Adolescents Anxiety Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Buddhi Stories Featured Patient Stories Traumatic Brain Injury

Dharmendra – A New Leaf


It was yet another of those days when the young man had taken out his father’s car, lent to him grudgingly, with the mother peeping through the bedroom window of the palatial mansion to warn her son not to speed on the road. Dharmendra turned around to wave reassuringly to the parents as he took off at a respectable pace towards the gate. Once on the highway, with the heady sea breeze blowing on his face and his companions cheering him on, Dharmendra pressed the accelerator. That ill-fated night, Dharmendra, at the wheel, swerved to avoid a speeding motor bike and hit the roadside tree. His two companions escaped with mild injuries but Dharmendra suffered Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). The road traffic accident was to change the course of his life drastically.

Dharmendra was admitted to a reputed city hospital in a semi conscious state, and was under acute care and close neurosurgical monitoring for several days. No seizure was reported. He was treated with corrective surgery for major physical injuries, which needed immediate attention as these multiple injuries, if left unattended, could add to the burden of brain trauma. 

The traumatic brain injury (TBI) was managed conservatively. He mercifully escaped the worst immediate sequelae of TBI. He had recovered full orientation at discharge with loss of the right little finger in the accident, what appeared a small price to pay for the consequences of daredevil speeding on the highway.

But when Dharmendra was brought to us at Trimed-Neurokrish, 2 months later by the desperate parents, (who had heard of our holistic approach to neurorehabilitation from a friend) we knew at a glance that TBI had played havoc with his personality, mood and affect and to a lesser extent his cognitive ability. His explosive, impulsive behaviour was what we faced initially, with an air of intellectual superiority thrown in, which did not make our approach to him any easier. Management of behavioural complications of TBI is challenging and requires a multidisciplinary approach. With gentle persuasion, comprehensive all round assessment by our team members was made possible. We set about facing the major challenge we had taken on with that team spirit of hope and goodwill which has served us on many occasions.’’

Exploring the Condition

Dharmendra was in his 1st year Engineering course when he met with the accident. When he joined engineering college, the parents felt that he had become more mature, stable in his ways and was now a responsible individual, and breathed a sigh of relief. He had been a handful, especially for his mother, from childhood. He had performed below average in school. He had shown frequent irritability, anger and defiance towards figures of authority. He had been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperkinetic Disorder (ADHD) with associated Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) and treated for it as a child.

These underlying childhood behaviour disorders have an add-on effect on personality traits at the phase of post TBI recovery. The symptom complex was suggestive of a frontal lobe syndrome. After thawing the ice, during the first few difficult interviews, the clinical psychologist managed to record the chameleon-like changes in the colour of his moods and affect: easy going, emotionally expressive, cooperative, sensitive, keen to do the right thing on the one hand, on the other hard headed, adventure loving and prone to risk behaviours. He was prone to exhibiting high levels of anxiety, building up to a pitch to manifest anger, even rage, an episodic dyscontrol syndrome. Once the episode passed, Dharmendra was at peace with himself and with the rest of the world as if nothing had happened. Was he aware of these monstrous flare-ups in the early phase of his neurorehabilitation? Probably not.

Further psychological testing showed him to be intellectually average, with poor mathematical ability, but adequate ability in language and other subjects and fair visuomotor ability. He had taken to excessive substance abuse, smoking, and was addicted to video gaming. On physiotherapy assessment, the patient’s physical health was very satisfactory, free in activities of daily living (ADL), a Barthel Index of 100; normal gait and balance, poor ability to run due to poor endurance, with no subjective reporting of pain. 

Frontal Lobe Syndromes

The degree of dysfunction caused by frontal lobe damage depends on the abilities and traits before the TBI, as well as the extent, location, and nature of the damage as a result of the TBI. To assess the frontal lobe damage, your physicians should give you a complete neuropsychological evaluation. The testing measures speech, motor skills, social behavior, spontaneity, impulse control, memory, problem solving, language, and more.

In a direct injury, the frontal and temporal poles receive the maximum impact. MRI brain revealed only a brainstem injury, but multiple networks from and to the frontal lobe, the limbic system, subcortical structures, brainstem etc. may account for the manifest frontal lobe syndrome (mainly dorsolateral prefrontal syndrome) in the patient. Aside from this, white matter lesion in the network cannot be picked up by standard MR imaging.

Frontal lobe damage affects most aspects of behavior, mood, and personality. Patients with dorsolateral frontal lesions tend to have lack of ability to plan or to sequence actions or tasks, poor attention span, a poor working memory for verbal information (if the left hemisphere is predominantly affected) or spatial information (if the right hemisphere mainly affected) Patients with orbitofrontal lesions tend to have problems of disinhibition, emotional lability, and memory disorders, Personality changes from orbitofrontal cortex damage includes impulsiveness.


  •  Jeffrey L.Cummings, MR Trimble. Concise Guide to Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Neurology. II ed., American Psychiatric Publishing Inc, 2002, chapt. 5: 71-86Andrea E. Cavana Tourette Syndrome – Clinical Review , BMJ, Aug 2013 ; 347 :1-6
  • RTA statistics – global and Indian: According to the WHO statistics, (2016) about 1.25 million people die each year globally as a result of road traffic accidents. Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death among young people, aged 15–29 years. The newly adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with over 150 nations participating, has set a road safety target of halving the global number of deaths and injuries from road traffic crashes by 2020.
  • The detailed age profile of accident victims in India other than the drivers (Ruikar 2011), revealed that the age group between 25 and 65 years accounted for the largest share, 51.9%, of total road accident casualties, followed by the age group between 15 and 24 years, with a share of 30.3%
  • WHO fact sheet on road traffic Injuries (reviewed in Nov. 2016) Manisha Ruikar National statistics of road traffic accidents in India –Symposium- Polytrauma Management, rehab- J  Ortho, traumatology,rehab 2013   Vol 6. :1 : 1-6

Our Healing Approach

Dharmendra was given long term medication with constant monitoring and titration of the drug dosage. He was on Oxcarbamazepine & Levitiracetam (both for the control of seizure/episodic dyscontrol), Sertraline (antidepressant), Atomoxetine (to encourage mental alertness, attention) and vitamin supplements. He had had long sessions of cognitive behaviour therapy, distributed over 24 staggered sessions.

The integrative therapy included apart from continued sessions with the clinical psychologist using an eclectic combination of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Relaxation Training (Jacobson’s Progressive Muscle Relaxation) and Family Therapy; 15 sessions of Acupuncture, 15 of Reflexology, 10 Abhyangam and 10 Shirodhara. The scientific principle behind these therapies is to remove blocks in the energy channels of the body and to reestablish the free flow of bodily energies in the path to recovery.

On this regimen and the integrated therapies, the spells of anger and dyscontrol became progressively less frequent and less intense. Running parallel, his cognitive ability also improved. The Trimed-Neurokrish team came to a consensus that Dharendra was ready to go back to college after these three months of intensive therapy.

Formal parent education sessions, for them to understand clearly that Dharmendra’s behaviour was not willful, but part of the frontal lobe syndrome, was an important exercise, and was carried out meticulously, resulting in the full support of the parents towards medical management of their son. 

Dharmendra returned to 2nd year Engineering in the college after a long gap. He seemed to cope, but tended to sleep in class miss special classes, with increasing arrears, which made him anxious and as a result to increase the number of cigarettes he smoked. The parents showed great concern and follow up sessions with Trimed-Neurokrish had to be more frequent. Divalproex & Olanzapine- Fluoxetine were added to the drug regimen (replacing Levetiracetam and Sertraline), with subsequent control of these worrying symptoms. The patient went through the second year of Engineering College with occasional problems.

Looking Ahead

Dharmendra settled well, with improvement in cognition, better memory and attention and more stable behavior in his 3rd year Engineering. He still has rare dyscontrol episodes but these are few and far between. Periodic psychological sessions continue both scheduled and on demand. With improved academic performance, and in a mood of goal orientation,  he managed to clear his academic arrears  and seems well on his way to facing a professional career of significance. When will he be allowed to drive the car again, he wonders. His own, this time!

Buddhi Stories Children Featured Patient Stories Tourette’s Syndrome

Ramdas – The Changeling


Ramdas had multiple tics of the shoulders and lower limbs and occasional vocal tics simulating clearing of the throat or a grunt. The more he tried to suppress them, the more stressed he became and almost like a rebound phenomenon, the build up of the tension would subsequently produce tics and grunts which were explosive in character. He walked the 1 km to school as before. He also ate and slept moderately well. How did these abnormal movements, over which he had no control, come about? He became irritable, lost his temper and exhibited a tendency towards defiance aimed particularly at parental control. He became socially withdrawn and stopped participating in extramural activities. He always had difficulty focusing in class, but now he was unable to pay attention even over short periods. Progressively, the knowledge gap in his studies widened and he lagged behind the class abysmally! Examinations became a nightmare! The tic disorder was unrelentingly eroding his self confidence and self esteem.

Ramdas’s parents, though in the middle range of middle class, with the mother a homemaker, decided in the early days that their only child must have the best education. From the 3rd grade, Ramdas was studying in one of the premier schools of the metropolis and would come rushing  home, with bated breath, to share the day’s events with his mother over the hot tea and snack which she lovingly laid out for him. What went wrong? Had she slipped up somewhere along the way in her nurture of the child? Had she not propitiated the gods to thank them for the birth of this lovely child, who had grown even more charming and closer to her as the years rolled by?

The father was more down to earth and practical in his approach. The Neurology Consultant had told him that the patient had a chronic movement disorder with motor and vocal tics and attention deficit as a comorbid condition could affect his studies. The parents approached TriMed-Neurokrish when the school authorities directed them  to avail of the holistic approach to treatment offered there. 

Exploring the Condition

The goal set for the TriMed-Neurokrish team was in improving mood, self-esteem, academic performance and social functioning through oral medication, a range of integrated therapies and family counseling. Ramdas was started on  Attentrol 10 mg – 1-0-0 (Amoxyteline Hcl) for ADHD and Sulpitac 50 mg – 0-0-1/2 (Amisulpride) – a neuroleptic, towards some control of vocal and motor tics and associated behaviors. Behaviour therapy was introduced with psychoeducation of the patient regarding the condition, (with parents participating in the dialogue with the team members). The first step was to build a foundation of self-esteem to help the child gain confidence to face his problems, and begin implementing skills. Our intensive therapy for Ramdas followed our protocol for children with Neurodevelopmental Disorders (NDD) and included a combination of two Ayurveda treatments (Shirodhara & Abhyangam), Play Yoga, Neurodevelopmental Therapy (NDT, a combination of physical and occupational therapies) and psychological therapy (behavioral and family). Sessions of NDT and BT often continue for months in regular periodicity, and include weekend opportunities to meet with peers (also in therapy), socialize, and develop skills of emotional expression.

Tourette’s Syndrome

A tic is a sudden, rapid, recurrent, nonrhythmic, stereotyped motor movement or vocalization. Multiple motor tics involve several muscle groups, while a simple tic involves only one muscle group.

Gilles de la Tourette’s Syndrome or Tourette’s Syndrome is a neurodevelopmental condition characterised by multiple motor and vocal tics, which appear in childhood and are often accompanied by behavioural symptoms. For a diagnosis of Tourette’s syndrome

(DSM-V) the main criterion is that both multiple motor and 1 or more vocal tics have been present at some time during the illness, though not necessarily concurrently. It must stretch over a whole year, with tic-free period lasting less than three months at a stretch. The onset of the tics must be before the age of 18 years, and not due to other causes like substance abuse or secondary to other neurological  conditions. A more recent behavioural intervention, (John Piacentini, 2010) which has been found effective in TS is Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics (CBIT),  based on habit reversal training, for reducing tics and tic-related impairment in Tourette disorder. In CBIT, children with tics are trained to recognize the urge to tic, and to use a replacement or competing response instead of the tic.


  • DSM-V – Diagnostic criteria for Tourette Disorder
  • Andrea E. Cavana Tourette Syndrome – Clinical Review , BMJ, Aug 2013 ; 347 :1-6
  • John Piacentini, Woods; D W.,  Scahil, L  Behaviour Therapy for Children With Tourette Disorder-A Randomized Controlled Trial  JAMA, May 19, 2010, Vol 303, No. 19

Looking Ahead

Ramdas has done well with us, and a follow up after 3 months saw an exceptionally changed young lad, with his head held high and much of his self-esteem regained. The tics had waned and subsequently stopped for over months. His behaviour had become closer to his original level of calmness with the therapies and yoga. He was no longer defiant. He pleaded with his parents to let him continue in his mainstream school and the school was willing to retain him, provided there was an extra effort to make up in his studies.

Ramdas’s parents who considered shifting him from a mainstream school to a school offering special education and Open School examination system reconsidered the decision and waited for the team specialist’s opinion before finalizing their decision. At TriMed-Neurokrish it was decided that with Ramdas who was showing marked improvement all round, with the stress, tics, and behavioural problems being put aside, with the attention deficit being minimized and with the motivation being high, could be given a fair trial  of  continuing for one term in his mainstream school, with a special educator to handle the areas of LD after school hours. Ramdas was elated and the parents were willing to follow the advice.

Regular follow up once a month or more often to reinforce the therapies, (which he continued at home under the supervision of his mother) ensures that he continues to show remarkable progress.

Buddhi Stories Depression Elders Featured Patient Stories Traumatic Brain Injury

Varadarajan – Spiritual Odyssey

Varadarajan was on a pilgrimage to Badrinath in the company of extended family members in late 2010. Little did he imagine that he would be the victim of a fall, which proved disastrous and would alter the course of his life so abruptly. The initial 3-4 months of dramatic progress in his health condition reached a plateau, with minimal further improvement. It was at this point of standstill that the helplessness and hopelessness of a dependent status descended on him. The loss of self-esteem and of self-confidence built up, till the depression peaked in early 2013. All this in spite of a supportive family.


Mr. Varadarajan an engineering graduate, worked in a company for a few years before he decided to establish his own business. This he pursued in a committed manner and with enterprise, travelled a great deal on business, kept his family comfortable, educated his two children well, arranged & conducted his daughter’s marriage, an important milestone for any middle aged Indian couple. The daughter is settled abroad and visits with family every year. The trip to Badrinath, fulfilled Varadarajan’s religious inclinations as much as his urge to travel and seek adventure in the ‘mountainous Himalayan escape’!

Of Holy Shrines and Landslides The organised Char Dham pilgrimage is to the holy shrines of Lord Vishnu, Siva, Gangotri and Yamunotri, dotting the celestial Himalayan heights of Uttarakhand. The shrines are open to devotees in May and closed in early October, with the onset of the heavy snowfall. Roadblocks occur due to landslides, especially during the monsoon months of July-August, when the south-westerly winds bring with it rain, which lashes in all her fury on the slopes of the mountain ranges. Thousands of pilgrims may be stranded for a few days to a week for the roads to be cleared following a landslide. Natural disasters caused by the landslides and flash floods (the latter as in 2012 which claimed many lives) are no deterrent to the pilgrims, and year after year over 20 million pilgrims visit these holy temples in groups. The Border Road Organisation, Uttarakhand Government and the Badrinath-Kedarnath Temple Committee have their hands full during the pilgrimage season, not only to cater to basic amenities, which are sparse, but also to ensure the safety of vehicles on the winding, hazardous roads leading to the shrines. The Army is called upon to help in clearing heavy roadblocks and emergency helicopter service has to be sometimes deployed for medical emergencies and in disaster situations. The State Disaster Response Force has been established following the flash floods in 2013, to regulate the flow of pilgrims and towards better preparedness in the face of natural or man-made disaster situations. All these arrangements fall short of ideal organization, which the sheer enormity of the pilgrim population defeats.

The bus with the pilgrims had wound its way through the mountainous terrain until the driver was alerted of landslides ahead, and he knew by force of habit that he must halt the vehicle and warn the passengers to stay put. They had reached Pandukeshwar, a small town, 1829 metres above sea level, which lies about 20 km from the Vishnu temple at Badrinath. The bus crew took control of the situation, which was familiar to them, and made sure that there was no sign of panic among the busload of devotees. Their common mission was to reach Badrinath and that they would.

Exploring the Condition

Peace and calm prevailed and the long wait for the onward journey was taken as the ‘Will of God’. It was in the late evening that Varadarajan having just stepped out of the bus, perhaps to answer the call of nature, slipped on the slope, which sent him hurtling down 40 feet to land on his forehead. The bus crew and a few passengers rushed to the rescue. The wound was sutured and other first aid measures employed by the special team of healthcare providers. There was no immediate sequelae of loss of consciousness or seizures.

Varadarajan, within a few hours of the event, showed the foreboding signs of irritability and restlessness, pacing the floor of the shelter, becoming disoriented at times. He was transferred to the primary health centre at Joshi matt the following morning. In the next 3 days he progressed to semi-coma and was slipping into coma, and required specialized care. He was air-lifted by the Army helicopter and admitted to the ICU of a premier hospital in Dehradun, (the capital of Uttarakhand) which offered Neurosurgery as a superspeciality. The MRI reported ‘Subarachnoid haemorrhage and Subdural haematoma, with contusion on the right side’. His progress was monitored closely to minimize secondary brain injury following Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and the condition was managed conservatively with the patient on heavy medication. He regained consciousness after 21 days, was disoriented initially and did not recognize his immediate family members, who had rushed down on receiving the news. At discharge he was able to sit up, was on oral feeds and was continent and off the Foley’s catheter.

Back in Chennai, followed by a neurologist, and on home care, in familiar surroundings, stimulated by the presence of family and friends and with minimum therapies, the patient made slow progress. Over a few months, his memory improved, and he recovered his gross cognitive ability and other faculties, including to some extent language and writing skills. There was a residual right-sided weakness, but the patient could walk with a little support. He had impaired hearing in the right ear. Repeat MRI confirmed resolution of the blood clots over large brain areas, which correlated with return of efficient brain functioning. 

Traumatic Brain Injury

  1. Moderate to severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a major Public Health concern in India, as  it is globally. 1.5 to 2 million persons are injured and 1 million succumb to death every year in India due to accidents. A comprehensive report in 2002 of the Dept. of Epidemiology, WHO Collaborating Centre for Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion, Rehabilitation, Policies and Programmes, at NIMHANS, Bangalore, India, headed by Prof. Gururaj, states that road traffic injuries are the leading cause (60%) of TBIs, followed by falls (20%-25%) and violence (10%). Since then, road traffic accidents have increased exponentially, and with an ageing population, falls in the elderly must add significantly to that category as well.
  2. Of all TBIs, 63% affect persons aged 15 to 64 and these represent the primary working population. These persons often have severe problems resuming a productive life and maintaining satisfactory interpersonal relations, despite the significant physical recovery within the first 6 months of injury. Depression can occur at any stage following an acquired brain injury, from the acute hospital stage to many years later. Post-injury depression may range from mild, (where a person may still be able to function in day to day life, but generally feel ‘low’), to severe depression and debilitation. Like in other forms of depression, the mood may be of sadness, despair, flat emotional reaction, increased frustration, irritability and anger. The thinking pattern may include a sense of hopelessness, pessimistic beliefs, and behaviour patterns may be of reduced attention to physical appearance, social withdrawal, loss of motivation to participate in activities the subject enjoyed premorbidly, accompanied by  fatigue, sleep disturbances and poor appetite. There may be inability to return to previous employment and the subject may become dependent and progressively isolated, with a gradual decline in ability to perform everyday tasks and progressive disability to cope with everyday stressors. Most of the patients with these disturbances are unable to identify the cause of their inner mental state or report their social functioning accurately and the family may be at an equal loss to fathom the reason. Researchers have consistently suggested that the psychosocial problems associated with TBI may be the major challenge facing rehabilitation. This is where a specialist integrative therapy team can step in to achieve what seems impossible, patiently holding the hands of the patient and family members, guiding them through the assessments followed by the therapies in a graded manner and coaxing stepwise positive advancement in the patient’s condition. This is the ‘Art of Medicine’.
  3. Recognition of pituitary hormonal insufficiencies after head injury and Aneurysmal Subarachnoid Hemorrhage (SAH) may be important, especially given that hypopituitarism-related neurobehavioral problems are typically alleviated by hormone replacement.
  • Gururaj G. Epidemiology of Traumatic Brain Injuries: Indian scenario. Neurol Res. 2002  Jan;24(1):24-8.
  • Rafael Gomez-Hernandez, Jeffrey E. Max, Todd Kosier, BS, Sergio Paradiso, Sergio Paradiso, Robert G. Robinson, Social Impairment and Depression After Traumatic Brain Injury Archives of Physical Medicine Rehabilitation 1997; 78: 1321-1326
  • Daniel F.Kelly, Irene T, Gaw Gonzalo, Pejman Cohan, Nancy Berman, Ronald Werdloff,  Christina Wang Hypopituatarism Following Traumatic Brain Injury and Aneurysmal Subarachnoid Hemorrhage: a preliminary report J Neurosurg; 93: 743–752, 2000

The Prolonged, Gloomy, Negative Phase

The rehabilitation progress seemed to have reached a plateau within the next few months . The realization of the problems related to recovery from TBI dawned on Mr. Varadarajan. He was no longer the independent, vigorous, frequent-traveller, successful businessman, to whom the whole family looked up and others marveled. He was dependent, even for some physical help, could no longer travel alone on business, and with the financial stress and poor back up of human resource for his private enterprise, he was in the verge of closing down his business, which he had nurtured with a certain nonchalant air of confidence through these years. Life seemed to be slipping away from his control, and he was home bound, sleeping much of the time, with poor appetite, poor socializing and full of all the negative thoughts which sheer hopelessness can bring with it.

At this juncture, Varadarajan’s son’s marriage was fixed and the wife was forced to take up single-handedly, the elaborate arrangements and formalities which go with an arranged south Indian marriage. The daughter, who arrived early from abroad for her brother’s marriage, was alarmed at the father’s state of health, with weight loss, socially withdrawn, curled up in bed and sleeping long hours and finding it difficult to participate spiritedly in the wedding activities, which was very unlike the father she knew. She realised that something had to be done to pull him out of this state and to instill in him some positive energy. It was at this point that she came across information of the novel and holistic TriMed-Neurokrish approach to healthcare and decided to pursue it.

Our Healing Approach

After putting the marriage celebrations behind her, Varadarajan’s daughter arrived at the Trimed-Neurokrish reception counter and made enquiries and met Dr. E. S. Krishnamoorthy. She knew right away that that ray of hope to give her father some quality of life lay in this setting. She did not delay by even a day to arrive with her father to initiate the comprehensive assessment, integrated therapy and counselling offered here.

The Neuropsychiatric diagnosis was Post-Traumatic Brain Injury Depression, and Gait Disability. The residual neurological deficit was minimal on clinical examination, with some gait dysfunction and right sided weakness. Blood examination was unremarkable except for D3 deficit. A careful endocrinal screening was done to rule out neurobehavioural problems secondary to hypopituitarism, which can occur in TBI with subarachnoid haemorrhage.

Varadarajan’s blood pressure was under control on regular medication with Amlodipine taken twice daily. He was also on regular Phenytoin Sodium twice daily, Clinidipine for heart function, started on admission soon after the TBI and these continued. Other medication introduced at Trimed-Neurokrish included antioxidants, piracetam, ginseng (all for brain health), pregabalin (for anxiety and seizure prophylaxis) once a day, Donepezil (for memory) and Paroxetine (for mood). Vitamin D3 and B12 supplementation was initiated as well. 

On neuropsychological evaluation, deficits in certain subtler areas of cognition were noted, which could hinder efficient performance. When questioned, Varadarajan said he felt hopeless, worthless, and had a sense of guilt for not being able to support his family. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for depression and Cognitive Retraining were introduced and continued for over months, with a definite positive trend in his outlook. Family counseling and psychoeducation added to the improvement. The physiotherapist noted severe hamstring spasm, with restricted SLR bilaterally – basic exercises to make the limbs more flexible were given with Yoga and mud therapy. His gait disabilities were addressed specifically and over time he began to ambulate with greater ease. Yoga therapy helped his posture and balance, apart from reducing anxiety. Ayurvedic medicated oil massage for muscle spasm and joint flexibility, Shirodhara for cognition and mood and sessions of acupuncture were all spread over 3 months. Patient and family members were extremely pleased with the personal participation in the recovery process, the positive waves from the team enhancing the results of the long term therapies.

The focus of the TriMed-Neurokrish challenge was not just to improve the physical independent activity  of the patient, but to modify behaviour (with the negative feelings of hopelessness and helplessness of the patient, leading to severe depression), to positive waves in slow but sure stages through cognitive behaviour therapy for the patient and through family counseling. Gaining the trust of the patient and family as the first step made them go along with the therapies with a sense of total dynamic participation in the process of rehabilitation and it even became a ‘fun game’ as marked improvement was noted. Recognising the patient’s often warped ‘thoughts and beliefs’, the altered life situations and the loss of self-esteem that contribute to the maladaptive and social withdrawal behaviours and the immediate triggers that set it off, are part of the sensitive professional assessments. These can be remedied by cognitive behaviour therapy, (when followed with diligence), towards placing the patient back in his original zone of comfort and self confidence in the home and in the community. A supportive network in this process includes health care providers, family, old friends, new friends, and persons who have had similar experiences.

The yoga sessions, massages, and other integrative therapies reinforce the wellness of the person through their general and specific actions, ensure continuity with the treatment team, and motivate the patient and family to participate willingly in the path to patient recovery.

“She knew right away that that ray of hope to give her father some quality of life lay in this setting.”

Looking Ahead

Over months, Varadarajan has made a steady recovery. His cognitive difficulties have largely remitted, his walking has improved, so much so, that he now does 5 kms on his own and walks his dog as well; his mood has improved, anxiety reduced and confidence levels have been boosted considerably. He is attending to his business again and has started to strike new deals, possibly saving his factory from closure; he is even planning a visit to the USA to spend time with his daughter, rekindling too an old desire for travel. Mr. Varadarajan continues to attend his medical reviews and booster therapy sessions regularly as scheduled and is gregarious in his interactions with the treating team, often sharing a hearty laugh.

For us, Varadarajan and scores of courageous patients like him, are our true inspiration. His family are beside themselves with joy to have him well and truly back in their midst, for his has truly been “A Himalayan Odyssey”. The Longman’s Dictionary of Contemporary English which defines the word ‘odyssey’ (with its roots in the Homer’s epic poem by that name)  “as a series of experiences that teach you something about yourself or about life – a spiritual odyssey”, suits the theme of this TriMed-Neurokrish story best.

Adolescents Buddhi Stories Children Epilepsy & Seizures Featured Patient Stories

Asma – Building Rapport


Asma was the second born of two daughters to parents who were both working professionals and of a middle class background. Since the mother had some minor complication in the first delivery and as there was an eight-year gap between the two pregnancies with maternal age at 30 years, a planned, elective Cesarean was carried out. The delivery was conducted at term and the developmental milestones of infancy and early childhood were normal.

The maternal grandparents lived close to Asma’s home and looked after the two grandchildren when the parents were at work. In the Indian grandparenting context, this was carried out diligently, with focus on every aspect of traditional child development, covering the spectra of nutritional requirements, discipline, academic performance and physical, mental and spiritual growth. Asma’s attention-seeking behavior, temper tantrums and need to win every event she took part in might have been influenced by the environmental situation, but it was distinctly excessive on any account.

Exploring the Condition

Premorbidly, Asma was described as being intelligent, cheerful, sociable, enthusiastic about participation in extracurricular events like dance and music, and though a slow learner at school, she was keen on overcoming her academic deficiencies with added effort, which the teachers recognized and were lenient when marking her.

Asma’s clinical problems manifested at the age of six years, with two types of bizarre episodes of a repetitive, stereotypic nature. The first involved jumping up and down 10-20 times, in a seated position, clapping hands and bursting into unprovoked laughter, which could not be described as totally mirthless. She was aware and able to answer questions during the episodes, which were associated with sweating and terminated, after a couple of minutes in a cough, as if she was choking. These episodes occurred frequently.

The second type, 15-20 episodes in 24 hours, occurred both while awake and in sleep initially, and later was confined to the sleep stage. The attack was of arousal, stare, movement of hips  up and down 5-10 times rhythmically (pelvic thrust), followed by a smile, hyperventilation and incomprehensible muttering for a few minutes and back to sleep. Initially she was responding to call during these episodes, but later she became unresponsive right through the episode. After basic seizure screening, in a city Epilepsy Clinic, which included neurological assessment, EEG and MRI neuroimaging, anticonvulsant therapy had been initiated, with some control of the frequency of seizures. Meanwhile, behavioural patterns, which were a clear departure from the norm for Asma had peaked, which caused great alarm to the family and school teachers at the mainstream school where she had studied from lower kindergarten class. The Principal of the school, who had known many childhood neuropsychiatric problems sorted out for them by the TriMed and Neurokrish team, referred the child to the medical facility, with a word of encouragement to the dispirited parents.

Our Healing Approach

When Asma presented to our service, accompanied by her parents, a month after the initial symptoms, she had clusters of 5-6 one-minute seizure episodes packed into 1 hour of daytime sleep and 3-4 two-minute nocturnal episodes. Bedwetting occurred once in two days, and only at night. The abnormal behaviours ranged from hyperactivity, aggression, abusive behaviour, biting, spitting, excessive and disorderly eating, to bullying other children, lying and employing overtly manipulative behaviours and defiant behaviour towards figures of authority. This was reported after detailed assessment by the Child Behaviour Therapist of Neurokrish.

The TriMed-Neurokrish team was alerted to gear up to fulfil their individual and collective roles in remedying the enormous challenge posed by Asma’s health problems. They had to bring into action (with mild variations, to suit the individual and the situation) the protocol for ‘Comprehensive Care for Epilepsy’- a best practice model for a resource-poor country like India, developed by Dr. E. S. Krishnamoorthy, to suit the sociocultural milieu and fine-tuned over the years of its use by him and his team members.

The basic requirement is a multidisciplinary team, which provides treatment, therapies, counselling and hand-holding for the patient and parents to get over the worst initial phase and to participate with hope even as they witness a palpable shift towards the positive phase of patient management.

Detailed medical and neurological examination of Asma revealed no overt clinical markers – neurological, endocrinal or genetic, suggesting a developmental disability or heritable trait. Repeated electroencephalograms (EEG’s) were abnormal with bilateral spike and wave dysfunction but failed to reveal any localization or lateralization of epileptiform activity. There was no suggestion of any syndromic epileptic disorder. Detailed testing of hematological, biochemical, endocrinal and metabolic, infectious and inflammatory parameters was non-contributory. Repeated MRI scans were taken, including  a 3 Tesla MRI scan, the last, to define even a minute lesion if present It failed to reveal any neurodevelopmental markers of significance. We looked for hippocampal sclerosis, cortical dysplasia and hypothalamic hamartomas in particular and these were eliminated.

It was the turn of the clinical psychologist to assess the patient using standard assessment scales; Binet-Kamat Test for general mental ability, screening test for specific learning disability, NIMHANS Neuropsychological Battery for Children for profiling the neuropsychological component and Raven’s Control Projection Test, to assess the child’s attitude towards parents, friends, likes, dislikes, fears and worries.  On these tests, she was found to have bright normal intellectual ability with an IQ of 119, mild difficulty in (the ‘three R’s’ as they were referred to in the colonial days! – ‘a’ being silent in arithmetic in its verbal rendering) reading, writing and arithmetic. She fell behind what was expected at her age. She also had problems in the areas of working or online memory, comprehension, attention (more frontal lobe related), visuospatial ability and mild memory deficit.

The projection test revealed “fighting with friends, problems at school and fear of ghosts”. While the child was cooperative and it was possible for the psychologist to establish rapport with her easily, she had a tendency to stray into phases of inattention, verbosity, playfulness and gnosis. This resulted in tests being incomplete. Given her general levels of comprehension, her ‘show of indifference’ to the overall predicament struck one as being altogether incongruous.  

“The basic requirement is a multidisciplinary team, which provides treatment, therapies, counselling and hand-holding for the patient and parents to get over the worst initial phase…”

The Diagnosis

Asma was diagnosed to have epilepsy with complex partial seizures originating from frontal lobe. Behavioural problems are known to occur in complex partial seizures of frontal origin, as are the selective areas of learning disability. Her inability to keep up with the class, further aggravated the abnormal behaviour, as she was obsessed with being a winner every time.

The child was started on Levetiracetam and Clobazam, two of the anticonvulsants in the list of drugs of choice for this type of seizure disorder, in a girl child of pre-pubescent age. Risperidone in small doses was introduced in an attempt to control difficult behaviours. Multidisciplinary interventions included behavioural therapy, neurodevelopmental and task-based occupational therapy (specifically with focus on attention, fine motor skills and handwriting) and remedial educational support after school for dysgraphia and dyscalculia. With family counselling, it was possible to persuade the family to cooperate even more, as they developed awareness of the child’s genuine health problem and the basis of the multidisciplinary approach. The management protocol was complimented by working with the school, counselling the Head and the teachers, developing a joint statement of special needs and building a therapeutic alliance with her concerned but informed and enthusiastic parents and grandparents. Developing a process of continued and consistent communication between the family, school and treatment team was well established, and continued over several years.

Over weeks, with titration of anticonvulsant drug dosage, her episodes remitted. With optimal use of risperidone and the therapies, her behavior pattern also became more manageable. Her problems with inattention, learning and academic performance did however continue. Although through the six-year period of comprehensive care, Asma had managed to remain in mainstream education, and continued to work with her behavioral therapist and special educator, she was advised by Dr. Krishnamoorthy to drop a year and to consider more flexible educational streams in order to cope and with less tension all round, as stress of studies, a board exam to face, failures etc., could exacerbate the seizures and the behavioural problems. Following this  advice and guidance, her parents sought admission for Asma in a city special school offering the National Open School stream. This stream allows choice of subjects with which the candidate is comfortable and he/she can take the school leaving examination, covering 2 or 3 subjects at a time at a hassle-free pace.


The onset of any form of epilepsy can be devastating to the patient and family. It may repeat frequently or be moderate to severe, and persist through the lifespan, affecting education, employment, marriage and even independent living. Early diagnosis and treatment with anticonvulsants is essential. What is equally important is to have continued specialized and comprehensive epilepsy care to give the person with epilepsy a quality of life. Complex partial epilepsy of frontal origin are very uncommon, and can pose a diagnostic dilemma, unless the clinician has a clear knowledge of the condition. This is where a health care provider can draw from literature on the subject and know what others have said about it. A much cited author Williamson (1985), described “the complex partial attacks of frontal origin as brief, frequent attacks, complex motor automatisms, kicking, thrashing, pelvic thrusting, vocalization, while consciousness is maintained”, pretty much what our patient presented with.

Braakman (2012) undertook a comprehensive neuropsychological study of 71 children with cryptogenic (with no detectable lesion) frontal lobe epilepsy  (FLE) to report that,  “Across measures, the patients demonstrated a host of cognitive and behavioral impairments”, which again goes with Asma’s clinical picture and further confirmed by the presence of gelastic epilepsy.  Gelastic epilepsy (‘laughing epilepsy’- Gelastikos in Greek meaning laughter) is a very rare epilepsy form, and is most frequently due to a benign tumour in the hypothalamus, but may also originate from the frontal or temporal lobe. Unnwongse (2010) recorded the symptomatic zone of laughter in the frontal lobe of a patient with gelastic epilepsy, employing intracranial video EEG. Benge (2014) observed that Executive Functioning, which is the ability to initiate volitional responses, plan, decide, and monitor performance is one of the most frequently impaired cognitive constructs in FLE. The frontal lobes have a critical role to play in memory functions as well, including organization and encoding of information to be learned, memory retrieval, and prospective memory. Attention and working memory difficulties may add to the cognitive deficit.

With all these areas of deficit, it is not surprising that the patient manifest learning disability. The clinical psychological assessment at baseline with performance score recording, when the patient started the treatment regimen, followed once in 3-6 months, will give a clinical evaluation of the progress, status quo or even regressive tendency, correlating with the real world patient’s all round performance, and carry with it projection and prognostication value. 

  • Braakman HM, Ijff DM, Vaessen MJ, Debeij-van Hall MH, Hofman PA, Backes WH, et al. Cognitive and behavioural findings in children with frontal lobe epilepsy. Eur J Paediatr Neurol. 2012; 16: 707-715.
  • Williamson PD, Spencer DD Complex partial seizures of frontal origin Ann Neurol 1985 Oct.; 18,(4), 497-504
  • K. Unnwongse,  Wehner T,  Singaman W Gelastic Epilepsy and the anteromesial superior frontal gyrus Epilepsia Vol 51, issue 10, 19th March 2010
  • Jared F Benge, J Michael Therwhanger, Batool Kirmani The Neuropsychology of Frontal Lobe Epilepsy: A Selective Review of 5 Years of Progress. J. of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Special issue on Epilepsy, May 2014, 2 (3), 1057

Our Focus:

Comprehensive Epilepsy Care

Comprehensive Epilepsy Care is about targeting patients, caregivers, healthcare professionals and society at large with focus on helping the person with epilepsy minimize stigma, achieve optimal activities of daily living (ADL), health related quality of life (HRQoL); social, educational and occupational milestones. It enquires into the goal of each treatment or therapy employed within a time frame, while including the patient’s (and their relatives) subjective evaluations and perspectives. There is considerable evidence to suggest that information, education and understanding help people deal with their condition better, as ‘knowledge is power’. There is also evidence in epilepsy that psychosocial interventions improve outcome. For the team to plan the intervention effectively, it is imperative that the problems diagnosed in the clinical or lab setting is converted to understanding their real world correlates and this derived knowledge is applied towards holistic and individualized patient care.

Looking Ahead

Asma has remained seizure free, has not shown any further behavioral decompensation and remains aligned with the therapeutic team and school. The parents express their heartfelt thanks everytime they come to TriMed for follow up. The Child Behaviour Therapist, in her inimitable way says that she will take Asma’s self confidence and self esteem to the next level as she enjoys total rapport with Asma (as with other children), teases and chides her and in turn hugs her to show appreciation. The Trimed-Neurokrish team is happy to deliver patient-centred, holistic healthcare with patience and diligence as a team in the midst of a modern consumerist healthcare environment.

Adolescents Anxiety Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Buddhi Stories Children Featured Neurodevelopmental Disability (NDD) Patient Stories

Surya – Conquering Anxiety


Surya was the first born, delivered full term by lower segment Caesarian section, the indication being a big baby weighing 3.4 kg with a large head and cephalo-pelvic disproportion. The Apgar score was 9/10 (excellent). There was no neonatal seizure or any other health-related event of significance in the neonatal period or in infancy. With the passage of a few months the parents noted that the infant’s response to familiar people, even to them, lacked spontaneity, and eye contact was sparing. He was preoccupied with repetitively examining one favourite toy over a long period of time and this form of restricted play continued into childhood. He did not walk till almost 2 years, and even when he did, he was awkward and had frequent falls in the early phase. It was, however, the delay in the speech/language milestones with the first few meaningful words expressed at 2 years, that caused greatest parental concern.

At this stage, a diagnosis under the broader umbrella of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) – Pervasive Developmental Disability – not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) was arrived at by the specialist in USA and early therapies were started. The parents stuck to the specialist advice to confine the child’s exposure to a single language and English served the school and home front. On joining school at three years, there was some improvement in his verbal expression, but by 4 years, with the family back in India, from abroad, he had achieved wider language and communication capability. This is the magic gift that Indian children born abroad receive on exposure to the Indian milieu, even short-term, where grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, chatter incessantly, not necessarily in English, but also in their child-focused affection, rally round to address the child face-to-face!

Exploring the Condition

Surya’s speech, which lacked clear enunciation, accent and prosody, and had a nasal quality, required special attention and the child had regular speech therapy from the age of 4 years, aside from occupational therapy and special education outside mainstream schooling. Surya manifested restlessness, easy distractibility, poor motivation, social anxiety and on occasions, impulsivity, which also required correction. When he was brought by his parents to TriMed-Neurokrish two years back, at age 9 years, they appeared as stressed as Surya himself. As a high performing ASD, he had managed to barely cope with mainstream schooling upto the primary grades (ICSE Board syllabus), with poor math skills and dyslexia. Anxiety was mounting as he progressed to high school level with its academic demands. To add to the displeasure at school, he was bullied by the other children, who did not let him join them in the ball games offered, as he was slow and clumsy. When this awkwardness was analyzed by the specialist, it pointed to poor hand-eye co-ordination as a main cause. School refusal started to set in and the parents recognized the red flag signal which called for more intensive professional attention. A close friend suggested TriMed-Neurokrish as a possible solution to the child’s learning disability and emotional  problems.

Surya had got this far academically, without major behavioural problems, as all along, the mother had dynamically participated in fulfilling his study requirements and emotional needs and the school had been supportive. His mother, a well educated, perceptive lady, continued to follow the special education methods at home, which she observed during the child’s sessions with the special educator. His spelling skills took a big leap forward when he was taught by the phonetic method. The mother spent long hours with Surya over his homework, partly by following rote learning methods, though by elaborating on the topics’ ramifications, she managed to bring in some conceptual learning, which ensured better retention and recall in him. Math skills were just picking up at a basic level, but Surya was happy to run up to the corner store to purchase some small items of grocery the mother requested, and managed every time to bring back the correct change.

Our Healing Approach

At TriMed-Neurokrish, a comprehensive assessment, by the team members was carried out with meticulous care. The child was thin built, with dysmorphic features, with a narrow face, low set ears, close set eyes, and a tendency to keep the lips parted slightly, the last due to a chronic sinusitis and nose block. No other abnormal systemic signs were observed and laboratory tests were unremarkable, except for low D3 levels, which was corrected with oral medication. We had a team meeting to formulate a list of priority moves to gain effective control in the management of Surya’s educational and psychosocial problems. A diagnosis under High functioning Autism Spectrum disorder – Pervasive Developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS)/Asperger’s syndrome (based on the Sohn Grayson Rating Scale) with Learning Disability (LD) was arrived at, and the broad management plan was discussed.

The immediate goal was:

  • To reduce Surya’s anxiety levels and get him to attend school regularly, a few hours initially, progressing to full day attendance
  • To overcome separation anxiety when the mother dropped him at school and left
  • To motivate him to engage in other activities than studies
  • To work on his fears and phobias of ‘robbed’, ‘kidnapped’, ‘killed’ which disturbed him
  • To offer caregiver support to the mother who was highly stressed

By way of medication, Surya was given Attentrol – (Atemoxitine) to improve his attention on tasks along with a anxiolytic.

The Clinical Psychologist found his academic performance adequate, based on the NIMHANS Battery (Specific Learning Disability Index). Regarding his special academic needs, with long term coaching outside school, Surya was able to cope with reading, writing (including spelling), at his 8th grade levels, with math ability at 5th grade levels. His handwriting skills were poor due partially to defective fine motor control and his focusing power on tasks required reinforcing with repetition. All these deficits put together made him very anxious regarding coping with studies.

Our intensive therapy for Surya followed our protocol for children with Neurodevelopmental Disorders (NDD) and included a combination of two Ayurveda treatments (Shirodhara & Abhyangam), Play Yoga, Neurodevelopmental Therapy (NDT, a combination of physical and occupational therapies, in his case with a handwriting focus) and psychological therapy (behavioral and family). Sessions of NDT and BT often continue for months in regular periodicity, and include weekend opportunities to meet with peers (also in therapy), socialize, and develop skills of emotional expression. Later, understanding his fondness for ‘gadgets’ we involved him in a cognitive enhancement program using structured computer based gaming to enhance specific cognitive skills.

Our team, after much deliberation, suggested to the parents, special education for Surya at a school of excellence, and with the Open School Examination system offered there, he settled to a comfortable pace of school work.

The special educators of the school, in dialogue with Surya’s parents, chose subjects for him that he would be able to comprehend and work out in a relaxed manner, and which would lead him to a future career as a high performing ASD. In this more relaxed school environment, the child overcame his fears and the separation anxiety was no longer a problem. Day-to-day, moment-to-moment caregiver stress was significantly reduced in the mother, who decided to expose Surya to other activities than studies as suggested by the TriMed-Neurokrish team. Coaching in swimming and keyboard playing were chosen as two diverse activities (with the mother joining the coaching sessions as well) which would benefit physical fitness, cognitive ability, concentration, fine motor activity, musical sensitivity, sensory integration and many other finer aspects of development in the child.

Surya’s motivation and empathy to go with the mother did not last for long and the ASD trait of preference for routine and repetitive activity prevailed. He preferred to unobtrusively sit watching his mother, as she completed the courses successfully and went on to the next level of training with the hope that perhaps Surya would get back to these activities some day with gentle persuasion and the slow but sure outcome of goal-directed CBT! She brushed aside this wishful thought and got back to the present with its encouraging progress in Surya.

He was however, enjoying his Behaviour Therapy and Cognitive Enhancement sessions at Trimed-Neurokrish and the team members gave of their best to sustain Surya’s interest through the sessions. He continued to listen to music, most often a favourite tune and beat repeatedly. He responded positively to engage in a short-term novel activity for which he was rewarded. In a BT session to learn how to tie his shoe-lace, his motivation was that he would get new shoes, and sure enough he mastered the skill in two days! What worked towards motivating Surya without fail was the reward in the form of a car ride, to undergo any new learning process. So the team went through BT for activities of daily living, interaction with strangers, mentoring and token economy, in a graded manner, to more advanced cognitive enhancement paradigms of arithmetic tasks, logical reasoning and critical thinking. Incorporating the subject’s areas of special interests in therapy, using visual aids and including parents in therapy sessions, the benefits of cognitive behavior therapy and cognitive enhancement became apparent.

“In this more relaxed school environment, the child overcame his fears and the separation anxiety was no longer a problem.”

Our Focus:

Autistic Spectrum Disorder

Autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) is a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. Autism represents an unusual pattern of development beginning in the infant and toddler years. Language  and communication, learning, thinking, problem solving, social interaction, stereotypy and other behavioural  patterns, lack of empathy and performance of activities of daily living may show varied levels of involvement. Neuropsychiatric and neuropsychological evaluations in Autism have revealed selective dysfunction of ‘social cognition’, with sparing of motor, perceptual and basic cognitive skills1. According to DSM IV the spectrum of autistic disorders comprise autistic disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified, including atypical autism (PDD-NOS), Rett’s syndrome, and childhood disintegrative disorder. When full criteria of the five under this umbrella are not met, it falls under the category of PDD-NOS. High functioning Autism Spectrum disorder – Pervasive Developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS)/Asperger’s syndrome is diagnosed by employing an assessment questionnaire for the subject’s parents named the Sohn Grayson Rating Scale, a questionnaire for the subject’s parents, covering the academic, cognitive, psychosocial and other domains, which may indicate a higher performance and atypical pattern of the spectrum in the subject studied, as in our patient, Surya. Before this instrument is used, there are over seven diagnostic tools for ASD, including Autistic Behavioural Checklist, Autistic Spectrum Screening Questionnaire and observational tools which must be employed on subject to be tested.

Global prevalence of ASD is about 1.5 per 1000. There has been a 600% increase in prevalence over the last two decades. In a multinational study, the point prevalence of ASD was 7.6 per 1000 or 1 in 132 in 20102. In India more children with ASD are being identified, earlier than before and as a result, early intervention is possible with developmental disability institution being made available in the public sector as well. But these are few and far between. The average age at presentation to the clinic in India was 21.23 months (SD = 2.18)3. They present clinically in a manner similar to that reported internationally. Awareness among professionals and the public is increasing over less than a decade.4  As yet, there is no aetiology-based intervention for autistic spectrum disorders (ASD). However, symptomatic treatment and therapies with a cognitive-psychoeducational/behavioural approach  can be of value in moderate ASD5.   


  1. Vaghbatta. Shirodhara AshtangaMisra V. The social brain network and autism. Annals of neurosciences. 2014 Apr;21(2):69.Hridaya, Sutra Sasthana, Chapter 22
  2. Baxter AJ, Brugha TS, Erskine HE, Scheurer RW, Vos T, Scott JG. The epidemiology and global burden of autism spectrum disorders. Psychological medicine. 2015 Feb 1;45(03):601-13.Ajanal Manjunath, Chougale Arun Action of Shirodhara– A Hypothetical Review J Res. Med. Plants & Indigen. Med. Sept. 2012 1;  9 : 457–463
  3. Malhi P, Singhi P. A retrospective study of toddlers with autism spectrum disorder: Clinical and developmental profile. Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology. 2014 Jan;17(1):25.
  4. Malhotra S, Vikas A. Pervasive developmental disorders: Indian scene. Journal of Indian Association for child and adolescent mental health. 2005;1(5).
  5. Francis K. Autism interventions: a critical update. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology. 2005 Jul 1;47(07):493-9.

Looking Ahead

Surya is relaxed in his new school, and stress and anxiety of school work has left him. He is catching up with many ADL, and is even more motivated to do so with a reward at the end of each novel learning process. With improved performance and by dispelling his fears and phobias through logical thinking taught to him at the CBT sessions, Surya has conquered many of his fears and phobias and to a considerable extent his social anxiety.

He continues his CBT/CET and follow up at Trimed-Neurokrish, twice a week and the team is more than pleased to receive him for his sessions, as there is good compliance and palpable progress with each visit to the clinic.

The parents are at peace and are relieved to have found a centre which offers a holistic approach towards Surya’s all round development.

Adults Buddhi Stories Epilepsy & Seizures Featured Memory Problems Patient Stories

Joseph – His Unedited Life


Equipped with a Masters in Political Science, a supportive wife and 2 young children and a video-editing job in a reputed TV channel, which he carried out with a natural flair, Joseph had his stars to thank for a comfortable and fulfilling life. He had always been hardworking, an amiable companion at work, a good husband and a loving father. It was not just the sudden onset of seizures that disrupted his life flow, but the inability to work, the prominent cluster of neurobehavioural symptoms, the agitation, the paranoia, which mounted within a few weeks of the seizure onset. Back at work after recovery from the subacute phase, he could not perform. To make matters worse, the software of the editing platform had been updated with a newer version, during the period of his absence!

When Joseph presented to us over three years back with a cluster of seizure episodes, delirium and subsequent neurobehavioral symptoms, one needed to step back and view the sequence of events that led to this acute/subacute symptom complex that altered the course of his life so dramatically. The hospital which had received Joseph as an emergency had done well to manage the acute phase of the illness. The patient was diabetic and on oral medication with moderate control of blood sugar levels. Other laboratory parameters were within the normal range. The MRI showed bilateral hippocampal atrophy and the EEG recorded bilateral epileptiform dysfunction. A course of IV methylprednisolone brought about some control of the acute phase of the illness.

Exploring the Condition

However, Joseph continued to have seizures, poor recent memory, mood swings, irritability and aggression. He was unable to return to work both due to cognitive deficits which acted as impairment to his job performance and also due to poor social tolerance, to interact with team members. This came to the notice of the TV channel in which he was Senior Video Editor and the managerial staff of the channel took it upon themselves to support and take an active role in the neurorehabilitation  process of the patient. It was then that they stumbled upon Neurokrish – The Neuropsychiatry Center where they met Dr. Ennapadam S Krishnamoorthy. After a detailed interdisciplinary evaluation of his clinical profile, a discussion was held with the family and employer’s Chief Medical Officer on Joseph’s protracted cognitive and neurobehavioural sequelae and its impact – personal, familial and occupational. Concerned that their key employee should continue to work with them, the employer readily offered to support his care in all possible ways. The family too was committed to helping him get back on his feet.

Most importantly, the doctor was the purveyor of good news – that recovery from the ravages of a significant brain inflammation was possible, with medication, prolonged therapy and  psychosocial support. “Patience and gentle persuasion are the key” he said, in a convincing voice, persuading and encouraging patient, family and employers, through the long dreary days and months of targeted therapy.

Understanding Joseph

The enormity of the challenge of comprehensive neurorehabilitation for Joseph descended on us, fully, only when the clinical psychologist along with some other TriMed-Neurokrish team members, tried to unravel from basic literature, the complex demands on the video editor of a TV channel. With this background knowledge the cognitive retraining and cognitive behaviour therapy interventions could be individualized more effectively. A brief account of the video editor’s role would not be out of place here.

Video Editing

Although video editing may be considered a creative act, it requires working through a well-established, predictable set of steps. The first step is the importing and ingesting phase, followed by rough edits to the footage, dragging clips into the timeline, synchronizing the audio track and then fine-tuning the clips. Once the structure is set at this level, some additional post-production steps are required, namely, adding transitions between clips and various kinds of video filters, which change the visual quality of one or more clips to impact on the tone and texture of a piece. Titles are added and finally the color grading is done. In short, TV video editing calls for thematic conceptualization and sequencing in a timeline as executive function, with clarity of online working memory, pattern recognition and creative abilities, visual and auditory sensitivity, coupled with addressing the emotional element of a broadcast, team work and alert, timely delivery of the end product. This end product must capture the main features of the program, have a flow and continuity and appeal to the viewer expectations to create an overall impact!

Our Healing Approach

We came to the diagnosis that his symptoms were provoked by an underlying antibody syndrome – Autoimmune Limbic Encephalitis (LE). Detailed assessment for a possible malignancy was carried out, to rule out Paraneoplastic Limbic Encephalitis A second course of IV methyl prednisolone (the first having been given during admission in the acute phase), intensive cognitive rehabilitation and stress management was the doctor’s well considered management schedule, along with the other integrative therapies .Other medication included Levetiracetam for seizures, Donepezil for memory, Clobazam (for seizures and anxiety), Piracetam and Gingko Biloba (cognitive enhancers). He was under regular antidiabetic medication with his Diabetologist who also saw him through an unexplained acute skin reaction together with a dermatologist.

Cognitive Retraining (CRT) sessions were focused on improvement of sustained attention and memory enhancement. Tasks followed were the cancelling of digits for attention and verbal games, reading and visual memory games. He was able to recall from a small paragraph initially, to quarter of a page at mid therapy and half a page of details by the end of ten sessions of CRT.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) was given for his neurobehavioural symptoms. Family counseling, worksite review, and introduction of Joseph’s family members as his treatment monitors were other focused methods to enhance patient motivation and to see him progressively attain his premorbid state at home, in the community and at his workplace 

Our Ayurveda Consultant prescribed Shirodhara, the calming effect of which has been elaborated in the ancient texts. We have observed remarkable improvement in some of our patients with neurobehavioural problems who have undergone this procedure and we saw it succeed once again in Joseph.

Within a three month period of therapy, with the overall feeling of well being and improvement in his cognitive ability, that glimpse of hope of recovery sparked off definite positive trend in his attitude, with less agitation and irritation, a more focused goal to help himself and to take maximum advantage of the therapies and counseling offered to him by the TriMed-Neurokrish team. From this point the improvement in his condition was by leaps and bounds and there was no looking back.

Our Integrative Medical Therapy

  • Shirodhara is a classical and well-established procedure, as described in the ancient Ayurvedic treatises, of slowly and steadily dripping medicated oil or other liquids onto the forehead. Shira – head, is the ‘Seat of the Mind’ and Dhara signifies flow – a constant flow of the medicated, warm liquid – oil, milk,  buttermilk or coconut water onto the forehead of the subject, lying supine on the Ayurvedic massage table in the yogic Shavasana posture of complete relaxation of body and mind.
  • The liquid is gently poured, in a constant stream, ‘the size of the little finger’ from a height of 8-10cms from a special vessel, (protecting the eyes), onto the centre of the  forehead for a minimum duration of 30 minutes and a maximum of 60 minutes. The liquid is allowed to flow down the scalp and is collected from the table, warmed and reused during the procedure. Shirodhara may be repeated 2-3 times with an interval of 7, 14 or 21 days, depending on the severity of the disease/disorder.
  • The constant flow of fluid stimulating the Sthapani Marma (this ‘vital spot’ being one of the 37 vital spots of the head, the whole body consisting of 107 such spots) indirectly stimulates the pituitary gland, at which brain level (Sthapani), the liquid flow occurs. The Ayurvedic texts mention the master gland and other endocrine glands and their function and clearly outline the calming neurobehavioural benefits of the procedure. The centre of the forehead, which was evolution-wise related to the third eye, is also connected atavistically to the pineal gland. This spot is known as Agnya Chakra, one of the vital energy centres in the yogic tradition. Focusing on Agnya Chakra with closed eyes during meditation leads to psychosomatic harmony.
  • As the oil drips on the Agnya Chakra, the authors propose, that the meditation-like effect is a consequence of stillness of mind leading to adaptive response to the basal stress. Shirodhara is popularized today by the modern health spas as a sure way to ‘rejuvenation and stress relief’! However, the ancient texts lay emphasis on its role in neurological and psychological disorders, headache and insomnia, and mention other indications and contraindications.


  1. Vaghbatta. Shirodhara Ashtanga Hridaya, Sutra Sasthana, Chapter 22
  2. GS Lavekar, TV Menon,  Bharthi, A Practical Handbook of  Panchakarma Procedures (2009)  Central Council for Research in Ayurveda and Siddha, Dept. of AYUSH, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare GoI, New Delhi
  3. Ajanal Manjunath, Chougale Arun Action of Shirodhara– A Hypothetical Review J Res. Med. Plants & Indigen. Med. Sept. 2012 1;  9 : 457–463
  4. Kalpana D. Dhuri, Prashant V. Bodhe,  Ashok  B. Vaidya . Shirodhara: A Psycho-physiological Profile in Healthy Volunteers J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2013 Jan-Mar; 4(1): 40–44.

Our Neuropsychiatry Focus

Autoimmune Limbic Encephalitis is a rare disorder, characterised by the subacute onset of seizures, short-term memory loss, and psychiatric and behavioural symptoms. This type of limbic encephalitis is associated with Voltage-Gated Potassium Channel (VGKC) or N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) antibodies.

  • The emphasis in the management of autoimmune LE is on its timely recognition, in order to rule out malignancy and to initiate treatment early. This potentially life-threatening disease responds well to immunomodulatory therapy.
  • The diagnosis of Paraneoplastic Limbic Encephalitis (PLE) is difficult because clinical markers are often absent and the LE symptoms usually precede the diagnosis of cancer or may mimic other complications. The clinical diagnosis of PLE requires :
    • a compatible clinical picture;
    • an interval of <4 years between the development of neurological symptoms and tumour diagnosis;
    • exclusion of other neuro-oncological complications.


  1. M.J. Thieben, ; Lennon, V.A.  Boeve B.F.  Aksamit A.J.,Keegan M,  Vernino S. Potentially reversible autoimmune limbic encephalitis with neuronal potassium  antibody Neurology April 2004;62:1177–1182
  2. Guetekin SH, Rosenfeld MR, Voltz R, Eichen J, Posner JB, Dalmau J Paraneoplastic limbic encephalitis: neurological symptoms, immunological findings and tumour association in 50 patients. Brain. 2000 Jul;123 ( Pt 7):1481-94

Looking Ahead

At work a change in the software platform used, resulted in Joseph’s problems being magnified. No longer could he work on the auto-pilot, with skills learnt over two decades suddenly becoming obsolete. Supported by the three legged stool, his family, his employer and our therapeutic team, all working in tandem, he has managed to overcome these many hurdles. Apart from therapy and rehabilitation, he has benefitted too from a second course of intravenous steroids. Titrating his drug prescription, avoiding drugs that have unacceptable side effects and responding to his changing situation have all been necessary.

Two years on, the transformation of Joseph is remarkable. He is seizure free, composed, communicates clearly and well, manages well at work having learnt to use the new software platform, and enjoys a close trusting relationship with his family. He still has some residual memory and cognitive dysfunction and attends our centre for periodic cognitive retraining sessions. This father of two, the sole breadwinner of a young family, has managed to retain his job, thanks to the therapeutic alliance between his family, employer and our treating team. Indeed, his employer’s corporate social responsibility in walking the distance with Joseph deserves special commendation. This editor’s life continues unedited, thanks to the science of modern medicine, the wisdom in our ancient medical systems and the goodness that continues to exist in our society.

Adults Anxiety Buddhi Stories Depression Featured Patient Stories

krishna – A Quest of the Mind

School days had been fun, playing team games at school and with the neighbours’ children in the sprawling campus all evening and on weekends. This did not deter him from achieving 90% and above in all the subjects in school and in the 10th standard Board Examination. 11th and 12th were in one of those cram schools, with 10-hour teaching schedules, which prepare children for the IIT entrance examination. IIT proved elusive and Krishna joined a reputed private engineering college and stayed in the hostel attached to the institution.


It is not clear whether it was the initial ragging, or the continuous teasing by the seniors in the hostel that made Krishna progressively more anxious and to withdraw socially; or indeed whether these were early manifestations of his mental health condition; whatever it was, seemed to viciously erode his self confidence in stages. He had been at the butt end of jokes even at school, as he was prone to get some facts wrong in areas of common knowledge, which he would blurt out impulsively. The inherent social awkwardness became magnified into loss of self-esteem and social withdrawal in the new environment, away from home and away from his childhood friends. Class grades plummeted by end of 2nd year at Engineering College and he had accumulated arrears in a few subjects. Clearing them seemed insurmountable even as his mental turmoil increased. By the 3rd year, he had to take a break from studies and later returned to the college, commuting from the home of his paternal grandparents (who lived in the same city where he attended college), for a period of six months, after which he opted to brave the hostel milieu, cleared the arrears and completed the course effectively, receiving a choice of campus placement.

Exploring the Condition

Krishna had thus been through a four year period of waxing and waning symptoms of social anxiety, with significantly reduced social interaction from about 17 years of age. He had a once in three month follow up with a psychiatrist over the previous couple of years and was on antidepressant medication, a low maintenance dose of Fluoxetine. On this medication and some counseling, Krishna was managing his daily activities and work performance satisfactorily, till 6 months prior to his consultation with us, when his condition turned for the worse.

In the competitive job scenario, Krishna found the IT project job very stressful as he could not grasp the concept of project ideas conveyed to him over the phone, often within a brief communication and consequently could not reply relevantly to suit the demands of the foreign clients. Being inherently a high achiever and wanting to please, he found this situation beyond his coping ability. An acute phase of illness set in, with marked loss of appetite, insomnia, loss of weight, fatigue, poor self-care, poor concentration, total inability to attend office, social isolation and subsequently led  to a state of almost catatonic mutism  During this period he had delusions of reference (others are talking and commenting about me) and experienced mental confusion. He appeared to be out of touch with reality and in a state of acute psychosis. Krishna was forced to go on medical leave.

It is at this point that the highly concerned, well educated, discerning parents made inquiries for a place that could offer sustained therapies and close follow up. He was admitted for a few days for comprehensive assessment and investigations and management of the acute psychotic state by the TriMed-Neurokrish team.

The case called for elaborate psychological testing. These assessment scores are touched upon here, without too much explanation, for the lay reader to appreciate the need for a scientific and evidence-based approach to a neuropsychiatric case which depends not only on the clinical acumen of the Neuropsychiatric Consultant as Head of the Group, but that clinical judgement is dependent on inputs from other team members, to estimate the degree of mental disturbance and to guide the course of management. 

Our Healing Approach

During assessment at Trimed-Neurokrish, Krishna admitted to have gone through similar, but less alarming phases of physical limitation and mental turmoil which he had not expressed clearly to anybody. Self perception and perception of the environment became progressively maladaptive in a range of social and personal contexts, and the subjective distress kept mounting. He had experienced suicidal ideation 2 years earlier.

He also described vividly ‘catastrophic scenarios that he had witnessed in his mind’ (possibly delusional) for e.g., an unknown person to the patient, whose tongue had been lengthened infinitely to be placed with precision under a running truck and  the vivid, gruesome picture of the resultant trauma and bleeding. On further questioning, there is no history of manic or hypomanic phase or of drug abuse; no clear family history of major depression.

On medical leave, out of the stress-inducing situation in his work space and on integrated therapy and medication at Trimed-Neurokrish, Krishna soon came out of his acute psychotic state dramatically and settled to a preparedness to face the real world. In this phase, he was reported to have improved insight and judgment, understood he had a problem which impaired his capacity to cope with workplace stress and to engage in social interaction with his peers. He wanted to overcome this state, and be able to get back to his routine in better shape. 

The patient was cooperative for the psychological testing. The 42 responses to the Rorschach test met the criteria for the Coping Deficit Index. Thematic Aperception Testing pointed to the need for achievement, security, nurture, the conflict arising out of lack of ego strength and fear of rejection. The Neuropsychiatric Inventory score was 4-5 on anxiety, delusion, night time behaviour and appetite, and low on the depression scale.  A diagnosis of late onset Persistent Depressive Disorder (dysthymic disorder) was arrived at.

Krishna was on regular medication for over 2  months:

  •  Dicorate ER 750mg ( Divalproex)
  • Olanzipine  (10mg + 2.5mg) at bedtime and (20 mg + 10mg) in the morning
  • Vitamin  and Calcium supplements

He responded well to the integrated therapy with a total of 15 sessions of Reflexology, Acupuncture and Yoga and over 10 hours of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and some sessions of parental counselling.

An individualised short course CBT was initiated, setting attainable goals which helps in  bringing the  them back to their normal level of functioning.

In PERSISTENT DEPRESSIVE DISORDER, the patient suffers  a pervasive sad mood for over 4 years with barely any symptom-free period. The symptoms cause significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, educational, employment and other important areas of functioning.

Dysthymics however, may be pushed into major depression and subsequent acute psychosis Often this occurs at times of high stress and is linked to strong emotions and feelings, for example worry, anxiety, fear, depression or feeling overwhelmed by events. Lack of appetite, difficulty sleeping, lack of energy, poor self-esteem, difficulty with concentration or decision making,and a feeling of hopelessness, peaking to result in a phase of acute psychosis. It has been suggested that in dysthymic disorder, to compensate for the lack of social and real life interaction, the patient can create elaborate and complex fantasy inner worlds within their minds. According to DSM V criteria, individuals whose symptoms meet major depressive disorder criteria for 2 years should be given a diagnosis of persistent depressive disorder as well as major depressive disorder.

Our Focus:

Cognitive Rehabilitation

A person who suffers from dysthymic disorder has generally learned to live with a fair amount of chronic unhappiness in their lives and so the therapist cannot go by the mood on a particular dayl He must first identify the thoughts associated with the patient’s distress. In dysthymia, these thoughts may concern the patient’s self-view, his or her representation of a significant relationship, or a meaningful situation.

Goals will vary according to type of therapy. The emphasis in Cognitive Therapy is to effect changes in one’s faulty or distorted way of thinking and perceiving the world. Interpersonal therapy focuses on an individual’s relationships with others and how to improve and strengthen existing relationships and an attempt to accommodate new ones. Solution-focused therapy looks at specific problems affecting the person’s life in the present and examines how to best go about changing the person’s behavior to solve these difficulties. Social skills training focuses on teaching the client new skills on how to become more effective in social and work relationships.


Dean Schuyler Evidence–based Review Short-term cognitive therapy shows promise for dysthymia Vol. 1, No. 5 / May 2002

Looking Ahead

Krishna continued to suffer from low self-esteem and a pervasive sad mood, with occasional congruent delusions of reference and delusional exaggerated fantasy, when assessed midway  from onset of the integrated therapy. By the end of the intensive integrated therapy sessions at TriMed-Neurokrish, he was much more stable, and was on the bench at his IT job, preparing with a greater level of confidence for active work to be initiated with the clients.

Buddhi Stories Dementia Elders Featured Patient Stories

Bharadwaj – The Resurrection


Bharadwaj at 74 years was alert, active, enjoyed life as a whole and the company of his son, daughter, their spouses and their children. Born into an illustrious industrial house of Madras, he pursued his engineering studies abroad and came back to join, along with his 3 brothers, the industry founded by his father. In contrast to Jayaraman our other patient with dementia, here was Bharadwaj, with a huge extended family, all living close by, with him and his wife living with the son’s family, with a doting daughter and family next door. Socializing within this inner group, with true camaraderie and meeting over a meal on the multiple Indian festive occasions with exchange of gifts, and taking turns in singing south Indian classical music compositions solo or in groups was the traditional practice, a form of partial community living which could curb individuality, but did have its benefits for extended families that kept in close touch. There was  support through thick and thin from extended family, close family ties among large extended families being common till 3-4 decades ago. The advantages of such mutual support is slowly being eroded as families scatter and few of the younger generation, who migrate to greener pastures in the quest of employment and upward mobility, are left behind.

Exploring the Condition

Bharadwaj’s loss of cognitive ability was subtle and demonstrated itself as changes in mood and behavior. His family noticed several changes in him over time; he became progressively withdrawn socially, spoke very little, stopped watching TV or reading the newspaper. In stages, fatigued, depressed and lacking motivation, he confined himself to bed, and with less physical activity, he became a near recluse in the midst of the over-reaching social interaction around him. More worryingly, for the family, the gregarious family man became paranoid and prone to spells of aggression, a change that was both frightening and distressing. No amount of coaxing and cajoling from his son, daughter and other close family members could shake his resolve to slowly fade away. It is in this mood that he was brought to TriMed-Neurokrish, stubborn as a mule and refusing to co-operate for the comprehensive assessment and showing resistance to undergo therapy.

Bharadwaj was not diabetic or hypertensive. His lab reports were unremarkable. He had followed the middle path in his lifestyle, well-disciplined, with no excesses, and no smoking or drinking. He was, however, addicted to south Indian classical music, and would venture into complex pre-composed music, and sing along with his daughter in a state of joy and sheer abandon as the melody flowed in an unfettered cascade. Where had that music gone?

It was the gentle persuasion of the daughter and daughter-in-law on the one hand, and the professional prowess of the TriMed-Neurokrish team on the other, that saw the thawing of Bharadwaj‘s adamant early phase, and he entered the phase of acceptance of the assessment and integrated therapy, though rather grudgingly to start with. A diagnosis of Dementia, stage 2 was made, knocking threateningly at the doors of stage 3 if not intensively managed. His behavioural manifestations were those of apathy, irritability and aggression on the Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI).

Our Healing Approach

Bharadwaj was already on Admenta (memantine) and Cognix (piracetam) along with a mood elevator prescribed by a Neurology Consultant, who had seen him in early 2015. We added a small dose of an antipsychotic, Olanzapine. With strengthening of the lower limbs and gait training, Bharadwaj became less dependent as he walked with minimal support, and his low back pain, and body pain, which he had brought upon himself with poor physical activity, was under control. Abhyanga (Ayurvedic whole-body warm, herbal oil massage), Shirodhara (Ayurvedic therapy that involves gentle pouring of liquids over the forehead) and Acupressure ran parallel, as part of the intensive therapy. Reflexology was also introduced. It was a slow and tedious process that shook off the negative apathetic behaviour and veered Bharadwaj toward a more positive behaviour.


Reflexology is an ancient traditional massage form, involving particular areas of feet, hands and ears which are believed to represent specific human internal organs and body systems. These areas have been mapped elaborately especially to guide foot reflexology. The skilled massage can achieve positive changes in the function of these organs and systems and is also effective in neck, upper back, lower back, painful disorders of the spine, and knee pain. In the book “Relieving Pain At Home” authored by William H. Fitzgerald (1917), an ENT specialist, he observes “Humanity is awakening to the fact that sickness, in a large percentage of cases, is an error of body and mind”, echoing the modern concept of body-mind link in many chronic medical conditions. Reflexology as a discipline shares the common belief of the ancient therapies, in that of opening of any block in the energy channels of the body.

Our Focus

Cognitive retraining is a therapeutic strategy that seeks to improve or restore a specific person’s skills in the areas of paying attention, remembering, organizing, reasoning and understanding, problem-solving, decision making, and higher level cognitive abilities. The primary aim of this therapy is to train the patient to overcome the cognitive difficulties that interfere with day to day activity, towards gaining independence in activity.

Retraining usually begins with simpler cognitive skills like attention, short term memory and information processing and then proceeds to more complex skills like problem solving, and executive function. Each identified lost skill is retrained using graded practice of activities. Cognitive retraining involves repetitive practice that focuses on the skills of interest. Repetition is essential for the newly retrained skills to become automatic. Cognitive retraining requires a quiet room without distractions and the patient must be able to relax to receive optimum benefit from the retraining.


Alex Bahar-Fuchs A, Clare L, Wood  B Cognitive Training and Cognitive Rehabilitation for persons with mild to moderate dementia of the Alzheimer’s or vascular type: a review Alzheimers Res Ther. (2013) 5 (4): 35

Malhotra S,. Bhatia MS, Rajender G, Sharma V, Singh TB Current Update on Cognitive retraining in Neuropsychiatric disorders Review Article Delhi Psychiatry Journal (Oct. 2009) 12 ( 2 ): 213-218.

Looking Ahead

At the 6 month follow up, Bharadwaj is well overall, except for the occasional disturbances at night.

  • Aricep (donepezil) 10mg – 1-0-0
  • Admenta (memantine) 10mg – 0-0-2
  • Cognix Plus (piracetam + gingko biloba) 1-0-1
  • A to Z  1-0-0
  • Supracal A (calcium + D3) 1-0-0
  • Epitril 0.5 mg (clonazepam) was prescribed SOS at bedtime

He continues his therapies once a week. Bharadwaj walks with a little support within the house, is more independent in his self care, but needs help with soaping himself, and toweling after a bath. He socializes with immediate family members and language is more fluent and the content shows improvement. The lyrics of familiar songs are well recalled and musically expressed, as they go with the melody and the beat. Being able to sing puts him in a mood of elation. Perhaps most striking, he has islands of great clarity in thought and expression now. Recently, while watching a cricket match (another of his erstwhile passions) on the television, he regaled his family to their delight with comparisons, about the innings being played and another famous one from cricketing history. The family is pleased to see Bharadwaj enjoy some quality of life and never miss the once a week therapies.

Buddhi Stories Elders Epilepsy & Seizures Featured Patient Stories Stroke & Cardiovascular Diseases

Devi – The Iron Lady

It was the harvest festival of South India, Pongal – the day of Thanksgiving to the Sun God – the beginning of the new Tamil month, Thai, and as the popular saying goes, “Thai brings in its wake, new hope and cheer”. The house had to be decorated with flowers and the pot of rice with all its special ingredients had to be allowed to boil over, symbolic of plenty, peace and prosperity. Families would gather to celebrate the joyous occasion together. The festivities would continue over 4 days – cattle pampered with special food, decked with bells, cowrie shells and flower garlands and rejoicing covered every aspect of agricultural life. Urbanisation had not taken away from marking this day of festivity every year, when man, beast, the sun and rain gods and the earth, all came together to celebrate the yield of man’s toil, in the form of nature’s harvest bounty. It was a celebration of life and all living things in an environment of harmony, peace and goodwill to all.


January 14th, 2015, 6 am on Pongal day and the 80 year old lady Mrs. Devi was already up, bathed and dressed in the exquisite new Kanchipuram sari gifted to her by her family for the festive occasion. The gift was also to mark a warm home-coming, after three months of grappling with the acute phase and serious sequelae of a cerebrovascular event she had miraculously conquered. The spirit of Pongal which signifies the unity of all living things on the face of the earth and the five elements, seemed to echo the principles of Yoga, acupuncture, Ayurvedic massage and other forms of traditional Medicine of the East, which follow the tenet that the body heals itself. Mrs. Devi had undergone these alternative therapies in the subacute and rehabilitation phase of the stroke.

Was Devi slowly reclaiming her original, premorbid personality, which many could have envied?  She had been active and on her toes from dawn to dusk, warm in her relationship with the members of her family and friends alike, a good wife, a loving mother, a doting grandmother and  a charming and gracious host. As a homemaker, home and hearth were always her priority, but it was the joy of giving of her best that made her unique! The grandchildren swore that only grandma could make such exotic ‘meen kozhumbu’ (fish curry). The daughters’- in – law sharpened their culinary skills, with Devi overseeing the making of the new recipe, or produced the most intricate rangoli designs on the floor in their courtyard, with her active participation, or just tucked the children in bed before going out for a function with their respective husbands, with the assurance that Devi was there to keep a watchful eye on them, even through their deep slumber.

Exploring the Condition

Mrs Devi, a known hypertensive on regular antihypertensive medication for 6 years, (Tab Telma 40 mg. 1-0-0 and Tab. Tazloc 20mg.-0-0-1), had  an episode of seizure followed by difficulty in speaking and  weakness of the right upper and lower limbs in mid October 2014, when she was admitted to a leading hospital in Chennai.

Frisium (Clobazam) and Dicorate (Divalproex Sodium) tablets were added to her drug regimen as anticonvulsant therapy. A diagnosis of left middle cerebral artery (MCA) infarct was made, confirmed by CT scan and routine stroke management initiated. All seemed well till 3rd November, when she developed acute breathlessness and emergency tracheostomy was performed, following which she was on ventilator support for a period of ten days. On inpatient treatment, she recovered, was able to talk normally, walk, and attend to her activities of daily living with partial support.

A second episode of seizure and loss of consciousness occurred, The repeat MR imaging revealed bilateral subarachnoid haemorrhage, with oedema and mass effect. There was a 50-60% block of the right internal carotid artery and a small berry aneurysm of the left middle cerebral artery. After a stormy period in ICU, she slipped into deep coma. The hospital indicated to the family that continued intensive care while required, did not guarantee a good prognosis.

At this point, she was transferred at the family’s initiative to Trimed-Neurokrish care in our partner hospital. At the time of take over, Devi was barely conscious, had the tracheostomy tube, feeding tube and catheter in place, was severely paralysed on the left side, with not even a flicker of muscle contraction and had excessive throat secretions and severe chest congestion.

The Diagnosis

The first stroke was an infarct, due to lack of blood supply to a well – defined vascular territory of the brain, the first indicator of a cerebrovascular deficit.  The second stroke was the result of a bleed from the berry aneurysm into the subarachnoid space. Was there a minor re-bleed resulting in the first respiratory distress event, or was it caused purely by aspiration, and secondary chest congestion and infection? Initially, the tracheostomy tube was blocked requiring constant attention and had to be replaced by a metal tube, and this was electively removed after a few months of stabilization of the patient’s condition by the ENT surgeon.

Saccular Cerebral Aneurysms, also known as Berry Aneurysms, are intracranial aneurysms with a rounded appearance and account for the majority of intracranial aneurysms. They are also the most common cause of non-traumatic Subarachnoid Haemorrhage (SAH). SAH  accounts for 3% of all strokes, and 50% are fatal

Sudlow and Warlow, 19971

Of those who survive, “All in all, only a small minority of all patients with SAH have a truly good outcome.”

Johnston 19982

Aneurysmal Subarachnoid Haemorrhage (aSAH): The prevalence of intracranial aneurysms from various parts of India varies from 0.75 to 10.3%, with higher numbers of cases being diagnosed due to increasing age of the population and improvements in imaging techniques. Surgical clipping of aneurysm is not much resorted to in India

Koshy 20103

Un-ruptured aneurysms are asymptomatic making it difficult to identify the patients with un-ruptured aneurysms and prevent subarachnoid haemorrhage

Shingare 20114

There is familial predisposition to SAH, with 5-20% having a positive family history. Hypertension, excessive alcohol consumption and smoking are the other risk factors. Though a very severe headache of sudden onset is the typical history, as in the case of  Devi, seizure may mark the onset, with loss of consciousness initially and in an obtunded state over several days. The risk of rebleeding gradually decrease between 1-6 months. MRA is a feasible tool for detecting aneurysms.

1 Sudlow CL, Warlow CP. Comparable studies of the incidence of stroke and its pathological types: results from an international collaboration. Stroke 1997; 28: 491–9.

Our Healing Approach

After the TriMed-Neurokrish comprehensive assessment, overseen by our neurologist and rehabilitation physician, supported by our chest and ENT physician, we optimised all Devi’s medication including broad spectrum antibiotics, bronchodilators and nebulisation, and the patient’s condition stabilized. We introduced moderate dose intravenous steroids to kick start brain function. We also started to deliver to her, on the bedside, an integrative therapy program. She was discharged after an ENT opinion was obtained on the tracheostomy status and the cardiologist opinion. She continued therapy at home.

The patient was readmitted 3 weeks later into the ICU with acute symptoms following a probable aspiration. Endotracheal secretion culture and sensitivity was positive for Klebsiella pneumoniae and Pseudomonas aeroginosa, and treated with the antibiotic of choice.  Suction of the lung secretions and chest physiotherapy was part of the intensive treatment of this second episode of acute respiratory distress. This was followed by stepping up the alternative therapies and the patient’s recovery has been on a remarkable upward curve.

Our Focus:

Devi had undergone Yoga, Ayurvedic massage, acupuncture, acupressure, reflexology and other forms of traditional Medicine of the East over the subacute and rehabilitation phase of the stroke. All these forms of what is globally termed Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) sets its strong belief in the body healing itself, empowered by the energy centres in the body and the flow of this energy through specific channels. Any block in the energy flow causes ill health. Traditional knowledge-based interventions released these blocks, to pave the way to recovery. The TriMed-Neurokrish technique is to encourage the CAM procedures of the trained team, to complement the astute Allopathic diagnosis and management, cognitive therapies and counseling. It allows patient participation in his/her own healthcare, along with family members, who witness the palpable improvement in the patient’s health condition.

A little detail of the yoga breathing patterns and exercises that benefitted Devi and its rationale in yogic terms, will not be out of place in its elaboration here.

Yoga asanas involve movements (bending, stretching, rotating), that stimulate ‘injured’ parts of the body by increasing the blood supply, followed by phases of total relaxation, Savasana, between movement phases. In the case of Devi, our Naturopathy & Yoga doctor believed that the group of asanas that stretch and strengthen the thoracic cage muscles, to encourage full excursion of the chest wall in efficacious breathing would benefit her most as therapy and eliminate her acute respiratory episodes. Considering her age and health state, the therapist chose to put her on a simple but an intensive asana regimen which he stepped up in a graded manner. Padahasthasana involves a set of asanas with stretching and touching toes standing and in a seated position, with outstretched lower limbs. Thadasana is standing upright ‘like a mountain’, stretching backward and bending forward to touch toes on the same side. Trikonasana: standing and bending diagonally to touch toes on the opposite side; repeating stretches in the seated position – Paschimottanasanas – seated and bending forward to touch toes; also bending diagonally to touch toes on opposite feet, alternately. Rhythmic abdominal breathing accompanies these movements, with the  inhalation phase accompanying the stretch and exhalation phase, the bending.

Breath is the essence of Prana – the ‘life force’. Pranayama, alternative nostril breathing in Padmasana meditative seated posture, seeks to harness this prana. By focusing the mind totally on the rhythmic breathing, the body channels are opened, allowing energy to flow freely and connect with the life force. In modern scientific terms, the role of the autonomic nervous system in this breathing pattern has been recognized, with increase in sympathetic inputs. As a result, concentration and clarity of thought develops. Prana provides the strength, power and vitality required to carry out higher level activity. Attentive awareness of the breath can gently lead the aspirant to the art of meditation.

Chinmudra is hand gesture with opposition of the thumb and index finger bilaterally and the other fingers are outstretched and facing upwards. Chinmudra in yogic meditative posture enhances Ekagrhachittam – one-pointed concentration of the mind during meditation. When the finger touches the thumb a circuit is established, which allows the energy that would normally dissipate into the environment, to travel back into the body. When the fingers and hands are placed on the knees, in the meditative seated posture, the knees are sensitized, creating another pranic circuit that maintains and redirects prana within the body. As the palms face upwards in Chinmudra, the chest and heart area are opened up as well.

Why this thumb and index finger alignment in yoga gesture, towards deep concentration? It makes us look for a link with theories regarding the evolution and attributes of thumb opposition in the early homo sapien, employment of toys which encourage a pincer grip for toddlers in the Montessori system of child education, the Neuroscience concept in modern Medicine of the homunculus, where the cortical motor (and sensory) representation of the thumb is enormous, with the index finger next in line, the maximum use of the index finger for serious Braille reading.

“It is specifically the opposition between the thumb and index finger that has made it possible to execute the extremely refined movements that have produced the whole of human culture — from architecture to writing, from music to painting, and all the technology that enriches our lives.”

Looking Ahead

With the last admission for the aspiration pneumonia, Devi had left behind the roller coaster ride through various catastrophic health events. She was alert and poised to instruct her daughters-in-law on making the rice dish to perfection and all the other delicacies for lunch, when the whole family would feast together. Till the previous year, she had led the women of her household by nonchalantly tossing in hand-measured quantities of ingredients with the flourish of the seasoned cook that she was. This year she had to be content with gesturing the instructions with her hands, with the occasional word thrown in. She knew that the cashew-nut jar was on the topmost shelf, out of reach of the children, the jaggery in the jar could not be adequate and more had to be purchased from the corner store. All these minor details of the kitchen front, her culinary skills her motivation and leadership quality returned and she was to participate in yet another family Pongal festivity.

The family members felt that the level of recovery was well beyond all expectations and recollected their shocked state and hopelessness when they saw their dear one being wheeled into the hospital in an obtunded state for the second time in a month. The TriMed-Neurokrish team gave of their best, with total co-operation from the family. But it was the Iron Lady, the patient herself, with her ekagrhachittam or single –pointed intent, focus and willpower that saw her in this recovered state, with some residual visual deficit, a more subdued, rasping voice due to left laryngeal nerve palsy, mild gait disability, but with a mind to overcome even these residual problems or accept the  discomfort they posed, with cheer, to lead from the front once again, as was her nature.

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Ragini – Her Uphill Battle


It was a full term natural delivery. The newborn was small at 2.7 kgs. There was no complication of pregnancy and mother and infant were well. Motor milestones followed a normal curve, but language was delayed till the age of five years. Strangely, musical expression preceded language and by 2 years 6 months, Ragini lisped in melodic sequences, as melody with lyrics came with ease. She belonged to yet another traditional south Indian family where music occupies the whole day, from the TV devotional music broadcast at the break of dawn, the bathroom singing by the father relaxing through an evening lukewarm shower after the day’s work, till into the night, when the mother sings the infant to sleep – that ‘soporific lullaby’ which never fails! However, nurture alone cannot explain the child’s musical ability, which advantage she carried without losing ground, into adolescence and adult life with formal vocal classical music instruction. The family being resident in the West, she received higher grade training in Western classical music as well and got into the stride of it with no extra effort.

Exploring the Condition

Ragini had poor communication skills, sub-average intelligence on the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC), language processing difficulty, perceptual thinking deficit and social fears and phobias when examined in childhood. She became irritable and frustrated, as coping with routine stresses, given her condition, became increasingly difficult over the years, and she showed significant disruptive behaviour at about 10 years of age by way of aggression. Following a psychiatric assessment, she was started on Tab. Risperidone, an atypical antipsychotic to control the irritability of the Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and to reduce her depression. She continued Risperidone till the age of 19 years, went through mainstream schooling, as she was a high functioning ASD, and successfully completed a Certificate Course in Vocational training.

In 2013, Risperidone had to be withdrawn, due to tardive dyskinesia, and Clonazepam SOS was prescribed. Two years passed peacefully, off medication. With the support of her well educated, discerning parents empathetic to her needs, Ragini established her own space in her music studio,  where she could listen to music, catalogue the music videos in her collection  in the studio library, and even give musical training to groups. All this was encouraged by her parents, mindful of her problems as it also represented an attempt to organize herself into some self employed music-related career, in an area closest to her heart. However, largely alone in the studio also left her isolated and socially withdrawn. Perhaps due to this a feeling of helplessness, hopelessness and worthlessness descended upon her, and she had suicidal ideation. She was emotionally sensitive, eager to please, but did not have the ability to take criticism. Symptoms that started insidiously, reached a peak within 6 months, in mid-2015. She became severely depressed.

Escitalopram (antidepressant) and Quitiepine (an atypical antipsychotic) prescribed by the psychiatrist could not bring about any control. After a further 5 months of rapid mood swings, crying, shouting, explosive episodes of dyscontrol and threats of leaving home, the mother brought Ragini to India, hoping that a change of environment would help in some way to ease mounting family tensions. She had information about the multidisciplinary approach and integrated therapy offered by TriMed-Neurokrish and fixed an appointment for Ragini.

Our Healing Approach

It was not easy for the team at TriMed-Neurokrish to thaw the ice and make Ragini accept that the specialist team was there to help her. Once this was achieved even partially, with gentle persuasion, the flow of the assessments became smoother, with cooperation from the patient. The diagnosis and plan of management fell in place with the detailed clinical history of events that led up to the mental state at the time of assessments and clinical examination.

Her Rorschach Inkblot test produced 22 responses, meeting the perceptual thinking and coping deficit index. She had severe depression and a feeling of worthlessness. EEG showed significant epileptiform activity without localization or lateralisation. She had a past history of episodes of stare with momentary loss of consciousness. Blood test and MRI/MRA brain were unremarkable.

The Diagnosis was Autistic Spectrum Disorder (High Functioning) with Rapid Cycling Affective Disorder and Episodic Dyscontrol Syndrome. Arriving at a suitable drug regimen was more difficult and prolonged, with loss of precious time, as 2 anticonvulsants used as thymoleptic agents had to be rejected as Oxcabamazepine produced a moderate allergic response, and even worse, Lamotragine produced a Steven Johnson’s type adverse drug reaction. After allowing time for recovery from these drug reactions, the patient was stabilised on a drug regimen which she tolerated well, along with an extended program of therapies running parallel.

The regular medication was

  • Lithium (sustained release) 400mg – 1/2-0-1
  • Olanzapine 10mg – 1/2-0-1
  • Escitalopram 1-0-0
  • Lorazepam 2mg – 0-0-1
  • Vitamin supplements

The mood stabilising, antidepressant and anxiolytic effect of this drug combination was reinforced with 24 sessions of CBT, individual psychotherapy and family education, 11 of physiotherapy (grade 2), 34 of Acupuncture, 20 of Reflexology, 34 sessions of Shirodhara and whole body massage and 24 sessions of Yogasana, intensive and daily over the initial phase and then spaced out to 3-4 days a week.

“There is considerable evidence suggesting that a subset of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), youth with extreme disturbance of mood suffer from a symptom cluster that is phenomenologically consistent with the syndrome of Bipolar Disorder (BPD)”

Joshi, 20091

Longitudinal studies are essential for observing the onset and progression of co-morbid condition of Bipolar disorder in ASD.

“It is of importance to recognise both the psychiatric diagnoses of ASD and overlapping BPD in order to plan the drug regimen, therapies and set realistic treatment goals.”

Looking Ahead

Following the extended therapy program and after being stabilized on the drug regimen, there is a definite return of Ragini’s lost self esteem, which had been shattered during the downhill phase. Her mood swings are minimal, and there is no episodic dyscontrol. The mother admits that she came with the hope of some relief of Ragini’s symptoms of aggression and dyscontrol. She got much more from the team at TriMed-Neurokrish, she confessed, and feels that the situation is under control and has the hopes to settle her daughter’s future plans of home and career within reasonable goals.

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