What is a neurological problem?
Some neurological problems or conditions are present from birth (congenital), some are hereditary (genetic) and others have a sudden onset due to injury or illness, such as a head injury or stroke, or a cancer of the brain or spine.There are over 470 known neurological conditions. Some conditions, such as head injury and stroke, with the right treatment and support, may make a good recovery. Other conditions, such as muscular dystrophy and motor neurone disease, are degenerative (symptoms worsen over time). A neurological condition may often result in some degree of disability.Neuroscience is a rich field devoted to studying the many facets of the nervous system. The nervous system includes both the central nervous system, consisting of a brain and spinal cord, and the peripheral nervous system comprised of the nerves that lie in the extremities, muscles, and organs. Not all neuroscientists directly study the brain, but brain research tends to capture the attention and imagination of the modern audience. Some even regard the human brain as the most complex organism in the entire universe. Millions of years of biological and cultural evolution have made it possible for our species to compute patterns in nature, be conscious of ourselves, and empathize with one another. Understanding how all of this occurs is a fascinating challenge.
Coping with neurological problems
Immediately after a diagnosis or injury, you may feel you will never cope with what life has dealt you. Overwhelming feelings of sorrow, anger and unfairness are very common and absolutely normal. But somehow, most people do eventually adjust to their new lives. In this article we look at coping strategies and find out how others have learnt to live with a neurological condition.
Learning to accept and adjust
It can take time to adjust properly to a serious illness or disability – it represents a huge change to life as you know it. Many people go through a series of different emotions, such as anger or denial, before they can accept their new circumstances and adjust to them.
“I used to fantasize often that it had been a mistake, that someone else’s scans had been mixed up with mine,” says Ben, whose MRI scan showed an unruptured aneurysm in his brain.
Ben took a few months to adjust, but in the end he found it was the only way to move on:
“One day I think I simply decided that I physically and mentally could not be afraid any more and if I wanted to have some form of a life I had to face up to the reality of the situation.”
Heather, who had a subarachnoid brain haemorrhage, had a “delayed reaction” to what had happened to her, a few weeks after she came out of hospital:
“I’d been home a few weeks… and that’s when I had a real ‘Why me?’ kind of feeling and I hadn’t had that before. I hadn’t been upset about it at all and suddenly I was screaming and pulling my hair and going, ‘Oh, why me? Why has it happened to me? Why is my life ruined?'”
In their own time, most people move on from these feelings, but if you are finding it difficult to accept your situation, help is available. You could ask your GP to refer you for counselling, or call the Brain and Spine Helpline nurses to talk things through.