Welcome to the Core Update

AC Health’s roundup of the patient-centered research and news every healthcare professional needs to make their practice succeed.

New Research: Blood Tests Detect Depression and Bipolar Disorder With Up to 83% Sensitivity

Original Story

What’s Going On

Researchers examined the levels of mature brain-derived neurotrophic factor (mBDNF) in study participants diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder (BP).

They found that the more severe the case, the lower the levels of mBDNF detectable within the bloodstream.

And, patients already on a course of antidepressant treatments had greater levels of mBDNF than those patients who were not medicated.

Ultimately, the researchers suggest that a mBDNF assay could detect mood disorders such as MDD and BP with up to 83% sensitivity, with a cut-off threshold of 12.4 ng/ml.

Why This Matters

Over and over again, we’ve seen research connecting the mind’s problems to physical conditions.

This research — while with a relatively low number of test subjects — further quantifies the previously undetectable: The correlation between mood disorders and various proteins in the bloodstream.

Whether the mood disorder is caused by a lack of mBDNF, or if the mBDNF is a side-effect of the mood disorder, remains to be seen. And, further testing on greater numbers of subjects to fully flesh out the association still remains.

However, the correlation is statistically significant at a relatively high level, and could form the basis of new diagnostic tools for psychotherapists.

Research: Covid-19 Changed Our Dreams — Especially for Women — With Long-Term Implications

Original Story

What’s Going On

A CNN article published last week featured a 2020 study by psychologist Deirdre Barrett, in which she analyzes the dreams from 2,888 participants in the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

She found that everyone experienced heightened states of “negative emotions” and observations, but female participants bore the brunt of the emotional impact, as relayed in their dreams.

Specifically, women dreamed more about anxiety, sadness, anger, health concerns, death, and “references to biological processes” than men.

Barrett hypothesizes that these dreams revealed the higher burden of the pandemic carried specifically by mothers, as the ones primarily sacrificing their jobs to care for children as schools shut down or acting as primary breadwinners in single-parent households.

Further, in her interview with CNN, Barrett suggests that even post-pandemic, the impact of the group trauma may lead to continued upset dreams and even PTSD:

[…] some people will continue to struggle and possibly develop long-term trauma dreams, such as people that are most directly affected by the event and suffered severe trauma. That group also includes people who already have anxiety disorders and people who have suffered some earlier trauma in their history.

[…] I would say it’s going to be people who had the most direct experience with death and dying, those who are physiologically vulnerable to anxiety, stress and trauma, and those who have had prior trauma who are likely to have the longest struggle with nightmares.

Why This Matters

Are your patients reporting trouble sleeping due to bad dreams?

Are you having trouble sleeping for Covid-related nightmares?

No one truly understands what dreams are and why we have them, but research suggests that it may be our brains trying to grapple with problems we push to the side in the daytime — even if they’re just peripheral.

It doesn’t matter if it’s “irrational” to still be scared of the pandemic, even if you’re vaccinated.

Covid-19 was a group trauma of historic proportions, and it’s okay if you — if we — don’t automatically spring back to normal now that many restrictions have been lifted.

Consider actively addressing your or your patients’ suppressed concerns spilling out into dreams — either privately or professionally — so they don’t become a more long-term problem.

Have Your Clients Mentioned the “One-Punch Man” Workout?
Here’s What You’re Missing.

Original Story

What’s Going On

We’ve moved on from Marvel to manga in our superhero-themed admiration, it seems.

One of the latest exercise trends is based off of the character Saitama from a manga and anime series, One-Punch Man.

In the show, the character claims that he achieved his miraculous single-punch strength using the following workout over three years:

  • 100 sit ups
  • 100 push ups
  • 100 squats
  • 6 mile run

The article describing the workout breaks out its pros and cons, but we bet you’ll have a better context for how and why it may work from your own professional expertise.

Why This Matters

Hey, are you struggling to engage patients who think they’re “too advanced” to continue physical therapy or other conditioning? Maybe they’re struggling with boredom.

Try mentioning this workout to them to see if it lights a spark of interest.

(Just don’t suggest that they’ll be able to one-hit KO aliens if they follow the program for three years.)

New Research: “Neuromodulation” Tech With “Activity-Based” Therapies Helped Fix Damaged Nerve Networks In 12 Patients with Cerebral Palsy

Original Story

What’s Going On

Researchers examined the impact that Transcutaneous Electrical Spinal Cord Neuromodulation — SCONE™ — had on patients with cerebral palsy, aged 2 to 50 years old.

According to the recently published paper in Neurotherapeutics, 11 out of the 12 total participants saw remarkable improvement of their symptoms during rehabilitation, including:

  • A 2-year-old with an impairment level of IV, who started taking load-bearing steps after being previously unable to;
  • Two pediatric patients with impairment levels of V, who could hold their heads and stand with their own weight; and
  • Overall general improvement in muscle-limb coordination while walking on treadmills.

Researchers offer these results as evidence towards a hybrid approach of care for similarly affected patients: Merging “acute spinal modulation” therapies with traditional “activity-based” motor therapies.

Why This Matters

The tech is obviously still in testing and will probably require more years of similar studies to fully vet before approval for the general public — and even longer before the price of such biotech solutions becomes acceptable for the average therapy clinic.

(We’d also like to see this repeated on more than just 12 patients.)

However, the study offers tantalizing new evidence supporting a more holistic approach to traditional therapies.

Could you help similarly impacted patients by focusing not only on their uncooperative muscles and limbs, but also on their nerve and spinal health?