Definitions

This page is a work in progress. I’ll keep adding to it!

Alzheimer’s disease affects the hippocampus at the base of the cortex. People with AD develop memory problems, often followed by conufsion, apathy, depression, emotional volatility and other problems.
(Neurology Now, Nov/Dec 2009)

Aphasia is the medical term for speech difficulties which involve halting, effortful speech in which the patient struggles to produce the right word.

Apolipoprotein E (APOE) is a cholesterol-ferrying protein that combines with fats (lipids) in the body to form molecules called lipoproteins. It is a major component of a specific type of lipoprotein called very low-density lipoproteins, (VLDL) which removes excess cholesterol from the blood and carries it to the liver for processing. At least three slightly different versions of the gene exist, and people with on variation are at greater risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Cortex is the area of the brain that contains the gray matter, a mass of cells with folds and flaps. It is responsible for the most complex thinking abilities including memory, language, planning, concept formation, problem solving, spatial representation, auditory and visual processing, mood and personality.

Dementia is a clinical condition characterized by decline in overall intelligence, memory loss, personality change and functional loss. It has nearly 100 causes, 95 percent of which are irreversible. “Save Your Brain,” by Paul David Nussbaum.

Dwindles is what nurses call “not sick enough to qualify for hospice care, but sick enough to never get better.” (Katy Butler’s “My Father’s Broken Heart.”)

Dysnomia is the inability to name things.

Elopement is a clinical term used for someone who tries to get away from their unit.

Frontal lobe is in the front of our brains, at our foreheads. It is like the chief executive officer of the brain, organizing, choreographing and initiating behaviors in beautiful harmony. It’s also the filter for emotions such as passion, rage and anger. “When functioning in a normal way, the frontal lobe permits a healthy balance of mood and behavior,” writes Paul David Nussbaum in his book, “Save Your Brain.” “When disturbed, the frontal lobe expresses a variety of emotions that can range from mania to depression to an inability to control rage or temper.”

Frontotemporal dementia affects the frontal and temporal lobes in the front and sides of the brain, which atrophy and shrink; patients may develop speech problems and display inappropriate social behavior. (Neurology Now, Nov/Dec 2009)

Lewy Body dementia affects the entire brain with symptoms that are wide-ranging and unpredictable. It produces cognitive declines like those seen in Alzheimer’s disease, but with three additional traits. Instead of a steady decline, people with this type of dementia fluctuate in terms of attention, alertness and ability to speak coherently. They tend to have visual hallucinations. And, they tend to develop symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, including rigidity, tremor and slowness of movement. (Neurology Now, Nov/Dec 2009)

Lewy bodies are abnormal deposits of a protein called alpha-synuclein, which form inside the brain’s nerve cells, and they get their name from the scientist who first described them. They’ve been found in several brain disorders, including Lewy Body Dementia, Parkinson’s disease and some cases of Alzheimer’s.

Subcortex is the more primitive area of the brain, at the top of the ascending brain stem and beneath the cortex. It is responsible for rote skills and procedures, including activities that we do subconsciously.

Sundowning is a period of agitation or emotional anxiety that may involve tears–and often occurs around sun down.

Tangles are insoluble twisted fibers found inside the brain’s cells. They consist primarily of a protein called tau, which forms part of a structure called a microtubule, according to the American Health Assistance Foundation. The microtubule helps transport nutrients and other important substances from one part of the nerve cell to another, but in Alzheimer’s disease, the tau protein is abnormal, and the microtubules collapse.

Vascular dementia results from several small strokes, which may affect any part of the brain. Symptoms vary widely but usually include declines in problem solving ability, memory and socially appropriate behavior. (Neurology Now, Nov/Dec 2009)

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One Response to Definitions

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