Today I Have Brains On The Brain

September 5, 2011


I swear, I am so consumed with brain injury my own brain feels like scrambled eggs.  I have had to simplify it for myself.  I can’t fathom all this talk of neurons, neuro-transmitters and the rest of that mad scientist stuff.  I’m a simple girl.  I need things simple.  To that end, after talking to Mike endlessly and being involved in the intimate details of his recovery, I’ve concluded the following astonishing (NOT!) factoids.

  1. Your brain is simply an organic windows based computer.
  2. I think your brain stem is the mother board…
  3. The Brain itself is the hard drive and is running Windows (Hopefully Windows 7 and not ME…or DOS…which is probably what best describes any brain after a brain injury.  A PC running Microsoft ME or DOS.  SIGH)
  4. All those parts like the lobes, the cortex etc are simply the directories where applications (programs) are stored.
  5. The Hippocampus is the Memory chip.
  6. Stroke, cardiac arrest…ischemic events in general…screw up your memory chip.  Like Trojans and viruses do in your PC.
  7. Little bits of the applications get messed up too and their program paths need to be recoded if possible to allow the hippocampus to reconnect to them.

So now, the challenge.  How do you repair/replace the hippocampus and all those program paths to facilitate the rest of the applications to recode and rewire.  I don’t know.  Nobody seems to know definitely.  I only know this:

  1. Mike’s intellect is intact.  He’s in there.  I can get it out of him.  But its a frustrating process for him and takes very long.  I guess maybe it’s too early in his recovery.
  2. His communication skills are messed up….he can’t name objects.  He can’t remember the names of many simple objects.  He has trouble retrieving them.  I think it is all the fault of that darned memory chip and its processing.  He is BEGINNING to be able to recognize the incorrect names when he uses them…and to be able to retain the names of objects he is familiar with when he has repeated them enough times.   It’s almost like these names for objects are becoming a part of his procedural memory…which is working ok (but not great).
  3. His processing speed is messed up.  I think because he is trying to access memories and he can’t.  In this case, and the case of language skills, his memories are the stored information…awaiting retrieval…no different from the memories of my birthday or Christmas in 1995.  They’re just accessed in different applications.

I guess now my role, as well as the supporting therapists, is to be the PC Technician.

AS A SIDE NOTE:  I started this post on August 16.  I let it sit in drafts since I wasn’t really sure it served any useful purpose…it felt like idle rambling.  I wasn’t even certain it was a useful analogy.  And I had to skedaddle because we were going to be late for Speech Therapy and Mike’s first visit with the Neuropsychologist since he was inpatient at Rehab.  Today is 9/5…and as is usual, life has gotten in the way of my best intentions and I haven’t gotten back to blog.  I chose to post this after all.  Why?  Well, at the neruopsychologists office, as he tried to explain brain injury recovery to Mike, he said the best, and simplest, analogy there was is that your brain in like a computer running Windows.  Hmmmm.  I figured if that is the explanation that the guy who has a PhD in brains and psychology uses it might be useful to somebody else.  SO.  FWIW.  I post it here.  Mine is a bit more colorful than his.  He doesn’t explain the hippocampus away.  But it’s the only thing I can deduce in my mind.

And speaking of the hippocampus…I’ve read some research that with stimulation the hippocampus seems to be one area of the brain that can grow new tissue unlike many others.  Hmmm.  If stim is the name of the game, there’ll be plenty in this house for sure!



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