Brain atrophy guide
What is brain atrophy?
Brain atrophy is a disease related to the loss of brain cells and a decrease in the number of connections between nerve cells. Atrophy is also a reduction in brain size.
The total size of the brain begins to decrease from the age of 30 or 40, and the rate of reduction increases by reaching the age of 60. Natural atrophy occurs with age, and the process is slow. But sometimes, brain atrophy occurs rapidly. The reason for this change is injuries, various kinds of diseases, infections and other body conditions.
Atrophy can affect various parts of the brain. Therefore, it is classified into types:
- Focal - affects cells in certain parts of the brain, which leads to a loss of functionality in these specific areas;
- Generalized - affects the cells of the entire brain.
Symptoms of brain atrophy differ and depend on which part or part of the brain is affected. However, typical signs of generalized atrophy are as follows:
- Thinking troubles;
- Difficulties with communication, whether oral or written;
- Memory loss;
- Reading issues;
- Problems with learning.
Symptoms of localized or focal atrophy may include:
- Difficulties with standing;
- Loss of coordination;
- Partial paralysis;
- Lack of physical sensations in certain parts of the body;
- Double vision or defocused vision;
- Problems with speech or understanding.
Sometimes symptoms are so severe that they require urgent medical attention. Among them are loss of consciousness, hallucinations, cramps, eye pain, and aggressive or suicidal behaviour. Medical personnel have several ways to diagnose brain atrophy.
- Medical history and examination is a documented medical history of the patient and his symptoms. The doctor will find out when they began, their frequency and severity, and how they persisted or changed over time.
- Functional brain tests - establish possible cognitive impairments. The doctor may prescribe specific tests of brain functions, for example, language or memory.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans - visualizing brain scans detect physiological changes, such as swelling or signs of reduced brain size.
There is no single treatment for brain atrophy, as it can signify one or more diseases. Most likely, the treatment option is selected in such a way as to help the patient cope with the symptoms of the underlying disease. The treatment plan can often vary by the location of atrophy, its severity and cause and includes a combination of medicines and rehabilitation. In addition, each disease that causes brain atrophy is treated differently.
- A stroke is treated with drugs that dissolve the blood clot to restore blood flow to the brain. Surgery can also remove a blood clot or repair the affected blood vessel. Anticoagulants and preparations to normalize blood pressure help prevent the recurrence of stroke.
- Craniocerebral trauma can be treated through surgery, preventing additional brain cell damage.
- Multiple sclerosis is treated with drugs that help prevent immune system attacks that damage nerve cells.
- There is no treatment for brain damage from Alzheimer's, other forms of dementia, cerebral palsy, Huntington's disease or leukodystrophy. However, some medicines can alleviate the symptoms of these conditions but not affect their causes.
Some studies show that exercise can slow down the rate of atrophy. In addition, rehabilitation and physiotherapy offer non-drug tools to maintain the patient's function as long as possible, helping to maintain muscle strength and flexibility.
New treatment options
Age-related neurological disorders continue to create a significant social and economic burden. Stem cell therapy has a promising potential to mitigate the neurological symptoms of such diseases.
Stem cells are a type of cell therapy for brain atrophy and consist of stem cell transplantation. To date, this is an experimental method of treatment that allows you to help people with atrophy. In addition, there is a consensus that stem cells replace dying cells and regulate inflammation and immune reactions in the brain.
Statistics and prognosis
Brain atrophy is a permanent disease. It is impossible to reverse the damage caused by the disease. But the task facing the patient and the doctor is to manage the underlying condition and potentially compensate for some symptoms to live a fuller life.
But what impact does brain atrophy have, and how can it disrupt your daily life? In a large study conducted at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), scientists influence brain atrophy in patients' lives. For example, 75% of patients have the effect of the disease on walking, body balancing, tremor, vision and other indicators; 80% are affected by chronic fatigue; 55% are susceptible to cognitive impairment; 44% of those studied have the emotional disorder and note constantly changing emotions; in 60%, the disease has had an impact on relationships with others and everyday life.
Brain health is body health. If you or a family member experience cognitive impairment symptoms, contact the AiroMedical team to find individual treatment and long-term support for patients with brain atrophy. In addition, you can share your problems and get a unique strategy online with one click.
- Healthline: 10 Types of Dementia
- Healthline Media UK: What to know about brain atrophy
- Verywell Mind's: An Overview of Cerebral Atrophy
- WebMD: Which Area of the Brain Is Most Susceptible to Shrinkage as We Age?
- Life Extension: How to Keep Your Brain from Shrinking
- Physiopedia: Multiple System Atrophy
- Genzyme Europe B.V.: The impact of brain atrophy
- CHILD NEUROLOGY FOUNDATION: Cerebral Atrophy
- National Library of Medicine: Stem cell therapy for neurological diaorder: a facus on aging