WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? I'll JUST GOOGLE IT
We recently went through a neuropsych assessment to discover the amount of recovery that I have made over the last 9 years since I was given just a 4% chance of survival.
After seeing a functional neurologist and sharing the ‘readers digest’ version of our story, it was suggested that I undertake another neuropsych test to have my limitations and what we can expect to encounter in the future.
As part of this, I underwent another MRI screen and then was given a copy of the report to pass on to the Clinical Neuropsychologist.
Naturally, I read the copy I was given as I was about to email it. There were some parts that I couldn’t understand, so I googled them.
What is a sulci? And what does having a more prominent sulci for 38 year old male mean? It turns out that the sulci (or Sulcus) are the ridges in all of the wrinkles in your brain, and having them being prominent is a marker of brain shrinkage. In other words, shrinking in the brain can be a sign of atrophy in the brain, like a stroke, or Alzheimer’s Disease. Good ol’ Dr. Google with their speedy diagnosis.
Knowing that suffering a neurodegenerative illness can result in the cause of a TBI. The email to Dr. Leslie included the one important question, like DO I HAVE ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE? And I started googling things like how to stop Alzheimer’s Disease, and how to stop/ reduce or reverse brain shrinkage. The best one I found was on Dr. Axe. In this page he references many articles that confirm his points.
- Learn and practice yoga
As it helps control your coordination, motor-control, self-awareness, cognitive function, and more
- Learn to juggle
Because it helps to with your hand-to-eye coordination and helps to increases white matter in your parietal lobe (which is the part of the brain that houses your proprioception, touch and special awareness.
Meditation is like “exercise for your brain” and it can help to relieve pain (I use it to reduce/ remove pain)
- Learn to play a musical instrument
If you learnt a musical instrument, it can help the brain to connect both hemispheres across the Corpus Callosum which can help with better neurological functioning into adulthood
- Eating more Omega 3 fatty acids
A linkage has been found to people who have a diet of more Omega-3 Fatty Acids had a larger hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that houses ones memories.
- Learn something new
Back to school: Learning a new skill can slow cognitive aging. Learning a new mentally demanding skill helps your brain to ward off the effects of aging like a new language (spoken or programming), or a physical skill like mechanics or knitting.
That got your attention, sex has been found to increase the size of ones hippocampus through neurogenesis and makes you less prone to stress.
- Aerobic exercise
While weight training increases muscle sizes, cardio increases the size of your hippocampus. "When you exercise you produce a chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which may help to prevent age-related decline by reducing the deterioration of the brain,
- Intermittent fasting
When you have fasted between 12 to 36hrs, it has been shown to help reduce inflammation in the brain which has links to various neurological conditions.
- Psilocybin/ Psychedelic Mushrooms
I’m dubious about this one, but there have been studies where it has been noted in rats and mice given mind altering substances to have increased neuroplasticity
Before I deployed, Renee and I used to joke that I better come home after this deployment or “I’ll have to come over there and bring you home”. Turns out that she pretty much had to, her and my mother were flown to Germ any with two family members of each of us 7 to bring us home. At the airport she saw a book that had just been released released called ‘The Brain That Changes Itself’ by Norman Doidge, the book is about the astonishing new science of neuroplasticity. All she was told at that stage was that I had head injuries, she thought “no shit, he was just in a helicopter crash, of course he’s going to have a head injury”.
At the time Renee googled Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and found some stories about other sufferers of “Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the leading cause of death and disability in children and young adults in the United States.(LINK)’
After completing those tests and the neuropsychologist was compiling her report, she spoke with Renee to discuss my “symptoms” and what I was like on a day-to-day basis, because I don’t really sit back and look at my behavior or what I do wrong… because, well, I’m never wrong.
We were then invited into her office so she could explain her findings and my scores from the tests to explain how my brain is now functioning. The Dr. showed us and explained the commonly used scale to measure the severity of a TBI. She said that there should be another line, marking a very severe TBI, and that is where I would be located. My Glasgow Coma Scale was around the 4 by the time Renee and the other families were transported to meet us in Germany.
As to be expected, I didn’t perform too well and have a lower attention and working memory which was in the ‘low average’ range, my processing speed is also on the lower end of average. So I’m a little bit slower in processing speeds, which is understandable.
But the neuropsych reminded me that I don’t have Alzheimer’s Disease as my General Intellectual Functioning was in the Superior range… “there has been significant and unusual improvement in his performance”. So it has shown that I’m actually smarter than I was before sustaining life threatening and altering head injuries.
Long story short, as smart, and as fast as Dr. Google is, sometimes it’s best to consult medical professionals. And, keep learning new and interesting things to help support your brains health as well as your physical health.