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Diagnosed with cerebral atrophy. What does this mean?

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Practicing since : 2000
Answered : 11 Questions
I have been told I have cerebral atrophy what does this mean for my life
Posted Wed, 15 Aug 2012 in Brain and Spine
Answered by Dr. Abhijeet Deshmukh 20 minutes later

As you might have been informed by your doctors, Cerebral Atrophy involves loss of neurons (nerve cells) in the brain. This loss is usually gradual over time. The various symptoms of Cerebral Atrophy appear over time.

Depending upon the cause of the atrophy the treatments are focused towards reducing the effect on daily living and slowing the progress of atrophy. In some condition where the atrophy is located in a limited area of brain, the condition may not progress.

Symptoms, too, depend on which areas are affected by atrophy.

Would you be able to describe your symptoms and any causal factors identified for atrophy? With more information on those points, I will be able to help you better. Usually atrophy progresses slowly over time, and it means that you may have to take extra efforts at improving or maintaining certain skills.

Please write back with more details so we can discuss further. You may also write your thoughts about any anxieties related to this situation.

Take care.

Abhijeet Deshmukh, MD
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Diagnosed with cerebral atrophy. What does this mean? 52 minutes later
Hi Doctor

Thanks for this information it is useful.

I have had a hand eye co-ordination disability since birth.

I have shaking in my legs for the last 2 months which seems to be getting worse. I often blank out for about 5 minutes at a time as if I am asleep. I often lose my speech and cannot speak at all. This lasts only a few hours and then seems to return. All these symptons have started since January.

My eye sight seems to be deteriorating. I am sleeping a lot more than I used to. I have problems at work due to capability and have been off work since October last year with extreme anxiety which has involved various hospital admissions for chest and stomach pain.

I have been on medication since December. I am taking Propranolol, Fluoxentine and Laprozole (sorry about the spelling) for a few weeks I took promozine Hydrachloride. This stopped the shaking for a while but no longer has that effect so I have stopped taking it.

The Atrophy was found on the CT scan and I had a EEG a few days ago. The doctors tell me that there has not been much change since my last scan in 2008.

Any advice about going back to work would be greatly appreciated.

Answered by Dr. Abhijeet Deshmukh 3 hours later

Thank you for more details. It is unfortunate that you have to go through this. It seems to me that your current symptoms could be related to isolated events in the brain, such as transient ischemic attacks. Your Neurologist will be able to tell you more about the clinical signs. The atrophy could also mean you may have certain issues for a long duration. That again depends upon what areas of the brain are involved. But you can certainly do something about work.

If your work assessment has been done, you will find that there may be only a few areas of your work that are affected by your medical condition. But other areas of work would still be fine. With the help of your authorities, you can seek a change in your work role. I am not sure how exactly that can be done, since I am not fully aware of the healthcare system in your region. But I suppose an occupational therapist can assess your situation and recommend certain areas of work that are fine as ever. You might want to leverage this aspect.

You might also consider going in regularly for occupation related exercises with the review of the Occupational therapist. Research has shown that physical exercise can help minimize the damage done by atrophy in process.

It's a good sign that the scan hasn't changed much since 2008. The question that remains is about the various challenges you are facing such as your eyesight, blanking out episodes and the anxiety episodes. Although there are no quick fixes to these, you can certainly XXXXXXX these challenges one by one. And you resolution to get back to work is the most important factor here. The more value you attach to improving the quality of your life, the more efforts you will take and the better results you will get. So, if you have doubts whether you can get back to work, leave those aside and set a work related goal for yourself.

Can you let me know more about your anxiety episodes?

Take care.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Diagnosed with cerebral atrophy. What does this mean? 19 hours later
Thanks for your help so far it has been very useful.

My anxiety seems to come on without any pattern. I have severe pain in my chest and stomach. Most recently I get severe pain in my head and my eyes close. Just yesterday I was out shopping and could not keep my eyes open for more than a few seconds. This lasted about an hour. Afterwards I was OK again. I was having a meal in a cafe at the time. I had to be wheeled out in a wheelchair. I seem to sleepwalk most nights.

When I have anxiety I tend to panic and then cannot think straight.

My family and GP have called many ambulances for me over the past 6 months but it is always put down to anxiety. I do have extra heart beats and have had an ECG, Brain Scan and EEG as well as an exercise test.

The last time I went into Hospital I went in with a temperature of 40.1 degrees due to a stomach bug which caused me to be kept in Hospital for 5 days. I feel so very tired and do not know which way to turn.

I have not worked for such a long time and cannot seem to concentrate on anything.

Answered by Dr. Abhijeet Deshmukh 4 hours later

I agree with you that the anxiety episodes may appear without warning, and without any particular pattern. And thus, you cannot predict them. This can make joining work look an uphill task.

I will encourage you to plan for joining work again. You may ask for supervised work to begin with, for a few weeks. Once you have started work again, you will gradually gain confidence in your ability to carry on.

You can also consider seeking help of a therapist who can help you deal with the anxiety and panic. There may be certain issues which need attention. Talking with a therapist about anxiety can be helpful. In addition to that, you should make sure that you are receiving adequate and appropriate treatment for anxiety/panic episodes.

You can talk with your doctor about the use of specific medicines for treating anxiety symptoms. Some of the most effective one are from the family of drugs called Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). Of course, there are newer ones available, too. With a regular course of the medicines, and therapy for anxiety, you can increase your chances of recovery.

Hope this helps. Please let me know if you would like to discuss anything in particular in more details.

Take care.

Abhijeet Deshmukh, MD
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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