Brain Games

Just a quick post, as folk know I like to share apposite stroke viewing. I’ve just started watching Brain Games, a National Geographic programme on the Disney channel, I believe it is also available on Amazon but comes at a small price. So far, it has been quite interesting with the first hour episode about the visual and aural cortex. Rather fitting for stroke survivors like myself with cognitive visual/spatial disabilities. The programme is presented in a modern, pop way but is backed by serious science and has vignettes hosted by neuroscientists and neurologists &c. It is not, thus far, about stroke per se, but the material is all about the brain, so a good crash course in what our brains must do in order to function everyday.

My shoulder is slowly recovering, the sling is off. I managed to take Molly out for a left-handed walk into the woods to pick gorse flowers, and I had her on a short lead, allowing her three paddles in the river. My symptoms are still at the forefront of my waking hours. My cognitive visual and spatial reflex is still causing giddiness if I turn too fast or am surrounded by too much visual noise. Walking through long grass or across the busy, leafy Autumn ground plays havoc on my eyesight, but as unsettling as it can be, I trudge ever forward.

The tinnitus roars at night and in the morning, and occasional bouts of nausea follow any kind of prolonged, erratic movement.

Actually, one enjoyable aspect of Brain Games is that there are audience participation brain games throughout the show, and one game was concentrating on an X in the centre of a circle made up on purple dots. Each purple dot would momentarily disappear in revolution clockwise, while concentrating on the X, the blanked out dot would appear green, while concentrating on the dots, the blanked out dot would just appear white. This shows how the brain maps a pattern in movement. I found with me, not only could I see the “green dot” (that wasn’t actually there) but I also noticed each purple dot was surrounded by a green halo. This proves to me that my vision is delayed or struggling to map out the rotation of the missing dot. I need to think on this some more, but fascinating to see the disability occurring visually in this way.

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Rups, you are a good example for others because you battle on and find strategies to cope with your disabilities. Stroke after effects have to be lived with and we all need to find strategies to cope. A few weeks ago I felt very down and felt myself getting worse rather than continuing to improve. I did snap out of it though and am back to trying to improve the spasticity in my shoulder, my balance and my walking gait. I am making myself read as well, despite my lack of concentration. Well done for the progress you’ve made so far.

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@Rups thank for the tv information I will look for the program and watch.

As always you are such and inspiration to us all. Thank you. I do hope the tinnitus settles for you plus, the nausea which I, seem to be feeling on a morning.

I’m glad you’re feeling better and taking Molly out again.

Sending my best wishes keep going. loraine :grinning:

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@John_Jeff_Maynard hi I’m forcing myself to read too it’s a battle. Lack of concentration. The page has to be not to white the print not to dark or small. If it is I always feel a headache coming on.

Well done on reading and hope your shoulder continues to improve. Keep going best wishes Loraine

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Getting back to reading is a puzzle and came up yesterday at my Stroke support group. I could not understand how others while I was in stroke ward in hospital could look at newspapers was all a blur and made my head spin.Once home could read headlines and tried to browse but found I had lost interest in almost every thing! ok covid was rampant then the Ukrain war kicked off, also had no desire to watch TV. Decided I must get back to reading so to be kind to brain just read non fiction and subject matter I had knowledge of. Natural History and in diary form was perfect, half an hour a time then rest. After a few months managed very gentle fiction without complex plots. Started to skim through newspapers. Now just two years on, no great desire to read the fiction I loved. Happy with learning more about the countryside. At stroke group a mixed response some just do papers and magazines others all sorts of fiction on Kindle. Had brilliant talk from woman from local library giving us the various reading and audio options at library. But for me it’s still difficult to get back into reading which was my great love.

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@Pds thanks for your input. My concentration is rubbish.

May you continue to improve your brain waves I keep trying but it’s exhausting.

Keep going kindest wishes Loraine

@Rups that programme sounds fascinating…i might have to invest in some extra TV channels at some point as I can’t currently get anything other than freeview.

Glad to hear your shoulder is improving & that Molly can enjoy her walks with you again.

@John_Jeff_Maynard @Loshy @Pds i too struggle with reading…some if it is concentration & some my vision. I was always an avid reader but just have no interest at the minute. When i was in hospital & first came home i often had a magazine in my hand but all I ever did was turn the pages over & never really understood why i couldn’t read it. I know why now :grin: xx

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Shwmae @John_Jeff_Maynard, diolch yn fawr, for me it is a bit of a project, I’ve never been so acquainted with my brain until stroke. I’m getting to know it a lot better. Brains in general really. I recommend a bit of reading, it is a good work out for the brain in many ways. Today and yesterday have been my black dog days so far, I’ve hit a brick wall. Need to rest, ride through the slump, and come out smiling. :grinning:

Diolch yn fawr Loraine, I’ve worn myself out a bit, and shall rest this afternoon. Aye, it felt good to walk Molly again, it’s pleasant to have someone to talk to on a walk, although, hopefully I’ll get to take Daisy out for another jaunt. Cats make the decision to come walking, I can’t cajole her into a stroll.

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Shwmae @Pds, there’s a fair amount going on upstairs when we read, not to mention visual difficulties. I think you are spot on when reflecting on the type of material, I struggle through instruction leaflets, but fiction is not a problem. I avoided the news for a year, couldn’t cope with the complexity of it all. The first book I read in hospital had rather small print (Owen Glendower by John Cowper Powys), and although I persevered while incarcerated, I swapped it for a rather hefty, paged Benny Hill biography which I chewed through rather casually when I returned home and was confined mostly to my bed.

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Shwmae @Mrs5K, the only t.v streaming service I pay for is Britbox. The rest are paid by other family members but we have our own profile. If you have friends or family with any of these services, be it Netflix, Amazon, Disney &c, they can share access with you at no cost aside from an internet connection. These can be accessed on a smart telly, smart phone, tablet or computer.

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Thanks @Rups that tv show sounds very interesting I will have a look for it, like many others I struggle with concentration i no longer watch dramas which I used to love but I just can’t muster the energy to follow a series. These days I enjoy documentary’s, news and even politics I’m mostly listening rather than watching, all topics I was never interested in before my stroke :rofl:

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Aye, it’s been rather interesting. I particularly enjoy the interactive games and the demonstration of where in the brain that activity is occurring.

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Hi Rups

all very interesting to me.

My stroke did not affect my body much, only the brain. I lost both my DVLA and my race Licence due to the eyesight potential problem.

I recently attended the DVLA driveability test and recovered my DVLA licence. I also had an intensive eye inspection at the hospital. Interestingly both used a similar to the purple spot test for establishing the peripheral vision. Mine was a red dot in the centre and a white spot of light introduced around the periphery which I then signalled as soon as seen. The resultant plot of the white light recognition points proved that both left & right periphery vision was good, hopefully helping to recover my race licence.

As you indicated, I now have a much better understanding of the brain and its function to control most of the body functions.

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Shwmae @Hillclimber, that would be good news if you get your race license back. I think, once we know what is going on with our brains, it can lessen anxiety and put us back in the driver’s seat. (Pun intended)

I love this forum - it’s so supportive. Thank you @Rups for sharing the details of the brain games programme- I’ll definitely look for it (or rather, I’ll ask my partner to do this for me as our remote controls totally baffle me).

I’ve still got another six weeks left on my fit note, (although this has been because of urgent investigations of another health issue found by my MRI.) This should give me some time to watch the programme.

Now that I can manage my fatigue a bit better and all the results have indicated my health issues are unlikely to be cancer, I’ve started looking at what returning to work will look like.

I know I was incredibly lucky compared to the majority of the lovely people on this forum and was told I have little or no issues from my stroke. However, although others might not have noticed, I now find it difficult to remember people’s - and sometimes procedures - names. As I’m a tutor in a post-graduate role I know this could cause me issues when I have a group of trainees again. My employers have been very understanding, but the trainees will expect to complete their qualifications with a full understanding of the subject. It’s my job to ensure the trainees gain this knowledge and to assess any areas needing improvement. I’m grateful for any tips that might help to improve my memory and and cognitive functioning and hopefully the programme you’ve told us of @Rups might contribute to this.

I’ll let you know how I get on with the brain games.

Shwmae @Midge58, I am pleased to hear that cancer has been ruled out for you. Acquired conditions and other health issues encountered after stroke are spanners we could do without. The stroke you had sounds very much like a silent stroke which is different from a TIA, in that it does leave permanent damage but has very few obvious symptoms. Many people throughout their lives have silent strokes and never know about it. In fact, many of what we perceive to be ageing issues associated with the brain, may in fact be a result of silent strokes that have gone undetected.

In this case, with memory, you are in luck if you get the chance to watch Brain Games. There are two episodes devoted to memory. Early on in my recovery, I came to understand that it was my working memory that was affected by brain injury and not short-term memory. From what I gleaned from the programme, short-term memory for most people is limited. The brain retains most short-term perception between fifteen and thirty seconds before discarding it, and retaining only a portion of information. So, it may be that the actual damage is not the cause of your memory issues, but the surrounding factors like fatigue and the shock. The good news is that short-term memory can be exercised and trained. In my view, everyone should practice this whether they have a brain injury or not. This relates to remembering people’s names and such.

About a year and a half after stroke, I went to the pub with a group of young people. We were talking about films. One director was brought up, Stanley Kubrick. We were all trying to refer to a film of his but we couldn’t for the life of us remember the film’s name. We had all seen the film, it was a classic, but the name escaped us. Not just me, who had had a stroke, but all these young brains. The film was The Shining. Just an example of how memory challenges everyone, and to feel confident in rebuilding that skill again.

As for remembering procedures, it could be a working memory issue because you have already remembered those procedures, so they are somewhere in your brain waiting to be recalled. For example, I teach English, and I had damage to the right side of my cerebellum which does have some input with language function. Spelling is not everyone’s forte, indeed when it comes to writing, even people with a broad vocabulary can struggle with spelling. Before stroke, I considered my spelling to be okay but below par to what I would have liked, after stroke I thought it had got worse, but with careful review, I realised it had not got worse, it was just more challenging due to my damaged brain having to take an already problematic cognitive area for me, and work harder at it, therefore, expending more energy.

I wish you well with returning to work. I imagine fatigue may be your greatest barrier. It’s essential to have means of emptying the brain when needed, so it can reboot afresh.

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