Friday 15 September 2023

Cerebellum - it isn't just about balance!

I got told at some point after my surgery that having a part of my cerebellum removed is the best area of the brain to be removed as "it doesn't really cause any issues".

Now while I fully accept that it would be far better than many areas, removing a 3cm area of brain and the required surgery certainly doesn't mean you will always have absolutely no issues!

Many a time since I gave spoken to a GP, or even a neuro specialist about the cerebellum's links with cognitive function, speech, anxiety or depression and they have looked at me blankly. They never say, 'I don't think it's linked to the area of the cerebellum your tumour was' or say anything to imply that I have understood it incorrectly - instead they clearly don't have a clue what I'm even talking about!
They sometimes say 'it mainly controls balance', then add 'you don't seem that affected with this'. But I've also been told "I've not heard of that link before." 
Are they the actual experts? 

Do doctors, even brain specialists, really know more than their patients?

Or could actually asking the patients 
'What things do you struggle with now?'
actually help both the medical profession and us patients out?!!

Even on Wikipedia it says this about Cerebellar Cognitive Affective Syndrome (CCAS)
"They reported that patients with injury isolated to the cerebellum may demonstrate distractibility, hyperactivity, impulsiveness, disinhibition, anxiety, ritualistic and stereotypical behaviors, illogical thought and lack of empathy, aggression, irritability, ruminative and obsessive behaviors, dysphoria and depression, tactile defensiveness and sensory overload, apathy, childlike behavior, and inability to comprehend social boundaries and assign ulterior motives"

This article 'The mysterious, multifaceted cerebellum', being a really easy to read and informative, the end of it saying.  
"What’s clear, however, is that the cerebellum can no longer be ignored — and that its connections throughout the brain and contributions to brain function may be much broader than scientists had initially imagined."

There are also these, basic but interesting, links (that every neuro doctor should know!) about cerebellum damage and its side effects.

Cerebellum Brain Damage: What Causes It & How Rehabilitation Works 

"Of note, the cerebellum also helps to regulate other visual functions, such as the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR). The VOR is what allows you to continue seeing a stable picture even when while you are moving around. These visual functions may also be affected by cerebellum brain damage."

This interests me as before I knew about my tumour, I complained to the GP saying my vision felt like I was looking through a video - moving up and down as I walked. Plus I have never felt my visual perception is back to normal afterwards, I can turn my head and lose balance and so can't look backwards easily, often feeling things are just not fully still around me. But again, I just get looked at like I spoke to an alien if I discuss it with a Dr!

Plus this article that everyone who has has, or knows someone who has had a brain injury should read.

Dealing with Sensory Overload After Brain Injury

Many of these approaches I naturally realised helped me long before I read this, and no doctor or therapist has yet to ask me, let alone help with them!

Also, as I had hydrocephalus before my operation, all parts of my brain must have been struggling beforehand. How can they know if being in this state for weeks caused damage or not? It drives me insane when they say its nothing to do with my surgery and yet the issues only started just AFTER it. Many a time I have said, it could have been the tumour, the hydrocephalus, the surgery, the swelling after... and I'm not blaming the hospital or staff in any way - but please acknowledge there is a problem! 

I also set up a survey for my Hemangioblastoma brain tumour group - asking those who had cerebellar tumours to list their current issues. The results are exactly what I have been saying for years and are so very similar, yet we are all ignored (and I cried when I read them) 

I will try and publish the results in another blog post soon x

And please search my previous blog posts on the cerebellum and its side effects for me.

Missing area in cerebellum
The outside is missing!
Showing how messed up my neck is too!

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