Major Types of Nervous System Diseases

Instructor: Sarah Friedl

Sarah has two Master's, one in Zoology and one in GIS, a Bachelor's in Biology, and has taught college level Physical Science and Biology.

Your nervous system is responsible for more than you probably realize. In this lesson we're going to discuss some of the major diseases that arise from nervous system abnormalities and dysfunctions.

Your Nervous System

A lot of the important stuff that happens in your body goes on without you even knowing about it. The actions of your nervous system fall perfectly into this category. This is a part of your body that coordinates nerve impulses, or signals, from one place to another. In your nervous system you'll find lots of neurons, which are also called nerve cells. These guys are really cool because they're built specifically to send signals quickly and accurately to other cells in your body.


Neurons are made to send fast and accurate signals in your body.
neuron


Your nervous system also includes sensory organs like your nose, mouth, eyes, and ears. These body parts are charged with taking in your environment and sending signals to your brain for a quick sensory response. It's important that these signals are fast because if you are in danger you'll want to respond quickly to get to a safer place.


Your nervous system runs throughout your entire body.
nervous system


But sometimes our nervous system fails us which can cause a whole host of problems. Imagine if you could no longer feel a hot stove, or remember who your family members are. Or perhaps you become so tired that you can no longer get out of bed each day. It is even possible that your mind is still sharp, but your body has deteriorated to the point where you can no longer speak or communicate. All of these issues arise from nervous system diseases.

Major Nervous System Diseases

Because your nervous system is spread throughout your body and involves all different types of organs and cells, there are also many different types of nervous system diseases that will affect you differently. For example, Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disease that causes tremors in your hands, legs, and eventually the rest of your limbs. It may become difficult to speak, and your face may become fairly expressionless.

Cerebral palsy is another disorder that affects the nervous system. Although you would have issues with body and muscle movement, this is actually caused by abnormalities in the area of the brain responsible for muscle movement, not the muscles or nerves themselves. This is a non-progressive disease, meaning that it doesn't get worse over time.

Epilepsy is actually a spectrum of brain disorders, meaning that on one end the disorder might be deadly, while on the other end it may not affect your life much at all. Epilepsy may lead to seizures, convulsions, or strange emotions and behaviors. Epilepsy may be caused by numerous different factors that work alone or together. These could be improper brain wiring, imbalanced nerve signals, abnormal brain development, etc.


Damage to your brain can cause nervous system disorders.
brain


Alzheimer's is a difficult disease to diagnose initially because it often progresses slowly and can be confused with normal memory loss that occurs as we get older. The difference is that Alzheimer's disease will eventually lead to a severe decline in normal cognition. Recognizing people you know, remembering days and events, and even basic decision-making may become quite difficult as the disease progresses.

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