Brain rewiring

As I turned on the TV this morning the Today show was featuring a story about a little girl named Cameron Mott. Cameron was born perfectly healthy but began having serious seizures when she was three and a half years old which increased in severity and frequency to the point where she was having up to 10 seizures a day and had to wear a helmet to protect her head. After many incorrect diagnoses she was eventually diagnosed with Rasmussen's Syndrome, a disease that would have continued to spread throughout her brain destroying cognitive and physical functions along the way and leaving her with a wildly firing set of neurons that would cause seizures for the rest of her life. In 2007 her family made the decision to bring her to John's Hopkins Children's Hospital in Baltimore to undergo a hemispherectomy. In this procedure half of her brain was removed to get rid of the damaged brain tissue while preserving the remaining half. What amazed me was seeing her interview on the Today show and watching videos of her talking, walking, running and playing just like any normal nine-year-old. Within a month of the surgery, which initially left her completely paralyzed on the left side of her body (since they removed the entire right side of her brain), her remaining hemisphere was able to rewire itself to control the left side of her body as well as the right to the point where she was able to walk out of the hospital of her own accord. It simply amazes me not only what the brain can do but how quickly it can rewire to compensate for the missing pieces. I wonder if she is at any higher risk of getting a concussion since she's missing half of her brain. They say the right side of her skull would fill with cerebrospinal fluid to fill the empty space but I wonder if the fact that it is fluid, rather than a solid object, would make it easier for the remaining side of her brain to move around. Anyway, here's the video clip from the Today Show:

On a cool little side note, the man who invented hemispherectomy that cured this little girl was Dr. Ben Carson, a world-renowned neurosurgeon who also is well known for separating a pair of Siamese twins who were joined at the head. This same Dr. Carson spoke at Lafayette's commencement last year and I got to hear him since I had gone back to watch a few friends graduate (I graduated the year before). He was a very interesting person to listen to and I'm glad I got a chance to hear him speak, especially with me studying neuroscience and all :)

No comments:

Post a Comment