The Dys-words

Dystonia, dyskinesia, dys this, dys that…

Here is a link to an excellent summary of the meanings of these confusing words.

Thanks to the Australian Brain Foundation for putting this glossary together.

Smelling Parkinson’s

This article tells the story of Joy Milne, a Scottish nurse who realised that she could smell Parkinson’s disease. Tragically, she noticed the smell on her husband, a decade before he was officially diagnosed with Parkinson’s. The smell comes from the changes in the skin, the same changes that affect tolerance to temperature changes.

Read to the end, as Joy’s comments are very powerful. She shows how the non-movement symptoms of Parkinson’s can be far more damaging to quality of life and relationships than the tremors and other movement problems.

For more about the non-movement symptoms and their importance, read parts 4 and 5 of this post.

Pulsing light and Alzheimer’s disease

I’ve been reading articles suggesting that Alzheimer’s disease is linked with a disruption of brain wave patterns, especially the gamma waves which are predominant in the brain when we are concentrating and focussed.

One group increased gamma wave activity in Alzheimer’s mice by pulsing light. In this research, it wasn’t the light that was of interest to the researchers, it was the pulse rate. They used 40Hz, in the gamma brainwave frequency range.

Here is a great report about that experiment and it’s implications.

stimulating neurons to produce gamma waves at a frequency of 40 Hz reduces the occurrence and severity of several Alzheimer’s-associated symptoms in a mouse model of the disease. 

It seems that pulsing the light does more than enable red light to penetrate more deeply into the brain. Pulsing at 40Hz seems to stimulate the brain’s immune and clean-up cells, the microglia to get cracking with brush and pan.

I have visions of microglial cells dancing to the 40 Hz rhythm as they clear up brain rubbish, including the proteins that accumulate in Alzheimer’s – amyloid and tau.

In 40Hz pulsed red light, the brain gets the benefits of the red light action inside the cells, and the benefits of brain-protection activities stimulated by brainwaves responding at 40Hz.

Fascinating stuff, isn’t it.

Meanwhile, if you are feeling worried that your Eliza or Cossack doesn’t pulse, don’t fret. The daily light dose is doing its work. More.

LED lights versus Laser lights

I’ve had a few queries about the use of laser lights. I can understand the allure of a laser, as its coherent light with such total focus is pretty impressive.

LED lights used to be very expensive. In the last decade the costs of LEDs have really dropped, and we can now buy them easily and inexpensively. LED lights are not coherent like lasers – the light from the average LED lights scatters and shines over a bigger area.

Question: For lights on the head, are lasers better than LEDs?

Answer: Nope.

Both have their place, but the previous dominance of laser lights is being whittled away by practicality and safety of LED lights.

For trans-cranial use, you want the red lights to scatter – you want coverage of the lights over the head. You also want to use the lights daily, safely and at home.

Lasers are a pain to use, they come with safety issues and they are not suitable for home use.

LEDs are the best.

DIY – practicality beats perfection

I’ve had lots of emails from people making a DIY light hat from the blog instructions. The tricky part is finding the best red LED strip.

670nm is hard to come by, as is 660nm.

The tendency is to stop work on the light hat, on the basis that it can only be made with the best possible LED strip.

Wrong approach!

The best thing is to get any old red LED strip and make a light hat as soon as you can and get it on the suffering head every morning – as soon as you can.

Then, and only then, start hunting for the elusive 670nm LED strip. And when you find it, make another light hat with the new LEDs. And give away your first one – there is always someone who can put it to good use.

It is far more effective to have red lights on brain than it is to have no red lights. Every day counts.

And remember – the Cossack is a far better design than the bucket Eliza.

Meet Michael, the Cossack designer.

Here is Michael, wearing his wonderful Cossack light hat.

Michael has been putting together an instruction for a LED-Leg. A few months ago he managed to upset one of his legs by straining his Achilles’ tendon.

He decided to put his red-light making skills into action to fast-track the recovery of his tendon.

And it worked. Here are the instructions: