Neurodegeneration is an umbrella term for a range of conditions which primarily affect neurons in human brain with progressive loss of structure, function and including death of neurons permanently.
Neurons are the building blocks of nervous system. Neurons do not have the ability to reproduce or replace, hence when damaged they die permanently.
Neurodegenerative diseases (NDD) are incurable with debilitating conditions that result in progressive loss of neuronal functions resulting in problems with movement (Ataxia) and mental functioning (Dementia). NDD is a group of disorders that share similar general clinical and pathological characters.
Ageing and neurodegeneration
The greatest risk factor for neuro degeneration is ageing; oxidative stress and DNA mutations contribute to ageing. Many of these diseases manifest late in life and the neurons progressively lose functions as the disease progresses with age. The average life expectancy following diagnosis is 3-9 years.
Common neuro degenerative diseases are
- Alzeihmers disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Prion disease
- Motor neuron disease
- Spinal muscular atrophy
- Spino-cerebellar ataxia
- Huntington’s disease
Causes of neuro degeneration
The causes are poorly understood with 70% of them believed to be genetic in nature. Several factors are also contributory: like genetic predisposition, environmental toxins, oxidative stress and ageing. Risk factors aggravating the incidence of NDD are head injuries, Hypertension, Depression, dyslipidemia, and smoking.
All the above conditions are incurable, progressive and debilitating. Age and co-morbid conditions add to the challenge. The clinical manifestations, investigations and treatment for NDD are also a challenge and being a chronic progressive condition, require frequent visitation to a clinic/hospital for specialised care.
After definitive treatments, the mail goals of management are care at home.
At Portea Medical, we provide all required assistance to these patients in terms of regular doctor visits, nursing visits, stay at home trained attendants, medication delivery and sample collections at home.
In addition, specialised services like counselling for psychological wellbeing, both to the patient and his/her family, disability addressing appliances like special cutlery, medical equipment for comfortable home living, oxygen at home, etc. are also provided.
Just because the disease is inexorably progressing is not the reason to ignore these patients; making them as comfortable and functional in the home setting may reduce the progress of the disease and increase the well being of all concerned.