Saturday, October 19, 2013

Intensive Brain Remaking.

I was fascinated with the story of Pedro when I read about it in Norman Doidge's book, The Brain That Changes Itself. Pedro was the father of a famous neuroscientist. I saw the same story in another blog. Somebody else found it fascinating.


Pedro Rewired His Brain After a Massive Stroke

In his book, The Brain That Changes Itself, Norman Doidge, M.D. relates the brain plasticity miracle of Pedro.
At the age of sixty-five, Pedro Bach-y-Rita had suffered a massive stroke that paralyzed his face and half of his body.
He was unable to talk or walk, and his sons Paul and George were told there was no hope for recovery,” and that Pedro would have to go into an institution.
Dr. Paul Bach-y-Rita was a neuroscientist and rehabilitation physician, and also a pioneer in promoting the understanding that the human brain has an amazing ability to adapt and change itself; what we now know as brain plasticity.     
At first George, then a medical student in Mexico, arranged rehabilitation for his father at a local hospital, which offered a typical four-week therapy.
Pedro showed very little progress, and George decided to have him come and live with him so he could provide additional therapy.
He knew nothing about rehabilitation, and his ignorance turned out to be a blessing. He succeeded by breaking all of the current rules.
“I decided that instead of teaching my father to walk, I was going to teach him first to crawl” George said. “I told my father, ‘You started off crawling. You are going to have to crawl again for a while.’ The only model I had was how babies learn.”
As soon as Pedro could support himself, George had him crawl with his weak shoulder and arm supported by a wall.
Pedro loved gardening, and Paul had him practicing outside, which led to problems with the neighbors who thought it was unseemly to make the professor crawl like a dog.
It took many hours each day, but gradually Pedro went from crawling to moving on his knees to standing and finally to walking.
Pedro struggled with speech on his own, and after three months it began coming back.
He learned to type normally and at the end of a year he was able to return to full-time teaching at City College in New York.
Pedro was active for seven more years until, while climbing in the Colombia Mountains, he suffered a heart attack.
Dr. Paul Bach-y-Rita later discovered that 97% of the nerves that ran from the brain’s cerebral cortex to the spine had been destroyed by the stroke.
Pedro's brain had totally reorganized itself as a result of the intensive “brain remaking.”

It would make sense that this is what I am doing, "intensive brain remaking". My  brain is just restructuring. It's just massive brain remaking. (There was SOME brain, even if it was so little I had "even less brain functioning [than] that would suffice to maintain the live functions of a quite primitive reptile." I like how that was said. Others have said it was so little I was a "vegetable.") Although it looks miraculous now,  there's nothing miraculous going on.  Everything right now can be explained.

A miracle could have happened long ago when I was unconscious. That's then. This is now.

During my recovery I compared the brain to Silly Putty, I was once told the brain was like clay, but to me the brain is more special than that. Silly Putty is like special clay. Also, like clay, it could be missing some and still do the same things. "But it can still be molded, shaped, played with, and retain most, maybe all, of its properties." My Silly Putty is just changing.

I'm just changing my brain- neuroplasticity or rewiring.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

If I Only Had A Brain

My bleed started in the cerebellum. It would have been contained to this one area if it had been discovered soon enough...but it wasn't. Other problems happened along the way. By the time I got somewhere that could deal with me I had "blood extension into all ventricles," from a hospital summary. That was my whole brain.

My whole brain was soaked with blood so it was dead. Recovery was not expected. Death was.

Wait! I now talk and wrote this whole thing. Something must have happened.

"Neurogenesis may have happened. This is where a new brain scan would be handy. Then you could see what part of the brain is functioning. Remember I was in a coma and on a ventilator. Only my heart was beating. That indicates only part of my brain stem worked. (The brain stem also does breathing, and I could not do that.) So, I only had [part] brain stem as functional brain."

The entire post discusses what may have happened.

Take the word "neurogenesis" and break it down. "Neuro" would be the brain. "Genesis" is to generate or the beginning. Basically, my brain regenerated.

I used to think "dead brain" and left it at that. Then Dr. Morse made the following statement in a blog, "Think of all those miles and miles of myelin sheath Ms. Ronson had to laboriously re-knit to heal and reconnect her severely damaged brain." That's tissue. I don't know if what is there is dead or alive. 

What this means now is that it needs to be studied so doctors can do it again. Is there brain tissue in my head and is it alive? If doctors learn how to make a person react appropriately to their environment again, then the brain can be managed and maybe helped to fix itself. (It will be a management process to heal. It won't be instant, but take years. Also, developmental skills need to be present prior to brain injury, even if they are lost due to the injury.)

I slowly get better and it has been years.