Brain Diseases

BRAIN DISEASES


AGENISIS of the CORPUS CALLOSUM- Agenisis of the Corpus Callosum (ACC) is a severe brain defect present at birth in which the corpus callosum is either partially or completely absent. The first symptoms of ACC are usually seizures. Other symptoms include feeding problems, delays in sitting, standing, and walking, impairments in audible memory, visual memory, and hand-eye-coordination, repetitive speech, and headaches. In mild cases, symptoms may not occur for years. Many children diagnosed with ACC can still live normal lives and have an average intelligence level. There is currently no standard treatment for ACC, however, symptoms such as seizures can be managed.
Corpus Callosum- structure that connects the two hemispheres of the brain
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ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE- Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia (a deteriorating loss of cognitive functions) that causes severe problems with behavior, memory, and thinking. This loss of function is due to the death and degeneration of brain cells. The causes of Alzheimer’s are not yet fully understood. However, scientists believe it is caused by a combination of lifestyle, genetic, and environmental changes that affect the brain over time. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include unusual difficulty organizing thoughts, mild confusion, problems with speech, and forgetfulness. People typically live an average of eight years after these symptoms become noticeable. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but there are medications to help control some of the symptoms. It is a very progressive disease and is currently the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.


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APHASIA- Aphasia is a reduction or loss of language following brain damage. It affects a person’s ability to talk, understand, read, and/or write. It is most commonly the result of a stroke, but can also be caused by brain tumors, infections, injuries, and dementia. The amount of disability depends on the severity and location of the brain damage. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, there are four types of Aphasia. The four types are:
  • Expressive aphasia- know what you want to say, have trouble saying and/or writing what you mean
  • Receptive aphasia- hear the voice/see the print, but can’t make sense of the words
  • Anomic aphasia- have trouble using the correct word for objects, places, or events
  • Global aphasia- can’t speak, understand speech, read or write
Once the underlying cause of Aphasia is treated, speech therapy is the primary treatment. Even though Aphasia is not a deadly disease, it can cause many communication problems that affect people’s jobs, relationships, and day-to-day lives.

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BEHCET’S DISEASE (BEHCET’S SYNDROME)- Behcet’s disease is a rare disorder that causes chronic inflammation in blood vessels throughout the body. Symptoms vary from person to person but may include skin rashes, eye inflammation, and genital and mouth sores. The cause of Behcet’s disease is unknown, but scientists believe it may be an autoimmune disorder (the body accidentally attacks healthy cells). There is no cure for this disease; however, there are multiple medications a doctor can prescribe depending on the patient’s symptoms.
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BIPOLAR DISORDER- Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in moods, activity levels, energy, and the ability to carry out typical day- to-day tasks. This disorder causes a person to have extreme “highs” and “lows”. Symptoms include euphoria, extreme optimism, unwise financial choices, rapid speech, racing thoughts, inability to concentrate, increased physical activity, poor performance at work or school, carelessness, drug and alcohol abuse, sadness, guilt, hopelessness, anxiety, fatigue, and loss of interest in activities. Bipolar disorder is believed to be caused by hormones, the environment, neurotransmitters, inherited traits, and biological differences. Psychological counseling, substance abuse treatment, hospitalization, and medication are used to treat Bipolar disorder.



BRAIN TUMORS/BRAIN CANCER- A tumor is a growth or mass of abnormal cells. Cancerous brain tumors are called malignant tumors. They typically begin when a mutation in a normal cell’s DNA is acquired. Symptoms of brain tumors include: Frequent/severe headaches, unexplained nausea and/or vomiting, vision problems, loss of sensation or movement in arms and legs, difficulty with balance, speech difficulties, confusion, personality or behavior changes, seizures, and hearing problems. Treatment depends on the size, location, and type of brain tumor. Surgery can be done on tumors only if they are located in an accessible place for operation. Other treatment options are radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and radiosurgery.

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CEREBRAL PALSY- Cerebral Palsy is a disease that affects muscle tone, movement, and motor skills. It can also lead to problems with learning, vision, speech, and hearing. Cerebral Palsy is one of the most common congenital (existing before or at birth) disorders in children. There are many signs and symptoms that vary greatly from patient to patient. Although there is no known cause of Cerebral Palsy, many cases are a result of problems during pregnancy. There are medications and treatment options for patients including seeing speech/physical therapists that can help with improving symptoms.
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DOWN SYNDROME- Down syndrome is a genetic disorder in which a person has 47 chromosomes instead of the usual 46. The most common type of Down syndrome occurs when there is an extra copy of chromosome 21 (often referred to as Trisomy 21). The extra chromosome causes problems with the way the brain and body develop. It is the most common single cause of birth defects in babies. Some common signs of Down syndrome are:
  • Unusually shaped ears
  • Upward slanting eyes
  • Small head
  • Flattened facial features
  • Protruding tongue
  • Short neck
Realizing a child’s developmental problems early in life can make a huge difference. There are many specialists and doctors that are able to help families and patients cope with Down syndrome children.
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DYSLEXIA- Dyslexia is a reading disability that occurs when the brain does not properly recognize and process certain symbols. It often runs in families. Most people diagnosed with Dyslexia have normal-above average intelligence. Some common signs of Dyslexia are below average reading levels, difficulty comprehending, problems with processing and understanding, seeing letters or words in reverse, and difficulty spelling. There is no cure or medicine for treating a patient with Dyslexia, but reading specialists can often help.

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EPILEPSY- Epilepsy is a common neurological disorder characterized by repeated seizures. Seizures are episodes of disturbed brain activity that cause changes in attention and behavior. Epilepsy is caused by abnormal activity in brain cells. The most common signs are: staring, uncontrollable jerking, temporary confusion, and loss of consciousness or awareness. Epilepsy has no specific cause; however, genetic influence, diseases, head trauma, medical disorders, and developmental disorders are often linked to the disease.



HUNTINGTON’S DISEASE- Huntington’s disease is an inherited disease that causes progressive degeneration (breakdown) of nerve cells in the brain. It affects a person’s functional abilities and causes movement, psychiatric, and cognitive disorders. Common symptoms of Huntington’s disease include: muscle rigidity, difficulty swallowing, involuntary jerking, slow movements, abnormal eye movements, and impaired posture and balance. Huntington’s disease is caused by an inherited defect in a single gene. There are currently no treatments for this disease but there are certain medications that can help improve symptoms.

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MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS- Multiple Sclerosis is a disease in which your body’s immune system eats away at the protective sheath that covers your nerves. The cause is unknown but it is believed to be an autoimmune disease. (The body’s immune system attacks its own tissues). There are many signs and symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis, including:
  • Double or blurred vision
  • Numbness or weakness in limbs
  • Tingling or pain in body
  • Partial or complete loss of vision
  • Fatigue
  • Electric-shock sensations with head movements
  • Tremors
  • Dizziness
There is no cure for Multiple Sclerosis; however, there are medications to treat some symptoms.

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PARKINSON’S DISEASE- Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement. There is no exact cause known for this disease, but environmental triggers and genetics play a role. Symptoms in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease vary and may go unnoticed. Some signs and symptoms include rigid muscles, tremors, speech problems, slowed motion, dementia, and impaired posture. Parkinson’s disease can cause urinary problems, sleep problems, difficulty chewing and swallowing, sexual dysfunction, and depression. Surgery may be helpful in some cases but there is no other cure for the disease. Lifestyle changes, a healthy diet, physical therapy, exercise, and medications can also help treat the disease.
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SCHIZOPHRENIA- Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that makes it difficult to think logically, to have normal emotional responses, tell the difference between real and unreal experiences, and behave normally in social situations. The cause is unknown but is more likely to be developed if a family member has the disease. Symptoms of schizophrenia are:
  • Thought disorder
  • Delusions
  • Disorganized behavior
  • Hallucinations
A psychiatrist usually guides treatment. Medications and psychosocial therapy also help manage this condition.

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