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Adrenoleukodystrophy And Encephalitis Write A 3 Page Paper On The Two Diseases Featured In The Movies In Lorenzo's Oil And The Awakenings. Works Cited Included.

817 words - 3 pages

Hollywood makes a lot of movies dealing with a lot of different things. Hollywood has done several movies dealing with the medical field. One of them is Lorenzo's Oil that talks about adrenoleukodystropy. Another is The Awakenings, which talks about encephalities lethargica.Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) is an X-linked genetic disorder. This means that only girls have the gene for the ALD and they pass it on to all their children but it only affects the boys but girls are carriers so they could pass it on to their kids (Narins). In the movie Lorenzo's Oil Lorenzo has the child form of ALD, which is also the most familiar and severe form. It normally arises between the ages of four to ten. An ALD patient may lose sight and hearing. They will have learning disabilities, seizures, poor verbal communication, problems consuming food, weariness, and nausea (What is Adrenoleukodystrophy?). Lorenzo's Oil is usually used to treat ALD in children. It lowers the amounts of very-long-chain-saturated-fatty acids (VLCSFA). In theory, this delays demyelination from occurring. The only crook in this treatment is that it cannot cross the blood-brain barrier so it has no effect on the VLCSFA levels in the brain (Radley).ALD is a genetic disorder distinguished by demyelination of nerves in the brain and/or the spinal cord. Demyelination is a process in which myelin breaks down. Demyelination occurs because the body cannot break down very-long-chain-saturated-fatty acids (VLCSFAs). The buildup of VLCSFA causes the nerve to short-circuit or not function like normal (Radley). The buildup occurs in the brain and adrenal cortex (Adrenoleukodystrophy). VLCSFA refers to fatty acids that are 24 or 26 carbons long. The saturation part of VLCSFA refers to the fact that the carbons in the chain are saturated with hydrogens. In ALD, the VLCSFAs build up in the blood stream up to two to four times higher in ALD patients than the average person. Saturated fatty acids are straight and this gives them the capacity to break down the myelin sheath. When the myelin sheath molecules become soluble they simply drift away from the neurons. Neurons cannot function well without the sheath and they may not function at all in the end stages of adrenoleukodystrophy (Stith).The neurological disease depicted in The Awakenings is encephalitis lethargica, or sleeping sickness. Encephalitis is an acute inflammation of the brain caused by either a direct attack by any of several viruses or an allergic response to any of the many viruses that are generally harmless to the central nervous system (Tortora). It is characterized by a high fever, double vision, delayed physical and mental response, and lethargy (Encephalitis Lethargica). Lethargy is a condition of functional...

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