Nervous System and Nervous System Disorders
A. NERVOUS SYSTEM
Our body is constantly reacting and adjusting to the changes in the outside environment and within the body itself (internal environment), which are called stimuli (sing. Stimulus). Any external or internal factor which brings about a response in an organism is called stimulus and the response shown by an organism towards or against that stimulus is called a reaction.
Stimuli (messages) are detected and conveyed via nerves to the spinal cord and the brain where they are analyzed, combined, compared and coordinated. After being processed, messages are conducted by nerves to the muscle, glands and other organs of the body.
The nervous system is a complex, sophisticated system that regulates and coordinates body activities. It is made up of two major divisions, including:
- Central nervous system. This consists of the brain and spinal cord.
- Peripheral nervous system. This consists of all other neural elements, including the peripheral nerves and the autonomic nerves.
In addition to the brain and spinal cord, principal organs of the nervous system include:
- Sensory organs of taste
- Sensory organs of smell
- Sensory receptors located in the skin, joints, muscles, and other parts of the body
Nervous System (CNS & PNS)
The nervous system plays a role in nearly every aspect of our health and well-being. It guides everyday activities such as waking up; automatic activities such as breathing; and complex processes such as thinking, reading, remembering, and feeling emotions.
The nervous system controls:
- Brain growth and development
- Sensations (such as touch or hearing)
- Perception (the mental process of interpreting sensory information)
- Thought and emotions
- Learning and memory
- Movement, balance, and coordination
- Healing and rehabilitation
- Stress and the body’s responses to stress
- Breathing and heartbeat
- Body temperature
- Hunger, thirst, and digestion
- Puberty, reproductive health, and fertility
B. NERVOUS SYSTEM DISORDERS
The nervous system is vulnerable to various disorders. It can be damaged by the following:
- Structural defects
- Blood flow disruption
- Autoimmune disorders
Disorders of the nervous system may involve the following:
Vascular disorders, such as stroke, transient ischemic attack (TIA), subarachnoid hemorrhage, subdural hemorrhage and hematoma, and extradural hemorrhage;
Functional disorders, such as headache (migraine), epilepsy, dizziness, and neuralgia;
Degeneration, such as Parkinson disease, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Huntington chorea, and Alzheimer disease;
Structural disorders, such as brain or spinal cord injury, Bell’s palsy, cervical spondylosis, carpal tunnel syndrome, brain or spinal cord tumors, peripheral neuropathy, and Guillain-Barré syndrome;
Infections, such as meningitis, encephalitis, polio, and epidural abscess;
Cancers, such as brain tumors.
Healthcare providers who treat nervous system disorders
The best way to manage nervous system disorders is with the help of specialized healthcare providers. Some neurological conditions require the intervention of a multidisciplinary team. Here is a list of some of the healthcare providers that may be involved in treating nervous system disorders:
NEUROLOGIST – diagnose and treat nervous system disorders
NEUROSURGEON – operate as a treatment team for nervous system disorders
PSYCHIATRIST – deals with emotional and behavior symptoms caused by nervous system disorders. In most cases, talk therapy works best for these problems. But if needed, the psychiatrist will recommend medicines to treat symptoms such as depression or anxiety.
PSYCHOLOGIST – help the patient to manage common emotional problems such as anxiety, depression, mood swings, and irritability. Psychologists may do testing to find out how much your disorder is affecting the way you think and feel. Psychologists also do talk therapy (counseling) to help you deal with the emotional effects caused by nervous system disorders.
PHYSICAL THERAPIST – is a movement specialist who can help you move and walk well. In physical therapy, you can also work on painful or stiff muscles and joints.
OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST – helps you learn to handle your day-to-day activities. I will help the patients find ways to adjust to any changes in their physical abilities as consequence of a neurological disorder.
SPEECH/LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST – provider who specializes in communication, including cognitive communication. They also diagnose and treat swallowing problems.