Tuesday, February 10, 2004

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

I'm tired around the edges today because howling winds woke me up several times last night. Somehow, they made their way into my dreams, where I spent most of my time clinging to things to prevent being blown away, and so I woke up additionally tired. I learned of two or three interesting neurological case studies today and really feel I can't share them appropriately without pictures. Locked-In Syndrome is complete paralysis of the body that results from injury or damage to the pons region. Lots of fiber tracts that control voluntary movements go through this area and the damage has devastating results. The most difficult thing is that the patient's cognitive functions are not damaged at all (the brain is above the brainstem where the pons is located) and he or she can think and read perfectly normally. The only movement that can occur is eye-blinking. That's it. Nothing else. No skeletal muscle, no smiling, talking, facial expressions... they're completely "frozen". In 1995 jean-Dominique Bauby, a 42 year old editor-in-chief of a French Magazine suffered from a severe brain-stem stroke. This website tells part of his story. He actually dictated the writing of his own book by blinking his eyes. The book is called "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" so named because of the weight he compared his physical immobility to (diving bell) and yet his cognitive function was free and unaffected (butterfly.) Here is more information on the book. Current mood: indifferent Current music: "I'm Addicted to You" by someone. I don't even like the song and I have no idea where I heard it. GTOTD: A platinum mastercard of my very own.


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