The human brain is surely an awe-inspiring phenomenon. Fortunately, this intricate one-kilogram structure—the controlling organ of our bodies—is well defended against injuries. The bony shield of the skull, wrapped in the resilient scalp and lined within by a tough membrane called dura matter, protects the brain admirably against blows and falls.
As a further protective device, the brain is surrounded by fluid that helps absorbs traumatic shocks. Superb as these defenses are, man himself, with his modern automobiles and passion for speed and for certain violent sports can deal dangerous blows to the brain.
To protect our brains against severe trauma, we need to know the hazards of such sports as rugby, baseball, American football and diving, and how to avoid injuries to the skull. Concern for safety does not make you a coward; prudence marks you as a sensible person.
Motorcyclist and equestrians should always wear helmets. Automobile drivers should refrain from reckless driving and unsafe automobiles. Drivers and passengers should always use seat belts while riding in a car—preferably the harness type—to provide the best protection for the head and upper torso.
Excessive use of alcohol not only interferes with safe driving; it is an internal threat to the tissues of the brain. Young people should be thoroughly indoctrinated on the fiercely destructive potential of such drugs as LSD and speed. Amphetamines and the psychedelic and opiate drugs can alter one’s perception so that driving is unsafe for anyone under the influence.
Worse, many of these drugs themselves are known to cause brain damage and to bring on psychotic states. Workers should alert themselves to any physical as well as chemical hazards that can endanger the brain or nervous system on the job.
If you are the victim of an accident and suffer a serious blow to the head, watch for such symptoms as vomiting, dizziness or impaired vision. The classical bump on the head can become dangerous if collected fluid presses on the lining of the brain.
Keeping the Brain in Good Working Order
You can help your brain to stay healthy and work at top efficiency by providing it with sufficient sleep. The amount of sleep necessary differs with individuals, but generally children require about 12 hours and adults need between six and eight hours to feel refreshed. When body and mind tell you they are tired, don’t interfere by overstimulating your brain with too much caffeine from coffee or tea or by the use of pep pills (amphetamines) which can produce dangerous mental disorders.
Similarly, most sleeping pills that promise a good night’s sleep are essentially useless. If anxiety or discomfort are interfering with your sleep, discuss the problem with your doctor before restoring to pills.
Do you need special brain foods and tonics to keep your brain in good working order? No!
A well-balanced diet will provide the brain with all the vitamins and nourishment it requires. Fish is not any better for the brain than any other protein food.
Dangers to the Brain
Some of aging’s harmful effects on the brain can be prevented or diminished by following suggestions about high blood pressure, of hardening of the arteries and other conditions that weaken the arteries of the brain.
Remember that the brain reacts quickly to the diseases in other parts of the body. Dizziness, fainting, impaired memory, and other symptoms can be owing to conditions in and around the brain, such as sinus trouble or a tumor. These symptoms also can be the results of poisons because damaged kidneys are not removing toxic materials from the blood.
Headaches have a variety of causes and should be brought to a doctor’s attention if they are unusually severe or persistent or fail to respond to aspirin. Convulsions are also signals that require special attention—immediate attention if they are accompanied by a high fever. In other words, any unusual brain symptoms call for a complete medical checkup by your doctors.
If we compare the brain to a cellular network, we can think of the rest of the nervous system as trunk and branch lines that directly connect all our sensations and activities with that center.
The nerve network instantaneously carries millions of messages from the outside world and from within our bodies to various parts of the brain, and conversely, all the nerve impulses from the brain to the different parts of the body.
The decision, for instance, to move the big toe will race at a speed of 360 kilometers per hour from the head to the foot a six-foot man in one-fiftieth of a second. In addition to the 51 billion nerve units in the brain, there are billions of receptors throughout the body for receiving and transmitting sensations of vision, hearing, pressure, heat, cold, taste and many others.
Even pain has its purpose, for it is the nervous system’s way of alerting us to trouble within our bodies.
Many complaints loosely labeled ‘nervous disorder’ are not organic (or physical) problems of the nervous system at all. They are the expression of some emotional stress we may be undergoing and are more properly considered psychological symptoms.
Sharp pain in the legs or face, however, may indicate problems with the nerves themselves.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in Collision Sports: Possible Mechanisms of Transformation into Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) by Theodore B Vanltallie
Alcohol and the Brain: Neuronal Molecular Targets, Synapses, and Circuits by Karina Abrahao, Armado Salinas and David Lovinger
Sleep, Brain Vascular Health and Ageing by Bipul Ray et al