Nearly all people have stress. Stress is a consideration of the nervous system. This includes the brain, the spinal cord and the nerves that emanate from it. We shall also spend time discussing the muscles, for many nerves finally go to muscles and muscle groups and activate them into movement.
Symptoms are often surreptitious and may come on stealthily. However, the types of symptoms that should alert a mother are fairly wide and will depend on the nature of the disorder. She should take special note if the child becomes irritable, alters from a normal happy disposition, and suffers from headaches. Babies making a high pitched crying noise, losing interest in food or refusing to eat at all, is not normally thriving.
Vomiting, nausea, stiffness of the neck and back are also important symptoms, especially when teamed with fevers. Sleepiness (particularly following a blow to the head), muscle fatigue, strange movements or twitching of the muscles in the face or limbs, especially after an elevated temperature should also be treated with precaution. Convulsions, fits, becoming unconscious and drifting into a coma, lack of normal control of the bladder and bowels when one would have expected the child to have gained control, should all alert the parent. Not adjusting readily with peers, and appearing to be slow mentally in relation to their development is also important. Any abnormal swellings along the course of the spine may be important. These are some of the more probable indications that should send a mother along for prompt medical advice.
That seems a very formidable list. Yes, it is, but happily, nervous system diseases are not terribly common; at least the serious ones are not. It’s not likely that any person will have the whole list, but the idea is to alert parents, thus the large number of horrific symptoms.
How the System Operates
I’ve often heard of the brain and nerve system being referred to as a computer. That’s not a bad analogy. In fact, I believe the experts grabbed the idea for a man made computer from the brain system all received for nothing at birth. Nature is very kind to us all, the way it provides such intricate systems for free. I thank nature every day of my life. Don’t you?
I certainly do. The chief nerve centre is in the cranium, the bony casing of the skull. Here it is protected from damage. The tail end runs down in a channel called the vertebral canal. This is formed as the back bones join together. It is called the spinal cord, and is thick, like a piece of rope. At each bony joint it gives off a spinal nerve that runs out to supply muscles and organs all the way down the body. In this manner every part of the system receives a nerve filament. In turn these are all connected in a very intricate manner to the headquarters, the brain up top.
Where does activity commence?
Usually sensations come to the brain via all the organs of sense. This includes seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling, sensing pressure, warmth, position in space and so on. These impulses are conveyed to the brain. Some are simply stored there in the memory banks, otherwise known as the subconscious part of the brain, but others demand immediate action. These are relayed to the motor part of the brain (as it is called), and this sends out other impulses down the same cord, to the muscle groups or body organs involved.
That’s why we react to certain situations, such as running across the road if we see a car coming. We do many of these actions automatically. The brain has a tremendous storehouse that can help us to keep safe and out of harm’s way. The entire system works very efficiently and very smoothly.
What sort of things can go wrong?
There are many possibilities. The brain is encased in a thin, but tough membrane called the meninges. It is also bathed in fluid called cerebrospinal fluid. These are aimed at protecting it from damage, from sudden blows, from germs. However, sometimes, despite these natural protective measures, germs may gain a foothold, injury may be transmitted to it, or birth abnormalities may have caused serious defects to normal operations.
Just as the nervous system is affected, so the muscles also may suffer from various anomalies. These are fairly rare in the total picture of life, but mothers should know about them, for sooner or later this information may prove invaluable.
How are we going to deal with the brain and the nervous and muscular systems?
I think we will look at some of the infectious disorders first. Then those involved with fits and convulsions. After this we will briefly mention conditions in which there is a reduction in normal mental development. Then various birth defects, accidents, poisonings, and finally the muscle disorders.