Tuesday, 8 January 2013

A Stroke Of Insight

“In the course of four hours, I watched my brain completely deteriorate in its ability to process all information. On the morning of the hemorrhage, I could not walk, talk, read, write or recall any of my life. I essentially became an infant in a woman’s body.”
Jill Bolte Taylor

Jill Bolte Taylor is a neuroanatomist - a brain scientist who studies the anatomy of the brain. Her training is in the postmortem investigation of the human brain as it relates to schizophrenia and the severe mental illnesses.
Dr. Jill experienced a severe hemorrhage in the left hemisphere of her brain in 1996. On the afternoon of this rare form of stroke (AVM), she could not walk, talk, read, write, or recall any of her life. It took eight years for Dr. Jill to completely recover all of her functions and thinking ability. She is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey (published in 2008 by Viking Penguin). In 2008, Dr. Jill gave a presentation at the TED Conference in Monterey, CA, which has become the second most viewed TED Talk of all time. This now famous 18-minute presentation catapulted her story into the public eye. As a result, she was chosen as one of TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World for 2008. In addition, Dr. Jill was the premiere guest on Oprah's Soul Series web-cast and was interviewed by Oprah and Dr. Oz on The Oprah Winfrey Show in October, 2008.
Dr. Jill is working on the creation of a serious game for health for neurological recovery. She feels passionate about helping others find their way back from neurological trauma. In addition, she is working on her next book and is excited about the upcoming feature film of her life. She has just created Jill Bolte Taylor BRAINS, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing educational services and promoting programs related to the advancement of brain awareness, appreciation, exploration, education, injury prevention, neurological recovery, and the value of movement on mental and physical health, as well as other activities that support this purpose. The Brain Extravaganza! is the not-for-profits first educational awareness program she is bringing to the community of Bloomington, Indiana, and then the world.

Here is a photo of Jill with one of the big brains. This is the right hemisphere of the 'religion' brain sponsored by Rev. Dr. Hal Taylor (her dad) and decorated by Michele Gingras (michelegingras.com, Distinguished Professor at Miami University, Oxford, OH):

Now that is true love!

What is a stroke?
A stroke (sometimes called an acute cerebrovascular attack) is the rapidly developing loss of brain function(s) due to disturbance in the blood supply to the brain. This can be due to ischemia (lack of glucose & oxygen supply) caused by thrombosis or embolism or due to a hemorrhage. As a result, the affected area of the brain is unable to function, leading to inability to move one or more limbs on one side of the body, inability to understand or formulate speech, or inability to see one side of the visual field.
A stroke is a medical emergency and can cause permanent neurological damage, complications, and death. It is the leading cause of adult disability in the United States and Europe. It is the number two cause of death worldwide and may soon become the leading cause of death worldwide.
Stroke symptoms typically start suddenly, over seconds to minutes, and in most cases do not progress further. The symptoms depend on the area of the brain affected. The more extensive the area of brain affected, the more functions that are likely to be lost. Some forms of stroke can cause additional symptoms: in intracranial hemorrhage, the affected area may compress other structures. Most forms of stroke are not associated with headache, apart from subarachnoid hemorrhage and cerebral venous thrombosis and occasionally intracerebral hemorrhage.
In most cases, the symptoms affect only one side of the body (unilateral). The defect in the brain is ''usually'' on the opposite side of the body (depending on which part of the brain is affected). However, the presence of any one of these symptoms does not necessarily suggest a stroke, since these pathways also travel in the spinal cord and any lesion there can also produce these symptoms.
Given the disease burden of stroke, prevention is an important public health concern. Because stroke may indicate underlying atherosclerosis, it is important to determine the patient's risk for other cardiovascular diseases such as coronary heart disease. Conversely, aspirin prevents against first stroke in patients who have suffered a myocardial infarction.
Risk Factors:
·         high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation
·         high blood cholesterol levels
·         diabetes
·         cigarette smoking (active and passive)
·         heavy alcohol consumption
·         drug use, particularly cocaine, amphetamines causing hemorrhagic stroke, but also over-the-counter cough and cold drugs containing sympathomimetics
·         lack of physical activity
·         obesity and unhealthy diet
Ideally, people who have had a stroke are admitted to a "stroke unit", a ward or dedicated area in hospital staffed by nurses and therapists with experience in stroke treatment. It has been shown that people admitted to a stroke unit have a higher chance of surviving than those admitted elsewhere in hospital, even if they are being cared for by doctors with experience in stroke.
Other medical therapies are aimed at minimizing clot enlargement or preventing new clots from forming. To this end, treatment with medications such as aspirin, clopidogrel and dipyridamole may be given to prevent platelets from aggregating.
In addition to definitive therapies, management of acute stroke includes control of blood sugars, ensuring the patient has adequate oxygenation and adequate intravenous fluids. Patients may be positioned with their heads flat on the stretcher, rather than sitting up, to increase blood flow to the brain. It is common for the blood pressure to be elevated immediately following a stroke. Although high blood pressure may cause some strokes, hypertension during acute stroke is desirable to allow adequate blood flow to the brain.
(Information taken from News Medical, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article on "Stroke".  All material adapted used from Wikipedia is available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Wikipedia® itself is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.)

A Stroke of insight
Brain researcher Jill Bolte Taylor studied her own stroke as it happened -- and has become a powerful voice for brain recovery.
Jill Bolte Taylor got a research opportunity few brain scientists would wish for:  She had a massive stroke, and watched as her brain functions -- motion, speech, self-awareness -- shut down one by one.  An astonishing story:

“I am the life-force power of the universe. I am the life-force power of the 50 trillion beautiful molecular geniuses that make up my form, at one with all that is.”
Jill Bolte Taylor

1 comment:

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