The Resilience of the Human Brain

The resilience of the human brain comes to the forefront as we celebrate Brain Awareness Week. Survivors are making headlines by showing just how amazing the brain is: For instance, former US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and Formula 1 race car driver Michael Schumacher survived traumatic brain injuries, and actress Sharon Stone suffered a severe brain bleed from a ruptured aneurysm (subarachnoid hemorrhage).

Such remarkable comebacks certainly speak to the resilience of the brain and all that medical treatment can achieve for patients.

It was once thought that the brain was only poorly repairable. But advances in contemporary neurocritical care give us a more optimistic view, pushing the envelope of what is salvageable. Neuro-intensivists play a critical role in helping patients with severe neurologic injuries to recover. They have clot-busting medications, blood-thinners, anti-seizure and anti-swelling medications and coma-inducing or awakening medications at their disposal.

Frontiers of the Brain

As brain-salvage experts, neuro-intensivists use high-tech devices to probe the brain while the patient is near death. They drive them through the darkness of a coma, tailoring blood pressure and oxygen levels to individual sweet spots–instantly fueling the needs of each specific brain. In addition, neuro-intensivists work closely with neurosurgeons to determine when to insert drains, when to intubate the patient and put lines in veins and arteries. They also interpret complex brain imaging, brain waves and vital signs to provide critical care individually tailored for each patient.

When I see my patients in the Neurosurgical Intensive Care Unit, I want the very best functional outcome for each and every one of them. I want to see them wake up with as few lost brain neurons as possible, stand up and go back to their family and communicate all the love they need to share for many years–not just surviving and barely making it after an accident.

Every day of my career, I have seen the true resilience of the human brain. At the same time, I am reminded every day how one traumatic incident can change our lives in an instant.

To learn more about the Neurocritical Care Center, please call us at 516-562-3590.

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