Human brain is delicate and intricate organ but unlike other animals it is a site of mind which makes humans superior to other creatures on planet earth. Brain controls whole body system. If anything goes wrong with brain, body functions are affected.
Encephalomalacia is medical terminology used for brain softening. The part of brain affected is cerebrum. Encephalomalacia can affect anyone, even a developing embryo in uterus.It is a serious disorder of central nervous system.
This brain disorder generally occurs due to stroke or serious brain injury causing hemorrhage in brain. Patient suffering from encephalomalacia may experience too much drowsiness, vertigo, headache, difficulty in movement and coordination etc. There may be permanent or temporary loss of eyesight.
Encephalomalacia cannot be treated. Treatment is therefore directed to correct the underlying cause which is responsible for this condition.
Causes Of Encephalomalacia
There are number of heath conditions and disorders that can cause encephalomalacia. However, in majority of cases it occurs due to stroke or due to serious brain injury that damages the brain tissue due to hemorrhage or bleeding. Mainly the cerebrum becomes soft. It is the largest part of brain. Reasoning and thinking are two functions of cerebrum. It also controls muscular movements.
Encephalomalacia can be localized or it can spread to adjacent brain tissue from a local focal area. Below are important conditions that can cause extensive softening of brain tissue.
- Cerebral infarction leading to stroke is the most common cause for encephalomalacia. This condition involves disruption of blood flow to the brain due to damage to the blood vessel supplying blood to the brain. Part of brain dies in stroke. The brain cells are substituted with scar tissue which consists of astrocytes. It is instrumental in causing softening of brain.
- Traumatic brain injury is another cause. Severe brain injury caused due to external force such as a violent blow from car accident, penetrating object such as a bullet can lead to extensive softening of cerebrum.
- Infection which results in severe swelling of brain tissue can damage the brain tissue resulting in extensive softening.
Symptoms Of Encephalomalacia
Symptoms of encephalomalacia may vary from one person to another. It may depend on the part and portion of brain affected. Symptoms can be mild or severe. Age and overall health of a person is also considered to play a role in severity of symptoms.
Brain softening can be localized or it can spread to nearby area from the original damage part of the cerebrum. Encephalomalacia can thus lead to multiple organ dysfunctions at the same time. Symptoms commonly observed with encephalomalacia are:
- Severe form of drowsiness.
- Difficulty in movement and coordination.
- Blindness either temporary or permanent.
- Pressure in head or severe headache.
- Memory loss
Diagnosis: Diagnosis of encephalomalacia is possible with imaging techniques. MRI and CT scan are two useful imaging techniques to indentify softening of brain.
Treatment Options For Encephalomalacia
Encephalomalacia is not curable condition. It is not possible to reverse the damaged brain cell. The main aim of treatment is to detect the underlying cause which is instrumental in causing the condition and dealing with it effectively.
In extreme cases surgical removal of particular damaged area may be considered. But this option in most cases is not proved to have favorable results that can improve the lost function or reverse the cellular damage that has already occurred.
With advancement in stem cell science, researchers are trying the usefulness stem cell therapy in correcting this disorder. However, it is still in its primary stage.