People often ask me, “How do I know if my brain is degenerating?” At Team Health Care Clinic, we take the health of the brain as seriously, if not more, than any other aspect of the body and of one’s health. In many areas of our body, pain will help indicate when something is wrong. Pain is not the primary means of how the brain exhibits dysfunction and thus it shows up in other ways. Common signs of brain degeneration include depression or fatigue as a result of brain-related activity, such as reading or driving. Even when these signs aren’t apparent, degeneration may still be occurring.
Having a better understanding of what each part of the brain does leads to a better understanding of what degeneration of that area may look like.
Where does brain degeneration occur?
Let’s review the two most common regions that we see degeneration in the brain occurring in our practice.
The frontal lobe sits behind the forehead and is the largest lobe of the brain. This area of the brain is what separates humans from other animals, as it gives us personality. It allows us to suppress impulses such as violent tendencies and socially unacceptable behavior, and provides emotional drive, planning, and motivation. It is also the area that is developmentally delayed in those with ADD/ADHD. When this area becomes impaired due to degenerative changes, depression, laziness, inability to control impulses, poor judgment and social behavior, and mental sluggishness may arise.
The cerebellum is the “little brain” that sits off of the back end of the brain under the base of the skull. When it comes to the function of the cerebellum it’s easiest to think of a DUI test that a police officer may perform, as alcohol suppresses the cerebellum. The test entails looking at balance, coordination, and spatial awareness. The cerebellum receives information from eyes, muscles, and the inner ears to calibrate proper movements, and allowing us to know where we are in space. Do you struggle with frequent episodes of dizziness or vertigo? Have poor balance? Easily carsick? Or have subtle shakes at the end of hand or finger movements? These may be early signs that your cerebellum is degenerating.
Identifying early signs of brain degeneration
It is crucial that your medical provider can look for and identify these early signs of an aging brain. In our medical system, most physicians aren’t trained on how to identify and manage early stages of brain degeneration until it has progressed beyond the point of return. For example, Parkinson’s disease often isn’t identified until someone has a resting tremor. In contrast, chronic constipation, loss of smell, or slowness of movement may be an early sign of the disease. By the time symptoms such as a tremor are present, the disease has progressed enough that little can be done functionally to address the severity of the condition and focus changes to prevention of further progression. This is why being aware of the early warning signs of brain degeneration is critical.
Here at Team Health Care Clinic, we utilize in depth neurological exams, Interactive Metronome, BTrackS Balance Plate assessments, lab tests, and at times Neurofeedback as part of our neurological work ups to assess the brain health of our patients. If you or anyone you know may be suffering from the changes mentioned in this blog, don’t wait! Call our office today for a free consultation.