Brain atrophy treatment

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Brain atrophy occurs due to the death of nerve cells and the breakdown of neuronal connections. It is most often diagnosed due to hereditary predisposition in people after 50, more rarely in newborns. The disease can not be cured entirely. However, treatment options are medications (depending on the cause of atrophy), stem cell therapy and rehabilitation.

Atrophic changes in the brain are the death of tissues, cells, and nerve connections. The disease is associated with age evolutions, beginning at 50-55. Then, with an unfavourable outcome, pathological transformations lead to severe disorders of brain functions. Usually, diffuse-atrophic changes affect the frontal parts of the brain. As a result, the first manifestations are associated with behavioural changes, difficulties in controlling the performance of ordinary daily activities and similar symptoms.

According to medical studies, brain atrophy is not a separate disease but rather a symptom accompanying degenerative disorders and abnormalities of the brain. For example, partial tissue atrophy is observed in such pathologies as Alzheimer's disease, senile dementia, Pick's and Parkinson's diseases, and Huntington's chorea.

Atrophy is classified by localisation and aetiology of the lesion:

  • Cortical atrophy - tissue death occurs due to age-related changes, usually in the brain's frontal lobes.
  • Subatrophy is a partial loss of functions of a particular area or part of the brain.
  • Multisystem brain atrophy is a neurodegenerative disease that manifests in impaired autonomic functions and urinary and reproductive systems problems. Necrotic phenomena affect several parts of the brain at once.
  • Diffuse atrophic transformations, along with multisystem changes, are one of the most unfavourable types of disease. Disturbances start gradually, and the loss of functions occurs due to damage to the tissues of two different brain parts.
  • Subcortical and cortical atrophic changes are caused by the presence of thrombus formation and plaques. They provoke hypoxia in the brain and the death of nerve cells in the occipital and parietal regions of the brain.

Cerebral atrophy generally does not reduce life expectancy but significantly affects its quality, leading to loss of working capacity, dementia and disability.

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Brain atrophy causes

The leading cause of atrophy is genetic predisposition. However, external-provoking factors can accelerate the disease.

Patients aged 50-55 years are in the risk group. As an exception, the condition affects people who are a little over 45. The disease progression is affected by several disorders:

  • Diseases - Parkinson's, Hellervorden-Spatz, Behcet's, Cushing's, Whipple's, Alzheimer's syndrome;
  • Vascular disorders;
  • Alcoholism and drug addiction;
  • Brain injury;
  • Hydrocephalus;
  • Amyotrophic sclerosis;
  • Diseases associated with an infectious lesion;
  • Metabolic disorders;
  • Kidney failure.

Degenerative changes in newborns are provoked by long-term oxygen starvation. In addition, hypoxia during fetal development or childbirth initiates necrotic changes in brain tissue. Furthermore, developmental disorders or anomalies, birth injuries and diseases of the mother, HIV, and lack of vitamins B1, B3 and folic acid provoke atrophic changes.

What are the signs of brain atrophy?

Moderate atrophy changes manifest with barely noticeable shifts in the personality. A person loses the desire to strive for something. Apathy, lethargy and indifference appear instead. An absolute deviation from moral principles often accompanies the disease. Over time, other symptoms appear:

  • Vocabulary exhaustion – a long and challenging selection of the necessary words to describe simple things and desires.
  • The intensity of brain activity is reduced - much more effort is required to solve primitive tasks.
  • Lack of self-criticism - a person cannot adequately assess and be responsible for his actions, words and desires.
  • Deterioration of body motility - movement problems and uncontrolled motor disorders appear over time.

Continued deterioration of health is accompanied by further impairment of mental functions. For example, the ability to recognise objects and use them is lost. In addition, the "mirror" syndrome appears when the patient involuntarily copies the behavioural habits of other people.

Later, senile dementia and complete degradation of the personality occur. Finally, age-related atrophy ends with the death of the patient. Signs of group atrophic processes of the brain are deviations in the behaviour and character of a person.

Neurologists distinguish three stages of changes in cerebral atrophy:

  • Stage I is almost symptomless, and a person does not lose the ability to work and live a full life.
  • Stage II is characterised by gradually losing communication skills and emotional connection with others.
  • The III stage of the disease is the death of the grey and white matter of the brain, which eventually leads to irreversible dementia.

Symptoms do not make it possible to diagnose accurately. Therefore, for precise diagnosis, it is necessary to conduct a number of clinical examinations.

Diagnostic tests for brain atrophy

It is hardly possible to make an accurate diagnosis after only a visual examination of the patient and taking an anamnesis. Therefore, the neurologist will prescribe additional instrumental tests to determine the most effective treatment.

Several methods are used to determine the localization and degree of atrophy of the brain lobes:

  • A computed tomography scan of the brain helps to detect abnormalities in the structure of blood vessels to determine the presence of aneurysms and neoplasms, which cause impaired blood flow.
  • One of the most informative is multispiral computed tomography (MSCT). Even initial signs of subatrophic changes are visible on MSCT. During the study, a three-dimensional projection of a lobe of the brain is created, thanks to layer-by-layer scanning of the area of ​​interest to the doctor.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is considered the benchmark for determining the presence of structural changes in brain tissue. Recently, scientists from the world-famous Mayo Clinic established and clinically proved that MRI allows not only detection of disorders at an early stage. It is also crucial for monitoring the progress of changes. It is critical to control such diseases as senile dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Atrophy assessment by MRI is more effective than various clinical tests.
  • Neurosonography is an examination of the brain using ultrasound. The test is carried out in newborn children of early age (up to one year) through the parietal holes on the head.

Brain atrophy treatment

Neurological treatment aims to eliminate the disease's symptoms and prevent the progression of brain lesions. Generalised cerebral atrophy of the 1st degree is well treated by giving up bad habits and removing factors that provoke changes.

Patients should take into account that no effective therapy methods can reverse the death of cells. So the only practical option is drugs that help cope with the unpleasant symptoms.

Patients might experience mood swings, irritability, apathy or excessive excitability. Psychotropic drugs help to cope with psycho-emotional disorders. In addition, there are various medications to improve blood circulation. So they stop the death of brain tissues caused by hypoxia. One of the factors provoking cell death is hypertension. However, stabilisation of pressure reduces the risk of rapid progression of changes. Antioxidants have a stimulating effect on restorative processes, reduce atrophy, increase the intensity of metabolism, and resist free oxygen radicals. Medicines that improve blood microcirculation - Pentoxifylline ("Trental") is often prescribed. The drug has a vasodilating effect, increases capillary lumen, and improves gas exchange through vessel walls and blood microcirculation.

Cell therapy is an innovative, promising method which restores damaged tissues and organs. Stem cells are used today to effectively treat some severe diseases, including atrophic changes in the brain. Sometimes it is the only possible method that allows improvement of the condition, avoiding disability and even death. Stem cell therapy for brain atrophy is a promising treatment option, and research is ongoing.

During treatment, it is equally important to monitor the patient's neuropsychological condition and provide rehabilitation. Family members must adequately treat the patient with understanding in the same way:

  • Every day it is necessary to spend some time with the patient in the fresh air, take short walks;
  • Moderate physical activity should be present in life;
  • Occupation therapy helps the patient carry out self-care procedures;
  • If a neurasthenic state is observed, the use of light drugs of the sedative group is not excluded.
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What is the prognosis for brain atrophy?

The forecast and development of the disease depend on the part of the brain that was destroyed. For example, with Pick's disease, the destruction of neurons in the frontal and temporal regions is noted. As a result, personal changes appear (thinking and memory deteriorate).

Usually, the prognosis of brain atrophy is unfavourable, as it slowly or promptly leads to dementia and the death of a person.


Why does brain atrophy occur?

Numerous studies by specialists indicate that the leading causes of the disease lie in genetic pathologies. However, much less often, symptoms of transformations develop against the background of secondary brain deformations provoked by external stimuli.

Do stem cells work for brain atrophy?

Stem cell therapy can be used to treat cerebral atrophy. The injected stem cells will grow, divide and restore the lost brain cells. Due to their ability to differentiate into neuronal cells and through the release of neurotrophic factors, they appear to be a valid strategy for use in the treatment of atrophic changes.

Can patients with brain atrophy have rehabilitation?

Rehabilitation is an integral and crucial part of the treatment plan for brain atrophy. The restoration of cognitive functions, improvement of motor activity, occupational therapy and psychological support are essential steps of the process. In addition, this approach adapts the patients and their relatives to everyday life with the disease.

What is the cure for brain atrophy?

There is currently no effective treatment or cure for brain atrophy. However, some underlying causes and symptoms can be controlled and treated. Depending on the specific case, various drugs are effective: psychotropic, antioxidant, antihypertensive, and others. In addition, some studies show that rehabilitation and exercise can reduce the progression of atrophy. And the latest researches consider stem cell therapy as an innovative treatment option.

Does brain atrophy progress?

Atrophy of the brain is a pathological condition characterised by continuous progressive death of neurons and loss of connections between them. This process is, to some extent, physiological (in the case of getting older). Currently, there is no way to stop atrophic changes in the brain completely.

Where can I get Brain atrophy treatment?

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