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News on Health & Science

Mind Power Moves Paralysed Limbs

Scientists have shown it is possible to harness brain signals and redirect them to make paralysed limbs move.

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The technology bypasses injuries that stop nerve signals travelling from the brain to the muscles, offering hope for people with spinal damage.

So far the US team from the University of Washington have only tested their “brain-machine interfaces” in monkeys.

The hope is to develop implantable circuits for humans without the need for robotic limbs, Nature reports.

Wired up
Spinal cord injuries impair the nerve pathways between the brain and the limbs but spare both the limb muscles and the part of the brain that controls movement – the motor cortex.

“Similar techniques could be applied to stimulate the lower limb muscles during walking” Says Lead researcher Dr Chet Moritz

Recent studies have shown that quadriplegic patients – people who have paralysis in all four limbs – can consciously control the activity of nerve cells or neurons in the motor cortex that command hand movements, even after several years of paralysis.

Using a gadget called a brain-machine interface, Dr Chet Moritz and colleagues re-routed motor cortex control signals from the brains of temporarily paralysed monkeys directly to their arm muscles.

The gadget, which is the size of a mobile phone, interprets the brain signals and converts them into electrical impulses that can then stimulate muscle to contract.

By wiring up artificial pathways for the signals to pass down, muscles that lacked natural stimulation after paralysis with a local anaesthetic regained a flow of electrical signals from the brain.

Life-changing
The monkeys were then able to tense the muscles in the paralysed arm, a first step towards producing more complicated goal-directed movements, such as grasping a cup or pushing buttons, say the researchers.

Lead researcher Dr Chet Moritz said: “This could be scaled to include more muscles or stimulate sites in the spinal cord that could activate muscles in a coordinated action.”

“Similar techniques could be applied to stimulate the lower limb muscles during walking.”

The scientists found the monkeys could learn to use virtually any motor cortex nerve cell to control muscle stimulation – it did not have to be one that would normally controlled arm movement. And their control over the muscles improved with practice.

The researchers say they need to do trials in humans, meaning a treatment could be decades away.

Dr Mark Bacon, head of research at the UK charity Spinal Research, said: “This is clearly a step in the right direction and proves the principle that artificially transducing the will to move generated in the brain with relevant motor activity can be achieved.

“However, these results have been produced in experimental models where there is no injury per se.”

He said injury-induced changes to the nerve circuits might hinder the technology’s application in real life.

Also, brain-machine interfaces communicate in only one direction – in this case from the brain to the muscle.

“Sensory feedback, so important for fine control of movements and dexterity, is still some way away,
” he said.

Sources: BBC NEWS:15 October 2008

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Yoga

Pashchimottanasana(full) (Yoga Exercise)

The front side of the body is called east side, while the back side is called the west side. In this Asana complete back side, i.e., the west side, right from the heels to the forehead, gets stretched and therefore, it is called ‘Pashchimottanasana’.

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!st. Position:
Sitting Position.
How to do the exercise: Only inhale.
Exhale, and hold the big toes of both the feet with both the hands.
In exhaled state bend downward and rest the forehead on the knees. Continue smooth breathing. (as shown in the pictures)

Position: After bending down, keep the heels, calves, thighs completely touching to the floor, keeping the spine straight, rest the forehead on the knees and continue smooth breathing. Try to rest the elbows on the floor.
Since here the abdomen gets completely folded, it becomes necessary to bend only after complete exhalation.
One should bend downward as much as one’s body permits and then try to stabilize at that point, keeping the breathing smooth. Do not try to raise the knees in order to get the forehead on to the knees.
After taking the position, relax the whole body and automatically the head, shoulder, chest will come down owing to their weight and relaxation.

Releasing: Exhale, and inhaling, start raising the head.
Restore the hands to their place and take up the sitting position.

Duration: One finds it difficult to take up this Asana initially. But with practice and patience it can be maintained for thirty seconds. Later one certainly succeeds in having the final position and the duration is also increased to three minutes.
Benefits: This exercise, if done properly and regularly , will give various benefefits. As the whole of the west side gets stretched, they get purified and their functioning is greatly improved. At the same time, the muscles of the front side get contracted and there is pressure on the lungs, intestines and other internal juice producing glands. As a result of this their functioning is also improved.
It is very useful in setting right the troubles concerning the lumber part of the spinal cord and the digestive system.
Further, there is very sensitive part in our body known as Kundalini lying in dormant stage. This Asana is supposed to activate it.

Precaution : It has been said that this Asana is useful for the troubles of the spine. Yet ,people suffering from such troubles should practice this Asana only after consulting some Yoga experts.

Reference Book:– Yoga Pravesh

Categories
Ailmemts & Remedies

Cervical Spondylosis

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Spondylosis is spinal degeneration and deformity of a joint(s) of two or more vertebrae that commonly occurs with aging. Often there is herniation of the nucleus pulposus of one or more intervertebral discs and/or formation of osteophytes.

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When the space between two adjacent vertebrae narrows, compression of a nerve root emerging from the spinal cord may result in sensory system and motor system disturbances, such as severe pain in the neck, shoulder, arm, back, and/or leg, accompanied by muscular weakness. Less commonly, direct pressure on the spinal cord may result in global weakness, gait dysfunction, loss of balance, and loss of bowel and/or bladder control. If vertebrae of the neck are involved it is labeled Cervical Spondylosis. Lower back spondylosis is labeled Lumbar Spondylosis.

A specific form of arthritis, which attacks vertebrae and connecting bony, and ligament structures, is known as Spondylosis. Frequently it occurs in the cervical vertebrae. The spines of majority of people above the age of 50 have certain degree of osteo arthritic changes. But they seldom cause acute symptoms. Certain precipitating factors like trauma, incorrect posture of the body, pressure while sleeping and excessive intake of sour food usually precipitate these attacks.
SYMPTOMS:
Pain in the back of neck, shoulder and arms, stiffness of the neck and even paraplegia occur due to this condition. The movement of the spine generally aggravates the pain of the neck. It is often associated with loss of memory and sleeplessness.

TREATMENT:
Neck pain can be relieved by wearing a hard collar around the neck which keeps the affected vertebrae slightly apart, and hence the pressure on the nerves is released. However, the use of a collar is not usually recommended as it can weaken the muscles supporting the vertebrae and hence exacerbate the problem in the long term.

Physiotherapy: Where the neck is exercised, is now generally used as the preferred treatment.

Chiropractic treatment
: In mild cases of the disease is not the preferred method of treatment by conventional medicine.

Acupuncture: While often effective when neuropathy results from muscle dysfunction or inflammation, symptoms resulting from bony deformities are unlikely to get better.

Injections of the spinal joints can be useful for relief of acute pain for otherwise intractable discomfort. Naturally, any spine injection should be performed by a physician with training in spine injection techniques. These injections should be done with xray assistance (flouroscopy) to ensure accuracy.

Evidentiary support for mobility (physiotherapy) or manipulative (chiropractic) therapies has shown an observed improvement in perceived pain and immobility in mechanical neck disorders. However such therapies are not supported as being of greater use in relieving pain and inflammation than conventional medicine and neither was identified as being superior to the other.

Surgery:
There are many different surgical procedures to correct spinal deformity. The vertebra can be approached by the surgeon from the front, side, or rear. Portions of a disc may be removed. To prevent further dislocation, fusion of two vertebrae may be done by taking pieces of bone from the patient’s hip and inserting them between the two vertebrae which are fused together and secured by screws.

AYURVEDIC TREATMENT:
Any external massage is not of much use. Violent massage with deep pressure is very harmful for the patient. Only gentle massage over the muscles of the neck and shoulder joints should be applied and for this purpose Mahanarayan taila is best suited. This gentle massage can be given 2-3 times a day .In winter season; this medicated oil should be gently warmed before application.

Guggulu, gum resin extracted from the plant is the best medicine for the treatment of this condition. Ayurvedic physicians for the treatment of this condition popularly use a compound preparation named as simhanada guggulu. It is given in a dose of 2-4 tablets, 4 times a day. Usually hot water or hot milk id given to the patient after the administration of this medicines. This medicine has slightly laxative effects. For the patient to recover from this ailment, it is necessary that this bowel should move clearly and regularly. This medicine is very much helpful for this purpose. For patients having clear motions, this medicines should be given in a dose of 2 tablets and constipated patients the dose should be 4 tablets. If the constipation is not relieved even by taking 4 tablets the dose can be further increased to 6 tablets.

At night some medicines should be given to the patients, which will act as a purgative. Triphala powder is the best medicine for this purpose. One teaspoonful of triphala should be given to the patient, mixed with a cup of warm milk and one spoon of sugar. In the motions become regular by the intake of simbanada guggulu, then triphala powder should be given only twice a week otherwise it can be given every day.

Hot fomentation on the vertebrae of the neck is very useful for this condition. In a big handkerchief about 500gms of salt should be kept over a frying pan till it becomes tolerably hot. Then this should be applied over the neck. Care should be taken to see that it not too hot. In that case, it may cause burns. Sometime patients suffering from cervical Spondylosis develop some anesthetic patches in the back, neck, shoulders and arms because of the pressure from nervous systems .the patient is therefore not able to feel the quantum of heat applied during fomentation. It should therefore be the responsibility of the attendant to examine the heat of the bolus before applying it it on the affected parts. This fomentation should be continued about ½ an hour every day .After fomentation the affected part should not be exposed to cold wind. In winter season therefore immediately after fomentation, the affected part should be covered with some woolen garment. In other seasons also the affected part should be kept covered with some cotton garments after fomentation. It is very convenient to take the fomentation before bedtime. After the fomentation the patient should go to sleep so that he does not run the risk of exposure.

DIET : Sour things particularly curd, are strictly prohibited. Fried things, pulses and various preparations of pulses are also contra- indicated in this condition. Bitter vegetables like bitter variety of drumstick, neem flowers and bitter gourd are very useful. Wheat is better than rice for the patient. He should however, avoid taking refined wheat which is known as maida (flour) and suji (semolina). To some extent they are constipated and do not help the patient in the recovery.

LIFESTYLE: Exposure to cold ,cold bath and any violent exercise of the neck muscles, including pressure, are very bad for the patients. Under the impression that this pain is being caused by some defects in the muscles, people undertake different types of neck exercises .While reading and writing ,one should maintain a comfortable posture. Morning walk gives some relief to the patient, but if it is cold outside the patient should always use a woolen scarf around his neck while going out of the house.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.

Help taken from:en.wikipedia.org and Allayurveda.com

Categories
Yoga

Some Breathing Exercises For Body & Soul

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The essence of yoga lies in BREATHING.Get to know it like your best friend because it will always be there for you as long as you live.Breathing is healing,soothing,cleansing and wholesome, bringing freedom to the body and mind.Take a pause to notice how many times you freeze to breathe……The answer , never.

In Yoga the mouth is rarely used for Asanas/Postures. Breathing Exercises help to :

1. Strengthen lungs and build resistance to conquer respiratory disorders.

2. Stimulate optimum oxygen and blood circulation to different parts of the body.(anatomically and physiologically)

3. Realise that your breath is your life force , or prana , which when awakened increase your life span.

Let me jot down a very few out of many breathing exercises that can be regularly practiced to help fight psychosomatic disorders like anxity,asthma,pain,cancer,constipation,depression,fatigue,headaches, hypertention,insomnis and obesity.

DEEP BREATHING:
———————-
Standing tall on your feet,with erect spine and gaze straight,bring your arms with palms joined in front in line with the shoulders.

Inhail deeply, spreading your arms away from each other and exhale deeply while brining them back togather to the starting position.

Coordinate your breathing with the movement of your arms.

Repeat 10-20 times.

Feel the deep sense of freedom and control over your breathing, specially after an exhausting day at work.

YOGA BREATHING:
———————-
The poster is same as deep breathing .

Place your arms by the sides and keep your eyes closed.Inhale slowly to raise both the arms togather and exhale smoothly by brining them back to the start position.

Coordinate your breathing .

Repeat 10 times with ease,as it detoxifies the mind and body.

DEEP BREATHING WITH RESISTANCE.
———————————————-
Holding the same poster ,first the palm like a shell brining it close to the mouth and keep eyes open.

Inhale from the mouth and exhale from blowing the air from the mouth right into the clenched fist that acts as a resistance to the blowing.

Blow with cheeks puffed like blowing air into the balloon.

Repeat 10 times.

This exercise immediatly refreshes the whole face and head with blood.Lungs regain their tone and strength. Deep blowing also stregthen the cervical spine (neck) muscles.

Source:Meera Vaghani’s (Yoga therapist) journal on The Telegraph, (e mail:yoga therapist,at12@abpmail.com)