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.

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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.

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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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.

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.


Signs that a child may be on the spectrum

As many as one in every 50 children between 6 and 17 years old may have Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD. Research shows that early indication could be life-altering for a child. Once a parent suspects their child has ASD, the first thing they should do is bring them to a professional for a diagnosis. Then therapy can happen.

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Here are some of the signs that a child may be on the spectrum.

  • The child shows little to know joyful expression during his first six months. Also during this time, the child has problems following moving objects with his eyes and seemingly doesn’t respond to noises.
  • Between 6 months and 9 months, the child still doesn’t respond to people calling them by name and doesn’t babble. The child also seems to be indifferent to sounds in the background.
  • Before their first year, the child still doesn’t respond by name and shows no interest in reaching for objects. The child also isn’t interested in playing games at all and doesn’t move around so much.
  • Before his 14th month, the child doesn’t point to objects. Instead, they pull their parent toward the object they want. The child doesn’t babble, only gurgle, and seems fixated on a single point of space they move around in.
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Dr. Curtis Cripe is a neuroengineer with a multi-disciplined background that includes child neurodevelopment. He heads the Research and Development department of NTL group, for advanced technology for brain and cognitive treatment and repair. Learn more about mental disorders by visiting this blog.

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.

The dangers of the drug called Ecstasy: A public service reminder

There is a disturbing trend nowadays as news keeps popping up everywhere about young people and the drug known as “E.”  “E,” of course, stands for ecstasy.  Ten years ago, it was estimated that over 12 million Americans 12 years and older have tried E at least once in their lives.  That’s 5 percent of the population of the United States right there.

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What should bother people more is that almost 2.5 percent of those in 8th grade, over 5 percent of those in 10th grade, and 6.5 percent of those in 12th grade, have done the drug at least once.  It was also shown that over 90 percent of kids who start using E move on to use other illegal drugs, many of which are more dangerous.

Like many of the other illegal drugs being sold on the street, E alters one’s perception of the world.  It amplifies the senses, facilitating more pleasure during physical contact.  It has been known to intensify sensations during sex, which makes it more popular at parties.

Other dangers of E include hallucinogenic properties, which makes a person believe they’re seeing things that aren’t there.  And in the end, the after-effects of E are quite damaging on an emotional level, as users go through depression, confusion, paranoia, and psychosis.

It should also be important to note that there have been cases of people dying from E overdose.

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Dr. Curtis Cripe is a neuroengineer with a background in several disciplines, which includes substance abuse recovery.  Dr. Cripe currently leads the research and development department of NTL Group.  Visit this Twitter account to learn more about him and his work.