Thursday, January 31, 2013
Using your brain in a positive way
By Dr. Anthony Policastro
I have written in the past about how the brain remodels itself over time. The young child who learns to speak two languages will have increased brain cells in the language processing area of the brain. The violinist will have advanced development of the area of the brain of their left hand compared to other right handed individuals. We have all read that people who use their mind to solve puzzles are less likely to see deterioration of their mental skills as they get older. This is logical. If you use those skills, you sharpen the area of your brain that controls them. We used to think that you are born with only so many brain cells which disappear over time. We now know that if you use an area of your brain repeatedly, it actually grows over time. There is a down side to this. If you use your brain negatively that too will be reinforced. For example, an individual with a phobia will see that phobia worsen over time. An individual with anxiety will become more anxious over time. An individual with obsessive compulsive symptoms will worsen over time. This is related to using the brain in a certain way repeatedly. The wiring of the brain cells in that area will be enhanced and the result will be a tendency to continue that type of behavior. This further reinforces it. The result is a vicious cycle of worsening. These issues can then be linked to treatment. The first principle is that it takes a long time to get to this point. For this reason, it will take a long time to change the behavior. It will also take a long time for the brain to change back to a more normal setting. That is the main reason that therapy takes so long for mental health issues. A second principle has to do with relapse. If the brain has already become programmed to react a certain way, it becomes easy for the behavior to reoccur. A third principle has to do with treatment other than therapy. People are sometimes of the opinion that all they need to do is take a medication for their illness and everything will be better. They do not realize that medication only treats the symptoms. It does not treat the illness. It does not rewire the brain cells that are causing the symptoms. For this reason, the individual who receives medication without therapy is only getting partial treatment. The symptoms will remain under the surface. They will reappear when the medication is discontinued. They might not be as bad at first because the lack of behavior over time will allow some remodeling of the brain. However, it is not going to go completely back to normal. That will set them up for long term failure. Brain changes occur in all of us over time. Some of those changes can be good for us. Some of them might not be as good. We need to realize this so we can do our best to make sure the changes that do occur are the ones that we want to happen.

Alzheimer's Caregiver Support Group Cadia Rehab Renaissance near Millsboro is hosting and facilitating an Alzheimer's Association Caregiver Support Group that meets the fourth Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. beginning Feb. 26. All meetings are open to the public and interested parties are invited to attend. Alzheimer's disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. One person out of eight who reaches the age of 65 will develop Alzheimer's, as will one person out of every two who reaches the age of 85.

Bayhealth recognized for diversity Thanks to the efforts and dedication of several nurses, Bayhealth was a winner in's online Take Pride Campaign. This initiative highlights hospitals and other healthcare facilities who are actively working to maintain a diverse and inclusive environment. Since its inception in 2008, the Diversity Committee's membership has grown rapidly.

Program seeks mentors The Delaware Kids Connection Mentoring Program seeks mentors for students at Laurel Intermediate and Middle School, Seaford Middle School and the DAPI School for pregnant teens. Last year mentees raised their GPA's by 11% and mentors spent over 1,100 hours with their mentees during the year. To mentor, fill out an application online or in person, go to a training session and complete a background check. Potential mentors should contact the Delaware Adolescent Program, Inc. (DAPI) at our Stockley Campus 302-297-0370, ext. 17 to talk to Glenn Phillips Sr. or, e-mail for more information.

Murphy named chair of board Terence M. Murphy, FACHE, president and chief executive officer of Bayhealth Inc., was appointed chairman of Delaware Hospice's Board of Trustees at its 30th Anniversary Board Meeting. Murphy who was appointed president and chief executive officer of Bayhealth, Inc., and president and chief executive officer of Bayhealth Medical Center, Inc., in October 2009, is responsible for the day-to-day oversight of all operations of both Kent General and Milford Memorial Hospitals. Murphy joined the Delaware Hospice Board of Trustees in 2003 and has also served on the executive committee. Murphy and his wife, Julie, live in Camden and have three daughters.

CPR classes offered Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer community CPR classes to anyone interested in learning CPR at the Nanticoke Training Center located on Water Street in Seaford.

Participants will learn how to perform the basic skills of CPR on adults, children, and infants and how to help an adult, child, or infant who is choking and use of the AED. This classroom-based, video, and instructor-led CPR course offers families, friends, and community members the opportunity to learn CPR and receive a course completion card. Classes are open to participants ages 12 and up. The target audience is those who have a duty to respond to a cardiac emergency because of job responsibilities or regulatory requirements. Cost is $45. Payment and registration is required by no later than five business days prior to the class. Late registrations may be accepted if seating is available. To register and obtain a listing of class dates/times, contact the Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Training Center office at 629-6611, ext. 8919. Pre-registration is required.

Parkinson's support group meeting The Nanticoke Parkinson's Education and Support Group will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on the third Monday of each month, from 10 to 11:30 a.m in the ballroom at the Nanticoke Senior Center. The public is welcome to attend the meeting and stay for lunch and a social time after the meeting.

Walk for Autism is April 20 As a statewide agency whose mission is to create better lives for people with autism, Autism Delaware is expanding to provide the range of services needed by all Delawareans living with autism spectrum disorders over their lifespans. To this end, the nonprofit agency relies on volunteers, donations, and fundraising. "Our next big fundraiser in southern Delaware is Walk for Autism on April 20 at Cape Henlopen State Park," says Lisa Albany, the committee chair. "Our goal is to raise as much as possible to provide services through Autism Delaware that benefit individuals with autism spectrum disorders. We need volunteers to help run the event plus business and corporate leaders to sponsor it." "The need for autism services and support is rising rapidly," adds Autism Delaware Executive Director Teresa Avery. "The CDC now says that one in 88 children is identified with an autism spectrum disorder. In 1991, the Delaware Department of Education reported 152 public school students with autism – and 982 in 2010. That's a 546 percent increase over 19 years. For more information, visit

Diabetes education program Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer a free educational program to share diabetes self-management and lifestyle strategies at 5 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 28. Roger Baird, a member of the A1C Champions Program and supported by Sanofi, a patient-led approach to diabetes education, will present the program which is based on his extensive training and his personal experience living with diabetes. If you or someone you know is struggling with diabetes or has an A1C that is 7% or above, the A1C Champions can provide motivation to take those first steps to better blood glucose control. Diabetes patients need to know they are not alone and there are people like Roger who can help them along their journey with diabetes. Call 629-6611, ext. 2446, to reserve space for this free event.

Go Red for Women 2013 The Southern Delaware Go Red For Women will be held on Friday, Feb. 8. Tickets, which are $35 each, include extensive health screenings, $10 gift card from Macy's, guest gift bag and lunch, entertainment that includes fashion show and silent auction. Table sponsorships are $1,000 and exhibitor sponsorships are $1,500. The event begins at 10 a.m. with lunch and the program starting at noon. For more information, visit

HIV/AIDS Support Group A new support group for HIV/AIDS will meet every other Wednesday, at 7 p.m., in the Branford Lounge at Epworth UMC at 19285 Holland Glade Rd., Rehoboth Beach. The group is sponsored by Epworth UMC, CAMP Rehoboth, the AIDs Delaware and Delaware HIV Consortium. For more information, contact David at

State declares vaccine shortage Delaware's Division of Public Health (DPH) has issued a declaration allowing Delaware clinicians to use an influenza vaccine containing mercury (thimerosal) as a preservative for the next 12 months. Normally, Delaware Code bans the use of mercury-containing vaccine for pregnant women and children younger than 8 years. Since, the CDC has declared the flu season has reached epidemic levels, and Delaware is experiencing a mercury-free vaccine shortage, both factors which allow the lifting of the ban. Delaware has had two flu-related deaths this month and 713 confirmed cases of the flu this season. That compares to four confirmed cases and no deaths at this time last year. For more information on the flu or where to get vaccinated, visit or call 800-282-8672.