How would you feel if you were diagnosed with a disease that has baffled scientists for centuries? If your entire social life was destroyed due to this disease which may worsen as time goes by. But worst of all about being diagnosed with this disease is the fact that there is no cure. My guess is you wouldn�t be too happy. You would probably become very depressed, violent, and cut yourself out from any social activities. If you felt this way, you would now be able to understand the lives and feelings of those diagnosed with Tourette syndrome (TS).
Tourette Syndrome is a neurological disorder; therefore it affects the nervous system. The nervous system consists of the brain, spinal cord, nerve cells, and fibers that extend throughout the body. When healthy, the nervous system reacts and responds to nerve impulses that allows us to maintain homeostasis. The nervous system can be broken down further into its three basic functions: sensory functions, integrative functions, and motor functions.
In sensory functions, your body�s sensory receptors detect many different stimuli in and outside of your body. For example, your sensory receptors may detect a change in your blood temperature, or a change outside of your body such as a touch on the arm. Your body then goes through a process know as its integrative function. This is when your nervous system processes information sent via your sensory neurons and in a way �makes decisions� regarding appropriate responses. When all is said and done during this process a decision is made and sent through interneurons that act as a postman and deliver the decision to the motor function part of your nervous system. The motor function involves responding to the decision delivered by the interneurons by using efferent neurons that obtain the decision and send it to the effector to finally carry out the response. An effector can be anything in your body such a muscle fiber or cell glands that can carry out the response. A good example of an effector is your sweat glands. Do keep in mind that this complicated process takes place in thousandths of a second.
This process is easier to understand by taking a closer look at the structure and function of the neurons involved. There are three types of neurons , each of which I mentioned in the paragraph above. There are the sensory neurons, the interneurons, and finally the efferent neurons. The structure of the typical neuron is usually made up of three parts. One of these parts is the cell body which contains the cell�s nucleus and very important clusters of endoplasmic reticulum which are known as nissl bodies. The nissl bodies are used in the regeneration of damaged axons and the growth of the neuron itself. There are two extensions from the neuron�s cell body which are significant in the obtaining and relaying information stage. These extensions are the dendrites and axons. The dendrite, which looks like a little trees; is the portion of the cell that is used for receiving information and the axon is the portion of the cell that conducts the received information and sends nerve impulse towards another neuron.
The brain is by far the most important organ involved with the nervous system. Your brain is involved in every single decision made by your body, even the ones you are not aware of. A healthy brain is made of four principal parts, the brain stem, diencephalon, cerebrum, cerebral cortex, and the cerebellum. Each part is important because they all have a unique job. The brain stem, which consists of the medulla oblongata, pons, and midbrain, is responsible for many important bodily functions such as regulation of breathing, heartbeat, swallowing, vomiting, coughing, sneezing, and many other important functions. The diencephalon which is made up of the thalamus and hypothalamus are important for other types of functions like crude perception of touch, pressure, pain, your circadian rhythm, and even your emotional behavior. After the diencephalon there is the cerebrum which is most important in the regulation of muscle movement and muscle tone. Last but not least, the brain contains the cerebellum, or � small brain�. This little appendage of the brain is very special because it compares intended movements with what is actually happening to coordinate complex, skilled movements. Without it you would be lacking balance and posture.
What I have explained is only applicable to a natural, healthy nervous system. As I said before, tourettes syndrome is a disease which attacks one�s nervous system and the affects can be incredibly detrimental.
Tourette syndrome is an inherited neurological disorder which is best known for the repeated involuntary movements and vocal outbursts of it�s victims. In some cases, the vocal outbursts include socially inappropriate words and phrases. This rare condition of tourettes is known as coprolalia. These outbursts may seem very rude to some but people must understand that they are completely unintentional. The involuntary movements associated with this disease are things such as uncontrollable blinking, repeated throat clearing, sniffing, arm thrusting, kicking movements, shoulder shrugging, and even jumping. There is very little known about the cause of this disease nor is there a cure, but I am going to try and explain as much as I know about tourettes on a scientific level.
In the early 1960�s scientists discovered that people with tourettes syndrome can calm their tics by taking medication containing haloperidol. As scientists studied this drug more they found out that the drug suppressed the tics by blocking the receiving areas on cells or receptors where the chemical dopamine usually passes on messages. Focusing more on the chemical dopamine, it was an astounding discovery when dopamine-stimulating drugs given to tourette syndrome victims caused the triggering of their involuntary tics.
New studies of tourettes led some scientists to believe that the tics are related to dopamine receptors that are super sensitive to the chemicals in specific brain areas. In extreme cases of tourettes, the receptors in the caudate nucleus contain dopamine receptors that are super hyper active. These specific areas in the brain that are defected, usually act as a brake on the movements that are made on purpose. When a certain movement is needed, the dopamine in a healthy brain can provide a password to the receptors that will release the urge to move. Research suggests that in a severe case of tourettes, the patients have exceptionally sensitive receptors that take any subtle sign from dopamine as a reason to let urges loose. Thus, the uncontrollable deluge of tics.
Another theory of the cause of tourettes also has to do with the chemical dopamine. Some scientists believe that the cause of the tics may be due to a larger than normal number of dopamine-producing brain cells and that the individual cells could have an abundance of sites, or terminals that release dopamine. As of today, little more than what is already known has been discovered, but it�s a sure bet that dopamine is involved. Scientists are hoping that with further research, someday there will arise a cure.
If you want a career involved with tourettes, it would be best to become a neurologist. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating, and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system. To be a neurologist you need an undergraduate degree, four years of medical school, a one-year internship and three years of specialized training. Most neurologists also have an additional in one area of neurology such as a stroke, epilepsy, or movement disorders. The basic role of the neurologist is a principal care provider or consultant to other physicians. It may take a while to officially become a neurologist, but once you are it is well worth it.
Tourette syndrome is a disease that may not be deadly, but it has very damaging affects on one�s personality. So if you know someone or see someone with this disease, treat them as if they were a normal human being that didn�t have tourettes. Also, remember that tourretes is a disease that does not affect one�s intelligence. So don�t be afraid of tourettes, just try to understand it.