The concussion discussion from a grandparent's perspective

My Q&A with Being Brain Healthy author Ruth Curran

concussion movie posterWill Smith's film CONCUSSION, based on the true story of one brave doctor's unrelenting efforts to enlighten the NFL about the effects of continual trauma to the brains of football players, has opened the eyes of many to the dangers of America's favorite sport. Concussions affect far more than just football players, though, and the movie has also opened the door for many important discussions about the effects of brain injuries of all sorts, suffered by all ages, regardless of the cause.

I have long been concerned about concussions in my rambunctious, active, sports-loving grandsons, so I turned to Ruth Curran, author of Being Brain Healthy, to assuage some of the worries and concerns I have as a grandmother. See, grandparents, unless they're in a situation where they serve as primary caretaker for their grandchildren, have little say in the day-to-day care of their beloved grandkids, can't restrict certain sports or activities. That doesn't mean we have no concerns.

being brain healthy by ruth curranHere, Curran addresses my concussion...

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Here and now: August 13, 2015

In my world...

baby boomer lifestyle 

On my mind...

The fabulous time I had Tuesday with my friend Ruth from San Diego. She was in Colorado on business but took time out of her busy schedule to spend a day and night with me. In those 24 hours together we:

  • Visited a book store.
  • Walked a labyrinth—my first...
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Here and Now: March 12, 2015

Today. Here. Now.

clock and book 

On my mind...

Does anyone else ever "save" articles and posts on Facebook (via the little "save" option in the upper right corner of each post) planning to read it later only to realize your saved articles list has reached an overwhelming length? You, too?

I won't "archive" the articles, though, for I just know...

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Brain fog, head games and Cranium Crunches

I always admired my mother-in-law's determination to keep her mind functioning as well as possible. She did crossword puzzles every single day and regularly engaged in new activities to help keep the wheels of her aging brain turning.

I used to enjoy crossword puzzles but I've done only a handful in the past decade or so. I did start taking piano lessons in my forties in hopes of increasing the dendrites in my brain, those little networking cables that make the mind move better the more you have. Unfortunately, though, I had to eliminate piano lessons when money got tight. My determination to keep up the practicing sans lessons pooped out soon after, as well as my dendrite production.

My mind and memory have apparently pooped out, too. A recent lunch with a friend I'd not seen in more than five years made me all too aware of my egregious lack of recall. As my friend and I and her daughter dined and discussed getting together with our husbands for a game night, I told my friend that although I don't know her husband, he must be a pretty good guy if she's married to him. To which she responded that I have indeed met him, have actually had him and her over to our house for a barbecue several years ago.

I didn't remember. At all. And felt pretty stupid about it. I couldn't even blame it on having a few too many beers during that forgotten BBQ because it wasn't that kind of a gathering, considering her then-adolescent kids had attended and enjoyed hanging out in our hot tub. Which I didn't recall either. At all.

Again, I felt pretty stupid. I wanted to blame the brain fog on having MS, to say, "Oh, I must have a sclerosis smack dab on top of that specific memory." But that would be even more stupid. And surely a lie.

Truth is, my brain fog, my memory, my total (or even partial) recall has been getting worse and worse and worse as I age. And I'm not really all that aged. But I find myself more often than before forgetting what I was going to say in certain circumstances, and I've become pretty bad at brainiac things I was once good at, like word play and matching games and puzzles.

I've found help, though. It's free, it's fun, it makes a difference, and it can be enjoyed by anyone at any age. It's called Cranium Crunches.

Cranium Crunches is the brain child (yes, pun intended; I can still throw together a pun now and then) of Ruth Curran. Curran, who is degreed in psychology and has extensive research experience, hatched the idea for the site after witnessing dementia issues with her parents—attributable to cancer and chemo in her mother's case, Parkinson's disease in her father—and the difference puzzles and games made in restoring their cognitive ability and their confidence.

"I set out to create a series of photo based puzzles that remind us of our lives," Curran says, "a set of brain exercises with cross generational appeal that provide a safe place to practice those skills that might be slipping, work on/hone some skills, improve focus, or just look at some cool photos and tell stories. It had to be free, require no subscription, no plan, no commitment—just come and play."

Which is exactly what Cranium Crunches provides, as well as a page on what games will help you most. The selection of photo-based games and puzzles include Memory Match, Find the Difference, One of These Things is Not Like the Others and more. All the games are quite fun and engaging, but my favorite so far has been Find the Difference, mostly because I'm determined to find them all before my time is up (which I've not yet been successful at). With increasing degrees of difficulty, it's easy to choose one you like and get better and better and better at it, all the while exercising that cranium and achieving an ageless brain in tip-top shape.

Ageless and tip-top shape is my goal for my brain. I've got quite a ways to go, though, according to the scores I've earned so far in my Cranium Crunches game play. But it's a start. And it's fun. And it's something I plan to incorporate into my daily routine—just like my mother-in-law used to do with her crossword puzzles.

photo: stock.xchng

Disclosure: I wrote this blog post while participating in a campaign by on behalf of Cranium Crunches and received payment for my participation. All opinions stated within are my own.

Today's question:

What do you like to do to keep your mind challenged and exercised?