First Choice Neurology

Brain & Life Magazine

Brain & Life Magazine is a free publication and website for patients and caregivers from the American Academy of Neurology. It covers a range of topics including multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, epilepsy, concussion, Parkinson’s disease, movement disorders, neuropathy, sleep disorders, migraines, and much, much more.

December 2022/January 2023 Issue

Brain & Life Magazine

Chris Hemsworth Pushes His Limits to Learn How the Brain and Body Age
Chris Hemsworth's recent ruminations on aging coincided with an offer to participate in a limited-run TV series co-produced by National Geographic that would take him through a set of physical, mental, and emotional challenges in pursuit of living better and longer.
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14 Ways to Get Motivated to Exercise
Plenty of people lack the motivation to exercise, but those with neurologic disorders may face more stumbling blocks, such as poor mobility and balance, muscle weakness, pain, depression, and feeling self-conscious or embarrassed, according to a 2016 study in Disability and Rehabilitation.
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October/November 2022 Issue

October/November Brain & Life

Gabby Giffords Doesn't Let Aphasia Stop Her From Speaking Out
Former U.S. representative Gabrielle Giffords felt trapped when she regained consciousness after being shot in the head during a gathering with constituents. As a result, Giffords has aphasia, a disorder of speech and language that affects many stroke and traumatic brain injury, survivors.
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How Does Daylight Saving Time Affect Health?
Changing between standard time and daylight saving time twice a year disrupts more than just sleep, experts say. They describe other health effects and explain which time might be best and why.
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August/September 2022 Issue

August/September Brain & Life

Melissa Gilbert Shares How She's Free of Chronic Pain
Her back and neck pain started in the mid-'90s when she injured herself on the set of her TV series Sweet Justice and herniated the C5-C6 disk in her neck. (The vertebrae that make up the spine are cushioned by disks; when one bulges severely or herniates, it can cause weakness, numbness, and nerve pain.) After meeting with a doctor, Gilbert agreed to try everything to avoid surgery. “I had physical therapy, regular massages, and acupuncture,” she says. “But by 2001 the pain got to be too much, and I ended up having cervical fusion surgery.
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How to Relieve Neck and Back Pain without Surgery
People with neck or back pain often believe they should take it easy, but a robust body of evidence suggests just the opposite: Strength training, physical activity, and education aimed at reducing fear of injury are the most effective prevention and management tools. Experts recommend a multidisciplinary approach that includes these strategies.
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June/July 2022 Issue

Brain & Life Magazine - June/July 2022

Lindsey Vonn Describes Her Mother’s Strength After Stroke
For skier Lindsey Vonn, the strength to persevere despite many injuries comes from her mother, who had a stroke at the time of Lindsey's birth. For Vonn's entire life, her mother has been dealing with the aftereffects of a stroke she experienced 38 weeks into her pregnancy. Initially given a 50-50 chance of survival, Krohn went on to recover far beyond her doctors' expectations, become a lawyer, and have four more children.
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How to Return to the Office on Your Own Terms
Many people with neurologic conditions are reluctant to give up working remotely. Understand your rights and options so you can return—or not—in your own way. Returning to the office can present unique challenges for people with neurologic conditions, who may be able to manage their health better by working from home.
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April/May 2022 Issue

April/May Issue Brain & Life image

Why Do Neurologists Ask About Your Family History?
Neurologists ask about which diseases and medical conditions have affected your biological relatives because family health history is a risk factor for some neurologic conditions, such as certain types of epilepsy and movement disorders. It's important to remember that with certain disorders, including Alzheimer's disease and stroke, even if you have a family history you can manage or lower modifiable risk factors such as high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes.
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More Evidence Suggests Fish Is Good for Brain Health
Eating fish regularly may shield delicate blood vessels in the brain from subtle damage that can lead to mild cognitive impairment, dementia, or stroke, according to recent research. Those who ate fish at least twice a week were less likely to have signs of blood vessel damage in the brain than those who consumed fish no more than once a week.
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February/March 2022 Issue

Brain & Life February

How Music Affects Memory in Those with Dementia
Most people aren't connected to music the way Tony Bennett is, but virtually everyone has songs they love. And music can reengage a person with dementia. Over the past two decades, a substantial body of research has demonstrated that music in all its forms arouses, stimulates, and organizes many areas of the brain.
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Genetic Testing May Influence Treatment of Neurologic Disorders
Identifying genetic mutations associated with neurologic disorders may influence treatment and management—and inform decisions about getting tested. A genetic disorder caused by variations in a gene known as FMR1, fragile X syndrome is the most common inherited cause of intellectual disability, affecting about one in 2,500 to 4,000 males and one in 7,000 to 8,000 females. The link between mutations in FMR1 and fragile X was identified in the early 1990s by a team of scientists, who named the mutation FRAXA.
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December 2021/January 2022 Issue

Brain & Life Magazine

Understanding the Different Types of Neuropathy
Comedian George Lopez was born with a genetic condition that causes kidney disease. In the years before he had a transplant in 2005, Lopez likely experienced uremic neuropathy—a painful neurologic complication of chronic kidney disease. Neuropathy, which involves degeneration of nerves, can cause numbness, prickling, a burning sensation, stabbing pain, or even electric shocks of pain.
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Can a Vitamin Deficiency Cause Neurologic Problems?
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can lead to a wide range of neurologic problems. They also can occur because of certain diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, that affect the absorption of vitamins and minerals. A deficiency of vitamin B12 can cause cognitive impairment and myeloneuropathy—damage to the spinal cord and peripheral nerves in the legs—resulting in difficulty walking, weakness, numbness, and poor coordination. Doctors recommend checking B12 levels, especially for anyone being evaluated for dementia or neuropathy.
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October/November 2021 Issue

Brain & Life Magazine - October/November 2021

Mandy Moore Raises Awareness of Alzheimer’s Disease
She plays a character with dementia on the TV show This Is Us. After filming her last scene for the 2019 Thanksgiving episode of This Is Us, Mandy Moore rushed back to her trailer, shut the door, and burst into tears. “I had all this emotion pent up that I was holding back, and I had to let it go,” she recalls. She is now joining the fight against Alzheimer's.
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The Power of Pilates for People with Stroke and Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Many people who've had a stroke can benefit from regular exercise. It increases cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength, which can improve function. Neurologists agree and recommend it for a wide range of neurologic conditions.
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August/September 2021 Issue

August/September issue of Brain and Life

Gary Sinise Supports Veterans with Brain Injury and PTSD
Actor Gary Sinise established a foundation that supports Veterans with brain injury, PTSD, and emotional wellness of returning soldiers and emergency medical personnel. Sinise seeks to remove the stigma surrounding posttraumatic stress and other psychological difficulties.
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Losing Weight Is Good for Brain Health
Research has indicated that losing weight can make various neurologic disorders more manageable. Studies published showed weight loss could improve quality of life in patients with multiple sclerosis, migraine headaches, and the severity of obstructive sleep apnea.
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June/July 2021 Issue

June/July issue of Brain and Life

Five Habits to Possibly Lower the Risk for Alzheimer's Disease
A new review published pinpointed several significant risk factors—and offered a list of habits people can adopt to possibly lower their risk for the disease. Most of these recommendations revolve around five key areas: exercise, nutrition, mental fitness, sleep, and emotional well-being.
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Underlying Neurologic Conditions and the COVID-19 Vaccine
Many people with neurologic disorders are concerned that the COVID-19 vaccine may exacerbate their symptoms or produce debilitating side effects. In general, neurologists assure their patients that the vaccines are as safe for them as for anyone else. In fact, the vaccine is more beneficial to them, because having a neurologic disorder could raise people's risk of getting severely ill, or having their disorders worsen if they contract COVID-19.
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April/May 2021 Issue

Brain & Life Magazine

Larry King's Resilience After Stroke
In many ways, King's longevity was a miracle. He had a heart attack and bypass surgery in his early fifties was diagnosed with diabetes and lung cancer in 2017 and had a massive stroke in 2019 that put him in a coma for days and left him unable to walk on his own.
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Promising Epilepsy Research and New Treatments Give Hope to Patients
Valtoco and Nayzilam, two benzodiazepine nasal sprays, have been approved for the acute treatment of seizure clusters; both are considered rescue medications used to stop a seizure quickly and prevent it from escalating to a medical emergency. They can be given during a bout of seizures or used to interrupt a cluster of repeated seizures.
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February/March 2021 Issue


CNN correspondent and neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta advocates for better brain health
His new book, Keep Sharp, is about optimizing brain health. “Most adults recognize the importance of brain health but have no idea how to achieve it or even if it's possible,” Dr. Gupta says. “I wanted to show how to do it.”
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How a Plant-Based Diet May Lower Risk of Parkinson’s Disease
Healthy eating habits such as consuming plenty of vegetables, choosing whole grains over refined carbohydrates, and getting protein from nuts and fish rather than red meat may help stave off symptoms associated with the early stages of Parkinson's disease, at least two studies have shown.
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December 2020/January 2021 Issue

Brain & Life Magazine

TV Journalists Bill and Willie Geist Spread the Word About Parkinson’s Disease
After he went public with his diagnosis of Parkinson's disease, TV journalist Bill Geist enlisted his son, Willie, to help increase awareness about the progressive movement disorder. The former CBS Sunday Morning correspondent and best-selling author was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1992, he and his wife, Jody Lewis Geist, kept it a secret from their children, Willie and Libby, for more than 10 years.
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COVID-19 Vaccines: What You Need to Know
With promising news about vaccines for COVID-19 coming in 2021, learn what’s involved in delivering them safely and effectively. The goal of OWS is to produce and deliver 300 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, with initial doses available by January 2021, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.
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October/November 2020 Issue

Brain & Life Magazine October/November Issue

Peter Frampton Found New Purpose After Inclusion Body Myositis (IBM) Diagnosis
Frampton was referred to a neurologist, who instructed the musician during the exam to make a fist and keep it tight. Despite Frampton's efforts, the doctor could easily pry the fingers back from his palm. The doctor also asked Frampton to jump 10 times on each leg. On his right leg, he had no problem; on his left, he could manage only four jumps. After laboratory testing, the neurologist sat Frampton down and told him "You have IBM [inclusion body myositis]." IBM is a progressive neuromuscular disorder, but it's not fatal.
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Is There a Link Between COVID-19 and Stroke?
Both research and anecdotal evidence suggest a link between COVID-19 and increased risk of stroke, a phenomenon that emergency department physicians and neurologists began reporting within weeks of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. Some patients came to the hospital because of a stroke and tested positive for COVID-19, and others had a stroke after being admitted for the virus.
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August/September 2020 Issue

Brain & Life Magazine

Emilia Clarke, The Game of Thrones Actor Emerged Stronger After Two Brain Aneurysms
Clarke's first aneurysm occurred in February 2011. She experienced a headache so intense she could barely put on her sneakers. What followed was a blur: a siren, an ambulance, jumbled voices, a brain MRI. And then a diagnosis: She'd had a subarachnoid hemorrhage, a type of stroke generally caused when an aneurysm—a balloon-like bulge in an artery—ruptures and spills blood into the space surrounding the brain.
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Why Does COVID-19 Affect Men More Severely Than Women?
Researchers try to tease out why fewer women are dying of COVID-19 than men and whether their advantage makes them more vulnerable to autoimmune diseases. Many aspects of the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 still puzzle scientists and clinicians, especially as the data continue to evolve.
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June/July 2020 Issue

Brain and Life Magazine

How Does COVID-19 Cause a Loss of Smell and Taste?
Studies are underway to determine how COVID-19 causes a loss of smell. Some people with COVID-19 who have lost their sense of smell and taste have reported a return of function within a few weeks; many others, however, have not noticed such a return.
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Dealing with a Chronic Neurologic Condition is often Stressful during COVID-19
It's natural to feel anxious after a stroke or after a diagnosis of a chronic neurologic condition like multiple sclerosis (MS) or Parkinson's disease, where the course can be uncertain and possibly debilitating. But when the whole world is experiencing a collective surge of anxiety about their health and the health of loved ones, it can add an emotional burden.
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April/May 2020 Issue

Brain & Life Magazine - April/May 2020

People with Neurologic Conditions may be Especially Vulnerable to COVID-19
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified older adults and people with serious chronic medical conditions, like heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes, as at especially high risk of getting very sick. So too are people with chronic neurologic conditions, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, ALS, myasthenia gravis, and other disorders.
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Foods That May Protect Against Dementia
Older adults who munched, crunched, and sipped the most flavonols—beneficial compounds in the fruit, vegetables, tea, and wine—were 48 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than people who consumed the least, according to a January 2019 report in Neurology.
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February/March 2020 Issue

February March Issue Brain & Life Magazine

Lynda Carter Advocates for Those with Alzheimer’s Disease
Since her late mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease Carter has played her most important role in advocating for more awareness and research funding for the disease. She recently began lending her name and support to Maria Shriver's Women's Alzheimer's Movement. She also serves on an executive committee for the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded in 1998 by the Lauder family to support Alzheimer's disease research worldwide.
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Scientists say we need shut-eye to keep the brain healthy and guard against cognitive decline.
Like many patients with neurologic conditions, Jaffe takes medication that can interfere with sleep. One such drug, ropinirole (Requip)—which is prescribed for restless legs syndrome and causes impulsive behavior in some people—leaves Jaffe feeling revved up and unwilling to put away a project, no matter how late it gets.
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December 2019/January 2020 Issue

Brain and Life Magazine - December/January Issue

Kristin Chenoweth Says Migraines Almost Ended Her Career
Identifying triggers and finding the right combination of medications help actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth manage her migraine attacks. Chenoweth says light, even from a smartphone's tiny camera, can bring on a migraine with aura—a temporary visual loss or disturbance—intense nausea, and crippling head pain, as well as room-spinning vertigo.
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Cooking Could Benefit Patients with Alzheimer's
After a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, a renowned cookbook author continues cooking with help from friends. Their tips may be useful for others with dementia.
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October/November 2019 Issue

Brain & Life Magazine

Actor Dash Mihok Explains How Tourette Syndrome Shaped His Career
Tourette syndrome typically is diagnosed in childhood. In the United States, one in 100 people may have milder symptoms and about 200,000 have a severe form of Tourette's, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
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Neurologic Conditions Can Lead to Depression
Depression is common with conditions like epilepsy, stroke, and Parkinson's disease. Learn how to identify and deal with this mood disorder.
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August/September 2019 Issue

Brain and Life August/September Issue

Journalist Ann Curry hopes Crowdsourcing can Solve Medical Mysteries
A live television series that uses crowdsourcing to connect people who have undiagnosed or misdiagnosed medical conditions with experts around the world sounded almost impossible to do in a responsible way.
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Why MS patients may Benefit from Aggressive Early Treatment
Research shows that treatment at the first sign of the disease may be best for most patients with multiple sclerosis. Disease severity and symptoms vary from person to person, but MS commonly causes problems with vision, walking, and balance, as well as unusual fatigue, pain, muscle weakness or spasms, numbness and tingling, bladder or bowel dysfunction, and cognitive and emotional changes such as depression and anxiety.
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June/July 2019 Issue


Singer Gloria Estefan talks about Surviving a Severe Spinal Injury
Nearly 30 years after fracturing her back in a bus accident, Gloria Estefan is standing tall. At 61, she's performing to adoring crowds, earning distinguished honors, taking her Broadway show to London's West End, and—perhaps most inspiring—championing new research that enables others who are paralyzed to move and walk again.
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Faces of Stroke
Anyone can experience a stroke, regardless of age, sex, or race. Brain and Life magazine interviews five survivors of a stroke. These five survivors attest, recovery is multifaceted too.
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April/May 2019 Issue


Actress Rita Wilson, Ambassador for the Alzheimer's Association
After her mother died of Alzheimer's disease, actress Rita Wilson volunteered to raise awareness and funds on behalf of others with the illness. A diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease in 2010 was traumatic for Wilson and her siblings.
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Transitioning to Assisted Living
Moving to an assisted living facility can be stressful. These tips will help make the move as smooth as possible. When Carolyn Polchow and her siblings approached their mother with the idea of her moving into an assisted living facility, the matriarch's response was a firm no.
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February/March 2019 Issue


Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory (HSAM)
Actress Marilu Henner has a highly superior autobiographical memory, a rare condition identified in only 100 people worldwide. This trait spurs her to advocate for more funding for brain research.
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How Improvisational Techniques Help Engage Dementia Patients
In the years after her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, Karen Stobbe remembers listening to a Beatles song and hearing her mother tell her she had dated one of the musicians. Stobbe's initial urge was to dispute her mother's claim as impossible.
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