Understanding neurological diseases: How body donation programs help

Understanding neurological diseases: How body donation programs help

The human brain is an amazing, multifaceted organ that regulates and controls all functions of the human body.

This single organ has evolved over time to provide humans the ability to interpret and organize complex data sets in milliseconds. This gives each of us the ability to self-monitor, have awareness of our personal abilities and limitations, and make cognitive decisions.

 In addition to the infinite number of other tasks it performs, the brain is also responsible for:

  • The regulation and performance of all voluntary (e.g. physical activity and speech) and involuntary bodily functions (e.g. blood circulation and breathing)
  • The interpretation of sensations experienced through the 5 senses (vision, hearing, taste, touch, and smell)
  • The processing and storage of memories

Brain health is paramount to overall health, independence, and well-being

Each year, thousands of people within the United States, and many more worldwide, are diagnosed with neurological disorders and diseases that have wide-ranging negative impacts.

Ultimately, neurological disease limits the body’s ability to perform both voluntary and involuntary actions, eroding a patient’s quality of life.

Over time, the progression of neurological diseases not only affects the patient diagnosed, but also takes a significant physical, mental, and emotional toll on family, friends, and loved ones of those suffering from disease.

Neurological disease statistics

As of 2022, in the U.S.:

  • As many as 20,000 people are living with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), and 5,000 additional cases are diagnosed annually (www.alsnewstoday.com).
  • Nearly 1 million people are living with Parkinson’s Disease, and an additional 60,000 more Americans are diagnosed each year (www.parkinsons.org).
  • Roughly 6.5 million Americans (aged 65 and older) are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and an additional 500,000 cases are diagnosed yearly (www.alz.org). 

For more information regarding these and other neurological diseases, visit americanbrainfoundation.org.

Prevention of neurological disorders and disease

While neurological disease can be caused by various factors including genetics, trauma, infection, and environment, it has also been determined we can each make lifestyle choices that aid in preventing the onset of disease. Such lifestyle choices include:

  • Following a regular exercise program
  • Developing healthy sleep patterns
  • Remaining socially and cognitively engaged
  • Managing and controlling contributing factors such as cardiovascular health and blood sugar levels

Science Care donors assist in understanding and combating neurological disease

Through the gift of body donation to science, members of the Science Care community are assisting researchers in our ability to better understand complex neurological disease and develop new, more effective treatments and therapies.

Recently, Science Care donors have afforded researchers the opportunity to continue studies intended to isolate causative factors of each of the specific diseases referenced above.

These studies help to develop and produce new means of early detection, as well as improved treatments and therapies intended to both prevent the onset of disease and slow progression once the disease has materialized. 

Educating neurologists and neurosurgeons

In addition to medicinal treatments and therapies, Science Care donors play an integral part in the education of neurologists and neurosurgeons.

Within the past decade, researchers have made great strides in the effort to fully map the human brain and have determined that as many as 180 individual areas and sub areas of the brain exist. While they do work in concert, each of these 180 ‘regions’ is responsible for regulating and controlling different functions of the human body.

This brain mapping article speaks to the significance of these developments, and how they impact brain health.  

On a broader scale, Science Care donors aid in educating and training neurologists and neurosurgeons through affording them the opportunity to:

  • Become familiar with the anatomy of the human brain through both gross anatomical dissection and microdissection
  • Better understand the vasculature of the brain, allowing for improved surgical approaches and techniques utilized when performing brain surgery
  • Increase accuracy in diagnosis of various degenerative neurological diseases through brain imaging and other diagnostic means
  • Tailor treatments specific to a patient to allow for improved outcomes once treatment is undertaken
  • Develop, maintain, and improve surgical skills utilized in the implantation of medical devices intended to control disease and repair brain functionality.

Leaving a lasting legacy

We offer our most sincere appreciation, admiration, and respect to each member of our Donor Community who has selflessly donated to the cause of advancing medical science. Their contributions toward a more robust understanding of the human brain, its disorders, and diseases will continue to lead toward earlier, more accurate diagnoses, and more effective prevention and control of neurological disease.

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