Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Concussions, what are they and how do you move forward?

More and more over the last several years there has been an increase in media attention for one particular type of injury, concussion! Just tune into your morning sports show and you’ll likely hear of someone sustaining a concussion or someone leaving the field/ice because of concussion protocol.

So what is a concussion? A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) induced by biomechanical forces. This means that a concussion is a result of a direct blow to the head, neck, or body with an impulsive force transmitted to the head. The force transmitted to the head, stretches/shears the nerves in the brain putting the body in the excitation phase of the injury. In this phase, there is a rapid onset of short-lived (minutes to hours) impairment of
neurological function that resolves spontaneously. People in this phase often feel confused, lose balance/coordination, have memory loss, seizure, or perhaps experience a loss of consciousness among other symptoms. After this phase passes, the injured person enters a spreading depression phase leaving them feeling sluggish, fatigued, and irritable. The brain used up a ton of energy in the first phase and is now depleted  of its usual stores so that little tasks (physical or cognitive) are energy taxing.

Acute clinical symptoms largely reflect a “functional” disturbance rather than a “structural” disturbance, therefore, there are no abnormalities seen on routine neuroimaging studies, such as MRI or CT scan.

Here’s the good news if you happened to sustain a concussion, many manual therapists are certified to manage concussion cases and at the Coach House, Dr. Mark is certified to do just that!

Concussion management is done on an individual basis by monitoring the tasks that drain the patient’s energy levels affecting their body/mood. This can be:
               - Body pain (muscle/joint soreness, headaches)
               - Cognitive disturbances (reaction time, concentration)
               - Visual/vestibular disruptions (environment)
               - Sleep disruption
               - Secondary anxiety/depression

The goal of therapy is always to get you back to where you want to be and that is back to your normal life.

In addition, the sooner a concussion is addressed, the quicker it can be resolved.  Research shows that a "wait and see" approach has little benefit, yet proactive strategies yield better outcomes.

Dr. Mark Bird, BSc, MSc, Acu, DC
www.thecoachhousetc.ca

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Five Types for Breathing for Relaxation

Are you feeling overtired? Have you been working long hours? Find yourself stuck in the overwhelm? Do you feel like you don't have time to take care of yourself? 


Stressful times affect our whole system from hormonal changes, suppressing the immune system to increasing blood pressure and muscle tension to name a few.


Stress accumulates in our daily lives, therefore it is important to ensure time for self care to help balance the various systems of body. Self care can come in many forms from having a massage or acupuncture treatment, to going for a long walk, attending a yoga or fitness class - just to name a few!

While "big picture" self care is important, it can also be helpful to manage stress as it arises. The good news is that the negative effects of the stress response can be balanced by engaging our relaxation response.


Often when we have a lot on our plate we feel like there is no time to participate in some of the bigger self care activities. Whether that means managing a stressful period or an investment in our daily health, breathing practices can support positive mental and physical health. Proper breathing improves concentration, promotes feelings of well being, and reduces muscle tension and fatigue. Other health benefits include: improved immune function, lowered blood pressure, and increased lung capacity. Breathing practices makes us feel better by calming the mind and releasing endorphins that combat stress hormones.




Five Types for Breathing for Relaxation


The Long Exhale



Level: Beginner 


When to use: During times of stress in the day, at the office, while driving, or other everyday moments of stress. This breath helps induce a relaxation response and when done before bed time promotes healthy sleep. 


Physiology: This breath helps to soothe the Sympathetic nervous system and is great for inducing the relaxation response. It also helps in engaging the lower lobes of our lungs, in maintaining a healthy posture, and in improving sleep. This breath is also important for supporting cardiac function, the circulatory system and immune systems, and can help balance hormones.


Benefits include: 
Reduce Pain
Reduce Muscle Tension
Lower Blood pressure
Support Cardiac function
Support Immune system
Balance Hormones
Improve sleep
Improve posture


Method:
Sitting tall with spine straight and feet flat on the floor take a comfortable breath in through the nose. As you breathe in fill the belly for 4 counts. As you exhale through the nose for 8 counts. The breath should be comfortable so adjust your depth and length to suit. The main importance is that the exhalation takes twice as long as the inhalation to promote the relaxation response. Begin this practice for 2 minutes and over time extend the practice to intervals of 5 and 10 minutes. For a quick mindfulness break do 5 -10 breaths. 
L



Four Part Square Breathing



Level: Beginner 


When to use: During times of stress in the day, at the office, while driving, or other everyday moments of stress. This breath helps induce a relaxation response and when done before bed time promotes healthy sleep. 


Physiology:
This breath helps to soothe the Sympathetic nervous system and is great for inducing the relaxation response. It also helps in engaging the lower lobes of our lungs, in maintaining a healthy posture, and in improving sleep. This breath is also important for supporting cardiac function, the circulatory system and immune systems, and can help balance hormones.


Benefits include:
Reduce Pain
Reduce Muscle Tension
Lower Blood pressure
Support Cardiac function
Support Immune system
Balance Hormones
Improve sleep
Improve posture



Method:
Begin by sitting tall with your spine straight and your feet flat on the floor. Begin with an inhale through the nose for 4 counts. At the top of your inhalation hold for four counts. Exhale slowly through the nose for four counts. Hold the bottom of the exhale for four counts. Adjust your breathing to meet your own personal comfort. If the 4-count pauses are uncomfortable, begin by holding them for two counts. 

Continue like this for a few breaths for a mini session. For longer practices start with this pattern for 2 minutes and over time extend the practice to intervals of 5 and 10 minutes. For a quick mindfulness break do 5 -10 breaths. L  






3 part Yogic Breathing




LevelBeginner - Moderate


When to use: During times of stress in the day, at the office, while driving, or other everyday moments of stress. This breath helps induce a relaxation response and when done before bed time promotes healthy sleep. 


Physiology:
This breath helps to soothe the Sympathetic nervous system and is great for inducing the relaxation response. It also helps in engaging the lower lobes of our lungs, in maintaining a healthy posture, and in improving sleep. This breath is also important for supporting cardiac function, the circulatory system and immune systems, and can help balance hormones.


Benefits include:
Reduce Pain
Reduce Muscle Tension
Lower Blood pressure
Support Cardiac function
Support Immune system
Balance Hormones
Improve sleep
Improve posture



Method:
Begin by sitting tall with your spine straight and your feet flat on the floor. Breathe in deeply through the nose and allow the belly to rise, then the chest rises, and lastly at the end of the inhalation raise the shoulders towards the ears. Begin to roll the shoulders down your back, exhale through the nose as you drop the shoulders, emptying the breath of the chest,and lastly the belly. Continue like this for a few breaths for a mini session. For longer practices start with this pattern for 2 minutes and over time extend the practice to intervals of 5 and 10 minutes. For a quick mindfulness break, do 5 -10 breaths.  




Alternative Nostril Breathing



Level: Moderate

When to use:  This breath is cleansing and stimulating. It can be helpful during times when you need to be focused and alert, such as before a meeting or a test. Other applications include daily stresses you encounter at the office, driving, or at school. This breath helps to balance the left and right lobes of the brain and induce a sense of calm and clarity. 

Physiology:
This breath helps to soothe the Sympathetic nervous system and is great for inducing the relaxation response. It also helps in engaging the lower lobes of our lungs, in maintaining a healthy posture, and in improving sleep. This breath is also important for supporting cardiac function, the circulatory system and immune systems, and can help balance hormones.


Benefits include:
Increases Energy
Promotes Mental Clarity
Reduce Pain
Reduce Muscle Tension
Lower Blood pressure
Support Cardiac function
Support Immune system
Balance Hormones


Method:
Begin by sitting tall with spine straight and feet flat on the floor. Take the thumb of your right hand and block the right nostril. Take a comfortable breath in through the left nostril. Alternate hands releasing the right nostril and taking the pinky of the right hand to block the left nostril. Exhale through the left nostril, then inhale through the same nostril. Alternate hands to release the left nostril and block the right with the thumb. Continue like this for a few breaths for a mini session. For longer practices start with this pattern for 2 minutes and over time extend the practice to intervals of 5 and 10 minutes. For a quick mindfulness break do 5-10 breaths. LL


Cooling Breath




Level: Beginner  


When to use: Helpful for reducing body temperature, regulating hormones, and processing anger. 


Physiology: 
This breath has a soothing effect on the nervous system and reduces blood pressure. It also stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system by triggering a Rest and Digest reaction. This technique is said to help reduce acidity, hypertension, and indigestion.

Benefits include:

Reduce Body Temperature/Fever/Hot Flashes
Reduce Heart rate
Reduce Fatigue
Balance Hormones
Reduce Muscle Tension
Lower Blood pressure
Support Cardiac function
Balance Hormones


Method:
Fill your belly as you breathe in. To exhale, curl the tongue (or if you can't, purse your lips and stick the tip of your tongue out) and exhale through pursed lips in a slow controlled manner. Begin this practice for 2 minutes and over time extend the practice to intervals of 5 and 10 minutes. For a quick mindfulness break do 5-10 breaths. 









If you have questions about anything mentioned in this blog or for booking contact email Megan directly by e-mail: megan@thecoachhousetc.ca
Namaste





Megan Prenty RMT, RYT

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Want more resources like this one? Be sure to check out these related articles:




Finding Balance


Busting Stress


Mindfulness Self Care


Family Friendly Stress Busting Yoga






Disclaimer: The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for general educational purposes only. This information shouldn’t take the place of seeing your primary care provider for individualized health recommendations.


Friday, 4 May 2018

Anxiety and Mental Health with Tammy Benwell


1 in 5 Canadians are affected by mental illness in their lifetime. Some people live with stress and anxiety on a daily basis, while others may be faced with it during challenging times in their lives.  Regardless of the reason, it is essential to develop some positive coping techniques.  As a therapist who often works with clients struggling with stress and anxiety, here are some of my suggestions for managing your stress and/or anxiety on a daily basis:

1.     Sleep – practicing good sleeping habits is essential.  Establishing an evening routine, and going to bed at the same time every night will help start your next day positively. Of course this isn’t always possible, but attempting to incorporate this routine into your evening, even a few times during the week, is beneficial.

2.     Exercise – exercise is essential for reducing stress hormones.  It also helps us with getting a better night’s sleep.

3.     Reduce caffeine intake – yes, I know that this can be one of our many survival techniques, however, caffeine in high doses can actually increase our stress levels.

4.     Write – I know that some people don’t enjoy journaling, however, if you are constantly ruminating on the same thought, it might be helpful to jot some ideas/thoughts on a piece of paper to get it out of the feedback loop occurring in your brain.

5.     Chewing gum – I know, right . . . it seems silly. However, it actually increases blood flow to the brain, which can be helpful in stressful situations.

6.     Socializing – prioritize spending time with people who make us feel good such as our friends, family, or people who we share a common interest with.

7.     Saying no – we have been taught that saying no is a bad thing . . . have you ever heard anyone justify a “yes” response?  Never!  But when we say no, we often feel the need to explain our reasoning. NO is an answer all in itself, and saying it when you need to is very important. Try it, you just might like it!

8.     Practice mindfulness – this can be in the form of a yoga class, meditation class, or independently.  If you are like me, you may prefer to practice mindfulness simply during your everyday activities by focusing on specific tasks or surroundings, what do you smell, taste, hear, or see?

9.     Deep Breathing – practicing deep breathing can help us to find peace in highly stressful situations. The shallow breaths that we are used to taking can be overwhelming, whereas deep breathing assists with relaxation.

10.  Healthy Eating – maintaining a healthy diet is a crucial component to managing stress, when we eat unhealthy foods we often feel lethargic and have little energy to invest in using our other coping skills.







Tammy Benwell is a Registered Social Worker who holds an undergraduate degree in Social Work from the University of Waterloo and Master’s degree in Social Work from Wilfrid Laurier University. Her formal training focused on interventions for individuals, families, and groups, across various therapeutic orientations.
Ms. Benwell has been afforded extensive opportunities working in mental health, supporting clients with various mental health challenges, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and trauma. Tammy can assist individuals with relationship struggles, codependency, infidelity, separation and divorce, substance abuse, low self-esteem, family concerns, and life transitions. She has additional training in the areas of trauma counselling, and has been trained in EMDR through the Niagara Stress and Trauma Clinic.