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Today is March 18

International Teach Music Week

Parents often go to great lengths to help youngsters do their best in school. Though there’s no one-size-fits-all formula to help kids realize their academic potential, incorporating music education into school curriculums can benefit students in myriad ways. According to the New England Board of Higher Education, music can benefit students of all ages. Young children who listen to music may have an improved ability to learn words and speak them correctly, helping them to develop larger vocabularies that can pay significant dividends when kids enter the classroom. In addition, a 2011 study published in the journal Neuropsychologia found that musicians performed better in auditory, visual and memory tests than non-musicians. Students may even benefit in ways that surprise the most devoted music fans. For example, the NEBHE notes that playing a musical instrument, even one as simple as the triangle, has been proven to enhance dexterity and hand-eye coordination. That can help young children develop their motor skills more quickly than they otherwise might if they are not encouraged to play a musical instrument.

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World Glaucoma Week

Eyesight is important but easily taken for granted. Few people can imagine life without their eyesight, but hundreds of millions of people across the globe experience compromised vision every year.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide. In fact, estimates from the World Glaucoma Association indicated that 79.6 million individuals would experience glaucoma in 2020. By 2040, that figure is expected to rise to 111.8 million people.

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a disease that damages the optic nerve. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology®, glaucoma usually results from the buildup of fluid in the front part of the eye. As that fluid builds up, it increases the pressure in the eye, ultimately damaging the optic nerve.

Are all glaucomas the same?

All glaucomas are not the same, and the AAO notes that there are two major types of the disease: primary open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma.

· Primary open-angle glaucoma: The most common type of the disease, primary open-angle glaucoma develops gradually. Eyes affected by primary open-angle glaucoma do not drain fluid as well as they should, resulting in the buildup of pressure that slowly starts to damage the optic nerve.

· Angle-closure glaucoma: Angle-closure glaucoma occurs when a person’s iris is very close to the drainage angle in his or her eye. The AAO says that this proximity can block the drainage angle, causing pressure to build up very quickly. However, the AAO also notes that many people with angle-closure glaucoma develop it very slowly and have no idea they have it until they’ve suffered severe damage.

What are the symptoms of glaucoma?

The symptoms of glaucoma differ depending on which type a person has.

According to the AAO, there are no obvious symptoms in the early stages of open-angle glaucoma. Blind spots develop in patients’ peripheral vision as the disease progresses. Because people often do not experience symptoms until the damage from open-angle glaucoma has become severe, the AAO urges adults to schedule routine eye exams with an ophthalmologist so the disease can be found before any significant damage has occurred.

Blurred vision, halos, mild headaches, or eye pain are some early symptoms of an angle-closure glaucoma attack. However, the AAO notes that people with angle-closure glaucoma do not typically notice any symptoms until the attack has started. As a result, the AAO urges anyone experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms to contact their ophthalmologist immediately. Once an angle-closure glaucoma attack has begun, symptoms may include:

· severe pain in the eye or forehead

· redness of the eye

· decreased vision or blurred vision

· nausea

· vomiting

No one is immune to glaucoma, which can quickly rob otherwise healthy individuals of their vision. Learning to recognize the early signs of glaucoma and seeking prompt treatment can reduce the likelihood of substantial vision loss.

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Brain Awareness Week

Trouble communicating with others can be a symptom of various disorders. Difficulty conveying words or emotions can be a condition of autism spectrum disorder, but quite frequently it occurs when a neurological injury affects the portion of the brain responsible for language.

The National Aphasia Association states that aphasia is an impairment of language that affects the comprehension or the production of speech as well as the ability to read and write. Aphasia results from an injury to the brain, including head trauma, brain tumors, infections, and stroke.

The Cleveland Clinic notes a person with aphasia may experience difficulty speaking, writing, reading, and understanding language. Impairments can range from mild to very severe (nearly impossible to communicate). While aphasia may only affect one area of communication, usually limitations occur across many areas.

One of the more common symptoms of aphasia is word-finding issues. This can be characterized by challenges remembering the names of people, events or things. Sometimes an individual may not be able to think of the word he or she wants to say. In other instances, that person may say the wrong word entirely, such as using “rope” for the word “ball.” The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association also states that it is common for someone with aphasia to switch sounds in words, like “wishdasher” for “dishwasher.” Often sentences are difficult to come by, and single words may be easier.

Trouble communicating also extends to a person with aphasia having challenges understanding what others are saying, particularly when they speak fast or in long sentences. The situation may be exacerbated when it is noisy or a person is in a group setting.

Aphasia can affect anyone. However, it is more common in those who are middle-aged and older. The NAA says roughly 180,000 people are diagnosed with aphasia each year. Even though brain injury is a primary cause of aphasia, it also can create other language-related issues, such as weakness in the muscles that control the face or mouth or an inability to move the lips or tongue in the right way to make sounds.

People with aphasia can benefit from working with a speech-language pathologist as early as possible. This professional can present many strategies to help manage deficits or potentially return some measure of communication. Augmentative and alternative communication, such as using images or a computer to tell what a person wants, may be options in more severe cases of aphasia.

Aphasia affects many people and can rob them of the ability to communicate effectively without intervention.