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Chapter Listing

Diagnosing Dementia - DEMO

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Various disorders and diseases can result in cerebral atrophy, including multiple sclerosis, which leads to inflammation, lesions in the cerebral tissue, and myelin damage.  Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, a traumatic brain injury or stroke, or an infectious disease such as AIDs or encephalitis can also lead to loss of cerebral tissue.  When there is inflammation in the brain or an infectious agent, the neurons infiltrate the brain and their axons can be destroyed, which leads to cerebral atrophy.

The formation in the brain known as the hippocampus is known to change and become terribly atrophied in individuals who have Alzheimer’s disease, according to the National Institutes of Health.  The atrophy is sometimes asymmetrical or uneven and may occur before the symptoms of Alzheimer’s are present.  In one study it was determined that the test subjects lost up to 8% of their hippocampal volume in a two-year period during which time symptoms first became apparent.

Atrophy of the brain leads to a variety of symptoms.  The type of symptoms experienced depends on which part of the brain is atrophied.  Loss of motor control, seizures, dementia, inability to comprehend spoken instructions or what one has read, and problems with speech may occur.  As atrophy advances, the individual is increasingly unable to recall events and may no longer be capable of engaging in daily activities.

Treatment for cerebral tissue loss includes treating the injury or infection that led to the atrophy, as well as cognitive, behavioral, and speech therapy.  Speech therapy may help improve impaired speech and comprehension referred to as aphasia.  Physical therapy may prevent the loss of muscle control.

Q: [Aphasia] - Absence or impairment of ability to communicate
Q: [Cognitive] - Behaviors that place primary emphasis on mental or intellectual processes
Q: [Infection] - Invasion of the body by living microorganisms
Q: [Volume] - Quantity or amount of occupied space
Q: [Inflammation] - A response of body tissues to injury or irritation characterized by pain, swelling, redness and heat.
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