Neurosciences

All Articles in the Category ‘Neurosciences’

Priscilla Lives by a Simple Motto and Doesn’t Let Cerebral Palsy Slow Her Down

Priscilla, 7, has always been encouraged to try new things. Although she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at 1 years old, she hasn’t let it slow her down. She lives by the motto: The sky is the limit.

Throughout 7-year-old Priscilla Campos’ life, she’s been empowered by her parents to try new things. Her mother, Shannon Cruz, says their family lives by a simple motto: The sky is the limit.

It’s a lesson Priscilla has taken to heart. She’s always believed she could do anything, and she’s proven she can.

“She reaches for the sky,” said Ruben Campos, Priscilla’s father. “There are no limitations. I always tell her she can do anything, and then she does. She’s incredible.” Read full post »

Researchers Identify Concussion Treatment for Persistent Cases in Children

Carmen Einmo, 16, suffered a concussion after falling off a horse. A new study shows that incorporating psychological care and coordinated care improves outcomes for adolescents with persistent concussion symptoms.

Concussions can create a host of symptoms—headache, dizziness, moodiness, upset stomach and other issues. In most cases, those symptoms eventually dissipate, but about 15% of young people who get concussions struggle with persistent symptoms despite seeing doctors and receiving medical care. The ongoing symptoms interfere with school, social life and physical activity.

Researchers at Seattle Children’s Research Institute published a study today in the journal Pediatrics showing a new intervention for adolescents with persistent post-concussive symptoms that improved health and wellness outcomes significantly. The approach combines cognitive behavioral therapy and coordinated care among providers, schools, patients and families.

“We were pleased to find that using an approach that adds a psychological care component to treating concussions and providing coordination of care in areas of the patient’s life significantly improved outcomes,” said Dr. Cari McCarty, a psychologist and researcher at Seattle Children’s Research Institute who led the study. “This new approach aims to improve the quality of life for patients who were otherwise left to deal with unrelenting concussion symptoms.” Read full post »

Electrical synapses in the brain offer new avenue for epilepsy research and possible treatment

Dr. Philippe Coulon thinks electrical signals directly exchanged between brain cells may hold promise as a potential target for absence epilepsy treatments.

A child with absence epilepsy may be in the middle of doing something—she could be dancing, studying, talking—when all of a sudden she stares off into space for a few moments. Then, as quickly as she drifted off, the child snaps back into whatever she was doing, unaware that the episode occurred.

That brief moment of disconnect from reality is called an absence seizure, and according to the Epilepsy Society, childhood absence epilepsy accounts for 2-8% of all epilepsy diagnoses. Most cases of childhood absence epilepsy end after puberty, but about 30% of cases continue into adulthood or lead to other forms of epilepsy, says Dr. Philippe Coulon, a neuroscientist at Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

“Some kids can have hundreds of these brief seizures a day,” said Coulon. “I can only imagine how hard it is for them to function and have a normal childhood.”

In a study published in the Journal of Physiology, Coulon and his colleagues suggest that electrical signals directly exchanged between brain cells may hold promise as a potential target for absence epilepsy treatments. Read full post »

Researchers Discover Area of Brain That Controls Breathing

This image shows neurons in the newly identified PiCo region of the brain. The researchers used staining techniques to identify the chemical identity of the neurons, which helps give insight into their function.

This image shows neurons in the newly identified PiCo region of the brain. The researchers used staining techniques to identify the chemical identity of the neurons, which helps give insight into their function.

Neuroscientists at Seattle Children’s Research Institute have discovered an area of the brain that plays a key role in breathing. In a study published in the journal Nature the researchers describe the newly identified area of the brain, which they found plays a key role in exhalation.

“In healthy people, breathing is something we do whether or not we consciously think about it,” said Dr. Nino Ramirez, Director of the Center for Integrative Brain Research at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. “This paper describes a part of the brain that is active during passive exhalation, which is important for swallowing, speaking, coughing, and other behaviors that occur after an inhalation.”

The researchers called this region of the brain the postinspiratory complex, or PiCo. Further study and understanding of how this region of the brain works could lead to the development of new treatments for certain neurodegenerative diseases that involve breathing abnormalities.

Read full post »

Care Team Brings Prom to Teenager Waiting for a New Heart, Helps Her Attend Graduation With a Second Chance at Life

Bella Anderson, 18, missed nearly two months of her senior year waiting for a heart at Seattle Children's.

Bella Anderson, 18, missed nearly two months of her senior year waiting for a heart at Seattle Children’s.

Isabella (Bella) Anderson, 18, was running out of time. Her heart was failing and doctors didn’t know how much more it could withstand. She needed a change in luck and some good news.

Finally, Bella got just that: a surprise and the news she’d been waiting for.

A long road to transplant

At only 10 years old, Bella went to see the doctor for strep throat, but doctors found something more alarming: a heart murmur. She was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle’s wall.

From that day forward, she was monitored closely by Seattle Children’s Heart Center, one of the best pediatric cardiology and cardiac surgery programs in the U.S., and the top-ranked program in the Pacific Northwest, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Unfortunately, as time progressed, so did her heart condition. Cardiomyopathy reduces the heart’s ability to pump blood effectively and can lead to congestive heart failure.

Slowly, her heart began to fail. Read full post »

One Mom’s Journey Inspires Her to Build a Community for Kids and Families Affected by Pediatric Stroke

Addison

Addison, 3, suffered a stroke at birth.

Words can hit like a ton of bricks. For Kaysee Hyatt, it was four words that hit her so hard her world momentarily stopped.

At the start of a weekend camping trip with her family, she received a call from her doctor with the results of her daughter’s magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), “It was a stroke.” The world faded before Hyatt and the isolation of such a diagnosis set in, not only for her, but for her baby girl, Addison.

Before that moment, Hyatt had never heard of pediatric stroke, but as she would find out, it was not that uncommon. Approximately one in 2,000 newborns have a stroke each year. For children age 1 to 18, stroke occurs in about 1 out of every 20,000. Addison suffered her stroke during birth.

Addison’s family noticed something was wrong in her first few months of life; her mobility was limited and she completely favored her right side. When she was 6 months old, they received the diagnosis that explained why.

Stroke happens when blood that carries oxygen stops flowing to the brain. Within minutes, brain cells can begin to die, which can lead to stroke symptoms and can sometimes cause neurological issues or death. Read full post »

Boy Donates Part of His Brain to Science, Researchers Discover Major Cause of Epilepsy

Alden Bernate, 12, needed neurosurgery to stop his relentless seizures. Brain tissue donated from that surgery led to a discovery of a gene linked to intractable epilepsy.

Alden Bernate, 12, is only a middle school student, but he’s already played a big part in groundbreaking epilepsy research. He donated brain tissue for scientific research after he had surgery to disconnect part of his brain that was causing severe seizures.

The human genetics team at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, led by Dr. Ghayda Mirzaa and Dr. William Dobyns, used Alden’s brain tissue along with the tissue from other patients to discover a new gene mutation that can cause intractable epilepsy. The finding opens the door to potential treatments that target that gene. The team’s findings are published in the current issue of JAMA Neurology. Read full post »

How a Neurosurgeon’s Gifted Hands Saved an Artist’s Creative Mind

Nina was at Seattle Children’s selling her art to raise money for the hospital when a chance encounter reunited her with Dr. Richard G. Ellenbogen, the doctor who performed her life-saving operation.

Neurosurgeon Dr. Richard G. Ellenbogen and his former patient Nina Jubran share two important skills: As a surgeon and an artist, they both have great attention to detail and hands that are used to doing very delicate work. They also have another profound connection: Ellenbogen saved Nina’s life 12 years ago today when she came in for neurosurgery to remove a dangerous brain tumor.

Nina, 22, is an artist and a student at the University of Washington studying sociology. In her spare time, she makes and sells delicate clay figurines like miniature scenes of penguins fishing, ornate bouquets and families of teddy bears. To thank Ellenbogen for saving her life, Nina made him clay figurines 12 years ago of a teddy bear and puppies that still sit on his desk.

Recently, Nina was at Seattle Children’s selling her figurines to raise money for the hospital when a chance encounter reunited her with the doctor who performed her life-saving operation. Ellenbogen was having a busy day with surgeries, and he went out for a quick cup of coffee before heading into his next operation.

“When I saw Nina, my heart skipped a beat,” Ellenbogen said. “It made my day to run into a former patient. I am so proud that she is out there being successful and doing what she loves. That is what drives me as a doctor.” Read full post »

New Research Links Zika Virus to Brain Defects

This image compares the brain of a baby that has developed normally (top), the brain of a baby that has developed primary microcephaly (middle), and the brain of a baby from Brazil whose mother contracted Zika virus during her pregnancy (bottom). The bottom image indicates several abnormalities, including a severe reduction in brain size, excess fluid around the brain (external hydrocephalus) and calcifications in the brain tissue that indicate abnormal brain development. IMAGE CREDIT: Dr. Lavinia Schuler-Faccini, Genetics Department, Federal University in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

This image compares the brain of a baby that has developed normally (top), the brain of a baby that has developed primary microcephaly (middle), and the brain of a baby from Brazil whose mother contracted Zika virus during her pregnancy (bottom). The bottom image indicates several abnormalities, including a severe reduction in brain size, excess fluid around the brain (external hydrocephalus) and calcifications in the brain tissue that indicate abnormal brain development. IMAGE CREDIT: Dr. Lavinia Schuler-Faccini, Genetics Department, Federal University in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

New research out today in the journal Cell Stem Cell indicates a likely link between the Zika virus and abnormal brain development. Scientists are studying if the spread of Zika by mosquitoes in Latin America is linked to the increased rates of microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with unusually small heads. The study was conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Florida State University and Emory University.

Dr. William Dobyns, a pediatric neurogeneticist at the Center for Integrative Brain Research at Seattle Children’s Research Institute who treats and studies microcephaly, sat down with On the Pulse to discuss the new research published today.

Q: Does this new study published today indicate a link between the Zika virus and microcephaly in newborns?

Dobyns: The scientists who did this work confirmed that when developing brain cells are exposed to the Zika virus, it interferes with normal brain development.

The scientists studied what would happen if neural stem cells, which are the basic building blocks of a developing brain, were exposed to the Zika virus. These neural stem cells give rise to neurons and provide the scaffolding that allows the rest of the brain to develop properly. When neural stem cells do not develop normally, it interferes with brain development.

The paper showed that the 90% of neural stem cells exposed to Zika were infected and began to make copies of the virus. Many of the cells died or were unable to divide and create normal brain cells.

Q: What does this research mean for the scientific community studying the Zika virus?

Dobyns: This research helps scientists understand how the Zika virus could be leading to the birth defects we are seeing. It gives us a path to research drugs and vaccines to prevent Zika infection from causing brain defects. Read full post »

Microcephaly: Neurologists Answer Questions in Light of Zika Outbreak

The World Health Organization has declared the Zika virus and its potential link to birth defects a global health emergency. Zika virus is carried mainly by a species of mosquito called Aedes aegypti.

The World Health Organization has declared the Zika virus and its potential link to birth defects a global health emergency. Scientists are studying if the spread of Zika in Latin America is linked to the increased rates of microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with unusually small heads. Zika virus is transmitted mainly through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquito.

Dr. William Dobyns and Dr. Ghayda Mirzaa are pediatric neurogeneticists and researchers at the Center for Integrative Brain Research at Seattle Children’s Research Institute who treat and study microcephaly. On the Pulse sat down with them to discuss microcephaly.

Q: What is microcephaly?

Mirzaa: Microcephaly is a condition in which a fetus or baby’s head size is abnormally small, defined as more than two standard deviations below average. The smaller head size reflects abnormal or decreased brain growth. Microcephaly affects about 2% of newborns, while severe microcephaly, defined as a head size more than three standard deviations below average, is seen in less than 0.1% of newborns.

Microcephaly occurs as the only birth defect in many children, but it can also occur with a wide range of additional abnormalities including other brain defects. When a baby has microcephaly, a neurologist or geneticist will order tests to determine the cause. Read full post »