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Common Neurological Disorders: List and Descriptions

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  • 0:03 Common Problems
  • 0:43 Dementia, Epilepsy & Stroke
  • 2:51 Infections, MS & Parkinson's
  • 6:10 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
This lesson will discuss some of the more common neurological disorders we know of, why they occur, and some relatable examples to help you understand what causes these problems.

Common Problems

On any regular day, you're bound to run into problems. Some of them are more common than others, like traffic, forgetting to do something, and stress. In the sphere of neurological disorders - conditions that negatively affect the nervous system (brain, spinal cord, & nerves) - some are very rare and others are common. This doesn't imply that one is any worse than the other, as any condition that affects something as critical as your neurological system is bound to be troublesome.

However, since we only have so much time in this lesson, and you rightfully only have so much space in your brain at any one time for new information, I think it's best we focus on the more common neurological disorders.

Dementia, Epilepsy, & Stroke

One of these is known as dementia. This is a group of symptoms that point to a decline in a person's mental ability, such that it interferes with their normal daily life and function. One of the more common causes of dementia is a neurological disease called Alzheimer's. People with dementia experience memory loss, problems reasoning, impaired language skills, and many other issues.

Epilepsy is another common neurological disorder. Epilepsy is a neurological disorder where the electrical activity of the brain is abnormal, resulting in recurrent seizures. There are many different kinds of seizures a person with epilepsy may experience.

One major reason epilepsy occurs is because the chemical messengers the nerve cells in the brain send out become mixed improperly, go to the wrong place, or are sent out in inadequate or too large of an amount. These problems lead the nerve cells to go crazy trying to figure out what the message is - kind of like when people rip their hair out trying to understand what their boss wants from them as a result of improper communication. That's what happens in epilepsy. Improper communication between nerve cells makes them go bonkers, and this causes a seizure.

One important cause of epilepsy is another common neurological disorder, a stroke. A stroke refers to a situation where the blood supply to the brain is severely or entirely diminished. The blood carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain. These nutrients and oxygen are what allow the cells in your brain to live. If they do not receive this supply of food due to something like a blood clot blocking their way up into a part of the brain, then the brain cells begin to die and permanent brain damage may occur. Just imagine if all of a sudden the city streets carrying produce to your town were blocked completely. This will cause the town's residents to starve, and this is exactly what happens during a stroke, except very quickly.

Infections, Multiple Sclerosis & Parkinson's

While a stroke implies there's a lack of something reaching the brain, sometimes the problem occurs if there's something improper reaching the brain, as in the case of infectious disease. Viruses, bacteria, and even fungi and parasites can all cause something known as encephalitis, inflammation of the brain, and meningitis, inflammation of the meninges, the tough protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord.

Under normal circumstances, the brain and spinal cord are located in a physiological vault within your body. You have more than one way, anatomically and physiologically, by which these infectious organisms or their consequences are prohibited from disturbing your most precious system, the nervous system. But sometimes these mechanisms are breached by very tricky pathogens - like some very clever crooks can crack almost any safe. This leads to the problem I outlined before, as well as plenty of other issues, like the epilepsy we just discussed.

Now, following this example further, you know that in banks, some trusted personnel have access to the vaults these foreign invaders try to get hold of. I've read quite a few times how these trusted individuals have used their privileged position to actually defraud the bank by stealing lots of stuff. Inside your body are trusted cells - immune system cells - that are granted access to the nervous system. Most of the time, they protect it. Other times, they actually attack it and cause disease. We call this autoimmune disease, because the immune system attacks the person's own self ('auto').

A notable example of this is multiple sclerosis (MS), which is an autoimmune disease that results in the destruction of the myelin sheath. The myelin sheath is the insulating layer of many nerve cells in your body. If it's destroyed, the electrical conduction of these nerves is impaired, resulting in disease. Think of any real-world wire that has its insulating outer layer cracked or peeled away. You know that the wire won't work well, if at all. That's what happens in MS.

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