Friday, March 20, 2015

Learning: Making A Neural Pathway Part II

In writing this I was looking for an answer to why some people recover faster after a brain injury than other people. I believe the answer is neural pathways available.

Rewiring (quickly) seems to mostly happen in the first year (it's not over there. so don't worry). Existing neural pathways are recruited. This accounts for those people who seem to recover quick.

Then there is long-term rewiring, This can feel like forever to a person. The neural pathway doesn't exist. So the brain makes one.

This process is similar to learning, if not the same.


I'm not recovering fast. I'm learning fast.

Friday, March 13, 2015

A Very Smart Vegetable

I find this situation funny. PVS is a serious disorder. To say I'm not aware of my surroundings takes away from that.  "I really don't think there ever was PVS" I appeared PVS, though. "A persistent vegetative state is a disorder of consciousness in which patients with severe brain damage are in a state of partial arousal rather than true awareness." I was not conscious as perceived by the diagnosing physician.The diagnosis was true then, but not permanent. I was not misdiagnosed. There wasn't human error.

"What, neurologically, makes a savant?What happens is that there is an injury to one part of the brain—most often the left hemisphere. And there is what I called a recruitment of still-intact brain tissue elsewhere. The brain seeks to correct the imbalance and will find an undamaged area, most often in the right hemisphere. There is then rewiring to that new area, and then there is the release of dormant potential, which can be at sometimes an astronomical level. So it's the three R's: recruitment of still-intact tissue, rewiring, and the release of whatever capacity is there."

When I woke from a coma, getting skills was slow. I eventually used my left arm to propel a manual wheel chair. By this time, I had been deemed PVS. Time constraints make the status permanent. "This diagnosis is classified as a permanent vegetative state (PVS) some months after a non-traumatic brain injury (3 months in the US)."
Now, me using that left arm means I still had right hemisphere. Of note, I am using my left index finger to type this.

The right side of the brain controls muscles on the left side of the body and the left side of the brain controls muscles on the right side of the body

My primary diagnosis says I am not conscious. Anything added thereafter would still be not conscious. If something like Savant Syndrome is added now, I am still unconscious and become a very smart vegetable.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Recovery Not Tracked

Ten years went by and nothing was noticed? There were no signs at all? That's hard to believe. At the end a doctor says, "Our uncertainty level shouldn't be like that."

"Predicting the chances of recovery of consciousness and communication in patients who survive their coma but transit in a vegetative state or minimally conscious state (MCS) remains a major challenge for their medical caregivers."

I'm able to communicate now, and through some weird process that I believe is a secondary disorder, I can explain difficult neurological concepts as well as write...with one finger.

So nothing like the above video should happen and I try to explain. I give my explanation as best I can for what happened to "vegetative," Ten years aren't going by. I'll use my abilities to write with one finger and explain neuroscience. I don't have the equipment, or ability, to track the "slow neuronal changes underlying functional recovery of consciousness from severe chronic brain damage." I'm not worried, though. That will come.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

I am permanently unconscious.

I am "permanently" unconscious. It doesn't matter if I now appear to be conscious. The word "Persistent" had come to mean "Permanent" in PVS (Persistent Vegetative State). Once a "vegetable" is always a "vegetable." The word "Persistent"at least had hope.
"Vegetables" only receive daily care, usually in a medical facility. I live on my own. I do not receive that kind of care. I do not receive therapy. I do not receive rehab. I  do not have a neurologist, nor do I receive any neurological care or follow-up. "Vegetables" don't get any of those services.

(PVS not MCS, Minimally Conscious State, in this case. If you were called a "vegetable" at one time you were probably diagnosed as MCS. "Far too often, patients [PVS] ... are given up for gone, left to languish in nursing homes where no one bothers with physical therapy or even to check for glimmers of regained consciousness." I've been able to get out of that situation,

That I talk and write now does not matter. I still have the PVS diagnosis. I have been unconscious for years. I have been writing for years. I couldn't write in the hospital. Time has passed. The diagnosis is "permanent" and therefore sticks. If anything is added, the primary is still there. I am permanently without consciousness.

 -there is no hope.


Monday, February 16, 2015

Getting Better

"Lost in thought?" Two different people asked the same thing on different days, in the span of a week. No, I am not lost in thought. I am "veggin out." Literally.

I believe this is what happened with "vegetative." I've slowly gotten better. (Years ago a doctor at Stanford said "you are getting better." He was describing the remarkable progress I was making in completing daily living skills.) As time went on, I continued "getting better." It was said I was "semi-vegetative" at a few hospitals into my stay.  (That's a couple years after my injury.) I was no longer "vegetative." I went home and medical records ran out. People thought I died. I didn't. I kept slowly getting better.

I live on my own. I do receive outside care. One of my daughters is now employed by that service agency and can personally do the care. She lives with me.

You know, it appears that recovery of skills are slow, but maybe it isn't for me. Maybe the typical person who is vegetative is on the regular track and I'm on a fast track. That means all of this has been fast. Maybe, I am actually attaining new skills fast, not recovering old skills really slow. (The kids I worked with learned new skills. I only know teaching and education. There is no rehab.)

Friday, February 13, 2015

Neuroplasticity on Fire

I first heard the term HYPERPLASTICITY in a podcast. (It follows. It's at 36:06.)

Plasticity sped up? I was fascinated.

The following is mostly hypothetical. The first sentence in this video clip...

"It would be speculation to say...."

"Hyperplasticity relates to neurology by incorporating physical (thermodynamic) law into the study the individual nerve cell cycle to discover how the synaptic communication of an old cell relates that information to the new cell in its place. Encouraging new cell growth in grey material of the brain is the object always." I explained how that, the information transfer, happened, . It was DNA replication that happened in me.

That DNA replication will speed-up in me,  . Neuroplasticity will happen fast. Neuroplasticity will look like it's on fire. It will look like hyper-plasticity.


Friday, January 30, 2015

Cheese & Jelly

I can't believe I found an ad showing grape jelly and cheese. It's an unlikely match. I had a memory, though I had eaten such a thing. Recently, I overheard my mother telling my daughter that her father would eat jelly with cheese. I may have seen him doing this when I was a child. Mystery solved! I didn't eat it. He did. I find the combination unappealing. I already told my children I must have eaten it.

I had another memory that was false, but proved to be useful. I remembered staying at a local motel in my current condition before moving to this town. I had knowledge of motels and handicap rooms that was useful in making a trip. That memory never happened.

I've let a natural process called pruning handle these memories. The second memory had my father's mother in it. She passed away years earlier. There was no way possible that experience ever occurred. There was no logic in it. It wouldn't be reinforced and would "prune" away.

The jelly and cheese sandwich was different. I had no way of proving or disproving the memory...until I heard my mother. Now that memory, too, can be forgotten.