Alzheimer's disease is a disorder that attacks brain tissue. Its main symptom is steadily increasing memory loss. Problems with vision, language, and emotional control are also common. These abilities may decline over 5 to 20 years. People with Alzheimer's disease will require constant care at some point.
The exact cause of Alzheimer's disease is unknown. What is known is that a brain affected with Alzheimer's disease is filled with deposits of a waxy substance called amyloid or plaque. Nerve cell connections in the brain are reduced, causing a loss of short-term memory. Other intellectual and physical functions are affected in time.
Some of these changes happen in normal aging. Far more change is found in people with Alzheimer's disease. Inherited or genetic factors and aging seem to play important roles.
Each year in the United States, about 1.5 million people experience a brain injury. A blow or jolt to the head can cause a traumatic brain injury. You do not have to hit your head on an object to injure the brain. Sudden movement of the brain in the head, such as a whiplash injury due to a car accident, can cause a brain injury.
Brain injury is a major cause of death and disability. More US children die of brain injury than any other cause.
Half of all brain injuries are due to transportation-related accidents. About 20 percent of brain injuries are due to violence. This includes firearm use and child abuse. For people age 75 and older, brain injuries are most often caused by falls.
After an injury, emergency treatment is needed to control bleeding in and around the brain, control the amount of pressure in the brain, and make sure breathing, blood pressure, and other systems are stable. Then doctors can assess the severity of the brain injury. They check the person's level of consciousness and neurological functioning. Brain imaging tests may be used to help in the diagnosis.
The treatment and recovery process is different for each person. No two brain injuries are alike.
Emergency treatment begins at the time of the accident or incident. Medical personnel try to stabilize the person. About half of all severely injured people may need surgery. The surgery may be to remove or repair bleeding in or around the brain or to drain fluid from the brain.
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