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How Brain Imaging Can Identify Concerns the Sandwich Generation May Have for their Teens and their Aging Parents

Doctor and patient using digital tablet

By Alicia Wanek

We at Good Life Family often refer to many of our readers as being part of the “sandwich generation,” taking care of our growing children as well as our aging parents.  Most of the time, the resources for one are not the same as the other.  When it comes to brain imaging, however, Envision Imaging can meet the needs of all ages.  If you are concerned that your child has had a concussion playing sports, or you are worried your parent may have had a stroke, Envision Imaging offers the most advanced imaging techniques to aid in many diagnoses.

For Your Teens:

Most parents have had that, “Do I need to take my child to get an X-ray?” moment; when you know they have been hurt, but you cannot decide if it warrants getting it checked out.  In the end, having your child’s injury examined with the appropriate imaging technique can give you the peace of mind knowing your child is OK or allowing you to take the next steps to have them treated. 

Kids often get injured while playing sports or participating in other physical activities outdoors.

High school athletes account for an estimated 2 million injuries and 500,000 doctor visits and 30,000 hospitalizations each year.

Any sport has an inherent risk of injury, and though team sports come to mind, the risk of injury from other sports, such as equestrian events or even golf, exists as well. Envision Imaging, with facilities across North Texas, now offers a dedicated athletic imaging hotline available to Physicians and Athletic Trainers to expedite your athlete. Appointments are available on Saturday and Sunday. Getting a quick diagnosis through radiologic imaging can ultimately allow for the young athlete to get back in the game faster because treating physicians and team trainers know the exact nature of the injury.

What if you are concerned about more than a broken arm? Envision’s imaging centers have access to advanced radiologic procedures that can pinpoint the most invisible injuries, even in the brain. Awareness about concussions has come to the forefront in recent years, and fortunately, advances in radiology allow for better diagnoses.  Neurologist Dr. Ralph Lilly says, “Because the brain consists of so many microscopic neuronal connections, damage to the brain’s tiniest components may be difficult or impossible to see on traditional MRI and CT scans.”  Envision’s Susceptibility Weighted Imaging (SWI) goes beyond traditional MRI to examine differences in neighboring tissue for improved detection of any microbleeds in the brain, and their Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) can examine the structural integrity of nerve tracts.  If there are concerns about a more extensive traumatic brain injury, they can even examine brain blood flow virtually of a tiny piece of brain tissue. Physicians can literally get a good picture of what is going on in the patient’s head.  Now if only they could figure out how to show us what teen brains are thinking!

For Your Parents:

Taking care of your aging parents is a blessing, but it can come with a lot of responsibility.  Hopefully you have more time to spend together, but the truth is as they, or in fact all of us, age, we become more vulnerable – to disease, to falling, to stroke, and to dementia.  Bestselling author Elizabeth Lesser says of aging, “It’s like you trade the virility of the body for the agility of the spirit.”  When you see changes in Mom’s or Dad’s physical agility or you see cognitive decline, you may wonder if it is something to be concerned about or just part of normal aging.  The team at Envision Radiology can help you find out.

The field of radiology today goes well beyond X-rays and CT scans, though they are still used regularly in identifying and diagnosing a myriad of conditions. Using advanced techniques and the latest equipment, however, Envision’s team can establish a very clear idea of what is going on in your aging parent’s brain.  Radiologists can supplement traditional MRI’s with their Susceptibility Weighted Imaging (SWI) to aid in the diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinsonism and Multiple Sclerosis. Their NeuroQuant images can also assess neurodegenerative disease and measure 47 separate brain structures.  Symptoms may warrant the use of Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) to determine the severity of strokes and to differentiate between the types of strokes a patient could have suffered. No matter how a disease is manifested, Envision will work to help identify the cause.

It is one thing to watch your parent’s physical decline, but what if you are concerned about a cognitive impairment?

Though a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or any dementia requires a full review of a patient’s medical history and ruling out other contributing factors, with advanced imaging techniques these pathologies are becoming easier to diagnose.  Dr. Lon White, in a news release from the American Academy of Neurology says, “Diagnosing specific dementias…is complex, but with the large increase in dementia cases expected within the next ten years in the U.S., it will be increasingly important to correctly recognize, diagnose, prevent, and treat age-related cognitive decline.”  Envision’s SWI and NeuroQuant images can play key roles in the identification of these impairments.

No matter what the diagnosis, the earlier it is detected, and treatment begins, the better the prognosis.  As the one who knows your parents best, you are probably the one best able to identify when things “just don’t feel right.”  Now it is your turn to take care of the ones who took care of you.  Ensuring they get the right diagnosis is a good start.

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