Friday, March 27, 2015

Healing the Brain, Naturally

More recently, evidence has been amassed by researchers showing that the human brain has "a significant, albeit limited" ability to repair itself both physically and functionally, including:
  • Angiogenesis - the creation of new blood vessels.
  • Neurogenesis - the formation of new nerve cells.
  • Oligodendrogenesis - the development of several types of cells including those that make up the myelin sheath, a protective coating on parts of nerves.
  • Axonal sprouting - the process of in which undamaged axons, threadlike parts of nerve cells that carry signals to other cells, grow new nerve endings to relink damaged neurons

All of the tagged processes have been seen in me. Savant Syndrome becomes a huge magnifying glass. Think about it... I should be dead. I got close to death, but progressed to coma. I opened my eyes and was vegetative. There was more progression that combined with the Medicaid Shuffle (the constant moving of Medicaid patients who are medically fragile). I was reclassified as "semi-vegetative" at the final hospital in my shuffle. The term isn't recommended but was used. I must have progressed more in order to not be hospitalized.


I'm not diagnosed as having savant syndrome, though. Whoever does that might have one heck of a time (semantics really). In the meantime I'm doing amazing things...and I'm unconscious.

"Oligodendrogenesis - the development of several types of cells including those that make up the myelin sheath, a protective coating on parts of nerves" is seen in the following:  "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." Isn't "Oligodendrogenesis" everything? Those "miles and miles" would be everything.

I'm not receiving any medication. So don't look there. I'm doing the same therapy exercises I started years ago. I've modified them with time and have made changes. Look there. Also look at the original injury and the original surgery. Later surgical procedures were life prolonging. I'd be dead by now without them. We are looking at the effect of the original surgery now. The cause happened years earlier and needed nurturing and care in order to grow. (The medication I talked about earlier only supports nerve growth. It doesn't grow the nerves.)

Nurturing and care would be on-going medical care, proper nutrition/nutrients and hydration, and exercise. I will need on-going medical care until I'm dead. Just because I'm not in the hospital doesn't mean I don't get proper care. I'm doing alright at home. I should have gotten follow-up neurological care following the brain surgery. I've had faith and gambled on that one. 

Proper nutrition isn't hard for me. I have a feeding tube and rely on commercially prepared formula. I will say, though, if the person has eyes open and a history of reflux or heavy antacid use, use a flavored formula. I have hydration in there because formula alone was only enough water to keep me alive. I always had chapped lips where extra water wasn't given. It caused other problems as well.

Finally, I talk about exercise. I set up something on it, . Your local out-patient rehab can help you put something together that is personalized for you. This helps them. They most likely cannot provide on-going therapy (if that is available to you, take it!) However, they would be able to check the exercises you do yearly.

Exercise is a key ingredient. The bleed was stopped. My body was brought to health (and maintained there). Exercise is the third piece needed. "The nerve fibers from the cells were severed, but the cells themselves remained intact." Nerve cells that have not died can form new connections." 
Exercises (therapeutic not aerobic) help form the needed connections.

A healthy body isn't enough. Sure you look fine, but how are you really? You have to be able to do it, also.

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.