Technology Helps Explain Medication Failure

In almost every area of medicine, doctors can order tests to provide objective physical data to guide their medication selection. However, the practice of psychiatry is most often based on observation, self-report and psychological testing. It appears that we are better at measuring impairment than we are at identifying the source and prescribing an effective medication. Is there a way we can do better?

The director of the National Institute of Mental Health, Tomas Insel, suggests there are many medicines, but they are not working adequately. This is because the symptoms of mental illness are too illusive and are shared by many diagnoses. Insel (2012) says, “It’s much harder to fix something if you don’t know what is going wrong.” Medications are being prescribed to treat a set of symptoms suggestive of a specific disorder without any objective evidence of the cause. Additionally, the practice of polypharmacy has become way too common in children and adolescents.

Pharmaceutical industry advertising promotes adding a medication when the first medication fails to produce the desired results (i.e., adding Abilify to your antidepressant). The message is that when one medication fails, keep adding more in an effort to address the additional symptoms. Each additional medication increases the risk of side effects. It is not uncommon for children to come to us with several medications prescribed. Last month, for example, we saw a 9-year-old female with prescriptions for Olanzapine three times a day, Lithium Carbonate daily and Amphetamine Salts three times a day. Also, a 10-year-old male came to us on Focolin three times a day, Seroquel twice a day, Lexipro daily and Zyprexa daily. If there was a way to determine why a medication failed, would it not be prudent to investigate why? If current technology could help?

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Electroencephalography (EEG) Underused Investigative Tool in Hospitals, Study Finds

A retrospective study of patients who had in-hospital electroencephalography (EEG) has established that EEG is a valuable tool that could be deployed more widely to identify treatable causes of impaired consciousness in the hospital setting.

The study is published in the April issue of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Altered mental status (AMS) and paroxysmal spells of uncertain origin are common among hospitalized patients. Impaired consciousness can sometimes be linked to metabolic or cardiac causes, but some of these spells may represent seizures or non-convulsive epilepsy, which can be detected only by electroencephalography (EEG). Although EEG is the key test in making these diagnoses, it is relatively underused in the inpatient setting owing to lack of availability and neurologic consultation at many hospitals in the United States.

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Association between ADHD and intensity of sunlight: Can ADHD be prevented?

Nijmegen, March 26th, 2013 – A study published today in Biological Psychiatry sheds new light on the increasing rates (prevalence) of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, known as ADHD. Children with ADHD have problems with inattention, distractibility, disorganization, impulsiveness, and overactivity. This study found that “sunny” regions with high solar intensity, such as the US states of California, Arizona, and Colorado, and countries like Spain and Mexico have lower prevalence of ADHD. An apparent protective effect of sunlight accounted for 34-57% of the variance in ADHD prevalence. The authors speculate that this may be related to sunlight’s effects on preventing circadian rhythm (“biological clock”) disturbances. These results suggest ways to prevent or treat ADHD for a substantial sub-group of patients…

Read the article here.

Read the full PDF paper “Geographic Variation in the Prevalence of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: The Sunny Perspective” by Martijn Arns, Kristiaan B. van der Heijden, L. Eugene Arnold, and J. Leon Kenemans.

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NHS NICE) has published final guidance recommending the use of brain monitoring technology

The healthcare guidance body NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NHS NICE) has published final guidance recommending the use of brain monitoring technology such as the Bispectral Index (BIS, Covidien), E-Entropy (GE Healthcare) and Narcotrend-Compact M (MT MonitorTechnik GmbH & Co).  These EEG-based depth of anaesthesia monitors should be considered as positive options in patients receiving total intravenous anaesthesia (TIVA) and in patients who are considered at higher risk of adverse outcomes during any type of general anaesthesia, such as seniors, those with high body mass index, and those with cardiovascular and liver disease.

EEG based Brain Monitoring Systems helps clinicians assess patient consciousness levels through measuring the electrical activity in the brain. This includes patients who are at higher risk of unintended awareness (anesthesia too light) and also those patients who are at higher risk from excessively deep anaesthesia.

Superior surgical outcomes, the low cost of the testing and the ease of use of these technologies all contribute to the recommendations.

You can access these documents through ASET (www.ASET.org)

Move up to modern de-artifacting

There is an on-going dispute regarding de-artifacting methods used in qEEG.  Though there are vested interests counseling against the use of modern techniques to remove artifact while leaving the underlying EEG intact, there are also those who have specialized in the area that can provide a detailed reply to the vested interests.  Just such a reply was posted recently in a commercial list server, and we got the author’s permission to re-post the discussion on the qEEGSupport.com website in a non-commercial publicly accessible form for all to see.

It specifically points to the fact that the phase changes seen are due to removal of artifact, not the distortion of the underlying EEG, which has residual subtle artifacts remaining if processed with classical approaches.

If you cut time segments out of the EEG to remove artifacts, you also remove the underlying connectivity information, splicing discontinuous microstates together destroys the underlying time series.

In the give and take of the real world of neuroscience, the need to provide a valid time-series showing the connectivity of the neural networks, yet free of artifact, is driving the need to switch to more modern techniques than snipping out segments of time.  If you want to distort the timeline of the EEG (phase) just cut and paste lots of EEG together in one second chunks.

The neuroscience community will undoubtedly continue to discuss these issues, but the need for clean valid EEG is driving the field to these newer techniques, and they are performing well under the scrutiny.

Jay Gunkelman

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EEG Complexity as a Biomarker for Autism Spectrum Disorder Risk

William Bosl1,2*, Adrienne Tierney3,4, Helen Tager-Flusberg5, Charles Nelson1,4

Abstract


Background: Complex neurodevelopmental disorders may be characterized by subtle brain function signatures early in life before behavioral symptoms are apparent. Such endophenotypes may be measurable biomarkers for later cognitive impairments. The nonlinear complexity of electroencephalography (EEG) signals is believed to contain information about the architecture of the neural networks in the brain on many scales. Early detection of abnormalities in EEG signals may be an early biomarker for developmental cognitive disorders. The goal of this paper is to demonstrate that the modified multiscale entropy (mMSE) computed on the basis of resting state EEG data can be used as a biomarker of normal brain development and distinguish typically developing children from a group of infants at high risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), defined on the basis of an older sibling with ASD.
Methods: Using mMSE as a feature vector, a multiclass support vector machine algorithm was used to classify typically developing and high-risk groups. Classification was computed separately within each age group from 6 to 24 months.

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House Again Passes Thompson’s Bipartisan Amendment to Improve TBI, PTSD Treatment For Troops & Veterans

Washington, DC, Jul 18 – Congressman Mike Thompson (CA-1), co-chair of the bipartisan Military Veterans Caucus, today again secured the passage of his bipartisan amendment with Congressman Pete Sessions (TX-32) to expedite new and innovative treatments to our nations’ veterans and active duty soldiers suffering from Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This is the second time the House has passed the amendment. In May, the TBI treatment expansion initiative was adopted as a House amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2013 (H.R. 4310), however the Senate has yet to take up this bill. Today it was passed as an amendment to H.R. 5856, the Department of Defense (DOD) Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2013. The amendment passed by voice vote. The House will vote on H.R. 5856 later this week.

“Our troops and veterans have earned the very best treatment and care that we can provide,” said Thompson. “But sometimes the best treatments aren’t available at military and veteran medical facilities. My amendment will make sure that our heroes who return from combat with TBI or PTSD have access to the highest quality care our nation has to offer. I will keep introducing this legislation until it is law. It’s what our heroes have earned.”

“I am pleased that our colleagues have joined us in recognizing the importance of providing treatment options not currently available within military and veteran medical facilities to those who return from combat with TBI or PTSD,” said Sessions. “As we approach the Memorial Day holiday, I believe we can best honor our nation’s active duty soldiers and veterans by ensuring that their health is a top priority and that they have access to the most effective treatments available.”

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Technical Details in EEG Diagnosis of Autism

Many have heard experts in the neurofeeback field state vehemently that the “ICA deartifacting ruins the EEG”, and that “remontaging to a Laplacian montage ruins coherence”. There are internet tutorials attempting to support these opinions. This self-publication on-line on a commercial site is not the same as peer review, and many publish bad opinions without an alternative approach even considered.

Rather than engage in the meaningless back and forth of mere opinions, I thought it was better to wait for the decision of the jury.. a jury of our peers inherent to the peer reviews in professional publications seen in the field of neuroscience. I comfortably accept the judgment of the field’s journal’s editors.

Harvard’s famous Electroencephalographer, Frank Duffy M.D. just published a large scale well designed study. Some of the key aspects in the paper are highlighted and discussed below:

“Remaining eye blink and eye movement artifacts, which may be surprisingly prominent even during the eyes closed state, were removed by utilizing the source component technique [42, 43] as implemented in the BESA (BESA GmbH, Freihamer Strasse 18, 82116 Gräfelfing Germany) software package”

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Head Impact Exposure in Youth Football

Ray W. Daniel1, Steven Rowson and Stefan M. Duma1

(1) Center for Injury Biomechanics, Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University, 440 ICTAS Building, Stanger St., Blacksburg, VA, 24061, USA
Steven Rowson Email: srowson@vt.edu

Received: 1 February 2012  Accepted: 3 February 2012  Published online: 15 February 2012

Associate Editor K. A. Athanasiou oversaw the review of this article.

Abstract

The head impact exposure for athletes involved in football at the college and high school levels has been well documented; however, the head impact exposure of the youth population involved with football has yet to be investigated, despite its dramatically larger population. The objective of this study was to investigate the head impact exposure in youth football. Impacts were monitored using a custom 12 accelerometer array equipped inside the helmets of seven players aged 7–8 years old during each game and practice for an entire season. A total of 748 impacts were collected from the 7 participating players during the season, with an average of 107 impacts per player. Linear accelerations ranged from 10 to 100 g, and the rotational accelerations ranged from 52 to 7694 rad/s2. The majority of the high level impacts occurred during practices, with 29 of the 38 impacts above 40 g occurring in practices. Although less frequent, youth football can produce high head accelerations in the range of concussion causing impacts measured in adults. In order to minimize these most severe head impacts, youth football practices should be modified to eliminate high impact drills that do not replicate the game situations.

Introduction

Sports related concussions have received increased public awareness, with many states considering or implementing laws directing the response to suspected brain injury. This is a result new research suggesting possible links to long-term consequences from repetitive concussions.13,21,22 Emergency department visits for concussions increased 62% between 2001 and 2009, and researchers estimate that between 1.6 and 3.8 million sports related concussion occur each year in the United States.5,19 Of all sports, football accounts for the highest incidence of concussion, and therefore receives the most attention.34 One of the leading thoughts to minimize the incidence of concussion in football is to limit players’ exposure to head impacts.9 Strategies to reduce a player’s exposure to head impact include teaching proper tackling techniques and modifying the rules of the game.  

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