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November 10, 2005

Psychological Disorders

Filed under: — Admin @ 8:01 pm

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
ALS, or “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is characterized by progressive deterioration of the motor cells in the brain and spinal cord. These cells control the muscles that enable a person to move around, speak, breathe and swallow. With no cells to activate them, muscles gradually weaken and waste. The disease is relatively rare: About 5,000 new cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. It almost always strikes after the age of 40, and afflicts more men than women.

Aphasia is the loss of speech and language abilities caused by damage to the brain. Some individuals with this disorder may have no speech, while others may have only mild difficulties recalling names or words. Others may have problems making a sentence. The ability to read, write, understand directions and deal with numbers may also be impaired. In some instances of aphasia, the problem eventually resolves itself; in other cases, the condition is irreversible.

Autism is a disorder of brain function that appears early in life, generally before the age of three. Children with autism have problems with social interaction, communication, imagination and behavior. Autistic traits persist into adulthood, but vary in severity. Some adults with autism function well, earning college degrees and living independently. Others never develop the skills of daily living, and may be incorrectly diagnosed with a variety of psychiatric illnesses. The cause is unknown.

Cerebral Palsy (CP)
Cerebral Palsy is an umbrella term used to describe a group of chronic disorders impairing control of movement that appear in the first few years of life and generally do not worsen over time. The term cerebral refers to the brain’s two halves, or hemispheres, and palsy describes any disorder that impairs control of body movement. Faulty development or damage to motor areas in the brain disrupts the brain’s ability to adequately control movement and posture.

Dysarthria interferes with normal control of the speech mechanism. Speech may be slurred or otherwise difficult to understand due to lack of ability to produce speech sounds correctly, maintain good breath control, and coordinate the movements of the lips, tongue, palate, and larynx. Diseases such as Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis, strokes and accidents can cause dysarthria.

A laryngectomy is a surgical procedure involving the removal of the voice box and other surrounding structures as a treatment for cancer of the larynx. Whether the procedure involves a partial or complete laryngectomy is dependent upon the precise location and involvement of the tumor. Surgery or surgery combined with radiation may be recommended for newly diagnosed patients, or for those in which the tumor has not responded to radiation.

Multiple Sclerosis
MS is thought to be an autoimmune disease, where a person’s immune system mistakenly attacks normal tissues in his/her body. In MS, attacks are aimed at the brain and spinal cord, or the central nervous system. Myelin, which insulates these nerves and helps in the transmission of nerve impulses, is destroyed. Without myelin, signals transmitted throughout the central nervous system are disrupted or halted. The brain becomes unable to send and receive messages.

Parkinson’s disease belongs to a group of conditions called motor system disorders. It affects various parts of the body, causing stiffness in the muscles, slowness, difficulty when starting movements and tremor. As these symptoms become more pronounced, patients may have difficulty walking, talking, or completing other simple tasks. The disease is both chronic, meaning it persists over a long period of time, and progressive, meaning its symptoms grow worse over time.

Strokes are classified as a group of brain disorders involving a loss of functions (neurologic deficits) that occur when the blood supply to any part of the brain is interrupted. Even a brief interruption to the circulation can cause decreases in brain function. The specific neurologic deficits may vary depending on the location, extent of the damage, and cause of the disorder. A stroke affects about 4 out of 1,000 people.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Motor vehicle crashes, falls, violent crimes and child abuse are major causes of sudden Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). TBI is often a devastating condition characterized by changes that occur when a particular area of the brain is struck, penetrated or pierced. The site of injury may determine what kinds of physical, mental or behavioral changes are likely to occur as a result of damage. Possible physical ramifications include loss of speech, mobility and motor control.

*Definitions are from the WebMD Medical Library

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