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Most Misunderstood Neurological Conditions

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Kurt Vonnegut once described the human brain as “the crowning glory of evolution,” and the fact that no one has ever taken issue with him is testament to just how remarkable the brain is. It’s not that our brains are huge—they only weigh in at around 3 pounds (1.36kg) —it’s more about the 100 billion neurons that are packed into it. These complex signaling units are responsible for receiving messages, making sense of them, and controlling how our body acts in response to them.

The brain is so central to everything that we are that it can be a real problem when it goes wrong. Symptoms of neurological conditions can be frustrating and bewildering, affecting everything from the most basic of human functions to the most involved of human thought. The brain is so complex that we are still learning how it works, and how best to treat these often misunderstood conditions.


Sleep disorders

from Khan Academy

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To view the next video in this series click: Laurie Owen of Home Instead Senior Care explains how Alzheimer's and other dementias are diagnosed.
Watch more How to Understand Child Psychology videos: Learn about tics and Tourette's syndrome in children from Dr. Kimberly Williams in this Howcast video. Ticks and Tourette's disorder are a neurobiological disorder that's genetically inherited. What you'll commonly see in children with tick disorders or Tourette's syndrome is motor ticks or, at least, one vocal tick. Sometimes motor ticks include eye blinking or raising and lowering the shoulders. Sometimes there's manual or bimanual motor movements that seem a little bit odd or unusual. Sometimes when children have vocal ticks, they may clear their throat or they may cough, and sometimes it's a little bit distracting to family or students in the classroom. Many times ticks are transient, which means they change or they wax and wane over time. Ticks are very common in childhood ages and elementary school ages. And sometimes ticks tend to change or become transient and wax and wane by the time a child reaches adolescent ages. Oftentimes, ticks also become more heightened or exacerbated when a child is under stress, whether it be family stress or academic stress, sometimes there's an increase in tick activity. Ticks are typically treated only if they are functionally impairing for a child. So it's okay for a child experiencing ticks as long as they're not having any physical difficulties, or it's not interfering with family life or academics, to just let them be. Other times, medication is introduced to decrease or minimize the ticks, for instance, if a child has such severe nodding ticks that it's creating muscle tension in their neck or their shoulders, or if their vocal ticks are so distracting that it's causing problems with their learning. Tourette's syndrome and tick disorders are very complex. And parents and families dealing with tick disorders will be working with their physician to help minimize and decrease some of the symptoms. But this is some of the general information you should know about ticks and Tourette's syndrome.
Watch more Epilepsy & Seizure Disorders videos: Learn what epilepsy is from Steve Wolf, MD and Patty McGoldrick, NP in this Howcast video. Epilepsy are people who have seizures, but first what is a seizure? Seizure is a short-circuit in the brain; too much electricity getting out of control spreading throughout the brain causing the body either to shake, jerk, fall to the ground, stare, zone out, look drunk, and are unusual. But seizures can be from one part of the brain or they can be the whole brain lighting up at once. We describe them as a big burst of electricity in the brain that causes these symptoms. And what it stems from are the neurons being hyper-excited so that they can't control the impulses of the electricity that is moving through them. Certain seizures as you said can manifest themselves in different ways; they can be just jerking, they can be a drop; they can be a stare. The problem is trying to figure out where the seizures come from and what causes the seizures. So we know that a trauma to the brain can cause a scar; shaking the brain, a bleed; a stroke can cause seizures; and then many people can have seizures for absolutely no reason. Again the epilepsy doesn't occur from seizures that are caused by something; so if have a child who has febrile seizures that's not epilepsy. If you have one seizure as the result of a head injury, that's not epilepsy. Epilepsy is repetitive seizures over time. So if someone starts having seizures it is important to work them up properly. Right. So you start with managing them acutely; obviously if they are having a long seizure you have to treat them with medication so it stops because they can injure the brain if they have long seizures. And you would start by doing an EEG which looks at the electricity in the brain; you would do an MRI or a cat scan and then go on from there with more tests. So the MRI looks at the structure of the brain, helps to eliminate all the bad things, like whether a stroke is causing the seizure, a turmor is causing the seizure, an abnormal blood vessel, something like that, something that formed abnormall in the brain in utero; there are things called migrational abnormalities so part of the brain formed abnormally. The EEG will tell us what type of seizure it is possibly. And then we do other tests like pet scans that look at the metabolism of the brain but that's usually not commonly used at the initial diagnoses. So epilepsy is that you've had more than one seizure, we know what the cause is, sometimes we don't know what the cause is, and it's repetitive events that hopefully can be treated with medication.
Peggy Halliday, Director of Outreach Services at the Virginia Institute of Autism, discusses what causes autism and its early signs. To View How-To Videos on Almost Any Subject Visit:
Parkinson's disease is a disorder that affects nerve cells in the part of the brain controlling muscle movement. Learn about Parkinson's disease symptoms, treatments, and diagnosis in this video on health and diseases.
Dementia is a combination of a loss of memory and a loss of intellectual functioning, and it can be caused by fever, a reaction to drugs or intoxication. Learn about variations of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, with help from a physician's assistant in this free video on dementia. Expert: Albert William Hedgepeth, Jr. Bio: Al Hedgepeth is an alumnus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned his degree as a P.A. in 1980. Filmmaker: Rendered Communications
There isn't always a positive side to conditions like autism or Tourette's Syndrome, but it's important not to only think in terms of defects and problems. These disorders also represent different ways of doing things and different ways of function