Basal ganglia calcification is a disorder that is characterized by abnormal deposits of calcium in the basal ganglia and cerebral cortex areas of the brain; affecting movement, awareness, memory, motor skills, as well as causing psychiatric and behavioral difficulties. Although considered rare, basal ganglia calcification is believed to be under-diagnosed since calcium deposits are only recognized through brain imaging tests. (Josiah, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institute of Health). This condition can be very frustrating to the individual, as well as the family.
Since the age of five, my daughter, Brittany, began displaying several disabilities including attention deficit-hyperactive disorder (ADHD), learning difficulties, short stature, and hand tremors, all of which had no known cause or causal connection. However, at the age of thirteen, she was diagnosed with basal ganglia calcification, after a CT scan performed to diagnose a sudden onset of severe headaches revealed the existence of calcium deposits. Although the CAT scan was not a determining factor in the diagnoses of the root cause of her headaches, it was a key factor in determining the possible cause of her noted disabilities.
Although the cause of basal ganglia calcification is unknown, it has been associated with toxic exposure, such as carbon monoxide poisoning; infections, such as congenital conditions, tuberculosis, AIDS; metabolic imbalances, such as thyroid disorders, and genetic disorders, such as mitochondrial diseases (MELAS), Cockayne Syndrome and pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration (PKAN) also known as Hallervorden-Spatz Syndrome (Knipe).
Basal ganglia calcification can result in psychiatric and behavioral problems including difficulty concentrating, memory loss, changes in personality, a distorted view of reality, and decline in intellectual function (Genetic Home Reference). As in Brittany’s case, tests performed in kindergarten determined that Brittany had an IQ of 85; however, over the course of fifteen years this has steadily declined and her most recent tests reveal that her current IQ is approximately 72, which supports the above reference research.
Researchers suggest that calcium deposits lead to the characteristic features of basal ganglia calcification by interrupting signaling that connect the basal ganglia to other areas of the brain, particularly the frontal lobes. These areas at the front of the brain are involved in reasoning, planning, judgment, and problem-solving known as executive functioning. The regions of the brain that regulate social behavior, mood, and motivation may also be affected (Genetics Home Reference). Brittany had difficulties with school and homework as a result of the effect of the calcium deposits on this portion of her brain.
At age seventeen, Brittany was evaluated by the Speech and Hearing Center located at Plattsburgh State University, Plattsburgh, New York. ...