziness, weakness, or sudden numbness of arm, leg, or face; severe headache; trouble speaking or comprehending; and problems walking and coordinating.

Migraine
This is marked by frequent headaches, with an intensity that can range from moderate to severe and can last several days. It’s also linked to symptoms such as frequent vomiting and nausea, vision troubles, sound and light sensitivity, and speech difficulties.

Alzheimer’s disease
This is a progressive condition that causes memory loss, decision-making problems, and behavioral issues. It’s different from dementia, which is the loss of ability to think due to memory impairment, usually due to aging.

Parkinson’s disease
This condition belongs to a group called motor system disorders, resulting from the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. It causes muscle rigidity, tremors, and changes in gait and speech.

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Multiple sclerosis
Affecting the brain and spinal cord nerve cells, MS is characterized by muscle weakness, prickling to numbing sensations, thinking and memory troubles, and visual disturbances.

Dr. Curtis Cripe is a neuroengineer who currently heads the Research and Development Division of NTLgroup, for advanced technology for brain and cognitive repair. Read more about neurological conditions on this page.

 

Is Neuroengineering The Way Toward Treating Anxiety?

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Neuroengineering is one field of study that demonstrates potential in addressing anxiety. It is exploring how the configurations of the brain could lead to the manifestation of mental conditions. There are various types of neuroengineering already in use, including deep-brain stimulation, which has become a routine treatment for Parkinson’s disease and being tested for a growing range of disorders such as epilepsy and depression.

In 2013, the $100 million BRAIN Initiative began to seek insights on brain networks, exploring neurotechnology and clinical therapy methods to address military personnel’s mental health. The objective was to identify what is happening in the pathways of the brains of depression and anxiety symptoms, hopefully leading to new technologies that can re-channel brain signals.

Scientists are already working on a version of a transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) machine that, when held to one’s head, can affect the areas of the brain within a few centimeters of the surface. While TMS does not reach the brain’s deeper regions, there are important areas of the cortex where it delivers its current. The new technology could be an affordable and wearable unit that could be widely used in therapy offices or at home to “hack” the brain.

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While these advances are still underway, there are natural ways to alter one’s brain and mood, including exercising, consuming a healthy diet, doing brain-stimulating activities such as brain games, getting enough sleep, and getting proper sun exposure. These techniques become doubly important given how anxiety and emotional stress, when left unmanaged, could lead to cardiovascular disorders such as health problems.

Dr. Curtis Cripe is the head of research and development at the NTL Group, which specializes in the development of brain-based technology for healing and repairing neurological dysfunctions. For similar reads, click here.

Learning disability: Traditional vs. neurodevelopmental points of view

When a child finds it difficult to retain information learned or function well in the classroom, leading to academic underachievement, it could be an indicator of a learning disability. When such a sign as this is perceived, it is important to dig deep and determine the cause of the learning difficulty to find out how it can be addressed.

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From a classical or traditional point of view, a learning disability roots from biological or genetic reasons. The memory or perceptional systems in the brain do not develop fully or at the right pace. This results in poor cognitive function or behavior that are labeled into different classifications.

The traditional remedy to the learning disability is medication and placement of children into special class assignments, which unfortunately and most of the time places a stigma on these children. In the neurodevelopmental point of view, a learning disability is determined and diagnosed by locating which parts of the central or peripheral nervous system are underdeveloped. This way, the real causes of why the brain cannot correctly receive, process, integrate, store, or express information.

After proper identification of the cause, a non-medicated neurodevelopmental program, which includes activities, therapies, and exercise, can be mapped out to develop the part of the nervous system that needs to be addressed.

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Dr. Curtis Cripe is a neuroengineer who founded Crossroads Institute, which specialized in telemedicine brain training delivery systems to address learning disabilities, autism, ADD/ADHD, memory dysfunction, and others. Read more about the subject matter by subscribing to this blog.

A primer on the different types of memory

Memory is needed by the brain for it to accomplish various functions, such as cognition (conscious thoughts) or long-term store of skills and experiences. Memory takes on various forms, which are discussed below:

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Short-term memory: This type of memory refers to the information the brain can store that lasts between one second and 24 hours, depending on the importance of the information. Short-term memories can either be dismissed after a certain period or deposited into long-term memory.

Intermediate memory: Also called working memory, this is the information the mind has processed. It defines one’s ability to express actions, based on how they feel about a given situation.

Episodic memory: The first of the three parts of long-term memory, episodic memories are a recollection of past events and experiences. In most cases, episodic memories are prompted by emotions and heightened by sensory inputs.

Semantic memory: Semantic memory refers to the general knowledge that a human stores in the mind; these include names, facts, concepts, textbook information, and more. When discussing past events, episodic and semantic memories usually overlap.

Procedural memory: Procedural memory is also called automatic memory because physical and mental skills that one acquires over time are automatically implanted in one’s mind. This memory is the reason people can read, ride a bike, play an instrument, and more.

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Dr. Curtis Cripe is a neuroengineer who has a diverse multidisciplinary background. He currently heads the research and development of NTLgroup, where he developed NeuroCodex and NeuroCoach for brain and cognitive repair. Read more about Dr. Cripe and his work here.

First Aid For Traumatic Head And Brain Injury

While a lot of injuries sustained with head trauma aren’t as severe as one might expect and wouldn’t require serious treatment, most, if not all these injuries still require first aid. In fact, the application of first aid may even prevent the condition from worsening and becoming more serious. It should be noted, however, that many injuries sustained by the head and brain may lead to chronic symptoms such as headaches and nausea, and even after first aid has been applied, would still require the person to rest and take some time off from his or her normal activities.

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Before tackling first aid though, one should first be familiar with signs and symptoms of head and brain injury. These can range from severe bleeding from the head and face (or even the eyes, nose, and ears), floating in and out of consciousness, black and blue discoloration below the eyes and ears, headaches, seizures, and loss of equilibrium, among others.

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The first step even before administering first aid would be to call 911. The person who was injured has to be kept lying down and very still while waiting for the specialists to arrive. Head and shoulders have to be elevated, but unless necessary, the person, especially the neck area, should not be moved. If the person is wearing a helmet, it should stay on. Pressure should be applied to wounds to stop any bleeding, except if there’s a suspected fracture of the skull. Breathing and consciousness should be observed. If the person stops breathing, begin CPR.

Dr. Curtis Cripe is the head of the NTL Group and a neuroengineer with a vast knowledge in several other disciplines. He also has extensive experience in treating victims of brain injuries. For more about him and his work, check out this blog.