Brain science explains why visualization improves performance in the real world, helps make better decisions, and minimizes errors.

Before performing surgery, let’s say for a herniated disc, I stand in front of a white porcelain sink. Antiseptic bubbles cover my hands and drip from my forearms. The surgery takes place in my mind, playing like a movie on the inside of my eyelids: The setting of retractors, ...

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I opened the exam room door and hit something. Peeking around the door, I saw an elderly woman wearing a pink sequined hat who was perched in a motorized scooter parked awkwardly in front of the door.  I slinked around her to my stool and sat down as I introduced myself. I was running behind, but for some reason, I simply said, “tell me about yourself.” The woman looked directly at ...

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“Please don’t go just yet. Promise you will come to see me again?” she asked, with a frail quiver in her voice. “But of course, see you on my rounds tomorrow!” I replied, trying to sound cheery, as I turned to leave her negative pressure ICU room. I was doubtful if she would even remember my masked-gowned presence by the next day or even the next moment. For COVID with its ...

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Everything seemed to have changed in dementia care. It had become a policy priority and public and professional attitudes and understanding were improving, as were services and care. And then COVID-19 happened -- a profound shock to the system that showed underneath, especially for the particularly vulnerable population living in long-term care homes, little had really changed. 

Seventy percent of all COVID-19 deaths in Canada have ...

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Her son went to visit her at her house of 52 years. The sound in the bathroom indicated that the faucet in the tub was running and overflowing onto the floor. A series of events piled one on top of the other. A totaled car, candles burning in the house haphazardly, repetitive questions mentioned five minutes apart. The same questions over and over again. Hugging her granddaughter but not remembering ...

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“I think I’m having a stroke.” The words struggled to leave my mouth as I spoke to the 9-1-1 operator. Emotionally in disbelief, the words seemed so unusual to say in the first person. Ten minutes earlier, overwhelming nausea and drenching sweats woke me abruptly from sleep. Thinking it was something I ate, I immediately regretted the preceding meal that must have been responsible. My attempt to get to the bathroom ...

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Assessment without definition: a flat tire on the road of progress Even though we have known about prions for decades, very little progress has been made in defining what a prion is vs. what a prion is not, how they get into the brain, and how prion diseases are different from other neurodegenerative diseases. Phenomenologically these definitions can vary widely. To some, a prion causes a deadly, ...

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Serious soul searching can give anybody a headache, but when a young woman asked me that, I was taken aback in my neurosurgery clinic. Huh? I said. Do you know René Descartes? The pineal gland is the “seat of the soul.” Well, my pineal gland has a cyst and is more like the “seat of my misery.” It turns out this eloquent young woman in her early 20s was a ...

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Some of you may have heard it on the playground. Others might have used it in jest. I'm not going to write it. I'm just going to call it the R-word because it's that disgusting. It's a slur against people with intellectual disabilities that you will see peppered in many news stories. NFL player Janoris Jenkins was cut from the New York Giants for using the word; Khloé Kardashian promised to "do ...

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I’m of Irish heritage and we love to tell stories. This story feels like it needs to be shouted from the rooftops. I grew up in Texas, where football is king. Here’s my story so parents can make a more fully “informed consent” when deciding if their children should play football. My dad played offensive line in college. We were proud of our “gentle giant“ dad. The first and only college graduate in ...

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It’s been dubbed “COVID brain fog,” the neurological symptoms suffered by an estimated 80 percent of people who are hospitalized with COVID-19. These are early dementia-like neurological problems that patients face even after recovering from COVID-19, and there is a concern that people who recover from the disease have a higher risk of long-term cognitive decline. We have always encouraged people age 50 and over to undergo a baseline cognitive assessment. ...

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I had planned to take care of my dad at the end of his life. In 2009, Dad retired at 75 because of Parkinson's disease. Over the next couple of years, he lived in his own home. My younger brother Mark, who lived nearby, faced the first difficult milestones brought on by Dad's declining health. Mark was the one to tell Dad that he could no longer drive. And after Dad ...

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I have observed with impunity, a silent form of racism that exists in our society and in just about every American health care delivery system against people of color. If you are on Medicaid, without health care coverage, or have a low cost/low premium insurance plan, you are more likely than not to be an ethnic minority. After a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or trauma, as an ethnic minority, you have ...

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My head used to be my greatest asset, and back in 2012, I had my life on track because of it. With a medical education and a few years of work experience on my back, I felt that I had options in life. I had even saved up to be able to buy a home. Then illness caught up with me. And not just any illness, but one of the kinds ...

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"Eventually, this thankfully passed. Now, almost three years later, I know that this loss will always be with us. Miriam was beautiful, she was our only girl, she was perfect for our family, and she’s always missing. Still, my memories of being in the hospital are incredibly sad but also peaceful. In part, this is due to the incredible support and love ...

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Children and teens with headaches and migraines have been affected in a variety of ways by these pandemic times. Thinking back, there has been a difference between last spring and this fall and the effect on my patients, particularly in the school environment.

In the early days last Spring, many of my patients who had been having a hard time getting to school every day due to ...

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A middle-aged man lies on a gurney. Anxious. Work boots. Blue jeans.  Stained white shirt. Rough hands. "Hi! I’m your doctor. What brings you to the emergency room?" The patient looks at me, puzzled. He’s Spanish speaking. It's the middle of the night, and I’d rather not use the translator line. We start in broken English – then I reach for the phone to call the language line. He collapsed at work, and ...

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What is caregiver burnout? How can you recognize the symptoms? What are tips for new caregivers? What can caregivers teach clinicians? R. Lynn Barnett is the author of What Patients Want: Anecdotes and Advice and My Mother has Alzheimer’s and My Dog Has Tapeworms:  A Caregiver’s Tale. She can be reached on Twitter Read more...

Twenty-five years have passed since I finished my residency, and a lot has changed. Back then, we hand wrote all our notes, and the only time we looked at a computer screen was to obtain laboratory results. Now, residents spend more time in front of a computer screen than at the bedside. I contend that electronic health records (EHR) are an obstacle to learning the art and practice of medicine during ...

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"As a runner, my pulse rests around fifty, but the ICU team had worried when it dipped to thirty-five, and my blood pressure hovered around ninety over fifty. Understandably, bags of saline were hung, and steroids were added. My headache improved, but my ankles disappeared, and I was often short of breath. Upon discharge, I went into full diuresis mode and ...

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