Saturday, July 28, 2012

Can the Brain Repair Itself?


It is said that the brain cannot grow new cells and repair itself. This is only partially true. Those of us who have neuro-damaged areas in our brains from lesion activity and hypoxia worry that even if progression is halted, what is lost is gone forever. I decline to buy that line of reasoning anymore than I buy into the autoimmune theory of Multiple Sclerosis/CCSVI. The human body is a self-repairing mechanism, and conventional medicine has for a long time grossly underestimated the ability of the brain to repair itself. When cells in the brain are damaged and die, perhaps from a stroke or in our case, hypoxia and lesion damage brain tissue will undergo necrosis, and a rim of gliosis will form around the damaged area. Gliosis and loss of neurons occur in neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and multiple sclerosis. Interestingly to us, it is also found in vasculitis, Parkinson's disease, ALS and Huntington's disease. The blood brain barrier (BBB) prevents certain materials in the blood from entering the brain. If there is any damage done to these protective cells, severe brain damage will result. Those who have been on therapy with disease modifying drugs for long periods of time are likely to have breeched the BBB. The greatest factor in functional recovery after brain injury comes from the brain's ability to learn, called Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to learn, or adapt to compensate for the areas of damage. Axons and the peripheral nervous system cannot regenerate in the adult brain. Rehabilitation usually requires professional therapy. The brain can often reorganize itself so that when one part fails, another can often substitute. Under the proper circumstances a person can heal, even from autism, strokes, learning disorders, hypoxia lesion damage and traumas. The most common cognitive effects of brain damage from lesion activity and hypoxia: 1. Problems with paying attention or focusing 2. Memory issues 3. Challenges with planning 4. Organization 5. Decision-making 6. Problem solving 7. Persistent low grade headache 8. Lightheadedness 9. Poor attention and concentration 10. Excessiveness or easy fatigue 11. Intolerance of bright light or difficulty focusing vision 12. Intolerance of loud noises 13. Ringing in the ears 14. Anxiety and depressed mood 15. Irritability and low frustration tolerance 16. Sleeping pattern issues 17. Confusion 18. Slower thinking Brain function is plastic, or reparable, when a sense like touch has been profoundly diminished. Plasticity is an important indicator that the brain is reorganizing to compensate for an injury or deficit. For a decade, neuroscientists have known that the brain can increase its plasticity, or adapt, in response to injury that limits bodily motion. Vision loss, hearing, taste, smell or touch are common side effects of traumatic brain injury hypoxia and stroke. The key word for PWMS/CCSVI is HYPOXIA. Diminished blood flow and reflux cause a significant loss of oxygen to the organ that needs it most. Forced use therapy is already applied in the clinic for patients with motor deficits. For example, a patient who suffers a brain injury is made to use a poorly performing arm with the expectation that the brain may be plastic enough to assist that arm in recovering motion. Plasticity is an important indicator that the brain is reorganizing to compensate for an injury or deficit. The portion of our brain that processes sensory information appear to be very adaptable. Fatty acid phosphatidylserine (PS) is essential for effective neurotransmission. PS deficiency is linked to mental impairment, including Alzheimer's and non-Alzheimer's dementia, depression and Multiple Sclerosis. PS supplements help to replace brain cell membranes, boosting nerve chemical activity such as dopamine and serotonin, stimulating nerve cell growth, generating new connections between cells, lowering levels of the stress hormone and stirring activity in all brain centers, especially higher brain centers such as the cortex, hypothalamus and pituitary gland. Antioxidants, Vitamins A,E,B's will also help with brain clean and recovery. The brain needs the time during the night to process memories and experiences from the previous day. The brain may also be repairing another type of damage that occurs during the day, a more physical type of damage. A new study in mice has linked a lack of sleep with Alzheimer's disease. A protein called beta amyloid has been found to be present in plaques found in the brains of persons with Alzheimer's disease. Researchers discovered that in mice bred to develop Alzheimer's disease, that beta amyloid accumulates during the day and decrease during sleep at night. Sleep deprivation in these mice lead to an acceleration in the formation of beta amyloid plaques in their brain. While halting the progression of MS is a prime goal, gaining back what we though was lost is at least to some degree, quite possible.
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