Reduce Pain in Children with Mind-Body Practices

Reduce Pain in Children with Mind-Body Practices

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Guided imagery is a meditative process that uses visualization and imagination to bring awareness to the mind-body connection. Children can easily access this healing process because they’re naturally imaginative. By relaxing into a vivid story they gain tools to deal with stress, pain or difficult feelings.” – Catherine Gillespie-Lopes

 

We all have to deal with pain. It’s inevitable, but hopefully it’s mild and short lived. For a wide swath of humanity, however, pain is a constant in their lives. At least 100 million adult Americans have chronic pain conditions. Sadly, about a quarter to a third of children experience chronic pain. It has to be kept in mind that pain is an important signal that there is something wrong or that damage is occurring. This signals that some form of action is needed to mitigate the damage. This is an important signal that is ignored at the individual’s peril. So, in dealing with pain, it’s important that pain signals not be blocked or prevented. They need to be perceived. But, methods are needed to mitigate the psychological distress produced by chronic pain.

 

The most common treatment for chronic pain is drugs. These include over-the-counter analgesics and opioids. But opioids are dangerous and prescription opioid overdoses kill more than 14,000 people annually. The use of drugs in children is even more complicated and potentially directly harmful or could damage the developing brain. So, there is a great need to find safe and effective ways to lower the psychological distress and improve children’s ability to cope with the pain.

 

Pain involves both physical and psychological issues. The stress, fear, and anxiety produced by pain tends to elicit responses that actually amplify the pain. So, reducing the emotional reactions to pain may be helpful in pain management. There is an accumulating volume of research findings to demonstrate that mind-body therapies have highly beneficial effects on the health and well-being of humans. These include meditationyogatai chi, qigong, biofeedback, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, hypnosis, acupuncture, and deep breathing exercises. Mindfulness practices have been shown to improve emotion regulation producing more adaptive and less maladaptive responses to emotions. Indeed, mindfulness practices are effective in treating pain in adults. But there is very little systematic study of the application of these practices for the treatment of chronic pain in children.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Mind–Body Approach to Pediatric Pain Management.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5483625/, Brown and colleagues review and summarize the published research literature on the use of mind-body techniques to treat pain in children. They found that there is clear evidence from the research that yoga practice and acupuncture are effective in the treatment of pain in both adults and children. On the other hand, they found that meditation, mindfulness training, and hypnosis are effective for treating pain in adults, but that there is a void of research for its application in children.

 

Hence the published research literature is encouraging. Where there have been studies, mind-body practices have been found to safely and effectively reduce chronic pain in both adults and children. A great advantage of these treatments is that they have little or no side effects other than positive ones and are thus a promising safe alternative to the use of dangerous drugs. But, there is obviously a need for much more research on the effectiveness of mind-body techniques for chronic pain in children.

 

So, reduce pain in children with mind-body practices.

 

“Mindfulness provides a more accurate perception of pain . . . For instance, you might think that you’re in pain all day. But bringing awareness to your pain might reveal that it actually peaks, valleys and completely subsides. One of Goldstein’s clients believed that his pain was constant throughout the day. But when he examined his pain, he realized it hits him about six times a day. This helped to lift his frustration and anxiety.” –  Margarita Tartakovsky

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Brown, M. L., Rojas, E., & Gouda, S. (2017). A Mind–Body Approach to Pediatric Pain Management. Children, 4(6), 50. http://doi.org/10.3390/children4060050

 

Abstract

Pain is a significant public health problem that affects all populations and has significant financial, physical and psychological impact. Opioid medications, once the mainstay of pain therapy across the spectrum, can be associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Centers for Disease and Control (CDC) guidelines recommend that non-opioid pain medications are preferred for chronic pain outside of certain indications (cancer, palliative and end of life care). Mindfulness, hypnosis, acupuncture and yoga are four examples of mind–body techniques that are often used in the adult population for pain and symptom management. In addition to providing significant pain relief, several studies have reported reduced use of opioid medications when mind–body therapies are implemented. Mind–body medicine is another approach that can be used in children with both acute and chronic pain to improve pain management and quality of life.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5483625/

Improve Asthma in Children with Tai Chi

Improve Asthma in Children with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Tai Chi/Qigong is eminently suitable and beneficial for asthma sufferers. As well as being non-exertive their practice teaches correct breathing and posture, which can help eliminate or decrease the severity of attacks. Benefits of Tai Chi for Asthmatics” – Living Chi

 

Asthma is a chronic disease of the lungs that involves a persistent inflammation of the airways. When the inflammation worsens, it makes it more difficult for air to move in and out of the lungs provoking coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness. It is estimated that 300 million people worldwide and 30 million people in the U.S. suffer from asthma and the incidence appears to be growing. In the U.S.it is estimated to cost $60 billion per year in healthcare costs and lost productivity. Asthma is the most common chronic disease in the world among children with about 10% of children suffering from asthma.

 

Asthma is not fatal and those with moderate asthma have an equivalent life expectancy to those that don’t. There is no cure for asthma. So, it is a chronic disease that must be coped with throughout the lifetime. Treatments are aimed at symptomatic relief. Most frequently drugs, anti-inflammatory hormones, and inhalers are used to help control the inflammation. Exercise can be difficult with asthma and may actually precipitate an attack. This can be a problem as maintaining fitness with asthma can be difficult. A gentle form of exercise, Tai Chi, does not require heavy breathing and thus does not provoke asthma. In addition, breathing exercises like those incorporated into Tai Chi practice are known to help control asthma. This suggests that Tai Chi may be a helpful exercise for people with asthma.

 

In today’s Research News article “.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5406730/, Lin and colleagues recruited children with and without a diagnosis of mild, intermittent asthma (average age of 10.5). The children were instructed in Tai Chi for 60 minutes, once a week, for 12 weeks and were requested to practice every day at home assisted by supplied videos. They were measured before and after training for lung function, fractional exhaled nitric oxide (an indicator of airway inflammation), and asthma quality of life. They were compared to a group of similar children who did not practice Tai Chi.

 

They found that the groups that performed Tai Chi showed significant improvements in lung function and decreases in lung inflammation. In addition, the children with asthma showed significant improvements in asthma quality of life, including asthma symptoms, limitations on activity, and emotional function. It should be mentioned that the control children did not engage in any form of exercise, so, it is not clear that Tai Chi has any greater benefits than other exercises. It remains for future research to clarify this issue.

 

It is clear, however, that the gentle exercise of Tai Chi combined with its breathing exercises is of great benefit to children with asthma, improving breathing and their quality of life. The study only investigated children with mild and intermittent asthma. So, it remains for future research to demonstrate if Tai Chi practice is similarly beneficial for more severe cases of asthma. But these results are very encouraging as Tai Chi is gentle, safe, does not provoke asthmatic attacks, is inexpensive to teach, practice can be conveniently maintained at home, and it includes beneficial breathing exercises.

 

So, improve asthma in children with Tai Chi.

 

“Breathing, relaxation and exercise programs, have for many years, been a useful tool in asthma management. The problem is that breathing; relaxation and exercise are often practiced separately, making them a relatively disjointed and limited part of asthma management.” – Living Chi

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Lin, H.-C., Lin, H.-P., Yu, H.-H., Wang, L.-C., Lee, J.-H., Lin, Y.-T., … Chiang, B.-L. (2017). Tai-Chi-Chuan Exercise Improves Pulmonary Function and Decreases Exhaled Nitric Oxide Level in Both Asthmatic and Nonasthmatic Children and Improves Quality of Life in Children with Asthma. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM, 2017, 6287642. http://doi.org/10.1155/2017/6287642

 

Abstract

Tai-Chi-Chuan (TCC) is an exercise of low-to-moderate intensity which is suitable for asthmatic patients. The aim of our study is to investigate improvements of the lung function, airway inflammation, and quality of life of asthmatic children after TCC. Participants included sixty-one elementary school students and they were divided into asthmatic (n = 29) and nonasthmatic (n = 32) groups by the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) questionnaire. Among them, 20 asthmatic and 18 nonasthmatic children volunteered to participate in a 60-minute TCC exercise weekly for 12 weeks. Baseline and postintervention assessments included forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), forced vital capacity (FVC), peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR), fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) level, and Standardised Pediatric Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire (PAQLQ(S)). After intervention, the level of FeNO decreased significantly; PEFR and the FEV1/FVC also improved significantly in both asthmatic group and nonasthmatic group after TCC. The asthmatic children also had improved quality of life after TCC. The results indicated that TCC could improve the pulmonary function and decrease airway inflammation in both children with mild asthma and those without asthma. It also improves quality of life in mild asthmatic children. Nevertheless, further studies are required to determine the effect of TCC on children with moderate-to-severe asthma.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5406730/

Improve Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) with Mind-Body Practices

Improve Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) with Mind-Body Practices

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness practice can help us pay attention better, resist distractions, be less impulsive, remember what we are doing in the moment, and regulate our own emotions, it is helpful whether we have ADHD or not. But it holds special interest for those with ADHD.” – Casey Dixon

 

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is currently epidemic in the US. Roughly 6.4 million American children have been diagnosed with ADHD and 6.4% of American children are being treated with medication. There has been a 42% increase in the diagnoses of ADHD in the last 8 years. This increase in diagnoses probably represents an increase in awareness and willingness to diagnose ADHD rather than an increase in cases of ADHD. “Many children who like to run and jump may be high-energy. But that doesn’t mean they are hyperactive. To count as ADHD, symptoms have to be on the extreme side and have to cause problems in the child’s life. Also, they have to have been doing this for at least 6 months.” – WebMD

 

What can be done about this huge problem that is affecting such a large proportion of American children and adults? The most common treatment is drugs, like methylphenidate, Ritalin, which helps reduce symptoms in about 30% of the people with ADHD. Unfortunately, the effectiveness of the drugs appears to be markedly reduced after the first year. In addition, the drugs often have troublesome side effects, including nervousness agitation, anxiety, irritability, sleep and appetite problems, head and stomach aches, nausea, dizziness, and heart palpitations. They can also be addictive and can readily be abused. If that’s not enough using drugs that alter the brain in children during the time of brain development is fraught with long-term risks. So, drugs, at present, do not appear to be a good solution, only affecting some, only for a short time, and with unwanted side effects.  Is there a better way?

 

There are indications that mind-body training may be a more effective treatment for ADHD. It makes sense that it should be, as the skills and abilities strengthened by mind-body training are identical to those that are defective in ADHDattentionimpulse controlexecutive functionemotion control, and mood improvement. Mind-body practices include meditationtai chi, qigongyoga , etc. Movement based mind-body practices would appear to be particularly appropriate as they are also exercise and as such an outlet for some of the excess energy.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mind–Body Therapy for Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: http://www.mdpi.com/2227-9067/4/5/31/htm

Herbert and Esparham review and summarize the published research literature on the effectiveness of mind-body practices for the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

 

They report that in general movement based mind-body practices are effective for children with ADHD.  The research suggests that yoga practice improves attention, executive function, sleep patterns, produces less anxiety, more ability to focus at school, and less conflicts in children. The ancient Chinese slow movement practice of Tai Chi also appears to help with ADHD, producing significantly decreased anxiety, daydreaming, inappropriate emotions, and hyperactivity, and improved conduct. Meditation practice also appears to be effective for the symptoms of ADHD. The research indicates that mindfulness meditation practice appears to reduce ADHD symptoms and internalization, and improve attention and thinking. The research suggests that meditation practice acts by producing changes to the brains of children with ADHD.

 

These are exciting findings that suggest that mind-body practices are effective treatments for ADHD in children. This is particularly heartening as these mind-body practices are safe, and unlike drugs, have no significant side effects. They are also inexpensive treatments in comparison to active therapies and drugs. They are also convenient for the children to practice when time is available at home or school. Families and teachers can access online or purchase videos as resources to guide the practices. In addition, there are indications that these practices produce relatively permanent beneficial changes in the children’s brains, suggesting lasting benefits.

 

So, improve attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with mind-body practices.

 

“Mindfulness meditation for people with ADHD? It may seem like a stretch, since difficulty with mindfulness is the very challenge for those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. And yet recent research shows that mindfulness training can be adapted for this condition and that it can improve concentration.”  – Lynda McCullough

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

Herbert, A.; Esparham, A. Mind–Body Therapy for Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Children 2017, 4, 31. doi:10.3390/children4050031

 

Abstract

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is pervasive among the pediatric population and new treatments with minimal adverse effects are necessary to be studied. The purpose of this article is to review current research studying mind-body therapies for treatment of children diagnosed with ADHD. Literature was reviewed pertaining to the effectiveness of movement-based therapies and mindfulness/meditation-based therapies for ADHD. Many positive effects of yoga, Tai Chi, physical activity, and meditation may significantly improve symptoms of ADHD among children.

http://www.mdpi.com/2227-9067/4/5/31/htm

Mindful Motherhood

Mindful Motherhood

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“There could not be a better time to learn mindfulness than during pregnancy and early motherhood. For one thing, this is a time when most people have a strong motivation to become the best person they can be in a relatively short period of time. When you realize the full enormity of the responsibility you have taken on by becoming a mom, the primary source of care for another whole human being, not to mention one that you love more than you thought you could ever love, there is a really high level of motivation to try your best to get yourself into the best mental and emotional shape possible.”Cassandra Vieten

 

Mothers’ Day was basically invented and promoted by the greeting card and florist industries. But, even though its origins were crass, the idea took off, because it hit upon a truth; that we all love our mothers. As a result, Mothers’ Day has become a culturally accepted and encouraged time for the celebration of motherhood and all that it means. The deep bonds and love that virtually everyone feels for their mothers and their mothers for them fuels the celebration of the holiday.

 

Motherhood is ubiquitous. Everyone has a mother, who in turn, has had a mother, who has had a mother, etc. Many are, or want to be mothers. It plays an immensely important role in our individual and societal existence. The bond that develops between mother and child is a beautiful, virtually unbreakable, thing, perhaps the strongest bond between individuals that exists. It is essential for ensuring the nurturance that is mandatory for the life of the virtually helpless infant and the development of the child. The effectiveness, or lack thereof, of mothering has a major impact on the offspring that continue throughout their lives.

 

Motherhood is such an important role that it seems reasonable to explore what goes into successful mothering and child rearing and what might be of assistance in improving mothering. There has accumulated a tremendous amount of scientific evidence that mindfulness, (“awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally”) can be an important asset for mothers, from conception, to pregnancy, birth, nurturing the infant, and childrearing and the mindfulness of the child can be an important asset for its development. So, on this day celebrating motherhood, we’ll explore the role of mindfulness.

 

Mothering does not occur in a vacuum. It’s been said that “It takes a village” to rear a child. Indeed, motherhood is embedded in a community. There are many people who are either directly or indirectly involved, from the father, to the extended family, the community, the medical profession, teachers, clergy, social workers, childcare workers, and even the government. So relationships become an essential part of mothering from conception, to birth, and family and social life. Mindfulness has been found to be important to becoming a mother in the first place. Mindfulness makes the individual more attractive to the opposite sex, it improves sexual relationships, it helps to relieve infertility, and it improves relationships in general. All of which underscores the importance of mindfulness in improving the likelihood that conception will occur and that childbirth will be born into a supportive social context.

 

Mindfulness continues to be helpful during pregnancy. It can help to relieve the anxiety and depression that commonly accompany pregnancy and even appears to benefit the neurocognitive development of the infant. After birth mindfulness continues to be of assistance as it improves caregiving and parenting, even in the case where the child has developmental disabilities. Mindfulness not only helps the parents deal with the stresses of childrearing, but developing mindfulness in the child can be of great assistance to helping the kids develop emotionally and cognitively, develop high level thinking, develop healthy self-concepts, develop socially, deal with stress, and cope with trauma and childhood depression. It even improves the child’s psychosocial development and academic performance and grades in school. In addition, it seems to be able to assist children through the troubled times of adolescence.

 

It should be clear that mindfulness is an important component of motherhood. Why would this be so? There are a number of reasons that mindfulness helps. It reduces the psychological and physical effects of stress on the mother and let’s face it, pregnancy, birth, caring for infants and raising children can be quite stressful. Mindfulness also improves emotion regulation making the mother better able to be in touch with her emotions yet react to them adaptively and effectively. Mindfulness helps the mother maintain her health and well-being, and to recover quicker should she become ill. After all, mothers can’t take sick leave or take vacations.

 

The essential capacity developed in mindfulness training is paying much greater attention to what’s occurring in the present moment. This can be of immense help to the mother. It makes her better attuned to her child’s and to her own needs. It reduces rumination and recriminations about past mistakes. It tends to diminish the worry and anxiety about the future. It helps her to focus on what needs to be done now, making her much more effective. And it helps her to experience the joys of motherhood to their fullest. In general, by focusing on now, she is tuned into the only time that matters for herself or her child, improving her relationship with reality, dealing with its problems and relishing its wonders.

 

Hence, mindfulness can make mothering better and happier, both for the mother, and the child. So, on this important day of celebration of mothers, let’s adopt mindfulness and make it a part of our relationship with our mothers and our children. We may all love our mothers but we love mindful mothers even more especially when we ourselves are mindful.

 

“For me, the program gave me the freedom to be the kind of mom I wanted to be, instead of just reacting automatically. I still have difficult moments, and can get stressed out, but the mindfulness helps me stay centered and stay connected to myself and my baby.”Cassandra Vieten

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

Improve Stress and Trauma Effects on Children with Mindfulness

Improve Stress and Trauma Effects on Children with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness practice helps children connect with positive emotional and social experiences, often things that a traumatized brain struggles to do.” – Mindful

 

Trauma comes in many forms, from abuse to warfare, from children to the elderly, from natural and man-made causes, and from the rich to the poor. But, regardless of the cause or the characteristics of the individuals, it leaves in its wake a syndrome of posttraumatic symptoms which can haunt the victims for the rest of their lives. These include persistent recurrent re-experiencing of the traumatic event, including flashbacks and nightmares, loss of interest in life, detachment from other people, increased anxiety and emotional arousal, including outbursts of anger, difficulty concentration, and jumpiness, startling easily.

 

Experiencing trauma is quite common. It has been estimated that 60% of men and 50% of women will experience a significant traumatic event during their lifetime. Over a third of children interviewed in school had experienced at least one trauma and 9% had experienced at least 5 traumatic events. It’s been estimated that of adolescents, 8% have been exposed to sexual assault, 17% physical assault, and 39% had witnessed violence. It is estimated that 15% of children show symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This is tragic unto itself, but childhood trauma can continue to affect mental and physical health throughout the individual’s life. So, it is important to develop methods to help individuals cope with trauma.

 

There have been many treatments employed each with varying but limited success. Most treatments have been used with adults. There is very little research investigating the effects of treatment on childhood trauma. Mindfulness training has been found to be effective for trauma in adults, particularly from the middle and upper classes. Yoga has been shown to be effective with trauma in children. In today’s Research News article “The Role of Mindfulness in Reducing the Adverse Effects of Childhood Stress and Trauma.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: http://www.mdpi.com/2227-9067/4/3/16/htm

Ortiz and Sibinga review the published research literature on the effectiveness of mindfulness practices on the physical and psychological effects of childhood trauma.

 

They report that the results of published studies support the effectiveness of mindfulness training to mitigate the effects of childhood trauma in adults. It appears to buffer stress and improve resilience and as a result reduces the later psychological and physical effects of the trauma, including anxiety, depression, stress, burnout, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep disorders, addictions, decreased quality of life, cardiovascular disease, obesity, metabolic syndrome, inflammation, and obesity. They also report that published studies of the effects of mindfulness practices on children who have experienced trauma find that, like with adults, school children who have experienced trauma show significant improvements in mental and physical symptoms, including, resilience, anxiety, depression, self-hostility, negative emotions, rumination, sleep, self-esteem, post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, suicidal thoughts, quality of life, social behavior, and coping ability.

 

These are outstanding findings that strongly suggest that mindfulness training is an effective therapeutic strategy to help both children and adults cope with the psychological and physical sequalae of trauma. With the high prevalence rates of trauma in childhood, mindfulness training may be a needed solution to the short- and lont-term effects of this rampant problem.

 

So, improve the stress and trauma effects on children with mindfulness.

 

“mindfulness may provide some resilience against the poor adult health outcomes that often result from childhood trauma. Mindfulness training may help adults, including those with a history of childhood trauma, to improve their own well-being and be more effective with children.” – Robert Whitaker

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

Ortiz, R.; Sibinga, E.M. The Role of Mindfulness in Reducing the Adverse Effects of Childhood Stress and Trauma. Children 2017, 4, 16.

 

Abstract

Research suggests that many children are exposed to adverse experiences in childhood. Such adverse childhood exposures may result in stress and trauma, which are associated with increased morbidity and mortality into adulthood. In general populations and trauma-exposed adults, mindfulness interventions have demonstrated reduced depression and anxiety, reduced trauma-related symptoms, enhanced coping and mood, and improved quality of life. Studies in children and youth also demonstrate that mindfulness interventions improve mental, behavioral, and physical outcomes. Taken together, this research suggests that high-quality, structured mindfulness instruction may mitigate the negative effects of stress and trauma related to adverse childhood exposures, improving short- and long-term outcomes, and potentially reducing poor health outcomes in adulthood. Future work is needed to optimize implementation of youth-based mindfulness programs and to study long-term outcomes into adulthood.

http://www.mdpi.com/2227-9067/4/3/16/htm

 

Improve Perception, Mood, and Motor Performance in Children with Mindfulness

Image result for mindfulness school children

Improve Perception, Mood, and Motor Performance in Children with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness is widely considered effective as a treatment for children and adolescents with aggression, ADHD, or anxiety.” – Lauren Cassani Davis

 

Childhood is a miraculous period during which the child is dynamically absorbing information from every aspect of its environment. This occurs almost without any intervention from the adults as the child appears to be programmed to learn. It is here that behaviors, knowledge, skills, and attitudes are developed that shape the individual. But, what is absorbed depends on the environment. If it is replete with speech, the child will learn speech, if it is replete with trauma, the child will learn fear, if it is replete with academic skills the child will learn these, and if it is replete with interactions with others, the child will learn social skills.

 

Elementary school is an environment that has a huge effect on development. It is also an excellent time to teach children the skills to adaptively negotiate its environment. Mindfulness training in school, at all levels has been shown to have very positive effects. These include academic, cognitive, psychological, and social domains. Importantly, mindfulness training in school appears to improve the student’s self-concept. It also improves attentional ability and reduces stress, which are keys to successful learning in school. Since, what occurs in these early years and in school can have such a profound, long-term effect on the child it is important to further study the impact of mindfulness training on the emotions, behavior, and learning skills of grammar school children.

 

In today’s Research News article “Enhancing Visual Perception and Motor Accuracy among School Children through a Mindfulness and Compassion Program.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5323376/

Tarrasch and colleagues explore the ability of mindfulness and compassion training to improve learning relevant skills and emotions in 4th and 5th grade school children. They recruited three schools to participate and assigned classes to either receive mindfulness and compassion training or to a wait-list control condition. Training occurred in 24 weekly, 45-minute meetings, over 7 months. “The sessions were divided into three modes: receiving care, developing self-care and extending care.” They included meditation practice and Loving Kindness Meditation. The children were measured before and after the 7-month training period for visual-motor integration, including visual perception and motor accuracy, anxiety, and mindfulness.

 

They found that, in comparison to the wait-list condition, the mindfulness and compassion training produced significant increases in visual perception, motor accuracy, and mindfulness and decreases in anxiety levels. They also found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the better the motor performance and the lower the anxiety levels. Hence, mindfulness and compassion training in elementary school produced tangible benefits for the children.

 

It should be noted that the wait-list control condition is a relatively weak control condition and these results need to be verified with a randomized controlled clinical trial including an active control condition. In addition, the mindfulness and compassion training was a complex program of many components and it cannot be concluded which ones or which combination of these components were responsible for the effects.

 

Nevertheless, these are exciting findings. Visual perception and motor accuracy have been shown to be predictive of better mathematical and reading ability, both essential to successful school performance. In addition, high anxiety levels have been shown to disrupt school performance, while high levels of mindfulness have been shown to improve school performance. Hence, all of the benefits produced by the mindfulness and compassion training are known to be associated with better achievement in school. Unfortunately, the study did not have a long-term follow-up to determine if improved school performance was a consequence of the benefits of mindfulness and compassion training.

 

So, improve perception, mood, and motor performance in children with mindfulness.

 

“I think that’s the reason that the students are latching on to this because when they’ve had a chance to stop, think, breathe and really kind of feel where they’re at, they know how much stress they’re under finally and now that they are aware of it, they can try to do something about it,” – Layne Millington

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

Tarrasch, R., Margalit-Shalom, L., & Berger, R. (2017). Enhancing Visual Perception and Motor Accuracy among School Children through a Mindfulness and Compassion Program. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 281. http://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00281

 

Abstract

The present study assessed the effects of the mindfulness/compassion cultivating program: “Call to Care-Israel” on the performance in visual perception (VP) and motor accuracy, as well as on anxiety levels and self-reported mindfulness among 4th and 5th grade students. One hundred and thirty-eight children participated in the program for 24 weekly sessions, while 78 children served as controls. Repeated measures ANOVA’s yielded significant interactions between time of measurement and group for VP, motor accuracy, reported mindfulness, and anxiety. Post hoc tests revealed significant improvements in the four aforementioned measures in the experimental group only. In addition, significant correlations were obtained between the improvement in motor accuracy and the reduction in anxiety and the increase in mindfulness. Since VP and motor accuracy are basic skills associated with quantifiable academic characteristics, such as reading and mathematical abilities, the results may suggest that mindfulness practice has the ability to improve academic achievements.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5323376/

Improve the Quality of Life of Parents of Children with Chronic Diseases with Mindfulness

Improve the Quality of Life of Parents of Children with Chronic Diseases with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness meditation is extremely good at relieving anxiety, stress, depression, exhaustion and irritability. Memory improves, reaction times become faster and mental and physical stamina increase. In short, regular meditators are happier and more contented than average, while being far less likely to suffer from psychological distress.” – Danny Penman

 

There is a tremendous demand for caregiving in the US. It is estimated that over 65 million (29% of the adult population) provides care to someone who is ill, disabled or aged, averaging 20 hours per week spent caring for their loved ones. This caregiving comes at a cost to the caregiver. It exacts a toll on caregivers’ health and well-being and their quality of life. Caregiving has been associated with increased levels of depression and anxiety as well as higher use of psychoactive medications, poorer self-reported physical and mental health, compromised immune function, and increased mortality.

 

Providing care for a child with a chronic illness can be particularly challenging. About 27% of children in the U.S. has a chronic illness. Caring for the child requires that the parent be able to deal with stress, to regulate their own emotions, and to be sensitive and attentive to their child. These skills are exactly those that are developed in mindfulness training. It improves the psychological and physiological responses to stress. It improves emotion regulation. And it improves the ability to maintain attention and focus in the face of high levels of distraction. The application of mindfulness skills to the parents of children with a chronic illness is relatively new. So, it would seem reasonable to investigate this further.

 

In today’s Research News article “Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Mindfulness for Health-Related Quality of Life: Comparing Treatments for Parents of Children with Chronic Conditions – A Pilot Feasibility Study.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5301303/

Anclair and colleagues perform a pilot feasibility study of the application of Mindfulness training and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to improve the health-related quality of life of parents with children with chronic diseases. They recruited parents of children with chronic diseases, obtained baseline measures and then randomly assigned them to receive either a group based, 8 week, once a week for 2 hours, Mindfulness training or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. They were measured before and after treatment for satisfaction with life, including spare time, relation to child, relation to partner, relation to friends, and satisfaction with work, and health-related quality of life, including physical functioning, role functioning – physical causes, bodily pain, general health, vitality, social functioning, role functioning – emotional causes and mental health. These were summarized in two categories, physical component summary and mental component summary.

 

They found that both treatments produced significant improvements in the mental components but not the physical components of health-related quality of life. Significant improvements in the mental health components of vitality, social functioning, role functioning – emotional causes and mental health were apparent. In addition, both groups demonstrated significant improvements in life satisfaction, including spare time, relation to child, and relation to partner. There were no significant differences between the improvements produced by mindfulness training or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Hence both treatments appeared to be effective in improving the health-related quality of life and life satisfaction of parents with children with chronic diseases.

 

It should be noted that this was a pilot feasibility study and did not contain a no-treatment control. So, caution must be exercised in reaching conclusions. But the results suggest that both types of therapy improve life satisfaction and the mental and social components of health-related quality of life while not affecting the physical dimensions. The results are interesting and important enough to justify implementing a large-scale randomized clinical trial. Since the numbers of children with chronic diseases is huge, finding ways to help ease the burden on their parents may have major mental health consequences.

 

So, improve the quality of life of parents of children with chronic diseases with mindfulness.

 

“Overall, results from existing studies suggest that mindfulness interventions may be beneficial for reducing symptoms and associated problems through relaxation for many chronic illnesses, including epilepsy, fibromyalgia, headaches or migraines, cancer, and asthma.” – Cynthia Riccio

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

Anclair, M., Hjärthag, F., & Hiltunen, A. J. (2017). Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Mindfulness for Health-Related Quality of Life: Comparing Treatments for Parents of Children with Chronic Conditions – A Pilot Feasibility Study. Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health : CP & EMH, 13, 1–9. http://doi.org/10.2174/1745017901713010001

 

Abstract

Background:

Research on parents of children with chronic conditions has shown that this parent group frequently suffers from psychological problems such as deteriorating life quality and stress-related disorders.

Objective:

The present feasibility study focuses on Health-Related Quality of Life (HRQOL) and life satisfaction of parents of children with chronic conditions.

Method:

The study was conducted using a repeated measures design and applied either group-based cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT; n = 10) or a group-based mindfulness programme (MF; n = 9). The study participants were wait-listed for six months.

Results:

The results indicate improvements for participants in both treatment groups regarding certain areas of HRQOL and life satisfaction. After eight group therapy sessions, parents in the two treatment groups significantly improved their Mental Component Summary (MCS) scores as well as their scores on the mental subscales Vitality, Social functioning, Role emotional and Mental health. In addition, some of the physical subscales, Role physical, Bodily pain and General health, showed considerable improvement for the MF group. When testing for clinical significance by comparing the samples with mean values of a norm population, the MCS scores were significantly lower at pre-measurements, but no significant differences were observed post-measurement. For the Physical component summary (PCS) scores, a significantly higher score was observed at post-measurement when compared to the norm population. Moreover, the results indicate improvement in life satisfaction regarding Spare time, Relation to child and Relation to partner.

Conclusion:

The study concludes that CBT and mindfulness may have a positive effect on areas of HRQOL and life satisfaction.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5301303/

 

Improve Children’s Academic Performance with Mindfulness

Improve Children’s Academic Performance with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness is having a real impact on our students and their ability to focus on the moment, whether in music, sports, exams or just dealing with the pressures of everyday life.” – Jeanette Richardson

 

Childhood is a wonderful time during which the child is dynamically absorbing information from every aspect of its environment. This occurs almost without any intervention from adults as the child appears to be programmed to learn. It is here that behaviors, knowledge, skills, and attitudes are developed that shape the individual. But, what is absorbed depends on the environment. Elementary school is an environment that has a huge effect on development. It is also an excellent time teach children the skills that will insure that the child has the ability to adaptively negotiate its environment.

 

Mindfulness training in school, at all levels has been shown to have very positive effects. These include the academic, cognitive, psychological, and social domains. Importantly, mindfulness training in school appears to improve the student’s self-concept, attention, and cognitive performance and lowers stress responses.  Since, what occurs in these early years and in school can have such a profound, long-term effect on the child it is important to further study the impact of mindfulness training on the academic performance of elementary school children.

 

In today’s Research News article “Enhancing Visual Perception and Motor Accuracy among School Children through a Mindfulness and Compassion Program.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at:

http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00281/full?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Psychology-w9-2017

Tarrasch and colleagues recruited 4th and 5th grade students and assigned them to either a wait-list control condition or to receive mindfulness and compassion training in 24 weekly sessions of 45 minutes. Before and after the program the students were measured for visual performance, motor accuracy, visual-motor integration, anxiety, and mindfulness.

 

They found that the mindfulness and compassion training in comparison to the wait-list control resulted in significant improvements in visual performance, motor accuracy, and mindfulness, and significant reductions in anxiety. Since, motor accuracy and visual performances are fundamental to academic performance, these results suggest that mindfulness and compassion training strengthens abilities that underlie success in school. In addition, the reduction in anxiety levels, suggests that the training removes one of the impediments to academic performance. Finally, the improvement in mindfulness suggests that mindfulness and compassion training helps the students to become more aware of their present feelings and environment.

 

It is possible, but not examined, that the improvements in mindfulness are responsible for the improvements in motor accuracy and visual performance as real time attention to the task at hand is fundamental to performance of these skills and performance in school overall. Regardless, the results suggest that mindfulness and compassion training improves the students’ ability to thrive in school, improving both ability and emotional tone. The investment of 45 minutes once a week in mindfulness training appears to be well justified and possibly should be considered for inclusion in the standard school curriculum.

 

So, improve children’s academic performance with mindfulness.

 

“Studies find that youth benefit from learning mindfulness in terms of improved cognitive outcomes, social-emotional skills, and well being. In turn, such benefits may lead to long-term improvements in life. For example, social skills in kindergarten predict improved education, employment, crime, substance abuse and mental health outcomes in adulthood.” – Mindful Schools

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

Tarrasch R, Margalit-Shalom L and Berger R (2017) Enhancing Visual Perception and Motor Accuracy among School Children through a Mindfulness and Compassion Program. Front. Psychol. 8:281. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00281

 

The present study assessed the effects of the mindfulness/compassion cultivating program: “Call to Care-Israel” on the performance in visual perception (VP) and motor accuracy, as well as on anxiety levels and self-reported mindfulness among 4th and 5th grade students. One hundred and thirty-eight children participated in the program for 24 weekly sessions, while 78 children served as controls. Repeated measures ANOVA’s yielded significant interactions between time of measurement and group for VP, motor accuracy, reported mindfulness, and anxiety. Post hoc tests revealed significant improvements in the four aforementioned measures in the experimental group only. In addition, significant correlations were obtained between the improvement in motor accuracy and the reduction in anxiety and the increase in mindfulness. Since VP and motor accuracy are basic skills associated with quantifiable academic characteristics, such as reading and mathematical abilities, the results may suggest that mindfulness practice has the ability to improve academic achievements.

http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00281/full?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Psychology-w9-2017

 

Improve ADHD in Children with Yoga

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Improve ADHD in Children with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“For individuals with the ADD/ADHD wiring, who have a tendency toward addiction and extreme behavior, building awareness is essential. Mindfulness and the ability to focus go hand-in-hand. I think of mindfulness as a muscle that can be strengthened through meditation/prayer, yoga, exercise, and self-discipline.” – Michael Ferguson

 

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is currently epidemic in the US. Roughly 6.4 million American children have been diagnosed with ADHD and 6.4% of American children are being treated with medication. There has been a 42% increase in the diagnoses of ADHD in the last 8 years. It should be emphasized that this increase in diagnoses probably represents an increase in awareness and willingness to diagnose ADHD rather than an increase in cases of ADHD. “Many children who like to run and jump may be high-energy. But that doesn’t mean they are hyperactive. To count as ADHD, symptoms have to be on the extreme side and have to cause problems in the child’s life. Also, they have to have been doing this for at least 6 months.” – WebMD

 

What can be done about this huge problem that is affecting such a large proportion of American children and adults? The most common treatment is drugs, like methylphenidate, Ritalin, which helps reduce symptoms in about 30% of the people with ADHD. Unfortunately, the effectiveness of the drugs appears to be markedly reduced after the first year. In addition, the drugs often have troublesome side effects, including nervousness agitation, anxiety, irritability, sleep and appetite problems, head and stomach aches, nausea, dizziness, and heart palpitations. They can also be addictive and can readily be abused. If that’s not enough using drugs that alter the brain in children during the time of brain development is fraught with long-term risks. So, drugs, at present, do not appear to be a good solution, only affecting some, only for a short time, and with unwanted side effects.  Is there a better way?

 

There are indications that mindfulness training may be a more effective treatment for ADHD. It makes sense that it should be, as the skills and abilities strengthened by mindfulness training are identical to those that are defective in ADHDattentionimpulse controlexecutive functionemotion control, and mood improvement. Yoga would appear to be particularly appropriate as it’s also an exercise and as such an outlet for some of the excess energy.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of an 8-week yoga program on sustained attention and discrimination function in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5237364/

Chou and Huang examine the ability of yoga training as a treatment for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). They recruited children between the ages of 8 to 12 who had been diagnosed with ADHD. They were assigned based upon their school district to either be in a no-treatment control group or receive yoga training for 40 minutes, twice a week, for 8 weeks. They were measured before and after training for concentrated targeted perception (visual pursuit task), for their “discrimination ability for reaction speed, attention deficits, and reactive stress tolerance in the presence of continuous but rapidly changing acoustic and optical stimuli” (Determination test), and physical fitness.

 

They found that the yoga practice resulted in a significant increase in accuracy and faster reaction time in the visual pursuit task, indicating improved concentration. They also found that the yoga practice produced a significant increase in accuracy and faster reaction time in the Determination test, indicating improves discrimination ability. Hence, it appears that yoga practice improves attention, both concentrated and selective in children with ADHD.

 

It needs to be remembered that the control group in the study did not receive any active treatment or exercise training. So, it cannot be determined if yoga practice was specifically responsible for the improvements or that any exercise or any intervention would have similar effects. It is possible that the increased attention, placebo effect, or experimenter bias effect might have been responsible. Future research should improve the control condition by including exercise and placebo control conditions. Regardless it is clear that the children treated with yoga practice markedly improved their attentional abilities.

 

So, improve ADHD in children with yoga.

 

“Those diagnosed with ADHD are often stressed, distracted and unable to focus. The benefits of yoga include stress relief, increased focus, self-awareness, meditation as well as confidence all things those with ADHD can benefit from without the use of medication.” – Carol Traulsen

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

Chou, C.-C., & Huang, C.-J. (2017). Effects of an 8-week yoga program on sustained attention and discrimination function in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. PeerJ, 5, e2883. http://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.2883

 

Abstract

This study investigated whether a yoga exercise intervention influenced the sustained attention and discrimination function in children with ADHD. Forty-nine participants (mean age = 10.50 years) were assigned to either a yoga exercise or a control group. Participants were given the Visual Pursuit Test and Determination Test prior to and after an eight-week exercise intervention (twice per week, 40 min per session) or a control intervention. Significant improvements in accuracy rate and reaction time of the two tests were observed over time in the exercise group compared with the control group. These findings suggest that alternative therapies such as yoga exercises can be complementary to behavioral interventions for children with attention and inhibition problems. Schools and parents of children with ADHD should consider alternatives for maximizing the opportunities that children with ADHD can engage in structured yoga  exercises.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5237364/

Improve Parenting and Children’s Psychopathology with Mindful Parenting

Improve Parenting and Children’s Psychopathology with Mindful Parenting

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“As parents, perhaps the most precious thing we can give our children is the gift of our full presence, in the moment. This is the deep intention and invitation for parents as they make space for mindfulness practice in their lives. Mindful parenting takes to heart the deep truth that we can only give to our children what we have given first and fundamentally to ourselves.” – Lisa Kring

 

Raising children, parenting, is very rewarding. But, it can also be challenging. Children test parents frequently. They test the boundaries of their freedom and the depth of parental love. They demand attention and seem to especially when parental attention is needed elsewhere. They don’t always conform to parental dictates or aspirations for their behavior. They are often affected more by peers, for good or evil, than by parents. It is the parents challenge to control themselves, not overreact, and act appropriately in the face of strong emotions. Meeting these challenges becomes more and more important as the youth approaches adolescence, as that is the time of the greatest struggle for independence and the potential for damaging behaviors, particularly, alcohol, drugs, and sexual behavior.

 

The challenges of parenting require that the parent be able to deal with stress, to regulate their own emotions, and to be sensitive and attentive to their child. These skills are exactly those that are developed in mindfulness training. It improves the psychological and physiological responses to stress. It improves emotion regulation. And it improves the ability to maintain attention and focus in the face of high levels of distraction. Mindful parenting involves having emotional awareness of themselves but also having emotional awareness of and compassion for the child and having the skills to pay full attention to the child in the present moment, to accept parenting non-judgmentally and be emotionally non-reactive to the child.

 

To date, there has not been a direct determination of the influence of mindfulness on parenting and the behavior of their children over childhood and adolescence. In today’s Research News article “The Association of Parent Mindfulness with Parenting and Youth Psychopathology across Three Developmental Stages.” See  summary below or view the full text of the study at:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4520790/

Parent and colleagues recruited parents of children in three age ranges; young childhood (3 to 7 years old), middle childhood (8 to 12 years old), and adolescence (13 to 17 years old). They completed measures of mindfulness, mindful parenting, positive and negative parenting practices, and of their children’s internalizing and externalizing behaviors as indicators of the children’s mental health.

 

They found that older parents and parents from two parent households were significantly higher in mindful parenting and positive parenting, and that parents with at least a college education were lower in negative parenting. Importantly, they found that the higher the levels of parental mindfulness the higher the levels of mindful parenting and the lower the levels of negative parenting practices and the children’s internalizing and externalizing behaviors. In turn, higher levels of mindful parenting were associated with higher the levels of positive parenting practice and lower the levels of negative parenting practice. In turn, the higher the levels of negative parenting practices the higher the levels of the children’s internalizing and externalizing behaviors. These findings were true regardless of whether the children were in young childhood, middle childhood, or adolescence.

 

These results show that parental mindfulness is associated with lower psychopathology in the children both directly and indirectly by association with mindful parenting. They show that mindful parenting is also associated with lower psychopathology in the children by being associated with fewer negative parenting practices. Hence the results show that regardless of the age of the children, mindfulness and mindful parenting are associated with better mental health in the children.

 

This study was correlational and there was no manipulation of the levels of mindfulness. As such, it cannot be determined if there’s a causal relationship between mindfulness in mental health in the children. It is possible that high levels of the children’s internalizing and externalizing behaviors may be responsible for the parents’ levels of mindfulness and mindful parenting. It is important, then, that future research actively train parents in mindfulness to determine if higher levels of mindfulness cause better outcomes with the children. Regardless, these results support the contention that mindfulness and mindful parenting are important for successful outcomes in raising children.

 

So, improve parenting and children’s psychopathology with mindful parenting.

 

“The reality is that our childhood impacts our parenting. For a number of reasons, and in a variety of ways, our relationship with our children can trigger memories, emotions, and reaction from our earliest years. Sometimes we realize what’s going on, but more often than not, we don’t. Understanding this dynamic is a powerful first step towards changing some of the unskillful behaviors that may be impacting our experience of parenting and our relationship with our children.”Carla Naumburg

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

Parent, J., McKee, L. G., Mahon, J., & Foreh, R. (2016). The Association of Parent Mindfulness with Parenting and Youth Psychopathology across Three Developmental Stages. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 44(1), 191–202. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-015-9978-x

 

Abstract

The primary purpose of the current study was to test a model examining the process by which parent dispositional mindfulness relates to youth psychopathology through mindful parenting and parenting practices. The universality of the model across youth at three developmental stages was examined: young childhood (3 – 7 yrs.; n = 210), middle childhood (8 – 12 yrs.; n = 200), and adolescence (13 – 17 yrs.; n = 205). Overall, participants were 615 parents (55 % female) and one of their 3-to-17 year old children (45 % female). Parents reported on their dispositional mindfulness, mindful parenting, positive and negative parenting practices and their child’s or adolescent’s internalizing and externalizing problems. Consistent findings across all three developmental stages indicated that higher levels of parent dispositional mindfulness were indirectly related to lower levels of youth internalizing and externalizing problems through higher levels of mindful parenting and lower levels of negative parenting practices. Replication of these findings across families with children at different developmental stages lends support to the generalizability of the model.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4520790/