A Brief History Of World Autism Awareness Day

Let’s take a short moment from all the medical articles to talk about a very important date in human history.

Every April 2, the world celebrates World Autism Awareness Day. It is a day recognized internationally by members of the United Nations. The goal is of course to raise awareness for individuals worldwide who are in the spectrum.

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The resolution was passed on the first day of November in 2007 by the United Nations General Assembly, and was adopted on December 18 of that same year. World Autism Awareness Day was originally proposed by the UN representative from Qatar, Her Highness, Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned, and it was supported by every member state. The resolution itself was conceived as an addition to already-passed UN initiatives for the sake of human rights. Autism awareness has increased and research, improved, as a result.

The first World Autism Awareness Day was celebrated in 2008, and many of the biggest events took place in UN Headquarters in New York City. The panel discussion, sponsored by Her Highness, Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned, also included the World Health Organization (WHO), and the NGO Autism Speaks. Another event was a briefing held for NGOs that have helped increase awareness for the disorder. All these events emphasized the need to raising awareness as well as eliminating negative social stigma.

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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 site.


The Biggest Myths About The Human Brain

So much about the human brain has baffled scientists and researchers. Although the advancement of modern science has allowed for more discoveries, a lot about the human brain remains undiscovered. A lot of questions persist. Probably, due to the mix of frustration and eagerness, a few myths have come about, which have misled people about the human brain. Here are two of the most prevalent ones.

Image source: megwolfe.net

The Left- and Right-Brained

Humans use both sides of their brains. It is false that there are people inclined to use one side more. The concept of rational people using the left side while artists using the right side is a huge myth that many have come to believe. Studies show that whether a person is being creative, or is into reading or mathematics, both sides of the brain are being used.

Language learning process

Many people (wrongly) believe that a person should speak a language before they learn a different one. This theory is mostly utilized when observing children and how learning one language may interfere with the acquisition of another, and that the areas of the brain are competing. The opposite is true, though, as it has been found that children who learn multiple languages early generally become smarter later on.

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Dr. Curtis Cripe is the head of the NTL Group and a neuroengineer with a vast knowledge in several other disciplines. He uses this approach to study brain development and come up with a number of practical and cutting-edge applications. Learn more about him and his work by checking out this blog.

Brain Facts That People May Not Know

Very few things intrigue people as much as the human brain. How come people can do the things they do? What compels people to feel the way they do? How come some people are born with disabilities such as autism? And how can these disabilities be cured? Here are some of the facts about the human brain that people may not know.

Image source: wired.com
  • Amazingly, there are no nerves in the human brain. No other human organ can claim the same. It cannot feel any pain.
  • The human brain consumes a fifth of the energy generated by the human body. That is the largest portion of energy to any body part. What’s unbelievable about this is that the brain is only 2 percent of a person’s body weight. This energy can even light up a light bulb.
  • There are approximately 100 billion neurons in the brain. That’s over 15 times the human population of the world.
  • Around 60 percent of the brain is fat, which is why it the fattest (or fattiest) human organ.
  • Three-fourths of human brain mass is made up of water.
  • The neocortex makes up over 75 percent of the human brain. This part is where language and consciousness come from.
  • When the heart pumps blood, around 750ml of it heads towards the brain every 60 seconds.
Image source: bbc.com

Dr. Curtis Cripe is a neuroengineer and the current director of Research and Development at NTL Group. For more on Dr. Cripe and the work he does, click here.

Mental rewiring: The principles that govern neuroengineering

The neurons in the brain constantly make new connections in response to every new experience or memory a person makes. As the brain familiarizes with the new experience and stimuli, the more connections are made. Thus, a task that seems overwhelming at first gradually becomes easier over time.

Image source: cnecs.egr.uh.edu

This flexibility in accommodating new connections is one of the driving factors behind neuroengineering, which explores the ways that the brain’s connections can be trained to perform better or overcome limitations set by neurocognitive and behavioral disorders.

While the connections of the brain are in constant flux, the links between them are far from arbitrary. Several key locations govern crucial aspects of behavior and cognitive function. Neuroengineering allows doctors and other experts to use computer technology to observe or directly interact with the connection patterns within the brain.

When these connections do not form correctly or are somehow impeded due to damage, these would affect an assortment of motor, cognitive, and behavioral functions. This is especially noticeable among survivors of traumatic head injury, who may find everyday tasks significantly more difficult.

Neuroengineering technology also holds a lot of potential in helping individuals with mental disorders, problematic behavioral patterns, or lost or impaired motor or cognitive functions due to traumatic brain injury. Neuroengineering tools can diagnose potential sources of neurological dysfunction and train the brain’s neurons to gradually create new, more effective connections, which in some cases could help the brain heal itself.

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Dr. Curtis Cripe’s work in neuroengineering and neurofeedback laid the foundation of the NTL Group’s proprietary neuroengineered therapies for cognitive repair. Visit this website for more information on the application of his work.

Brain plasticity as a tool for recovery and resilience

The brain goes through a lot over the course of an average lifetime. It is a remarkably adaptable organ capable of repairing and rerouting connections over the course of a human lifetime. This also means that, when properly care for and trained, it can resist quite a lot of curveballs life can throw at it.

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The brain is a very resilient organ. Even in the face of all but the most extensive damage, the brain can create new connections and maintain functionality, and damaged connections can be repaired. It retains the same level of connectivity even when parts of an existing pathway are damaged, and are only impaired or lost when the damage is complete.

In these cases, such as those found in traumatic brain injury, the damage is often so severe that it compromises many mental faculties, slowing down the ability of the brain to repair the connections. The proper training and conditioning, however, would allow the brain to speed up the process of self-restoration, by guiding it to the connections that have been lost or compromised.

Indeed, it is this ability to create new connections and maintain old ones that have sparked interest in utilizing brain resilience and plasticity for rehabilitative medicine. Findings have consistently shown that an active, engaged brain is a very resilient one. Mental activity has been found to reduce the rigors of stress and prevent or counteract the onset of degenerative mental conditions come old age.

Image source: onthebrain.com

The brain’s own ability to repair itself with proper guidance lies at the core of the neuroengineering principles pioneered by Dr. Curtis Cripe. Learn more about his work from the NTL Group website.

Bioengineering: A Fascinating Timeline

When one mentions the term bioengineering, people usually think of advanced technology that could have only existed in the late 20th century. That, however, is rather inaccurate. The fact of the matter is bioengineering has been around for hundreds of years. But it was in the 19th century that bioengineering made a turn and became more prevalent. Here is a fascinating look at the important events that led to the development of bioengineering.

From 1791 to 1896

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In a span of 105 years, a number of inventors and innovators came out with influential and then-state-of-the-art medical equipment. For example, in 1791, Luigi Galvani built the very first frog galvanoscope used to detect electricity using frog’s legs. In 1881, Samuel von Basch built the first sphygmomanometer, which was the tool used to measure blood pressure. The first X-ray machine was built in Germany in 1895, by Conrad Roentgen. He received the Nobel Prize for his efforts in 1901.

From 1903 to 1940s

The first half of the 20th century saw numerous leaps in bioengineering technology. Willem Einthoven began with the invention of the electrocardiogram, otherwise known as the ECG machine. Twenty-six years later, Hans Berger built the first electroencephalogram or EEG. In the two decades that followed, antibiotics, sulfanilamide, and penicillin were all invented.

From the 1950s to 1980
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The technological revolution continued well into the second half of the 20th century starting with the invention of the electron microscope in 1950. Other notable inventions in this era were computer tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines. The gamma camera and SPECT came into existence in the 1980s.

Dr. Curtis Cripe is a neuroengineer whose professional and academic backgrounds span several disciplines including engineering, software development, bioengineering, psychophysiology, psychology, child neurodevelopment, and brain injury. Learn more about Dr. Cripe’s work by following this Facebook page.

What People Should Know About Brain Injuries

When the brain sustains damage that affects how a person moves, functions, feels or thinks, the person has brain injury, which can arise from a number of circumstances. It can occur during birth, or later on in life, either from a traumatic event or a sickness. It is estimated that over five million Americans suffer from the effects of brain injury, and around 17 million get into accidents, or have illnesses that lead to brain injury every year.

One person died in this three-car crash. (KATU News photo)

Image source: elyreed.com

Circumstances leading to brain injury determine whether or not the injury is traumatic or not. Traumatic brain injury can be caused by automobile or road accidents, falls, violent attacks by another person, or experiencing shockwaves from bomb blasts on the field of battle. Non-traumatic causes may include lack of oxygen to the brain, brain tumors, cancer, and infection of the brain. The leading cause of non-traumatic brain injury, however, is stroke.

strokeImage source: pivotphysicaltherapy.com

A brain injury can manifest itself in many ways. Symptoms may include headaches, loss of balance, problems with eyesight, seizures, speech difficulties, sleep problems, and deterioration of motor skills, among others. A brain injury may change a person’s personality, speech patterns, ability to focus or remember things, overall mood, attention span, and emotional, mental, and physical reactions to any stimuli.

It is highly recommended that people who suffer a traumatic experience have themselves checked by an expert to rule out brain injury, or detect it before the injury leads to something much worse.

Dr. Curtis Cripe is a neuroengineer with a background that includes engineering, software development, bioengineering, addiction recovery, psychophysiology, psychology, child neurodevelopment, and brain injury. Presently, Dr. Cripe heads the Research and Development department of NTL group, for advanced technology for brain and cognitive treatment and repair. Learn more about him and the work that he does by subscribing to this Twitter account.