Alzheimer's disease is a degenerative disease of the brain. Because of this the appearance of the brain changes dramatically as the disease progresses.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) most frequently occurs in older people. But even the ‘normal' brain undergoes changes during our lifetime. The brain weighs around 350 grams at birth and increases to around 1,375 grams (about 3 pounds) by the age of 20. In fact the brain quadruples in size in the first three years of life. Then things begin to deteriorate! Brain weight starts to decline between the ages of 45 and 50 years. The brain decreases by about 11 per cent from its maximum weight in early adulthood.
In the older brain tissue loss is most obvious on its surface. There is unmistakable shrinkage in the natural convolutions in brain tissue. Changes are most marked in the forebrain and less so in the cerebellum (the area at the back of the brain mainly responsible for balance and dexterity of movement).
Some studies have shown that, although Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease are distinct neurological disorders, as many as 25 percent of patients with Alzheimer's develop Parkinson's-like symptoms, and some Parkinson's patients develop signs of Alzheimer's disease. Having known a woman who entered a nursing home with Parkinson's and was later found to have Alzheimer's, I've been curious about this combination. After reading "Living Well With Parkinson's Disease: What Your Doctor Doesn't Tell You...That you Need to Know" by Gretchen Garie and Michael J. Church, co-founders of Movers and Shakers, with Winifred Conkling, I was grateful to the authors for making the educational experience so interesting. I'll admit that I always feel a little put off by books that use "What your doctor doesn't know" in the title, because I feel it's a bit gimmicky, but I'm glad I didn't let that stop me....
Spongy degeneration of the brain; Aspartoacylase deficiency
Treatment mostly aims to ease the symptoms of the disease. Lithium and other drugs are being investigated.
Additional information and resources are available from:
Canavan Foundation: www.canavanfoundation.org
Jacob's Cure: www.jacobscure.org
With Canavan disease, the central nervous system breaks down. Patients are likely to become disabled.
Death often occurs before 18 months of age. However, some patients live until they are teenagers or, rarely, young adults.
This is often a fatal disorder. It includes severe disabilities such as:
Inability to walk
Calling your health care provider
Call your health care provider if your child has any symptoms of Canavan disease.
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