Friday, May 13, 2022

Can You Live With Half A Brain

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The Connection Between Neonatal Strokes And Epilepsy

Can You Live With Only Half Of Your Brain?

With a neonatal stroke, scar tissue forms in the brain. Sometimes it short-circuits nerves, causing seizures, with approximately 30% to 40% of children eventually developing epilepsy. Everyone still held out hope that Ozzy would be on the right side of the odds. He received care regularly at the Epilepsy Center at Stanford Childrens Health.

When Ozzy was 4 months old, his parents noticed that he was easily startled and that this startle seemed to come in clusters. He was diagnosed with infantile spasms , a rare seizure disorder that can progress to epilepsy. Under the care of Stanford Childrens Health doctors, Ozzy was able to beat IS and was seizure free between the ages of 1 and 4. Life felt normal for Ozzy and his family. He was a happy, curious, and thriving kid.

It seemed like he bobbed and weaved around epilepsy for a few years there, Stefanie says.

When Ozzy turned 4 years old, Stefanie started seeing odd behaviors. He became defocused, frazzled, and sometimes spontaneously destructive. He had trouble finding words and stringing sentences together. Processing new information and remembering old information became difficult at times. All of this made him frustrated. His teachers started noticing things, too. He seemed to be in his own world and stopped engaging with classmates in preschool. Ozzy was experiencing seizures, but they were not obvious to the untrained eye.

Years After Surgery A Full Life With Half A Brain

Five days before doctors removed half her brain, 8-year-old Christina Santhouse performed “It’s the Hard-Knock Life” from the musical Annie at her elementary school talent show in Levittown.

    Five days before doctors removed half her brain, 8-year-old Christina Santhouse performed “It’s the Hard-Knock Life” from the musical Annie at her elementary school talent show in Levittown.

    Midway through, the third grader suffered yet another seizure – she was having as many as 150 a day – and fell to the floor, but continued scrubbing along with the other orphans. At the end, she popped up to take a bow.

    That’s the kind of child Santhouse was 20 years ago. Popular; extroverted; obsessed with sports, especially soccer. And almost unnaturally upbeat – even after doctors said her seizures were the result of an extremely rare disease, Rasmussen’s encephalitis, which would slowly paralyze, then kill her unless they removed the right side of her brain.

    “Don’t worry; I’ll be fine,” she told her parents as she was wheeled into the operating room at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore on Feb. 13, 1996. “I’ll dream I’m playing soccer” – the sport she’d never play again.

    For mother Lynne and future stepfather Albert Catarro, the little girl’s optimism was contagious – to a point. They worried about what hard knocks might be ahead, especially when the operation dragged on for 14 hours, longer than expected.

    Still, living with half a brain hasn’t been easy.

    How The Brain Can Rewire Itself After Half Of It Is Removed

    New scans showed how the brains of people who had a hemisphere removed in childhood continue to function.

    By Knvul Sheikh

    Shortly after the birth of her first son, Monika Jones learned that he had a rare neurological condition that made one side of his brain abnormally large. Her son, Henry, endured hundreds of seizures a day. Despite receiving high doses of medication, his little body seemed like a rag doll as one episode blended into another. He required several surgeries, starting when he was 3 1/2 months old, eventually leading to a complete anatomical hemispherectomy, or the removal of half of his brain, when he turned 3.

    The procedure was first developed in the 1920s to treat malignant brain tumors. But its success in children who have brain malformations, intractable seizures or diseases where damage is confined to half the brain, has astonished even seasoned scientists. After the procedure, many of the children are able to walk, talk, read and do everyday tasks. Roughly 20 percent of patients who have the procedure go on to find gainful employment as adults.

    Now, research published Tuesday in the journal Cell Reports suggests that some individuals recover so well from the surgery because of a reorganization in the remaining half of the brain. Scientists identified the variety of networks that pick up the slack for the removed tissue, with some of the brains specialists learning to operate like generalists.

    He really loves McDonalds, she said.

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    What Is A Hemispherectomy

    A hemispherectomy is where half of your childs brain is either totally or partly removed or disconnected from the rest of the brain. It is a rare surgical procedure done for epilepsy not responsive to medications. It is typically done in children and occasionally in adults. In these patients, the whole hemisphere is abnormal and responsible for causing seizures.

    The hemi part of hemispherectomy means half and refers to the cerebral hemisphere half of your brain.

    Are Eyeball Part Of The Brain


    The eye is the only part of the brain that can be seen directly this happens when the optician uses an ophthalmoscope and shines a bright light into your eye as part of an eye examination. … And if pressure in the brain increases, perhaps due to a brain tumour, we can see this as a swelling of the optic nerve.

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    Why You Can Live A Normal Life With Half A Brain

    A few extreme cases show that people can be missing large chunks of their brains with no significant ill-effect why? Tom Stafford explains what it tells us about the true nature of our grey matter.

    How much of our brain do we actually need? A number of stories have appeared in the news in recent months about people with chunks of their brains missing or damaged. These cases tell a story about the mind that goes deeper than their initial shock factor. It isnt just that we dont understand how the brain works, but that we may be thinking about it in the entirely wrong way.

    Earlier this year, a case was reported of a woman who is missing her cerebellum, a distinct structure found at the back of the brain. By some estimates the human cerebellum contains half the brain cells you have. This isnt just brain damage the whole structure is absent. Yet this woman lives a normal life; she graduated from school, got married and had a kid following an uneventful pregnancy and birth. A pretty standard biography for a 24-year-old.

    The woman wasnt completely unaffected she had suffered from uncertain, clumsy, movements her whole life. But the surprise is how she moves at all, missing a part of the brain that is so fundamental it evolved with the first vertebrates. The sharks that swam when dinosaurs walked the Earth had cerebellums.

    My BBC Future column from before Christmas. The original is here. Thanks to who chipped in on the plural of cerebellum

    The Geography Of Thought

    Each cerebral hemisphere can be divided into sections, or lobes, each of which specializes in different functions. To understand each lobe and its specialty we will take a tour of the cerebral hemispheres, starting with the two;frontal lobes , which lie directly behind the forehead. When you plan a schedule, imagine the future, or use reasoned arguments, these two lobes do much of the work. One of the ways the frontal lobes seem to do these things is by acting as short-term storage sites, allowing one idea to be kept in mind while other ideas are considered. In the rearmost portion of each frontal lobe is a;motor area;, which helps control voluntary movement. A nearby place on the left frontal lobe called;Brocas area; allows thoughts to be transformed into words.

    When you enjoy a good mealthe taste, aroma, and texture of the foodtwo sections behind the frontal lobes called the parietal lobes; are at work. The forward parts of these lobes, just behind the motor areas, are the primary;sensory areas;. These areas receive information about temperature, taste, touch, and movement from the rest of the body. Reading and arithmetic are also functions in the repertoire of each parietal lobe.

    As you look at the words and pictures on this page, two areas at the back of the brain are at work. These lobes, called the;occipital lobes;, process images from the eyes and link that information with images stored in memory. Damage to the occipital lobes can cause blindness.

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    What Complications Are Possible Following A Hemispherectomy

    Most children have excellent long-term results following a hemispherectomy. Occasionally, however, some complications may occur:

    • Early complications, which occur either while the operation is happening or immediately after it, include blood loss, electrolyte changes, hypothermia and aseptic meningitis.
    • Fluid buildup in brain, also called hydrocephalus – in less than 5% with disconnective / functional hemispherectomy, and slightly higher risk with anatomic hemispherectomy.

    The Brain Finds A Way To Adapt Even When We Remove Half

    Can you live with only half a brain?

    A fascinating new study involving people who underwent hemispherectomy surgery to remove one of the brains hemispheres in childhood shows that these individuals now display almost no immediately obvious effects of this procedure.

    Brains have two halves, known as hemispheres. Each has various regions that regulate different aspects of our physical and cognitive functioning.

    These halves do not work separately. Instead, they communicate by establishing complex neural networks that allow different parts of the body and mind to synchronize and work in harmony.

    But what happens if you take one hemisphere away? That is the situation faced by people who undergo hemispherectomy usually in childhood as a means of treating severe seizures.

    It would be easy to assume that removing half of someones brain would cause them to function in a visibly different way.

    Yet, according to a recent case study featured in Cell Reports, this is not really the case. In fact, the brain learns to compensate for the loss.

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    Patients Missing One Brain Hemisphere Show Surprisingly Intact Neural Connections

    In the most extreme cases of epilepsy, when a patient’s seizures are relentless and do not respond to other treatments, doctors may perform a surgery called a hemispherectomy to remove half of the patient’s brain. Remarkably, many of these patients are cured of their seizures and possess basic motor, language, and cognitive skills.

    In a new study in the journal Cell Reports, neuroscientists at Caltech describe an investigation of six of these rare patients that offers new insights into how human brains adapt to such extreme changes. The research team performed magnetic resonance imaging scans on the patients, all of whom received the surgeries as children and now have relatively normal cognitive abilities. The patients’ scans were compared to those of healthy individuals.

    The results showed that brain networks in the hemispherectomy patientsnetworks that control walking, talking, and other functionswere remarkably intact.

    “Despite missing an entire brain hemisphere, we found all the same major brain networks that you find in healthy brains with two hemispheres,” says Dorit Kliemann, lead author of the new report and a postdoctoral scholar who works in the laboratory of Ralph Adolphs , the Bren Professor of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Biology, and the director of the Caltech Brain Imaging Center.

    The team also hopes to track child patients before and after hemispherectomies to directly follow how their brains change over time.

    When A Person Dies At Home Who Do You Call

    Get a legal pronouncement of death But if your relative died at home, especially if it was unexpected, you’ll need to get a medical professional to declare her dead. To do this, call 911 soon after she passes and have her transported to an emergency room where she can be declared dead and moved to a funeral home.

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    Miraculous Cases Of People Who Lived Without A Brain

      One of the most mysteries places in our strange universe is our own bodies. Here within every one of us are vast realms of perplexing riddles which medical science have yet to fully understand. Just when we think we have the human body figured out, some new oddity will pop up out of this landscape of puzzles to baffle and confound. One very bizarre phenomenon that seems to defy everything we think we know about our bodies is that of various people who have come into this world without any significant brain, yet who have not only managed to survive, but to thrive, living for years while showing consciousness, awareness, and in some cases even functioning as a normal member of society. Although the brain is one of the most mysterious domains of our bodies there is, these accounts of people living without a brain are mind-boggling, and show us just how little we really know about the mysteries of the human body.

      A normal brain scan should show the brain filling all the head cavity up to the top. The brain itself would show as a white area, with black pockets of fluid running around the outside of the brain and through the brain, which allows the transmission of vitamins and to clean itself of toxins. On Aarons scan the brain stem comes up and stops underneath the cavity which is filled with fluid.

      Brain scan of Aaron Murray showing the brain stem. The rest of the skull is filled with fluid.

      Aaron Murray with his mother, Emma

      Jaxon Buell with his mother, Brittany Buell


      Missing Half The Entire Brain

      Medical No

      In a more severe case, Michelle Mack, a 42-year-old Virginia native, is missing not only half of her cortex but most of the deeper, underlying brain structures on her left side as well. This neural abnormality is believed to be the cause of a prebirth seizure, but was not diagnosed until Mack was 27.

      Mack graduated high school and speaks and communicates with some level of normalitythanks to neuroplasticity. But her brain has not faultlessly rewired itself: Mack still has issues comprehending abstract concepts, is prone to emotional distress, and her lowered visualspatial processing ability means that she also is easily lost in unfamiliar surroundings. Yet, living with her parents, she nevertheless manages a productive and fulfilling life.

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      C1 The Girl With Half A Brain

      Now time to meet our girl who is known by the codename C1 and is, I suspect, American, but could be British. Its hard to tell because naturally her privacy is extremely important and the New Scientist magazine cites studies on her from Chicago and also from Oxford University.;

      Anyway, lets get into it. Her private life is her private life, but we do know some things about her condition and development. When C1 was a baby she showed an odd developmental abnormality. At around 7 months most babies stop clenching their thumbs in their fists and open up their hands. C1 half did this. She unfurled her left hand, but the right remained in a fist.

      After 10 months, her parents had her brain scanned. The result shocked them. Where her left hemisphere the whole left-hand side of her brain cortex, should have been, they saw a sack of liquid. As you can guess from the title, half her brain was missing. For whatever reason, it just did not develop in the womb and never will.

      What Can You Do With Half A Brain

      Dr. Gary Mathern at TEDxConejoDr. Mathern’s research interests involve laboratory studies trying to understand the basic mechanisms of seizure generation in the patients he operates on as a way to develop new and better treatments. Among these research interests are studies to understand neuroplasticity after cerebral hemispherectomy the topic of his talk.

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      Some Key Neurotransmitters At Work

      Neurotransmitters are chemicals that brain cells use to talk to each other. Some neurotransmitters make cells more active while others block or dampen a cell’s activity .

      Acetylcholine is an;excitatory neurotransmitter;because it generally makes cells more excitable. It governs muscle contractions and causes glands to secrete hormones. Alzheimers disease, which initially affects memory formation, is associated with a shortage of acetylcholine.

      Glutamate is a major excitatory neurotransmitter. Too much glutamate can kill or damage neurons and has been linked to disorders including Parkinson’s disease, stroke, seizures, and increased sensitivity to pain.

      GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that helps control muscle activity and is an important part of the visual system. Drugs that increase GABA levels in the brain are used to treat epileptic seizures and tremors in patients with Huntingtons disease.

      Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that constricts blood vessels and brings on sleep. It is also involved in temperature regulation. Low levels of serotonin may cause sleep problems and depression, while too much serotonin can lead to seizures.

      Dopamine is an inhibitory neurotransmitter involved in mood and the control of complex movements. The loss of dopamine activity in some portions of the brain leads to the muscular rigidity of Parkinsons disease. Many medications used to treat behavioral disorders work by modifying the action of dopamine in the brain.

      How Much Of The Brain Can A Person Do Without

      Can we live normally with half a brain?

      This month a 24-year-old woman in China’s Shandong Province walked into a hospital complaining of nausea and dizziness, and walked out having learned that she was missing a huge portion of her brain. A CAT scan showed that her entire cerebellum, a vital chunk of brain in charge of motor control, never developed. The void where it should have been was nothing but a swamp of cerebrospinal fluid.

      How could a person live a full life not knowing so much of her brain was gone? Her doctors believe that her cortex took over most of the load as her incomplete brain developed, thanks to an amazing feature of the brain called neuroplasticitythe brain’s ability to fundamentally rewire itself to cope with new demands. The brain can’t cope with everything, and the more of it is lost, the less it can reassign functions to the remaining pieces. But neuroplasticity is nonetheless quite remarkable.

      The woman from China’s is far from the only such bizarre and fascinating story. A short trip through the annals of modern medicine reveals even more surprising cases of missing brain structures.

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