Your healthy brain: a personal & family guide to staying healthy & living longer

Dr. Stephen Kiraly MD

Published by West Coast Reproductions, Vancouver B.C. Canada, 2008
ISBN 10: 0980881404 / ISBN 13: 9780980881400
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Synopsis: The text consists of an introduction that familiarizes the reader with fundamental issues pertaining to brain health prevalent today. This includes some history and facts about the brain and the critical concepts of health span and brain health. It also emphasizes why brain health is much more important today than ever before. Why? More and more people are living longer than ever, and we are experiencing an inversion in age demographics. For the first time in history there are more elderly people than young (inversion of the population pyramid). I give a brief description of the brain as an organ of the body and define some common obstacles to attaining brain health. The next chapter is about the staying power of the brain - the most marvelous organ of the body. Research is telling us that the brain can grow new cells, can rewire itself and recruits unused areas and heals and recovers after injury. The next eight chapters, all based on lecture materials, pertain to what I named The Eight Pillars of Brain Health and Longevity: 1) safety, 2) nutrition, 3) physical exercise, 4) mental activity, 5) sleep, 6) stress, 7) hormones, and 8) treatment of disease (common diseases that are independent risk factors for early onset dementia). Finally the book was finished, printed and I have made it available to the public through small, independent book stores. It has been selling well locally and I have received many compliments. The title is Your Healthy Brain: a Personal and Family Guide to Staying Healthy and Living Longer . Dr. Patrick McGeer, a highly published and eminent researcher of Alzheimer s disease at the University of British Columbia, wrote the foreword. Personally, my main interest in telling this story is to increase public awareness, bringing healthy brain concepts (The Eight Pillars of Brain Health) into the health education curriculum of schools all over the world. This is starting to happen in my small part of the world but that is too slow for me; I would like to tell my story with the aid of added publicity to impact a larger audience. In the interim I m continuing to give my talks and sell the books, however, I feel frustrated in effectively reaching enough people about this extremely important issue - one that will have a greater impact on our society than any other medical phenomenon in history. Imagine how much we could save in human suffering and health care dollars if brain development and brain health were taken more seriously.

About the Author: Please let me introduce myself. I am Stephen J. Kiraly, MD, FRCPC, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Division of Geriatric Psychiatry, University of British Columbia and Consulting Psychiatrist, Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, BC, Canada. Almost ten years ago I developed the first Healthy Brain Program in Canada and possibly the first in the world. I will briefly recapitulate. The story began when I started a job in Vancouver, BC in 1994. In that position I was a consultant to doctors looking after patients in nursing homes and I also had to pay attention to support and educational needs of staff (GPs, care aides, nurses and their helpers). I was often asked to give lectures on various neurodegenerative disorders, mainly Alzheimer s disease, Parkinson s disease and other dementing diseases. I also had to counsel patients and their families. The resultant experience turned out to be rather depressing. Neurodegenerative diseases have no cure. It was rather like a medical search and destroy exercise where we made diagnoses of incurable, horrifically cruel diseases and then had little to offer. I became discouraged and felt that there was really no effective way to help my patients and their caregivers. At that time I had just finished reading a book by Dr. Christiaan Barnard. The title was Your Healthy Heart and in that book Dr. Barnard described his heroic efforts in completing the first fully functional heart transplant. I read on, and to my surprise much of the book was devoted to prevention of heart disease, essentially a healthy heart program how to prevent a heart transplant. We know that brain transplant is an absurdity. We also know that like the heart, the brain is an organ of the body. I thought why can we not have a healthy brain program? I started to put a different bias on my lectures instead of the deficit paradigm of identifying what is broken and then trying to fix it (impossible in almost all cases of brain disease). What followed was a veritable explosion of interest in this area. I started to rewrite my lectures and introduced ideas about what is good and bad for the brain. The audiences appreciated this new approach because it was educational, inspirational and empowering. Next, I did a huge amount of work researching the literature about what we, as scientists, know about what is good and what is bad for the brain. I found that all the information (and there was an enormous amount of it) was easily clustered into eight areas. I was careful to weed out unreliable studies, anecdotal references and other sources of misinformation that were incorrect or misleading. I aim to stay evidence based and to perpetually update the content. My presentations became more and more popular and I was successful in delivering it as an accredited symposium to family physicians, other professional bodies, the general public and patients. BCTV gave Canada-wide coverage on a syndicated health news show. I also had the opportunity to speak at three of the American Institute of Medical Education (AIMED) conferences in Maui. Teachers were particularly eager and encouraged me to expose younger people to this material. A 90 year old, very healthy high functioning gentleman in one of my adult education courses, pointed out to me that teaching this to healthy old people was not the best use of my time because they already knew this, and were practicing these principles and reaping the benefits. Following his good advice I focused on younger populations, mostly nursing staff and consumers of our health care system. I trained facilitators to help with the work of leading groups at various settings. Three community outreach programs are now using the HBP as a platform for prevention, delivering brain care and educating clients and families.

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Your healthy brain: a personal & family ...
Publisher: West Coast Reproductions, Vancouver B.C. Canada
Publication Date: 2008
Binding: Paperback
Illustrator: Ian Fry
Book Condition: Good
Edition: 1.

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