Summary: A brief bird's eye view of the anatomical considerations behind various brain related disabilities, in lay person's language.
Last updated January 21, 2007

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Anatomical explanations of CP and MR

Cerebral Palsy (CP) and Mental Retardation (MR) may be the result of irreversible damage to one or more concerned areas of brain, during intrauterine life, labor or infancy. A particularly vulnerable part is the Internal Capsule region of brain where most nerve fibers from the muscle controlling areas of brain come together to then pass down to the spinal cord. This area has the poorest blood supply and is the most frequent site of blood flow obstructive disorders, even in adult life. 
Mental Retardation can also result from severe brain injury or infection later on.
Even Autism is now linked to discrete areas of brain damage, possibly caused by damage to the intracellular micro-tubules, by incorporation of mercury into their walls, as a result of a genetic defect in mercury excretion leading to its accumulation and intoxication. Other causes like micro-nutrient deficiency, gut infections, psycho-social causes, etc. only seem to be playing an aggravating role. SPECT Scan of some our our Autistic / Autistic spectrum children have shown ischemic changes in brain perfusion similar to CP.

The nervous system central part is divided into the main brain (brown) and the spinal cord. The brain is further subdivided into structural (anatomical) parts and functional (physiological) parts. Structurally, the outer part front, and sides and back top are called Cerebrum, while the rear lower reddish brown part is called Cerebellum. The outer layer is called cortex (containing most of the nerve cells or gray matter) while the inner core is called white matter as it mostly contains nerve tracts, and islands of nerve cell masses called nuclei.

Thus the full name of the thinking, motor and sensory part of the brain is Cerebral Cortex, while the coordinating part is called Cerebellar Cortex. On the inside center are nuclei that control pain perception, involuntary activity, and emotions, which together in turn control the hormonal balance of the body.

Nerve fibers from the muscle controlling areas of brain come down and bunch together at a place called Internal capsule. This area is notorious for its poor blood supply and is almost always the victim of any deficiency in blood supply, both in infants and adults. This leads to paralysis of muscles controlled by those nerve fibers. In cerebral palsy caused by low blood supply injury, this is a common site of injury.

Thus, in Cerebral (= main brain) Palsy (= short form of paralysis), the affected person has reduced motor power, reduced coordination of movement, and exaggerated tone (due to lack of control over muscle tone generating power of the spinal cord, which tries to contract the muscles, while the brain tries to relax them; the interplay of these two forces controls the degree of muscle tone.) 

The spinal cord motor nerve cells are like the accelerator of a car, always trying to contract their corresponding muscle groups, while the cerebral Cortex and cerebellum are like the brakes of a car, trying to control speed and power. Hence, when the latter are malfunctioning, the body muscles become unduly contracted or spastic, hence the paralysis or paresis (meaning incomplete paralysis) is called Spastic paralysis.

A normal person with average intelligence is said to have an Intelligent Quotient (IQ) of 100% for his age. A normal person may have an IQ of about 100 + 10%. In Mental Retardation, a person has an IQ significantly lower, often as low as 20 to 30% (severe cases) or 40 to 60% (milder cases).

Regular guided exercises (physiotherapy), relaxant drugs and injections of muscle relaxing poisons in micro doses (poison extracted from the food poisoning bacteria, Clostridium botulinum, called Botox or Botulinum Toxin), may prolong the useful movement phase in the life of these cases. However, botulinum toxin is of limited use as of today, since it gives only 2 to 4 months of relief per course. Development of anti-toxin antibodies makes repeated courses not as useful as the first one.
Hence, it is back to fun-filled physiotherapy and corrective (shortening or lengthening surgical procedures on contracted tendons and muscles) operations as and when required.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is also proving very useful, and is worth a check-out. Click here to read more about it.

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