Neurodegenerative disorders are those that primarily affect the brain’s neurons, the nervous system’s building blocks. Neurons cannot reproduce or replace themselves – the neurons you have at birth are the ones you have for life.
Neurodegenerative disorders are debilitating and incurable conditions that cause the progressive deterioration and/or death of the neurons within the brain’s nerve cells. Chief among the resulting problems are issues with movement and/or mental functioning. Over time, these disorders can alter personality and cause confusion. They also can result in the destruction of brain tissue. Because of the body’s inability to regenerate or replace neurons, neurodegenerative disorders have no cure.
Included in the broad classification of neurodegenerative disorders are Alzheimer’s disease and dementias, Parkinson’s disease and related disorders, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), and Huntington’s disease.
What are the symptoms of neurodegenerative disorders?
The most common symptoms of neurodegenerative disorders are many: mood changes, confusion, impatience, loss of inhibition, agitation and anxiety, apathy, forgetfulness, memory loss, decreased attention and focus, impaired problem-solving and planning skills, inability to complete everyday tasks, spatial skill impairment, problems with word usage in speaking and/or writing, misplacing items and being unable to retrace steps, social withdrawal, and disorganization.
Granted, this is a broad range of symptoms which rarely occur in isolation. Additionally, many mimic the symptoms of other health-related problems. It is imperative that a comprehensive assessment of a person’s physical, mental, and emotional health be done to differentiate the diagnosis so that the appropriate intervention and treatment plan be developed.
How do neurodegenerative disorders affect daily life?
Neurodegenerative disorders are insidious. They may start out with a minor symptom or two that can be attributed to aging, surgery/illness and recovery, or emotional turmoil. However, because these disorders are degenerative, rarely do these symptoms regress or reverse themselves once an attributing condition improves.
Initially, a neurodegenerative disorder may cause issues with coordination or remembering things. But as the neurons continue to deteriorate, symptoms progressively worsen. Individuals may lose the ability to walk, think clearly, and/or take care of themselves. They may become combatant or lethargic.
How can Dr. Schneider and the Hope Brain & Body Recovery Center help?
Despite that fact that neurodegenerative disorders are progressive and incurable, much has been learned about slowing the process of these disorders and significantly improving the quality of life for patients and their families, who often serve as caregivers.
Dr. Schneider will review all medical testing and results, cognitive and coordination assessments, nutritional and metabolic information, behavioral observations, and other data collected to date. Additional testing and assessments may be done to determine the exact rate and level of deterioration.
From this information, Dr. Schneider will formulate a treatment plan of brain health strategies designed to improve neuroplastic responses in several regions of the brain, support the brain and its neurons to function more efficiently, and optimize the quality of life. These strategies might include changes in diet and exercise, the use of cognitive exercises, and the addition of dietary supplements.
The goals are to slow the disorder’s progression, strengthen the brain’s functioning relay and response channels, help the brain find alternate routes for ineffective or missing channels, and provide the patient the best quality of life possible.
Basic information about more prevalent neurodegenerative disorders
Dementia: Dementia is a condition of confusion and memory loss. It can slow mental skills needed for normal daily life. Alzheimer’s is the most common form.
Alzheimer’s disease: Alzheimer’s disease accounts for as much as 70 percent of all dementia cases. Its most common early symptom is the inability to remember recent events – short-term memory. As the disease progresses, symptoms may include language issues, disorientation, mood swings, waning motivation, lack of self-care, and personality or behavioral changes.
Parkinson’s Disease: Parkinson’s disease initially affects the way a person moves; being able to move when you want to move and to be still when you want to be still. This results in Parkinson’s characteristic tremors, stiffness, and slowness of movement and thought. As it progresses, the ability to think and interact with others becomes compromised, and emotional issues and dementia may emerge.