The focus this week was to understand the complex nervous system and the equally complex endocrine system. The nervous system can be understood as the body’s electrical wiring and not unlike a car’s electrical system, when something malfunctions, it affects the entire machine. The endocrine system consists of glands that produce, secrete, and regulate the vital hormones needed for countless functions within the human body. When the endocrine system functions properly, the body grows and develops. When there is hormonal disruption within the endocrine system, the individual can manifest numerous illnesses that are often life altering. The following medical scenarios demonstrate the serious and sometimes fatal outcomes when the nervous and endocrine systems become diseased.
Case Study-Mr. Stevens Loss of Balance
Mr. Stevens presented to his doctor’s office with a chief complaint of frequent episodes of ataxia, which he describes as feeling as if he is drunk. In addition, he recounts he is unable to draw a straight line. Mr. Stevens’ physician suspects the patient’s symptoms indicate a problem within his cerebellum.
The Structure and Function of the Cerebellum
The cerebellum, the second largest brain structure, is located inferior to the occipital lobe of the cerebrum. The outside consists of a thin layer of folded gray matter, while the interior is predominately made up of white matter (Patton & Thibodeau, 2014). The cerebellum uses a complex system to communicate with other parts of the central nervous system to allow coordinated body movement. It accomplishes this by way of three pairs of nerve “highways” called cerebellar peduncles. The peduncles sense information from other areas of the central nervous system (CNS) such as the spinal cord, medulla oblongata, and the cerebral cortex. The cerebellum then interprets and corrects them to allow the body to move in the appropriate way (Samuel, 2014).
Mr. Steven’s Symptoms and Likely Diagnosis
As stated above, Mr. Stevens complains of ataxia and difficulty controlling his muscle movements, which are disturbing his gait. He also reports an inability to draw a straight line. His symptoms appear to be sudden and did not follow a head injury. Because the cerebellum controls the coordination of limb movements, his physician suspects a tumor or a possible degenerative disorder of the cerebellum. To properly diagnose Mr. Stevens, his physician will likely refer him to a neurologist or neurosurgeon who will do a complete neurological exam and order diagnostic testing such as a CT scan (computed tomography scan) or an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). The treatment will depend on the results of the testing, but might include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Mr. Stevens prognosis is dependent on numerous factors, but brain cancer is a serious and often fatal illness (Stanford Medicine Cancer Institute, 2014).
Case Study-Mr. Collins Motor Vehicle Accident
Mr. Collins is a 60 year-old male who...