Cerebellum brain damage is rare, but its effects can be quite serious.
To help you deal with these types of TBIs, we’ve put together this guide to cerebellar injuries.
We’ll cover everything from the causes of cerebellum brain damage to the best ways to treat it.
Let’s get started!
Cerebellum Brain Damage
The cerebellum (Latin for “little brain”) is located on the base of the brain, right behind the brain stem.
The cerebellum is mostly in charge of muscle movement, but new discoveries are still being made in neuroscience that show the cerebellum is crucial in many other functions, including:
- Language learning
- Balance and equilibrium
- Eye movement
This means that cerebellum brain damage can affect all these functions and others.
Causes of Cerebellum Brain Damage
Because of the cerebellum’s location, it’s very difficult for an external force to damage it.
However, a strong blow to the back of your head could cause trauma.
Most cerebellum brain damage occurs after an anoxic brain injury or after an infection. Alcohol abuse can also cause the cerebellum to deteriorate.
Side Effects of Cerebellum Brain Damage
The following are some of the most common cerebellum brain damage side effects.
1. Loss of Muscle Coordination (Apraxia)
Many people with cerebellum brain damage walk with a wide, staggering gait.
That’s because damage to the cerebellum affects your ability to coordinate muscle movement.
This can make everything from walking to trying to pick up a fork much harder. It can also cause severe tremors.
Apraxia can also affect your facial muscles and even your tongue, which will give you problems with slurred speech and swallowing.
Since apraxia rarely affects muscle strength, the best way to treat it is to activate neuroplasticity through practicing the movement you want to regain.
So, for example, if you have trouble eating, break down the process into separate steps and practice each step individually before putting them all together. Like this:
- Step 1. Bring hand down to the table
- Step 2. Open fingers
- Step 3. Grasp spoon etc…
The more you practice, the more your brain will create new neural pathways in response, until eventually, the action becomes second nature again.
Sometimes cerebellar brain damage makes it hard to visualize the steps you need to take to complete an action. A physical or occupational therapist can help you with this.
A big part of movement coordination involves timing, which a PT can also teach you.
2. Balance problems
Cerebellum brain damage can also lead to severe balance issues.
You might have trouble holding yourself upright when sitting or standing. You also can feel a strong sense of dizziness.
The best way to treat these problems is with balance exercises for brain injury patients.
3. Trouble detecting visual motion
Another side effect associated with cerebellum brain damage is problems with visual detection.
This makes it difficult, sometimes impossible, to tell which direction an object is moving.
Unfortunately, there aren’t very many ways to treat this problem. Sometimes, as the cerebellum heals, it will go away on its own.
Otherwise, you will need to learn some techniques to compensate. An occupational therapist can show you some helpful ones that will let you navigate around your environment safely.
4. Eye movement problems (nystagmus)
A distinctive feature of cerebellum brain damage is eye movement problems.
With this side effect, the eye usually makes rapid, uncontrolled movements, which leads to everything looking like it is bouncing up and down.
Vision therapy for traumatic brain injury eye problems can help you regain control of your eye muscles.
5. Cognitive effects
In the past, many neuroscientists believed that the cerebellum did not play a part in higher cognitive reasoning.
More and more research, however, is finding that this is not true. Cerebellum damage actually does impact a person’s cognitive functions in the same way other brain damage does.
Some of the areas that cerebellum brain damage affects include:
- Ability to organize, plan, and initiate actions (also called executive dysfunction)
- Abstract reasoning
- Working memory
- Visual memory
- Language skills
Cerebellum Brain Damage: Conclusion
So there you have it! These are the most common cerebellum brain damage symptoms and how to treat them.
Remember, the key to healing any brain injury, including cerebellar injuries, is to engage neuroplasticity. You need to keep your body and mind active if you want to make progress.
If you commit to doing your therapy exercises every day, you should start to see improvements in your balance, coordination, and cognitive skills within six months, depending on how severe your injury was.
We hope this guide to cerebellum brain damage gives you the tools you need to make a great recovery.