Our 2 year old special needs son does not have the connection from the brain to swallow and I have learned that that in controlled by the brain stem. I am seeking more information on the brain stem. Our son has CHARGE syndrome and cerebral palsy and we know he is missing sections of the frontal lobes. He severely developmentaly delayed and is trached. We didn't know that he had problems in the brain stem until a swallow study was done. I desperately want to know what else the brain stem controls so that I can keep ahead of problems that he may face in the future. My son also has severe reflux (has had a nissen and that has been redone 3 times but still refluxing)and vomiting is also something that the brain stem is in control of. Any information you can give me will be greatly appreciated or being pointed in the right direction to look for information will help so much. Thank you in advance, Debra
Very sorry to hear about your son. It sounds like hemay have CHARGE syndrome plus, meaning he has other medical problems in addition to the CHARGE syndrome. The brainstem is composed of three major structures: the midbrain, pons, and medulla. It has a large number of functions, many of which will likely remain normal in your son's case. FIrst of all, it holds the nuclei (or origins of nerves) to all of the nerves and muscles in the head such as that to wrinkle the forehead, smile, close eyes, facial sensation, hearing, eye movements, taste, etc... Second, it has cerebellar fibers involved with balance and locomotion. Third, it has all the fibers that run up and down from the brain to the spinal cord for all of the functions. It also carries connections from the brain, thalamus, and autonomic nervous system as well as numerous other systems. Other Important structures are the cardiac and respiratory centers in the brainstem. The brainstem is a vital and complicated structure that is essential to human life. A better understanding of your son's clinical picture and imaging studies of his brain and brainstem are needed for a more specific analysis of his symptoms.
This is probably a lot more information that you needed, and perhaps not all that you wanted. Talk to your son's pediatric neurologist to find out more about what's going on with him and if he has developmental abnormalities of the brain stem. Finally, for more information on CHARGE, you can write to he CHARGE foundation at www.chargesyndrome.org or call 1800 442 7604. Good luck
Thank you so much for all your information. Yes, my son indeed has CHARGE syndrome (infact we have 2 sons with CHARGE syndrome, my husband and I adopt special need children). Zak is 2 1/2 and Tryny is 8. We know that Zak has facial palsy, is missing parts of the frontal lobes of the brain and has retardation, but we don't know that the degree is yet as he's too young to determine. We did not know about the problems of the brain stem until the swallow study was done, and I'm the kind of mother that has to know everything I can about my son's diseases and problems. You were very helpfull with my gathering the information I was needing.
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