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Brain Plasticity
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Summary
Brain has an incredible ability to re-invent itself. A young three year girl Jodie started having epileptic seizures which took control of her life. Pediatric neurologist Dr. Eileen Vining determined that all her seizures were coming from her brain’s right hemisphere caused by Rasmussen’s syndrome. This syndrome is a rare, progressive neurological disorder which generally occurs in children under the age of 10. It causes severe seizures, paralysis of one side of the body, dementia and many other symptoms. Only one radical treatment option remained – hemispherectomy, which is to remove half of the affected brain. Even though it seems impossible to survive without half the brain, in reality human brain has incredible capability to adapt to the point when half of it is taken out and it can still perform in a normal way. According to Dr. Benjamin Carson who performed the surgery, human brain has the capability to change shape creating new connections between neurons to replace lost or damaged ones. Jodie was able to walk within ten days of her surgery, and that’s because her left hemisphere had such resilience and plasticity. Even though she suffers a slight paralysis on her left side, all her seizures disappeared and she is continuing a normal life.
Keywords: Rasmussen’s encephalitis, hemispherectomy, Theodore Rasmussen
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