Tag Archives: Inattention

Rethinking Physical Activity for ADHD

Even now, there’s not much known about the chain of events that results in the symptoms indicative of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Excessive impulsivity, chronic inattention and inability to remain still are the trademark symptoms first noticed by parents and teachers.

Thankfully, more and more research now suggests that it might be related to a deficiency in the production of dopamine, a chemical in the brain that helps regulate behavior, mood, and controlled movement.

In the treatment of ADHD doctors currently tend to prescribe stimulant medication such as Ritalin because it has been shown to increase the availability of dopamine in the brain.

However effective stimulants carry risks that are unavoidable. Many parents are left wondering if a natural alternative to chemically increasing concentration and attention span actually exists.

This topic is certainly controversial since most medical experts agree that there is no “cure” for ADHD and that the condition requires sustained management.  While medications can be used to control symptoms and learned techniques can improve attention, most patients with ADHD continue to exhibit signs of the illness even later in life.

A number of experts have lately begun looking at something rather new called “Brain Exercise Therapy” (BET). The therapy is comprised of mental and physical workouts that they claim build brain mass and neural pathways.


It seems quite promising that, given the brain’s plasticity, engaging in activities that require new skills and problem solving allows patients to stimulate neuron growth. The connections that are created in areas of the brain that are deficient in neurotransmitters, advance overall brain function and heal specific deficits in the ADHD brain.

We all know adults who are successful in the relationships and careers, but their lives are very disorganized. There’s no clear direction or consistency to their daily lives.

Dr. Gimpel, a board-certified psychiatrist, neurologist and director of the Brain Power Clinic in Jerusalem agrees that any activity that requires new, challenging ways of thinking can help this type of chronic disorganization.

BET games such as juggling and chess are essential for teaching strategy, memory, and planning skills.

Dr. Gimpel uses an effective analogy to explain what games can do for your brain.

“In each brain cell, we have a little fuel tank, much like in a car”, he says. “The trouble with ADHD patient is that this tank of fuel has holes, so you don’t have enough fuel to allow for effective stimulation between brain cells. When you do these activities, you are creating new cells and with each one comes more fuel.”

However, it is important to remember that much like one visit to the gym won’t build muscle mass, these changes in the brain do not normally occur until after 50 to 70 hours of BET. Fortunately, many of these activities are fun for everyone, not just those with ADHD and the whole family can and should participate.

References:

Health.com, “Brain Games and Exercise: A Drug-Free Treatment for ADHD?” http://www.health.com/health/condition-article/0,,20252861,00.html Accessed November 11, 2011

Understanding Childhood ADHD – Symptoms, Behaviors & Causes

boy with addThe acronym ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, also known as hyperactivity or attention deficit disorder (ADD). It has become quite a common condition among children as well as a source of concern and controversy among parents.

Children with diagnosed ADHD generally have problems paying attention or concentrating. They can’t seem to follow directions with ease and are easily bored and often frustrated with tasks. They also tend to move or fidget constantly and are very impulsive in their actions.

It would be simple to assume that any of these behaviors are common in children and are of no concern whatsoever. Nevertheless, a myriad of symptoms that present themselves in unison, consistently seem to point to ADHD rather than to a case of a merely spirited youngster.

Oftentimes, the symptoms occur more frequently than usual and are more severe in a child with ADHD. These behaviors are so insidious that they interfere with the child’s ability to function at school and at home.

Symptoms of ADHD are generally grouped into three main categories: inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness.

Inattention

When inattention is a problem, the child is very easily distracted. He or she is unable to follow directions at all or to properly follow them in an organized sequence. As a result, tasks are left unfinished.

The child also appears to not be listening when spoken to directly. He or she will make careless mistakes over and over and will appear frustrated or contrary. Even in the case of daily activities, he will need reminders constantly and will struggle to stay organized. He will express dislike for activities that require sustained effort and will prefer to remain in his own world or daydreaming.


Hyperactivity

Hyperactivity is another hallmark behavior found in children with ADHD. The child  often squirms, fidgets or bounces when sitting and has difficulty playing quietly with toys or games. He or she is always moving around, sometimes running or climbing on things unaware of the danger.

In school situations, the child does not remain seated when expected to do so. He talks excessively and out of turn without understanding how to take turns.

Impulsivity

Impulsivity can be found in almost every diagnosed case of ADHD. It can be a source of frustration not only for the child but also for those around him. Besides not waiting for his or her turn during activities or games, the child blurts answers or comments at odd times during a conversation or while the teacher is talking. He or she interrupts others but dislikes being interrupted himself. Not understanding that impulsive behavior is often interpreted as rudeness by others, the child feels undeservedly reprimanded.

Although the exact cause of ADHD is not known, researchers continue to study the brain for answers. Researchers believe that there are several conclusive factors that contribute to the condition. These are:

  • Heredity: ADHD seems to run in families. This fact suggests a strong genetic predisposition. Thus, children may inherit a tendency to develop ADHD from their parents.
  • Chemical imbalance: Experts believe that an imbalance of certain substances  essential in communication between nerve cells called neurotransmitters, may be a factor in the development of ADHD.
  • Brain changes: It has been documented that areas of the brain that control attention are much less active in children with ADHD than in children without the disorder.

A variety of other factors may also contribute to the development of ADHD. In many cases, poor nutrition, certain prenatal infections and substance abuse (including cigarette and alcohol) during pregnancy seem to be triggers since they can affect the development of the baby’s brain.

Later in childhood lead exposure can also affect brain development and may lead to ADHD symptoms. Of course, injury to the brain due to an accident may trigger ADHD symptoms as well.

References:

Medicine Net, “Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)” http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=42948 Accessed September 14, 2011.

Web MD, “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: What Is ADHD?” http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/guide/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd Accessed September 14, 2011.