Brain Health

Brain Health sample poster

What Neurologists know about brains

​An adult human brain weighs about 3 pounds, or 1.5 kg. Even though it only makes up 2% of the body’s weight, it uses about 20% of the body’s energy! All of that energy is needed by the neurons in the brain to perform important functions. The brain is soft – almost like cooked oatmeal. It is completely suspended in cerebrospinal fluid to cushion impacts and prevent infection. Diseases in the brain can limit its function.

Nervous System Protection

Not only is the brain cushioned by cerebrospinal fluid, it is also encased in the skull. The skull, or cranium is made up of 22 bones that are joined together.

The spinal cord is attached to the brain and is also protected by the skeletal system. Along the spinal cord are 31 segments of bone called vertebrae. You can feel the vertebrae when you run your hand along your spine.

When we are born our neurons are not connected. As we grown and learn, we develop pathways or connections between the neurons so that things become easier to do and we can get better at doing them.  

Pain: Your Defense System

​Have you ever wished you wouldn’t feel pain if you fell down and scraped your knee? You might be surprised to learn that pain actually protects us. Pain is an important signal from the brain to let us know that our body needs special care. Think about if you were to accidentally place your hand on a hot stove element. Your nerves would send a signal to your brain and your brain would make you feel pain. If you didn’t feel pain, you might not know to take your hand off of the element and you could get a very severe burn. Pain is an important warning light to pay attention to! 

Ouch! Migraines

​A migraine (SAY: My-grayn) is worse than a regular headache. You can tell that the pain you feel is a migraine when you feel a throbbing sensation in your head. Sometimes migraines make peoples feel sick, dizzy, sensitive to light, smell and sound.

One out of every 20 kids get migraines. After puberty, girls are three times more likely to get migraines than boys.

Triggers for migraines include stress, menstruation, skipping meals, fried or fatty foods, too little sleep, weather changes and travel. Sometimes there is no trigger.

Migraines happen when blood vessels in the head constrict so less oxygen arrives at the brain. The brain responds by sending too much oxygen to those vessels. You feel pain when the blood vessels expand because they have too much oxygen in them. Migraines can last from 30 minutes to two days.

Getting a migraine is annoying but it doesn’t usually cause any big problems.  Tell an adult when you feel a migraine.

Brain Diseases

Brain diseases come in many different forms. The main categories are infections, seizures, trauma and tumors. Here is one example of each major category:

Meningitis (Infection)
An inflammation of the lining around the brain or spinal cord.

 Epilepsy (Seizure)
Reoccurring seizures by abnormal or too much electricity in the brain.

Concussion (Trauma)
The brain is bruised from hitting against the side of the skull when the head hits something hard.

Brain Tumor (Tumor)
Abnormal tissue growth in the brain puts pressure on the brain.

Love your Brain

Neurons are some of the longest living cells in our body. We keep most of the ones we are born with for our whole life so it’s important to take good care of them. Even though the nervous system is protected by the skull and spine, the brain and spinal cord can still be damaged.

Be Safe: Always wear a helmet, test water depth before diving in
Be Healthy: Eat healthy, natural foods, get plenty of sleep, exercise your brain by learning new things and trying to remember them

In what ways does the coronavirus affect the brain?

A: Cases around the world show that patients with COVID-19 can have a variety of conditions related to the brain, including:

  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Stroke
  • Loss of smell and taste
  • Headaches
  • Trouble focusing
  • Changes in behavior

Additional links

Kid’s Health