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Hardening of the brain???

      Re: Hardening of the brain???

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Posted by CCF Neuro MD on February 07, 1998 at 17:13:49:

In Reply to: Hardening of the brain??? posted by EJ on February 07, 1998 at 01:44:18:

: I was told my father has been diagnosed with 'hardening of the brain'.
  However, it seems impossible to find any information about this
  condition. The hardening is supposed to be limited to the frontal lobe,
  but it affects his quality of life dramatically.
  He is 70 years old, but started to show the first symptoms around 65. At that time, he suffered from sleep apnea, which was successfully treated.  Shortly thereafter, he started to show clear signs of memory loss, to the point that he could not safely travel anymore.  He started to avoid contact with people and spent his time reading, solving crosswords and other puzzels
  Currently, he does not recognize his family anymore and does not know where he is.
  He also displays a mild tremor, which has been attributed to the onset
  of Parkinson's. Lately, he has aggressive spells as well. His ability to
  understand commands and to express himself are deteriorating. He seems
  to have problems to know what is within acceptable norms!
  As I live thousands of miles away from my dad, I have to rely on others
  to give me information about his condition, the diagnosis and the
  possible treatments.  I have been told he has been checked at two university hospitals for Alzheimers, which was negative.  However, any searches about this 'hardening of the brain' come up empty.
  Any suggestions what this could be or any more likely diagnosis???
  Thank you in advance,
The term " hardening of the brain " is not a recognized medical term,
I suspect that it is being used as a sort of simplified term to convey
the idea of the wasting, shrinkage and decline in function of the brain
which is called atrophy and is a feature of dementing illnesses
including frontal lobe dementia. This is similar to the term
"Hardening of the arteries " used to describe the pathological condition
In frontal lobe dementia there is selective shrinkage and scarring of the
frontal lobes of the brain, the brain is visibly smaller and shrunken, both
on scans and on direct viewing and may be firmer to touch due to scarring
or fibrosis. The effects you mention on  personality and memory are typical, with
social withdrawal, apathy, memory loss ,poor concentration, poor emotional
control,and communication difficulties.
This condition is different from Alzheimers in that a different lobe of the brain the
parietal lobe is predominantly involved in alzheimers and the development
of symptoms in the early stages is subtly different.
As the disease progresses, however for practical purposes, the diseases are very
similar , in their effects on the patient , progressive nature and unfortunately in
lack of treatment options. A number of medications have been licensed for use
in dementia of the alzheimers variety, you should ask your neurologist if he would
agree with trying these in your father, the will not bring about dramatic
improvements but may slow the rate of decline.
  Can anyone supply more information? Thank you in advance!

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