Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Am I losing my mind? - A new breakthrough for many...

Am I losing my mind?  Sadly this often is a question that may be fearfully muttered under the breath of many people.  Maybe its' following a stroke, a traumatic brain injury, a debilitating neurological causing havoc, or the effects that occur after brain surgery.

For years I have had the experience of both personally and professionally dealing with the effects caused by changes that occur when the brain experiences changes in it's function.  It's a difficult thing for any of us to see that person we love slip away, and feel helpless to intervene.  Currently the incidence of both Alzheimer's and Dementia continue to grow each day with our ever-increasing aging population.  In my work with hospice I see and help people that have come to the end of this journey after trying numerous ineffective treatments.  Many of us that have a had a personal experience may ask why or how this happens?  Understanding a challenge is the first step in trying to create a plan to achieve success over the struggle you face.

Brain 101 - A layman's approach to understanding how our brain works

Therefore, how does the brain function and what happens to create the pathway for the onset of both Dementia and Alzheimer's?  First, let's look at what are the parts of our brain and their importance to our cognition and function.
  • The cerebrum is the major portion of your brain.  It provides the resource to help with memory, problem solving, thinking, feeling, and controls the body's movement.
  • The cerebellum is at the back of your brain under the cerebrum and helps you stand steady while you perform physical actions.
  • The brain stem is below you cerebrum and in front of your cerebellum, and connects the brain to the spinal cord.  It is the source of life because it controls our automatic functions that allow us to breath, have a beating heart,  and aids in digestion.
  • The brain functions as a result of being nourished with a network of blood vessels that include capillaries, veins, and arteries.  Without the oxygen rich blood the brain cannot exist.
  • Next is the squiggly grey matter we see called the cortex.  It is the outermost portion of the cerebrum and is responsible for:
    • Sensations - sight, sound, and smell
    • Is the problem solving resource 
    • Creates and stores memories
    • Controls voluntary movement
  • Our brains are also divided into two parts called hemispheres - The right and left - the control the opposing side of the body - the left brain is where the conversation truly begins.
  • The next portion of the brain is the pathway to action and thought.  Our brains contain billions of little nerve cells called neurons.  These are responsible for transferring information that results in action.  It is this selected pathway that is attacked when a person has Alzheimer's. These cells are joined together, and go into action when an electrical charge is received that releases a chemical.  These chemicals are called neurotransmitters and are the brains messages to create responses in the body. These responses are recorded at the cellular level, and store our memories and thoughts.


A Thief in the Night

Alzheimer's is that robber that steals our mind by causing the destruction of those small nerve cells.  As the disease progresses the brain actually reduces in size, and inhibits most every function of the brain.  In the Alzheimer's brain:

  • The cortex will shrivel up causing damage to the areas that involve thinking, planning, and memory.
  • The shrinkage occurs mainly in the hippo-campus which is the most significant center for memory in the brain.
  • Finally, the ventricles in the brain grow larger.
As a result:
  • The tissue of a brain with Alzheimer's has fewer nerve cells than a healthy brain.
  • Plaque and clusters of protein fragments build up more rapidly between cells blocking the pathways
  • The dead and dying cells create structures called tangles that inhibit brain function.
Scientists don't have a specific cause yet for why this occurs in the brains of people with Alzheimer's, but the tangles and plaques are the possible suspects.  Once a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer's the course of the disease is thought to last from 8 to 20 years.  Much like other diseases there is a progression in the severity and symptoms:

  • Early stage disease causes effects to occur generally 20 years before it may even be officially diagnosed.  In this phase people experience changes in their memory and problem solving abilities.
  • In mild to moderate stages, which lasts 2 to 10 years, the impacts continue creating social challenges because of their increasing confusion.
  • The final stage of Alzheimer's may last from 1 to 5 years and causes the brain to shrink which creates the inability to communicate, and most often these people can no longer recognize their own family.
Alzheimer's truly acts as that thief in the night that sneaks into your life, and robs you of your life without much warning.  With such a tragic and stealthy disease it's imperative to do whatever we can as people to protect against losing our mind.  Thankfully, there is some hope on the horizon. 

The Key to Unlocking a Better Tomorrow

Currently there are many drugs out there that are being used to help manage the diseaseprocess, but they often are the culprit of causing side effects without much of a result. Thankfully there is something on the horizon that is fast approaching.  

Take a peek at how it works...

Now think about a world where people wouldn't have to be fearful of aging, and quietly questioning if there losing their mind.  It's time to tackle these degenerative diseases that are causing havoc on so many lives.  Let's take control today.  Join me in preventing that next family from suffering the affects of their loved one's loss in cognition.  

Contact me today to get involved.  Take care, Dave.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for visiting. I would love to hear your thoughts. Take care, Dave.