Malignant cancer cells grow to form tumors. Tumors interfere with brain functions, like language difficulty, muscle control, concentration, slower reactions and weakened problem-solving abilities. Simple things like remembering names and faces, walking and setting a table can be challenging at the beginning for someone who has suffered through brain cancer and treatments that arise from it.
A brain cancer patient will often experience side effects from treatments, either chemotherapy, radiation and/or surgery such as swollen brain tissue, muscle weakness, damage to normal tissue, and brain functions that affect motor skills.Â They may have problems in remembering words or expressing their thoughts, and have difficulty walking and they may not be as coordinated as they once were. Their ability to concentrate and memory retention will be shortened, and ability to solve problems will be weakened.
Most often many of these side effects can be reduced by medication, rehabilitation, and by re-learning through utilizing new memory techniques and memory skills.
The cognitive portion of our brain organizes the order in which we perform tasks, and our ability to understand the outcome. Our thinking, memory, reasoning and perceptions can be affected. To return the patient to a more â€œnormalâ€ life, â€œcognitive retrainingâ€ may be necessary, which would include restoring the original skills in the undamaged but weakened areas of the brain from the medications, radiation and brain swelling. It allows for the training of the damaged areas in order for it to relearn what skills it has lost, and help to form new connections that circumvent the damaged ones.
Cognitive retraining of the brain is often compared to building up weak muscles. Our brain is a muscle, so brain exercises can often rebuild the memory skills. This can occur through training through a variety of ways â€“ through the help of a rehabilitation therapist; with a memory expert; utilizing memory tools; and learning mind strategies through the use of computer programs that improve the interpretation of what we see (visual-perception), and through memory games. A large variety of brain games can be found online.
Not seeking some kind of rehabilitation or retraining would be a mistake. Everyone who has ever gone through brain cancer will need some type of help because there will definitely be some kind of swelling â€“ at least temporarily, and so some function will be affected for a short time. Other areas could be affected on a more permanent level, but with professional help that damage could be limited.
From the Desk of Ron White
eMedicineHealth – Side Effects of Brain Cancer Treatments: http://www.emedicinehealth.com/brain_cancer/page9_em.htm#side
American Brain Tumor Association – Becoming Well Again Through…: http://www.abta.org/index.cfm?contentid=147 ; http://www.abta.org/Becoming_Well_Again_Through…/Cognitive_Retraining/199 & http://www.abta.org/siteFiles/SitePages/9346E8C11554938FFB49915D6B08FB5D.pdf
National Brain Tumor Society – How Tumors Affect the Mind,
Emotion and Personality: http://www.braintumor.org/patients-family-friends/about-brain-tumors/publications/factsheet_howtumorsaffectthemind.pdf