How devastating it must be to be diagnosed with a neurological disorder? In an instant the life that we once knew dramatically changes. Without warning our central nervous system begins to fail us, our brains betray us, and our lives begin to deteriorate. Sometimes slowly, at times quickly, but always with devastating consequences, neurological disorders take captive our mental faculties and our physical bodies. They steal our memories, rob us of our identities, and distort our perceptions. Neurological disorders impair our abilities, weaken our extremities, deform our physiques, and cause physical and psychological pain. Medications hardly if ever undue the underlying cause of the disorder destroying our lives. At best, they may ameliorate some of the symptoms. With no way of changing our circumstances we are left powerless, at times hopeless, and desperately searching for some semblance of control.
This blog is a series of thoughts about neurology and neuroplasticity, the ways in which the brain reacts and adapts to the things which influence its evolution, how that impacts our thinking, its applicability to different neurological disorders, and how the power to shape its destiny lies in the thoughts we contemplate and the actions we take.
Neuroplasticity and Stroke
There is no phenomenon that brings change to the structure and function of the brain faster than a stroke. A stroke is the sudden cessation of blood flow to a specific region of the brain. It manifests as an abrupt, unexpected loss of our ability to move, communicate, and/or interact with the world around us. In a split second the reality of our lives change with a stroke. We experience the world drastically different, the view of our own life changes, and our body betrays us. In a sudden disabling attack, we are no longer who we thought we were. A stroke negatively influences our minds, our brains, and our bodies all at once. It does so by causing neurons to die and the networks that they’ve created to perish, resulting in irreversible neurologic damage. If strokes destroy and damage neuronal networks than we can use neuroplasticity to birth new neurons, rebuild the connections lost, and reorganize surviving networks and synapses. Our brains are capable of a tremendous amount of healing, particularly through conscious effort. The brain is dynamic, wiring, and rewiring at every opportunity.