Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Purple Day

Yesterday, March 26, 2012 was Purple Day for Epilepsy Awareness.  MLA Guy Gentner rose in the house and shared a personal story of a childhood friend who had epilepsy.  This friend and his parents wouldn’t talk about what was happening to him.  Epilepsy has long been a stigmatized disorder due to various misconceptions and myths about what epilepsy is and what causes it.  These misconceptions include fears of contagion, stemming from the idea that epilepsy is a disease rather than a disorder, and fears that epilepsy is a sign of psychological disorder, which it is not. 
Epilepsy refers to a diverse set of chronic neurological disorders which are characterized by the occurrence and reoccurrence of seizures.  A seizure is an event which is caused by excessive neuronal activity in the brain.  Seizures vary in their manifestations: they may cause convulsions, loss of motor control, and temporary changes in psychic state.  One seizure does not indicate a diagnosis of epilepsy; those with epilepsy have multiple seizures.  Approximately 300,000 Canadians are living with epilepsy.
Purple Day was started in 2008 by young Cassidy Megan from Nova Scotia when she was just nine years old.  Motivated by her own struggles with epilepsy, she sought to bring awareness to the disorder and, in so doing, destigmatize it.  The movement Cassidy started is now recognized worldwide.  For more information on Purple Day, and for information on ways in which you can support those with epilepsy, please visit www.purpleday.org  and www.epilepsyfoundation.org .

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The Therapeutic Relationship with Pets

I would like to dedicate this post to Jane Dison, the executive director with the B.C. Coalition of People with Disabilities.
Comfort, solace, companionship, and bonding are all basic human needs. Dr. Corn of UBC talks about one of the newest trends in medical research, which focuses on the relationship between people and their pets and the effect this has on their physical and mental wellbeing.
The scientific data is unequivocal in showing that dogs can be a significant factor in reducing stress responses in all people, and can have a major beneficial effect on special groups, such as persons with physical and mental disabilities, seniors and others who may be socially isolated.
The medical recognition of the significance of the human-animal bond and its influence on human psychological health has become a subject of serious research. Human findings include: lower blood pressure, relaxed heart rate, regular breathing and less muscle tension — all signs of reduced stress. Individuals with disabilities are particularly susceptible to stress. Up to 25 percent of people who seek the services of general practitioner do so for depressive and anxiety disorders.
Depression is considered to be much more disabling, socially and physically, than many chronic conditions. Although depression can be caused by many factors, one of the most common is loneliness. People who lack human contact often benefit from pet ownership and the emotional bond that pets provide.
Recently researchers looked at a group of people 60 and older living alone or only with a pet. Non–pet owners were four times more likely to be diagnosed with clinical depression than were pet owners of the same age. The evidence also showed that pet owners required fewer medical services and were more satisfied overall with their lives.
In the year 2010, Dr. Arby Fine edited a stunning collection of chapters on animal-assisted therapy, theoretical foundations and guidelines for practice, in which the authors explore the animal-human bond — from the use of animals with individuals with autism spectrum disorder, to human-animal interactions in successful aging.
Animals have become an important part of the lives of many people of all ages, and there are now numerous studies to support the beneficial effects, both physiological and psychosocial.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Scottish Ancestry

January is a celebratory month for those of Scottish descent, starting with the first footing on New Year’s Day and followed by the birthday of Scotland’s national poet, Robbie Burns, on January 25. .  Burns wrote both in the Scots language as well as in standard English and his poems and songs became famous the world over.  His song Scots Wha Hae served as Scotland’s unofficial national anthem for years and Burns himself came to be regarded as a cultural icon.
Symbols represent our identity and how we understand each other, both past and present. Some may ask why a tartan is a symbol for British Columbia. The B.C. tartan was initially created to mark the double centenaries of the union of B.C. and the Confederation of Canada in 1966 and 1967. It was eventually recognized in legislation through the British Columbia Tartan Act of 1974.
The provincial tartan has five colours, each with its own significance: blue for the ocean, white for the dogwood, green for the forests, red for the maple leaf, and gold for the Crown and the sun on the shield and flag.
An official tartan pays tribute to the many and varied contributions of Canadians of Scottish ancestry to Canada. Sir John A. Macdonald and other fathers of Canadian Confederation, who laid down the legal and legislative basis for the new nation of Canada, were Scots. The direct impact of Scottish culture on Canada has been and continues to be significant.