Contact

350 Central Park West
New York, New York 10025


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Burke Rehabilitation Hospital
785 Mamaroneck Ave Bldg # 8
Outpatient Physician’s Suite, 2nd Floor
White Plains, NY 10605

Tel: (914) 597-2332

 

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Phone: (917) 658-1053
Fax: (914) 560-2174
heidi@spitz.com

 

3 thoughts on “Contact

  1. Hello Heidi,
    After so many years I am so excited to be seeing your Mom sometime during the next couple of weeks in the city. It seems a lifetime ago when you and Leora went to Ramaz and if I was lucky enough to still be there at the apartment when you came home from school I would get to see you. I remember how you each had a skinny bedroom made out of a larger one. I do have some “serious ” things to discuss with you re: brain injury. My nephew (my late sister’s youngest, lost his sight due to a brain tumor) 2 yrs ago. He is doing reasonably well, and just published a book about Karen’s love of gardening. But some things still worry me. He had two brain surgeries before the nature of the tumor was discovered at Sloan. They removed it, but found it had destroyed his optic nerves. Would love to talk to you about it among other things. Hope you and family are well. Now I shall see your Mom whom I remember in a photo with your uncle Roger, and even a lovely shot of your Grandparents when they all sailed here on a ship from S. Africa in the 50’s. We were all such kids ourselves then.

  2. This document from Rosen Publishing’s Teen Health & Wellness: Real Life, Real Answers was sent to you by Me. I thought you might find a place for this information to help your readers fully understand the value and importance of the brain as well as the intricacy of all the components that rely on it…

    FYI for your information

    The Brain and Its Parts

    What weighs about three pounds, is the size of a large grapefruit, and is the most complex organ in the human body? The answer is in your head: the brain. The human brain is an incredibly important piece of anatomical machinery. Your body would be completely useless without it. You couldn’t read this book. Writing would be impossible. You’d have no memory, no thoughts, no emotions, and no way to breathe. You couldn’t see, feel, sleep, eat, walk, talk, or log on to the Internet. You need your brain for absolutely everything you do.

    Since it is such a vital organ, the brain is guarded from harm by at least five protective layers. The first and outermost layer, and the one mentioned previously, is the skull. The skull surrounds the brain like a permanent and perfectly fitted bicycle helmet. It’s hard, sturdy, and a great first defense against everyday bangs and bumps. The skull is the brain’s brick wall—its main coat of armor, so to speak.

    The brain’s next three layers of protection are known collectively as meninges. The meninges are separate sheets of body tissue that stack up one on top of the other. The outer strip, a tough membrane attached to the inside of the skull, is known as the dura mater. Beneath that is the middle meningeal layer, called the arachnoid. Below the arachnoid—and separated from it by a narrow gap known as the subarachnoid space—is the third meningeal layer, the pia mater, which clings to the brain and all its numerous pits (sulci) and folds (gyri) like plastic wrap on a chunk of raw hamburger.

    Last but certainly not least, among the brain’s physical protectors, is a clear, waterlike substance known as cerebrospinal fluid. It is produced by the brain’s vascular system and circulates within the subarachnoid space. It acts like a liquid cushion between the brain and the skull.

    The Three Parts of the Brain

    Beneath the meningeal layers is the real meat of the brain. There are three main parts: the cerebrum, the cerebellum, and the brain stem.

    The Cerebrum

    The cerebrum is the brain’s largest component, accounting for most of its weight and nearly three-fourths of its volume. It forms the top of the brain and is the control center for thoughts, feelings, sensations, and voluntary actions. The hills and valleys of the cerebrum are covered by a layer of tissue called the cerebral cortex, and the cerebrum is physically divided into two halves by a deep, canyonlike groove called the longitudinal fissure. The left side of the split is known as the left cerebral hemisphere. The right half is called the right cerebral hemisphere.

    Each hemisphere consists of four rounded cerebral lobes, or regions. The lobes are named after the particular skull bones that protect them and, like the cerebral hemispheres, are separated by fissures. The frontal lobes are located in the front, or ventral, portion of each hemisphere. Parietal lobes are medial—that is, they’re near the middle. Occipital lobes are dorsal, or in the back. Temporal lobes are lateral and inferior, or along the bottom sides. The central sulcus (a deep fissure) divides the frontal and parietal lobes, while the lateral sulcus separates the temporal lobe from the parietal and frontal lobes.

    In order for the two hemispheres to function efficiently with one another, they must be connected, and that job goes to the corpus callosum. The corpus callosum is an arching network of fibers that bridges the hemispheres from its location just above the brain stem. By linking the hemispheres together, it allows them to communicate and cooperate with each other. So when information is received by or sent from one hemisphere, the other hemisphere knows all about it.

    The Cerebellum

    A second major part of the brain, the cerebellum, lies inferior and dorsal to the cerebrum’s occipital lobe. “Cerebellum” comes from the Latin word for “little brain,” and that’s exactly what it is—a miniature version of the cerebrum, which most people think of as “the brain.” The cerebellum is responsible for unconscious movements—such as breathing, blinking, and coordination. By interpreting information gathered from the eyes and the ears, it allows us to keep our balance and control our movements. Like the cerebrum, the cerebellum is divided into left and right hemispheres and has an irregularly shaped surface.

    The Brain Stem

    The last of the three main brain divisions is the brain stem, which connects the cerebrum to the spinal cord. About three inches long, the width of a carrot, and shaped like a funnel, it sticks out from the inferior end of the cerebrum much like the stalk of a plant might protrude from a flower. The brain stem has four major parts: the medulla oblongata, the pons, the midbrain, and the diencephalon.

    The medulla oblongata is at the most inferior end of the brain stem and is continuous with the spinal cord. It houses nerve centers that control the body’s breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, swallowing, and other important functions. Above the medulla oblongata is the pons. The bulbous, rounded pons has millions of microscopic, threadlike nerve fibers. The smallest part of the brain stem is the midbrain. The midbrain rests just above the pons and helps control eye movement and hearing. Finally, at the top of the brain stem, sandwiched between the midbrain and the cerebrum, is the diencephalon. The various parts of the diencephalon, like the thalamus, hypothalamus, and epithalamus, regulate internal body conditions like temperature and hunger. They also receive sensory nerve impulses, or sensations, from the rest of the body and relay them to the cerebrum.

    The Ventricular System

    Ventricles are cavities or chambers inside the brain that produce and circulate cerebrospinal fluid. The brain has four ventricles. Two of the ventricles, one in each of the cerebral hemispheres, are referred to as lateral ventricles. The other two are known as the third and fourth ventricles. The third ventricle is located in the diencephalon. The fourth ventricle is below the third ventricle.

    Most cerebrospinal fluid is produced in the two lateral ventricles by a structure called the choroid plexus. From there, it flows into the third ventricle, where it is joined by more cerebrospinal fluid. It then continues on to the fourth ventricle through a narrow tunnel called the cerebral aqueduct. Once in the fourth ventricle, it combines with the cerebrospinal fluid produced there. Finally, most of the cerebrospinal fluid leaves the ventricular system through holes in the fourth ventricle and enters the subarachnoid space—the space between the arachnoid and the pia mater.

    From the subarachnoid space the cerebrospinal fluid spreads out to bathe the entire surface of the brain and the spinal cord. Cerebrospinal fluid is constantly produced by the ventricles and, at the same time, drained back into the bloodstream through venous sinuses. In a healthy human body, cerebrospinal fluid is constantly circulating at all times.

    The Vascular System of the Brain

    The brain, more than any other organ in the human body, needs blood—and the oxygen and nutrients that are in it—to survive. Without oxygen, brain cells would starve and die in just a few minutes. To ensure that the brain doesn’t run out of oxygen, the heart does everything and anything to supply it with sufficient amounts of blood. In fact, if necessary, the heart will deliver blood to the brain at the expense of other organs in the body.

    Arteries and veins are part of the body’s vascular system. Arteries carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the brain, while veins circulate oxygen-poor blood back to the heart. The heart then pumps the venous blood out to the lungs—where the exchange of oxygen-poor blood for highly oxygenated blood occurs—before redirecting it to all other body parts, including the brain.

    The Spinal Cord

    Like all good leaders, the brain works best as part of a team. Accordingly, the brain’s partner is the spinal cord. The spinal cord is a long, narrow, white cable of nerves that acts like the brain’s internal mail carrier. It delivers messages and information back and forth between the brain and the rest of the body.

    The superior, or top, end of the spinal cord meets the base of the brain at the brain stem. The inferior end is located about two-thirds of the way down the spinal column.

    The Spinal Column

    The spinal column is what most of us know as the backbone. The bony spinal column surrounds the spinal cord like a sheath and helps protect it from injury. To understand the spinal cord, it helps to know a little about the spinal column. The spinal column, which anatomists also refer to as the vertebral column, is the body’s main means of support. The superior end of the spinal column supports the skull, while the bottom links up with the pelvis (the hips). For the most part it is flexible, allowing a person to bend over, for example, but it’s also quite strong.

    The Vertebrae

    The spinal column is made up of thirty-three separate bones called vertebrae. Anatomists divide these bones into five distinct spinal groups: the cervical spine, the thoracic spine, the lumbar spine, the sacral spine, and the coccyx. The cervical spine is what most people know as the neck. It consists of the first seven vertebrae, which, for identification purposes, are often numbered C1 through C7. C1 is at the very superior end of the spinal column and supports the skull.

    Directly below the cervical spine is the thoracic spine. The thoracic spine is essentially the upper back and includes twelve thoracic vertebrae, numbered T1 through T12. The thoracic region coincides with the ribs. Below the thoracic spine are the five vertebrae of the lumbar spine (L1 through L5), or lower back. The muscles near the lumbar spine are often injured by people who lift heavy objects. In adult humans, the spinal cord’s inferior end, called the conus medullaris, is between L1 and L2. Next comes the sacral spine, which consists of five vertebrae (S1 through S5) fused together to form one platelike bone known as the sacrum. The sacrum can be felt as the rigid bone on the back of your pelvis.

    The last three to five vertebrae (the number varies from person to person) of the spinal column are also fused together into one curvy bone. This bone is called the coccyx, or tailbone.

    Each vertebra is separated from those above and below it by fluid-filled cushions of sturdy elastic cartilage called intervertebral discs. The discs serve as built-in shock absorbers for the spine. Their elasticity also permits the spine to move. Without them, our backs would be stiff and unmovable, like a metal pole. Spinal disc injuries from heavy lifting or over-twisting of the back are very common.

    The Spinal Cord

    The average length of the spinal cord in an adult man is seventeen inches. In adult women it tends to be a little bit shorter—about sixteen and a half inches. It’s anywhere from six to twelve millimeters wide (about the width of your pinkie finger), depending on where you measure it, but in general, the farther down the spinal column it goes, the narrower it gets.

    The spinal cord serves as the central pipeline for thirty-one pairs of spinal nerves (eight cervical, twelve thoracic, five lumbar, five sacral, and one coccygeal). The spinal nerves act as conductors for information traveling to and from the spinal cord to the rest of the body. Protruding from the spinal cord are spinal roots. The spinal roots attach to spinal nerves. The spinal nerves then split into ventral and dorsal (front and back) rami. Finally, the rami, which contain threadlike nervous fibers, branch out to the rest of the body. To simplify, imagine the spinal nerves as two rows of thirty-one trees planted along a strip of ground. The strip of ground is the spinal cord, the tree trunks are the spinal nerves, and the tree branches are the rami. The rami branches reach far and wide to every corner of the human body, including the legs, arms, hands, and feet.

    With the exception of the very first spinal nerve, C-1, spinal nerves exit the spinal column between vertebrae. For example, spinal nerve C-2 exits the spinal cord between vertebrae C1 and C2, and spinal nerve C-8 exits between vertebrae C7 and T1. C-1, the oddball, exits between the C1 vertebra, which is also known as the atlas (the word “atlas” comes from the hero of Greek mythology who held the world on his shoulders), and the occipital bone of the skull, which rests on top of the atlas. The thoracic, lumbar, and sacral nerves of the spinal cord exit the spinal column below the vertebrae of the same number. So spinal nerve L-1, for example, exits between the L1 and L2 vertebrae. And spinal nerve S-1 exits between the S1 and S2 vertebrae.

    The spinal cord is much shorter than the spinal column, so spinal nerves near the inferior end of the cord, especially the lumbar and sacral nerves, must travel down the column for some distance before they can exit between vertebrae. Picture spinal nerve S-2, for instance. It enters the spinal column at about the same level as the L1 vertebrae but exits between the S2 and S3 vertebrae. So it has to travel down the column just to get out. As a result, there is a tail-like collection of nerves near the inferior end of the spinal column that anatomists call the cauda equina, which is Latin for “horse’s tail.”

    Protection of the Spinal Cord

    Like the brain, the spinal cord is protected by three layers of meninges—the dura mater, the arachnoid, and the pia mater—and circulating cerebrospinal fluid. The meninges travel most of the length of the spinal column, continuing far past the inferior end of the spinal cord in the lumbar area to form a baglike meningeal sac in the sacral area. Doctors often “tap” this sac to collect and test samples of the cerebrospinal fluid inside it for certain diseases.

    Another major guard against spinal cord injury is, not surprisingly, the vertebrae of the spinal column. Vertebrae come in all different sizes, but their basic structure is the same. The main part of the bone is called the vertebral body. It makes the spinal column strong. Attached to the vertebral body is the vertebral arch, which surrounds and protects the spinal cord like a personal bodyguard. Protruding from the vertebral arch are various finlike processes. The processes do things like attach to back muscles, restrict potentially dangerous movements, and prevent vertebral discs from slipping.

    The Brain and Emotions

    While scientists certainly know a lot about the brain and the spinal cord and the functions of each, the role they play in our experience of emotions—feelings of love, happiness, anger, fear, sadness, and excitement—can get a little confusing. Until recently, many researchers considered emotions to be so different from person to person that they thought scientific studies of the subject would be useless and inaccurate. How could an emotion like love, for instance, be an identical experience from one person to the next? As a result, relatively little serious research was ever conducted.

    Today, however, attitudes about emotions have changed. High-tech brain-scanning tools are now being used to figure out exactly what parts of the brain play the biggest role in the emotional realm. By studying the unique pathways that different emotions follow through the brain, scientists have discovered that no one part of the brain is entirely responsible for how we experience those emotions. Emotions are processed by almost every area of the brain. Our bodies respond to life’s emotional experiences in many different ways, both physically and mentally, and our personal responses to those experiences are a result of everything coming together in the brain.

    Interestingly, using these scanning techniques, scientists now know why emotions can affect a person’s ability to think. When we experience extreme emotions, like an intense feeling of love for someone close to us, the flurry of neural activity that results affects the brain like a severe internal electrical storm. The interference prevents the brain from interpreting new information—in other words, from thinking.

    The Limbic System

    While many areas of the brain play a role in our emotions, the limbic system is definitely the most important. In fact, the limbic system is so important in producing emotions that it’s often referred to as the “emotional brain.”

    Human emotions can result from a specific thought or from a message delivered to the brain from sensory organs (triggered by something you see, smell, taste, touch, or hear). Both situations create nerve impulses that travel to the limbic system. The limbic system is comprised of the fornix, the hippocampus, the cingulate gyrus, the amygdala, the parahippocampal gyrus, and parts of the thalamus and the hypothalamus. There, depending on what the message or thought is, the impulses kick different parts of the limbic system into gear. The system, in turn, produces emotions. Good or bad, it all depends on the information the limbic system receives.

    The Cortical Region

    The limbic system is made up of two main parts: the cortical region and the subcortical region. Within the cortical region is the hippocampus. One of the things the hippocampus influences is the release of a hormone from the body’s adrenal gland that affects moods and behaviors. For example, in times of stress—like when you are worried about a tough test that is coming up—this natural substance, known as corticosteroid hormone, enters your bloodstream.

    The Subcortical Region

    In the subcortical region, three parts in particular play major roles in emotions. One part is the septum, also known as the brain’s pleasure center. This is where the brain recognizes certain sensations as pleasurable.

    The subcortical region’s amygdala, on the other hand, regulates emotions like fear, arousal, and anger. The amygdala is located in the temporal lobe of the brain. One of the main jobs of the amygdala is to create connections between stimuli and their emotional value (whether a particular stimulus is good or bad). This occurs through memories, which almost always include an emotional aspect. If deep in your mind you remember that a certain incident made you sad, for instance, the next time a similar incident occurs, your brain will tell you to be sad again. In scientific experiments, wild animals with damaged amygdalas lose their fear of potentially dangerous predators and humans.

    The last main part of the subcortical region of the limbic system is called the hypothalamus. “Hypothalamus” means “under the thalamus,” and that’s exactly where it’s located—at the base of the diencephalon, inferior to the thalamus. The hypothalamus does a lot of things, but its primary function is to regulate emotions such as anger, pain, pleasure, sexual feelings, and survival instincts, such as the desire for food and water. An animal with a damaged hypothalamus might even forget to eat and starve to death. The hypothalamus also regulates the pituitary gland, which hangs from the hypothalamus and secretes several hormones that control important bodily functions.

    Thought and Memory

    Much like the anatomy of emotions, thinking and memory involve extremely complex brain activities. Scientists are still deciphering how thoughts work, and they are learning new things every day.

    The Association Cortex

    When we think, we form, create, or process something in our mind. We ponder the solution to a problem, we imagine ourselves in a different place, or we remember something from long ago. One part of the brain known to play a role in thought is the association cortex of the cerebrum, in the frontal lobes. The brain’s association areas give us our intellectual abilities, our ability to reason and to make plans, and our language and communication skills. They also influence how smart we are, what kind of personality we have, and our decision-making abilities. They allow us to imagine what might happen should we do something before we actually do it. They permit us to understand why someone might feel a particular way and what his or her reasons are for doing certain things. Scientists have found that people with damaged frontal lobes lose the ability to think and reason in these ways. They often act in strange, socially unacceptable ways and their emotional reactions to certain situations become very unpredictable.

    The way thought works is complex. Information gathered from the senses enters the association cortex, is interpreted and processed, and is combined—or associated—with information that is already stored in memory. The more abstract and difficult the ideas or subjects the brain tries to process, the more complex that processing becomes. Learning and memory take place primarily in the hippocampus, which is a part of the limbic system. Scientists believe the hippocampus acts like a storage center for memories and helps people to form new memories. Old memories, on the other hand, are stored in various parts of the cerebral cortex.

    The Mammillary Bodies

    Another region of the brain involved in memory are the mammillary bodies of the hypothalamus. The mammillary bodies, which are reflex centers important for the sense of smell, sprout like miniature antennae from the floor of the hypothalamus. Damage to the mammillary bodies, which can be caused by alcohol abuse, can result in severe memory loss—a condition called Korsakov’s syndrome.

    The Nervous System

    The human nervous system—which includes the brain, the spinal cord, and countless nerves and receptors for every limb, organ, and muscle—is the body’s way of talking to itself and controlling its actions. It allows the body to respond to stimuli from the outside world like light, sound, and heat. It also permits the body to react to internal changes, such as decreasing oxygen levels, for example.

    The nervous system communicates with the rest of the body by sending rapid electrical impulses to specific body parts. In order to know what signals to send, the nervous system does three things. First, it relies upon millions of tiny sensory receptors to sense changes occurring both inside and outside the body. Second, it takes the information (called sensory input) gathered by the receptors, figures out what that information means, and decides what to do about it. Finally, with a decision in hand, the nervous system responds to the sensory input with motor output—a reaction. Two examples of motor output are the movement of a muscle and the secretion of sweat or saliva from glands.

    The Central Nervous System

    There are two major parts to the human nervous system: the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. The central nervous system, or CNS, consists of the brain and spinal cord. Together, the brain and spinal cord serve as the nervous system’s command station. When sensory input arrives at the CNS, the brain and spinal cord figure out exactly what this information means. Then, almost instantaneously, they fire orders out to the body parts that need to be mobilized.

    The Peripheral Nervous System

    Everything outside of the central nervous system is known as the peripheral nervous system, or PNS. The PNS includes all the nerves that leave the brain and spinal cord and travel to various parts of the body. The nerves carrying information in the form of nerve impulses to and from the brain are called cranial nerves. Those that carry nerve impulses to and from the spine are called spinal nerves. The peripheral nervous system’s main job is to send information gathered from the body’s sensory receptors as quickly as possible to the central nervous system. Then, once the CNS has interpreted that information, the PNS instantly relays specific orders back out to the body.

    The Sensory Division

    There are two main parts to the peripheral nervous system. The first part is the sensory division. The sensory division is like the body’s incoming post office. It collects impulses from sensory receptors in places like the skin, muscles, and organs, and carries those impulses through nerves to the central nervous system. The second main part of the peripheral nervous system is the motor division. The motor division has the opposite job of the sensory division. It collects the outgoing messages from the central nervous system and delivers them to the appropriate body organs, effectively telling them exactly what to do.

    The Motor Division

    The motor division itself can be divided into two parts: the autonomic nervous system and the somatic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system is responsible for controlling automatic body functions—those activities of the body we have no conscious control over, like the everyday beating of the heart. Our autonomic nervous system often kicks in when we experience stressful things like severe injury, blood loss, or fright. Not surprisingly, the autonomic nervous system is also known as the involuntary nervous system. The somatic nervous system, on the other hand, is responsible for our voluntary movements—those muscle movements we consciously decide we would like to make. Another name for the somatic nervous system is the voluntary nervous system.

    Neurons

    The nervous system is made of two types of cells. Nerve cells, known as neurons, are cells of the nervous system that transmit messages throughout the body. Neurons consist of nerve bodies, which receive stimuli, and threadlike nerve processes—or axons—which carry the stimuli to other neurons and to organs. Neurons respond to stimuli with an electrical discharge called a nerve impulse from a receptor and then conduct that nerve impulse along a chain of neurons all the way to the brain.

    Neurons are very close to one another, but they do not touch. Instead, there’s a space between each one called a synapse through which information is transmitted by means of chemicals known as neurotransmitters. Information is passed through one neuron, transmitted through a synaptic cleft, and then picked up by the next neuron, and then the process is repeated.

    Glial Cells

    The second type of cells, glial cells, are so-called supporting cells. They help the neurons do their job. For instance, some glial cells lay down a substance called myelin (a fat layer) that allows the electrical impulse to travel faster. Other glial cells defend neurons by attacking bacteria and dangerous foreign substances. There are far more glial cells in the nervous system than there are neurons, but that should be expected. One can never have too many helpers, after all.

    White Matter and Gray Matter

    If you were to take a knife and carve a slice out of the brain, the inside surface of the resulting sliver of nervous tissue would be colored both white and gray. The white, centrally located areas are known as white matter. The gray areas near the outside, in the cortex, are called gray matter and consist of neuronal cell bodies. White matter is made of axons, the threadlike fibers that branch away from the neuronal cell bodies and conduct nerve impulses. The axons get their white color from myelin, a fatty material that forms a protective and insulating sheath around them.

    Like the brain, the spinal cord is also composed of gray matter and white matter. Snip it in two and the gray and white sections can be seen by the naked eye. The outer part of the cord is made of white matter, while the central part—shaped like an H—is made of gray matter. Again, spinal cord white matter consists of axons that carry signals to and from the brain, and spinal cord gray matter consists of neuronal cell bodies.

    Reflexes

    A reflex is an automatic nervous system response to a stimulus. Reflexes occur whether we want them to or not. We are born with them; our bodies are ready to use them from the very second we come into the world. Most reflexes are very important for everyday functioning. We use them all the time. For example, we have reflexes for swallowing and blinking. Some reflexes can be controlled. For instance, we have reflexes that make us want to urinate, but we can usually prevent ourselves from urinating until we find a bathroom.

    There are two types of reflexes: autonomic reflexes and somatic reflexes. Autonomic reflexes control things like digestion, urination, sweating, and blood pressure. Somatic reflexes are reflexes that control skeletal muscles. For example, when you touch your tongue to a cup of scorching hot water, a somatic reflex makes you quickly pull away. The path a reflex follows through the nervous system is called a reflex arc.

    Brain Problems

    Brain Tumors

    Brain tumors are the third most common type of cancer to occur in children, after leukemia and lymphoma. Cancers in the brain and other parts of the nervous system are the most common solid tumors found in children.

    Brain tumors are a group of diseases that are caused by abnormal tissue growth within the skull. These abnormal growths can be cancerous (malignant) or non-cancerous (benign). Tumors can strike the brain itself (primary brain tumor) or they can be secondary brain tumors that originate in another part of the body and spread to the brain (metastatic brain tumor).

    Symptoms

    The symptoms of a brain tumor can vary depending on the location and size of the tumor. Here are some common symptoms:

    * headache

    * vomiting

    * nausea

    * personality changes

    * irritability

    * drowsiness

    * depression

    * seizures

    * visual changes

    * slurred speech

    Diagnosis

    If your doctor suspects you may have a brain tumor, he or she may order a computed tomography (CT) scan or a magnetic resonance imaging scan test (MRI). These tests use X-rays or magnetic waves and computers to create pictures of the patient’s body. Often doctors will also perform a biopsy on patients they suspect may have a brain tumor. In a biopsy a surgeon removes a small sample of the tumor so it can be examined under a microscope. This can be done through surgery or by using a needle to withdraw a tumor sample.

    Encephalitis

    Encephalitis is a disease in which a virus causes an inflammation of the brain. It’s a rare disease, inflicting only about 0.5 out of 100,000 people. This disease usually strikes children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients.

    Symptoms

    Symptoms in mild cases of encephalitis usually include:

    * fever

    * headache

    * poor appetite

    * loss of energy

    In more severe cases of encephalitis, a person is more likely to experience high fever and any of a number of symptoms that relate to the central nervous system including:

    * severe headache

    * nausea and vomiting

    * stiff neck

    * confusion

    * disorientation

    * personality changes

    * convulsions (seizures)

    * problems with speech or hearing

    * hallucinations

    * memory loss

    * drowsiness

    * coma

    What Causes It?

    Encephalitis can be caused by many different sources, including viruses spread by insects such as ticks and mosquitoes, and as an effect of a disease that is associated with childhood, such as measles and chickenpox.

    Diagnosis

    If you are experiencing a few of the symptoms of encephalitis, you should go to your doctor, where he or she may administer blood tests, imaging tests, or electroencephalogram (EEG). If it turns out that you do have encephalitis, you may need to stay in a hospital for a while.

    Treatment

    Antiviral drugs can be taken in some cases of encephalitis. Some over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen, can be used in other forms of encephalitis. In the majority of cases of this disease, people make a full recovery. There are only rare cases of brain damage, caused by viral swelling of the brain, or death.

    Myths and Facts About the Brain

    Myth: Humans use only 10 percent of the brain.

    Fact: Every part of the brain serves a function and is used.

    Myth: The left and right sides of the brain control certain types of mental functions.

    Fact: Many abilities, such as motor control, memory, and reasoning skills, are controlled by both hemispheres.

    Myth: A child’s ability to learn can be assessed by how much his or her skull circumference grows.

    Fact: There is no evidence that correlates learning with the size of a person’s skull or even the size of his or her brain.

    Myth: Pastel-colored walls help with learning.

    Fact: Wall colors have nothing to do with learning ability.

    Myth: Memory fades as a person ages.

    Fact: If a person keeps his or her brain active throughout life, the person’s brain should also be fully functional. Various diseases can affect brain cells in older people, damaging brain function.

    Resources

    American Academy of Neurology
    1080 Montreal Avenue
    St. Paul, MN 55116
    (651) 695-1940
    http://www.aan.com
    This is an international professional organization.

    American Medical Association
    515 North State Street
    Chicago, IL 60610
    (312) 464-5000
    http://www.ama-assn.org
    American professional organization.

    Bloorview Kids Rehab

    150 Kilgour Road

    Toronto, ON M4G 1R8

    Canada

    (416) 425-6220

    http://www.bloorview.ca/
    Bloorview Kids Rehab is Canada’s largest children’s rehabilitation teaching hospital fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

    BodyQuest
    library.thinkquest.org/10348/home.html
    Tour the virtual human body and learn all about its different systems.

    Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada

    620 Colborne Street, Suite 301

    London, ON N6B 3R9

    Canada

    (519) 642-7755

    http://www.braintumour.ca
    Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada is a national, not-for-profit organization dedicated to reaching every person in Canada affected by a brain tumour with support, education and information, and to funding brain tumour research.

    CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research

    Institute for Applied Health Sciences

    McMaster University

    1400 Main Street West, Room 408

    Hamilton, ON L8S 1C7

    Canada

    (905) 525-9140 (Ext. 27850)

    http://www.canchild.ca/
    The majority of CanChild’s work is focused on issues that will make a difference for children and youth with physical, developmental and communication needs and their families.

    Childcare Resource and Research Unit (CRRU)

    225 Brunswick Avenue

    Toronto, ON M5S 2M6

    Canada

    416-926-9264

    http://www.childcarecanada.org/
    The website focuses on research and policy resources in the context of a high quality system of early childhood education and child care in Canada.

    Community Head Injury Resource Services (CHIRS)

    62 Finch Avenue West

    Toronto, ON M2N 7G1

    Canada

    (416) 240-8000

    http://www.chirs.com/Public/ContactUs.aspx
    Community Head Injury Resource Services of Toronto (CHIRS) is a registered not-for-profit charitable organization primarily funded by the Central Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) through the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

    HealthWeb
    http://www.healthweb.org
    Links to health information available on the Internet.

    Neuroscience for Kids
    faculty.washington.edu/chudler/neurok.html
    Easy-to-understand information on the brain and spinal cord.

    Society for Neuroscience
    11 Dupont Circle NW, Suite 500
    Washington, DC 20036
    (202) 462-6688
    http://www.sfn.org
    Nonprofit organization of scientists and physicians who study the brain and nervous system.

    For Further Reading

    Birzendine, Louann. The Female Brain. New York, NY: Morgan Road Books, 2006.

    Carlson, Dale. The Teen Brain Book. Madison, CT: Bick Publishing House, 2004.

    Choyce, Lesley. Smoke and Mirrors. Toronto, ON: Dundurn Press, 2004.

    Clark, Arda Darakjian. Brain Tumors. Farmington Hills, MI: Lucent Books, 2006.

    Cleveland, Donald. How do We Know How the Brain Works. New York, NY: Rosen Publishing Group, 2005.

    Doidge, Norman. The Brain that Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science. New York, NY: Viking, 2007.

    Johnson, Harriet McBryde. Accidents of Nature. New York, NY: Henry Holt & Company, 2006.

    Mason, Michael. Head Cases: Stories of Brain Injury and Its Aftermath. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2008.

    Mass, Wendy. A Mango-Shaped Space. New York, NY: Little, Brown & Co., 2003.

    Turkington, Carol. Harris, Joseph. Encyclopedia of the Brain and Brain Disorders. New York, NY: Facts on File Inc, 2008.

    Vaugt, Susan. Trigger. London, United Kingdom: Bloombury USA, 2006.

    Zevin, Gabrielle. Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac. New York, NY: Ferrar Straus & Giroux, 2007.

    Glossary

    autonomic nervous system The part of the nervous system responsible for controlling automatic body functions, like breathing and swallowing.
    axons Strands of nerve tissue that carry information to neurons and organs.
    central nervous system The part of the nervous system that includes the brain and the spinal cord.
    cerebrospinal fluid A clear, waterlike substance that circulates within the subarachnoid space of the brain and spinal cord.
    emotions Feelings such as happiness, sadness, anger, and fear.
    gray matter Gray regions of the brain and spinal cord consisting of neuronal cell bodies.
    limbic system Brain-based system that scientists believe is important for processing emotions.
    membrane A thin layer of body tissue.
    meninges Layers of tissue that protect the brain and the spinal cord.
    motor output The body’s reaction to stimuli.
    Neanderthals Early ancestors of today’s humans. Neanderthals lived in parts of Europe and Asia during the Middle Paleolithic period, which dates to around 30,000 to 300,000 years ago.
    nerve fibers Threadlike strands of nerves that transmit information.
    nerve impulse Electrical discharge from a neuron that is conducted to the brain.
    nervous system Body system that includes the brain, spinal cord, nerves, and receptors, and that controls both voluntary and involuntary actions.
    peripheral nervous system Part of the nervous system outside of the brain and spinal cord.
    receptor Cell or group of cells that senses stimuli from inside or outside the body.
    reflex Automatic nervous system response to a stimulus.
    sensory input Information gathered by body receptors and transmitted to the central nervous system.
    somatic nervous system The body system responsible for voluntary movements.
    synapse The space between two neurons through which information is transmitted.
    tissue A collection of cells that forms the structural material of the body.
    vascular system A system in the body consisting of various channels that circulate blood.
    ventricles Chambers inside the brain that produce and circulate cerebrospinal fluid.
    vertebral column Spinal column, consisting of thirty-three vertebrae and intervertebral discs.
    white matter White regions of the brain and spinal cord consisting of axons.

    Article Citation:
    Lim, Jun. “Brain and Spinal Cord.” Teen Health and Wellness: Real Life,
    Real Answers. 2009. Rosen Publishing Group, Inc. 18 Jun. 2009
    .

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