Sunday, October 30, 2011

Music a 'mega-vitamin' for the brain

Read the full story at: CNN

LONDON, England (CNN) -- When Nina Temple was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2000, then aged 44, she quickly became depressed, barely venturing out of her house as she struggled to come to terms with living with the chronic condition.

Sing for Joy is a choir made up of sufferers of neurological conditions plus friends, family and carers.

Sing for Joy is a choir made up of sufferers of neurological conditions plus friends, family and carers.

"I was thinking of all the things which I wished I'd done with my life and I wouldn't be able to do. And then I started thinking about all the things that I still actually could do and singing was one of those," Temple told CNN.

Along with a fellow Parkinson's sufferer, Temple decided, on a whim, to form a choir. The pair placed notices in doctor's surgeries inviting others to join them and advertised for a singing teacher.

By 2003, with the help of funding from the Parkinson's Disease Society, the resulting ensemble "Sing For Joy" was up and running, rehearsing weekly and soon graduating to public performances.

The group now consists of around two dozen singers, including sufferers of Parkinson's and multiple sclerosis, others recovering from conditions including stroke or cancer, plus their carers, family and friends. Led by acclaimed jazz performer Carol Grimes, the group's genre-defying repertoire ranges from Cole Porter classics to ethnic punk. Video Watch Sing for Joy perform »

"It's quite easy to get overwhelmed by the disease and having something that you do every week that makes you forget all your troubles and keeps you from feeling isolated is a great pleasure," says Temple.

But singing also has physical and neurological benefits for the choir's members. A common symptom of Parkinson's disease and similar conditions is voice loss and each week the group begins its rehearsals with vocal exercises worked out with speech therapists.

"All neurological conditions affect the throat because it has so many muscles," says Sarah Benton, another choir member with multiple sclerosis. "So singing, which makes you lift up your body and expand your lungs, is perfect for neurological diseases."

While "Sing for Joy's" DIY-style music therapy has provided obvious social, mental and physical benefits for its members, there is a growing body of clinical evidence suggesting that music can play a key role in aiding recovery or helping sufferers cope with a broad range of brain-based conditions.

Doctor Wendy Magee, International Fellow in Music Therapy at London's Institute of Neuropalliative Rehabilitation, describes music as a "mega-vitamin for the brain," capable of influencing and improving motor function, communication and even cognition.

"When neural pathways are damaged for one particular function such as language, musical neural pathways are actually much more complex and much more widespread within the brain," Magee told CNN.

"Music seems to find re-routed paths and that is why it is such a useful tool in terms of helping people with different kinds of brain damage because it can help to find new pathways in terms of brain functioning."

Researchers in Finland have demonstrated that listening to music for several hours a day can enhance the rehabilitation of stroke patients.

In another study, stroke patients who were taught to play the piano or drums made speedier progress in their general recovery than patients who received only traditional therapy.

At Colorado State University, researchers have used musical and rhythmic cues as an effective tool to improve the movement and balance of Parkinson's disease sufferers and those with other degenerative diseases.

Melodic Intonation Therapy, in which musical exercises are used to improve speech, has proved an effective treatment for patients with aphasia, a disorder that results from damage to portions of the brain responsible for language.

Musical memories also seem to be more resilient to neural degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's and dementia, enabling therapists to use familiar tunes to cue memories which might otherwise have been lost.

One American World War II veteran whose dementia was so severe he couldn't remember his own name and would barely acknowledge his own wife was brought alive through ballroom dancing and the music of Frank Sinatra, the sufferer still able to lead his wife through the foxtrot as if it was the 1940s.

The power of music to enhance moods and emotions has long been harnessed by psychologists, but, as Dr. Lauren Stewart, director of a recently established course in Music, Mind and Brain at Goldsmiths University of London told CNN, "recent advances in neuroscience and brain imaging technology are now radically transforming conventional music therapy into a more rigorous and research-based clinical practice."

Professor Michael Thaut of Colorado State University's Center for Biomedical Research in Music, who has helped pioneer a new research-based approach known as Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT), says recent developments amount to a "paradigm shift."

"Therapists in all fields have been doing things for decades; now they're trying to figure out the research to support their work," Thaut told CNN. "NMT started as a science and now it's turning into a clinical field. And that's very exciting."

For now NMT remains on the fringes of standard neurological rehabilitation. But Magee believes its application and a general move away from psychoanalytical approaches dominant in the past, could bring music therapy towards the mainstream and make it an ever more effective tool.

"We are now starting to see the evidence for why we see things work. That also means we can fine tune what we do because we understand more about the neurological processing behind it," she said.

"But we're still at the point where we need to build the evidence base and translate that evidence base into practice so we can convince funders that music therapy is an important part of rehab practice."

For the members of Sing For Joy however, the proof of the therapeutic power of music is already self-evident. "There is something about coming together and making a communal sound," said Sarah Benton. "There is nothing like it and it's wonderful."

  • Sing For Joy perform at London's TUC Congress Centre on Saturday, June 6. For more details see the group's Web site or MySpace page.

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    Saturday, October 29, 2011

    A moment in time...

    Hair & beardImage by Greenmonster via Flickr... in the life of a child with PDD/Asperger's and sensory issues:

    His hair was bothering him, so he started cutting it himself. With sewing scissors. At 8:30 pm, I was using the clippers on the lowest setting to make the bald spots less noticable. And he still really, really wants to be bald.

    I'm not crazy about him being completely bald, so we compromised. I'm researching how to (successfully) do a high and tight.

    And the Adventure continues... :)

    Blessings in your Adventure,

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    Friday, October 28, 2011

    Statue of Liberty Cams on Statue of Liberty Day

    View of the Statue of Liberty from Liberty IslandImage via Wikipedia
    This is cool:

    EarthCam - Statue of Liberty Cams:
    "Live from the Golden Torch
    Lady Liberty Enlightening the World Wide Web"

    'via Blog this'

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    Missing autistic boy, Robert Wood Jr, found alive!!

    10/28/11 2:00pm -- Robert Wood, Jr. found alive!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you, Jesus!

    Quote from the Press Conference Friday afternoon (possibly from the Hanover County Sheriff's Office ):

    Original post

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    Plastic ID Codes & what they mean

    #6620 recycled plastic (PET) bottles
    (Photo credit: Nemo's great uncle)
    I've been looking for a list like this that tells me the not-so-good and the better plastics. Yea Ideal Bite! Thanks for the list!

    • Safer plastics:

    #1 - PET or PETE (polyethylene terephthalate) - water and mouthwash bottles, cups, peanut butter jars, and TV dinner trays; not known to leach any toxic by-products.

    #2 - HDPE (high-density polyethylene) - butter tubs, milk jugs, juice, household cleaner, and shampoo bottles; also low risk of leaching.

    #4 - LDPE (low-density polyethylene) - squeezable bottles; you probably won't encounter many 4s, as LDPE is usually used for bags, but it also has a low risk of leaching.

    #5 - PP (polypropylene) - straws, yogurt containers, syrup, ketchup, and medicine bottles; low risk of leaching.

    • Not so much:

    #3 - PVC (polyvinyl chloride) - cooking oil bottles, food packaging, and plastic wrap; some 3s can leach phthalates, which can cause reproductive abnormalities.

    #6 - PS (polystyrene) - egg cartons, meat trays, and Stryofoam; when heated, some 6s can release styrene, a suspected carcinogen.

    #7 - Other - gallon-size water bottles, and baby bottles; some 7s are safe, but some are polycarbonates and may leach BPA (linked to enlarged male breasts, earlier puberty in girls, and cancer).

    Blessings in your Adventure,

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    Thursday, October 27, 2011

    FOUND ALIVE!! Autistic boy still missing in VA

    10/28/11 2:00pm -- Robert Wood, Jr. found alive!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you, Jesus!

    10/28/11 update: Still searching

    Are you in the area around VA? I'm not sure why this hasn't been picked up by national media yet...

    Please spread the word and keep an eye out for this boy. 9 year old Robbie is autistic and non-verbal, so he can't ask for help. If he's on foot, he may still be in the area, but if he's been picked up by someone, we all need to keep our eyes open even outside VA!
    Authorities in Hanover county continued to search without success overnight for 9-year-old Robert Wood Jr., an autistic boy who disappeared Sunday while on a walk with relatives.
    Read more: 1,500 show up to help search for lost autistic boy

    Please spread the word: Share

    Blessings in your Adventure,

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    9 Ingredients to avoid in processed foods

    Monosodium-glutamate (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
    A great list of common ingredients and possible side effects. Although it isn't always easy to stay away from them these days, we work to eliminate these from our diet, and can tell the difference.

    Although this isn’t an exhaustive list, these ingredients are some of the most highly processed and least healthy of all:

    Ingredient Why it is Used Why it is Bad
    Artificial Colors
    • Chemical compounds made from coal-tar derivatives to enhance color.
    • Linked to allergic reactions, fatigue, asthma, skin rashes, hyperactivity and headaches.
    Artificial Flavorings
    • Cheap chemical mixtures that mimic natural flavors.
    • Linked to allergic reactions, dermatitis, eczema, hyperactivity and asthma
    • Can affect enzymes, RNA and thyroid.
    Artificial Sweeteners

    (Acesulfame-K, Aspartame, Equal®, NutraSweet®, Saccharin, Sweet’n Low®, Sucralose, Splenda® & Sorbitol)
    • Highly-processed, chemically-derived, zero-calorie sweeteners found in diet foods and diet products to reduce calories per serving.
    • Can negatively impact metabolism
    • Some have been linked to cancer, dizziness hallucinations and headaches.
    Benzoate Preservatives

    (BHT, BHA, TBHQ)
    • Compounds that preserve fats and prevent them from becoming rancid.
    • May result in hyperactivity, angiodema, asthma, rhinitis, dermatitis, tumors and urticaria
    • Can affect estrogen balance and levels.
    Brominated Vegetable Oil

    • Chemical that boosts flavor in many citric-based fruit and soft drinks.
    • Increases triglycerides and cholesterol
    • Can damage liver, testicles, thyroid, heart and kidneys.
    High Fructose Corn Syrup

    • Cheap alternative to cane and beet sugar
    • Sustains freshness in baked goods
    • Blends easily in beverages to maintain sweetness.
    • May predispose the body to turn fructose into fat
    • Increases risk for Type-2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke and cancer
    • Isn’t easily metabolized by the liver.

    (Monosodium Glutamate)
    • Flavor enhancer in restaurant food, salad dressing, chips, frozen entrees, soups and other foods.
    • May stimulate appetite and cause headaches, nausea, weakness, wheezing, edema, change in heart rate, burning sensations and difficulty in breathing.
    • An indigestible fat substitute used primarily in foods that are fried and baked.
    • Inhibits absorption of some nutrients
    • Linked to gastrointestinal disease, diarrhea, gas, cramps, bleeding and incontinence.
    Shortening, Hydrogenated and Partially Hydrogenated Oils

    (Palm, Soybean and others)
    • Industrially created fats used in more than 40,000 food products in the U.S.
    • Cheaper than most other oils.
    • Contain high levels of trans fats, which raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol, contributing to risk of heart disease.
    Read more: 9 Ingredients to avoid in processed foods - Healthy Living on Shine

    Looking at "Olestra"... Does anyone else remember "Oleo" the margarine spread? I remember my Grammy talking about "Oleo." Now that I read that... ewwww. If we only knew then, what we know now...

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    Monday, October 24, 2011

    The Voiceless

    This is why I post about orphans. It's hard to watch, but necessary to know what is happening.

    An explanation of the issues (2 minutes 23 seconds):

    If they are not adopted from the baby orphanage by age 5, they are shipped off to mental institutions and never leave -- are never eligible for adoption again. See how they live (4 minutes 18 seconds):

    Part 2 of how they live: an update (2 minutes 51 seconds):

    How can we help? Go to Reece's Rainbow to learn more.

    Please help spread awareness: Share

    Proverbs 24:11-12
    New Living Translation (NLT)

     11 Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to die;
          save them as they stagger to their death.
     12 Don’t excuse yourself by saying, “Look, we didn’t know.”
          For God understands all hearts, and he sees you.
       He who guards your soul knows you knew.
          He will repay all people as their actions deserve.

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    Loving old into new

    Found this site today...
    Make It And Love It

    And I immediately wanted to start making cute and easy things like this...

    So I had to share it with you. :)

    Blessings in your Adventure,


    Friday, October 21, 2011

    The FBI's Child ID App

    This is very cool. I'm have to wait for that Android version, though... Hopefully, you'll be prepared and never have to use it.

    You're shopping at the mall with your children when one of them suddenly disappears. A quick search of the nearby area is unsuccessful. What do you do? Now there's a free new tool from the FBI that can help. Our just launched Child ID app—the first mobile application created by the FBI—provides a convenient place to electronically store photos and vital information about your children so that it’s literally right at hand if you need it. You can show the pictures and provide physical identifiers such as height and weight to security or police officers on the spot. Using a special tab on the app, you can also quickly and easily e-mail the information to authorities with a few clicks. 
    Right now, the Child ID app is only available for use on iPhones and can only be downloaded for free from the App Store on iTunes, but we plan to expand this tool to other types of mobile devices in the near future. And we’ll be adding new features—including the ability to upload other photos stored on your smart phone—in the coming weeks and months. 

    Used with permission

    Learn more: The FBI's Child ID App
    UPDATE: Now available for Android!

    Blessings in your Adventure,


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    Thursday, October 20, 2011

    Hurry up and weight

    A study from the University of Helsinki, Department of Public Health, found that work fatigue and overtime (working 40+ hours a week) contributed to weight gain. They studied 7,000 women and 2,000 men, all 40 to 60 years old.

    People with work fatigue reported that they 'feel totally worn out after a day at work', 'feel tired in the morning when they have to get up and go to work', 'have to work too hard', 'feel like totally exhausted', 'report that their work is definitely too stressful', and 'they worry about their work even when they are off duty'.

    Read the full article for more information on the study published in the International Journal of Obesity.

    Another study reported that "Stressing out can cause people to gain weight." This was from a study in the July 15 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology. This study looked at the relationship between weight gain and multiple types of stress—job-related demands, difficulty paying bills, strained family relationships, depression or anxiety disorder—in the U.S. population.
    "Today's economy is stressing people out, and stress has been linked to a number of illnesses —such as heart disease, high blood pressure and increased risk for cancer. This study shows that stress is also linked to weight gain,'' according to Jason Block, M.D., M.P.H., who conducted the research as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar® at Harvard University.
    So... I guess we should focus on less stress along with our exercise!


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    Wednesday, October 19, 2011


    If you are exhausted all the time, like me, you may have Adrenal Fatigue or Adrenal Exhaustion. Do the research and talk to your doctor. Adrenal Fatigue is an all too often undiagnosed condition that doesn't get the respect it deserves. Thankfully more doctors are recognizing this as a valid concern.

    Here are some great sites to get information:
    Adrenal Health in Women (has great overall info about Adrenal Fatigue)
    Adrenal Fatigue - a site by Dr Wilson who authored the great book Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome

    I struggle with Adrenal Fatigue, and when I don't fix it, I hit the wall of Adrenal Exhaustion. I will feel fine, then all of a sudden I'll be exhausted. Sometimes, I just feel tired all the time; other times I can't move another muscle without closing my eyes first. Stress, viruses, missing nutrition, and other things can make this worse. The things that help me the most are sleep, exercise, and good nutrition. The sleep that is the best for adrenal fatigue, though, is from 6-10am. That's not easy to get with 3 kids!

    If you feel you have this and would like someone to talk to, feel free to contact me!

    Blessings in your Adventure,


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    Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    UPDATED: Expose Human Trafficking at Son of God Orphanage in Haiti

    10/28 update from @hope_chest: Head of Haiti's IBESR removed from office.

    UPDATE: Yippee, Jesus! Son of God Orphanage closed, more details to follow Thank you, everyone, for your help! Please keep signing the petitions below for a full investigation.

    We are petitioning CNN to bring their international media voice and passion for ending slavery into the Son of God Orphanage. Please urge CNN to expose the corruption within the Haitian government, and allow international organizations to secure the children from the child traffickers who are now controlling the orphanage.

    The evidence in hand shows:

    > Children have been and are currently being trafficked from the Son of God Orphanage. The evidence on human trafficking leads back to the Son of God orphanage. The orphanage director was imprisoned in July as part of a police-led operation that resulted in his conviction of trafficking a child.

    > Haitian investigators have told our team the evidence suggests organ harvesting and trafficking as well.

    > Numerous photos show extreme physical abuse and neglect. U.S. and Haitian doctors have documented cases of severe abuse and neglect including burns and broken bones.

    > As recently as October 10, American volunteers took children with late-stage starvation out of the orphanage and to local doctors. Without this intervention, the doctors confirmed the children would have died of starvation.

    > After boldly bringing these facts to the attention of government officials, American citizens received death threats from those associated with the current orphanage leadership--documented by the Haitian police.

    This orphanage must be shut down. Other orphanages are ready and willing to take these children. Please urge CNN to cover this story and work to close this orphanage and re-locate the children immediately.
    PLEASE stand up for these children. Sign the petition here:
    Human Trafficking Petition: CNN: Expose Human Trafficking at Son of God Orphanage in Haiti |
    and here: Human Trafficking Petition: President of Haiti: Close the Son of God Orphanage and investigate IBESR! |

    Please share on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, and everywhere: Share

    Blessings in your Adventure,

    Monday, October 17, 2011

    Flavor or Sugar?

    Flavoured milk on a supermarket shelf. I took ...Image via Wikipedia
    Did you know that flavored milks have about the same sugar as soda? Check out this fact sheet for the comparison.

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    Saturday, October 15, 2011

    Gut causing you to gain weight?

    This great article connects food to weight (surprise, huh?), but in a different way that I hadn't thought about. The digestive system is amazing!

    When you think of body fat you most likely think of cellulite and love handles (subcutaneous fat), but there's another type of fat in your body that is much less visible and actually far more dangerous.

    Unlike subcutaneous fat that lies just under your skin and is noticeable, visceral fat lies in your abdominal cavity, under the abdominal muscle, and often surrounds your vital organs.

    Visceral fat, together with elevated blood pressure, unstable blood sugar and unhealthy levels of cholesterol make up what we call "metabolic syndrome," which in turn increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Like all body fat, diet and exercise will help keep your visceral fat levels to a minimum, however there appear to be other factors involved as well, including the health of your digestive tract.

    Read the whole article: Is a Leaky Gut Causing You to Pack on the Pounds?

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    Friday, October 14, 2011

    Handy tip: How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies

    'Cavendish' bananas are the main commercial cu...Image via Wikipedia
    Ever had those times where those little fruit flies seem to come out of nowhere? Here are some handy non-toxic/safe ideas for getting rid of them, thanks to Healthy Child Healthy World.
    * Pour a little sweet cheap white wine (Riesling) in a glass and add a drop of a natural soap to break the surface tension. Place near infected area. The fruit flies will drown trying to drink the wine.
    * Pour some apple cider vinegar into a glass, and place a paper funnel over the container. Fruit flies are attracted to the smell and fly into the glass, but 4 out of 5 can’t find the way back out.
    * Mix some basil oil with water and spray your kitchen. Fruit flies are repelled by the smell of basil.
    Read more: Healthy Child Healthy World.

    Another tip: Fruit Fly Trap

    And one more tip I heard elsewhere and seems to work. When you buy bananas, rinse & dry them off before storing them. This is supposed to wash off any eggs that traveled with your fruit.

    Have you found other tricks that worked for you? Please leave them in a comment!

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    Is your dog cool?