Terminology

NeurRecovery Solutions hopes that that this list will help with the understanding of specific neurological terminology. If the addition of the new terms  or further explanation of existing ones is needed, please write to us!

A

Acute stroke:  a stage of stroke that starts at the onset of the symptoms and lasts for a few hours.
Agnosia:  cognitive disability that occurs when a person is unable to acknowledge certain things in the visual field or parts of the body.
Aneurysm:  a thinning and bulging out wall of the artery that has a tendency to rupture and cause bleeding in the brain.
Aneurysm “clipping”:  surgical procedure for treatment of brain aneurysms involving clamping an aneurysm, removing the bulging part, and closing the opening in the arterial wall.
Anoxia:  a state of low or no oxygen supply to specific parts of the body that possibly can lead to cell death in that area.
Anticoagulant:  type of drug used to prevent clot formation, and therefore, prevents strokes and heart attacks (is also known as blood thinner).
Antiplatelet therapy: medication(s) that belong to a group of blood thinners; in which the blood thinning effect is achieved by the prevention of platelet aggregation.
Antithrombotic: a type of blood thinner that prevents blood clot formation by inhibiting the coagulating action of thrombin (blood protein).
Aphasia:  inability to understand speech or produce speech due to impairment of the speech centers in the brain.
Apoplexy:  an old term for stroke, more used for hemorrhagic stroke that produces loss of consciousness or paralysis.
Apoptosis: a form of cell death or non-toxic form of cell suicide; it is a “programmed cell death,” that, once triggered by a genetic signal, it is irreversible.
Apraxia:  inability to perform a well known skilled or purposeful movement caused by a specific area brain damage usually due to stroke.
Arteriography:  imaging of the vessels when a special dye is injected.
Arteriovenous malformation (AVM):  tangled arteries and veins, congenital.
Atherosclerosis: disorder of lipid metabolism when fatty material deposits inside the wall of the arteries, making them less patent, hard, and prone to rupture.
Atrial Fibrillation:  abnormal irregular heart beat; potentially causing blood clot “showers” to the brain.
Absence seizure (petit mal seizure): generalized seizure characterized by abrupt cessation of ongoing activity with a blank stare and lost or impaired consciousness lasting on average 10-20 seconds
Abulia: loss of will, impulse, and decision-making ability
Acalculia: “inability to calculate” or difficulty with arithmetic; may be the result of damage to the angular gyrus in the hemisphere dominant for speech and language
Acephalic migraine: migraine variant consisting of the migraine aura without the headache; also known as migraine equivalent
accommodation adjustment of the focal length of the lens of the eye in order to keep objects at varying distances in focus on the retina
ageusia impaired sense of taste
Agnosia: inability to recognize and interpret objects, people, sounds, or smells despite intact primary sense organs (e.g., inability to identify a sound despite intact hearing); typically results from damage to the occipital or parietal lobe
Agraphia: inability to communicate ideas in written language not due to mechanical dysfunction; typically results from damage to the parietal lobe.
Akathisia: motor restlessness; inability to sit still
Akinesia: paucity of movement
Akinetic mutism: disorder of consciousness characterized by periods of sleep and periods of wakefulness during which the patient lies with eyes open but is unresponsive, mute, and immobile; often due to frontal lobe damage
Alexia: inability to read, usually due to a lesion of dominant occipitotemporal cortex
Alien hand syndrome: syndrome characterized by the involuntary movement of a single upper limb in conjunction with the experience of estrangement from or personification of the movements of the limb; often seen in corticobasal degeneration
Allodynia: condition in which an ordinarily painless stimulus is experienced as being painful
Alzheimer’s disease: most common cause of dementia in older adults; a neurodegenerative disease characterized by the gradual loss of cognitive ability in association with the neuropathological findings of abnormal protein aggregates (neuritic plaques and neurofibrillary tangles) and neuron loss in the cerebral cortex
Amaurosis: fugax temporary loss of vision in one eye due to impairment of blood supply through the internal carotid artery or the ophthalmic artery
Amblyopia: developmental abnormality in which a child fails to develop sharp visual acuity
Amygdala: telencephalic gray matter structure located in the anterior portion of the medial temporal lobe involved in emotion, cognition and the regulation of autonomic processes; part of the limbic system
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease): inexorably progressive and fatal disease of unknown cause characterized by slowly progressive degeneration of upper and lower motor neurons
Analgesia: loss of pain sensation
Anencephaly (aprosencephaly): CNS malformation involving failure of closure of the cephalic end of the neural tube, resulting in absence of the forebrain and cerebrum; rudimentary brainstem may be present so that reflex actions such as breathing and responses to sound or touch may occur
Aneurysm (brain aneurysm, cerebral aneurysm): a bulging formation on an artery, usually caused by hypertension or an excessive amount of fatty deposits
Angular gyrus: gyrus located immediately posterior to the supramarginal gyrus at the superior edge of the temporal lobe and involved in recognition of visual symbol; lesions can result in alexia and agraphia
Anhidrosis: absence of sweating
anisocoria pupillary asymmetry
Ankle-foot orthosis (AFO): brace that is worn on the lower leg and foot to support the ankle and correct foot drop
Anomia: inability to name objects or to recognize written or spoken names of objects
Anosmia: loss of sense of smell
Anosognosia: lack of awareness of or indifference to one’s own neurological deficit, seen with nondominant parietal lobe lesions

B

Blood-brain barrier (BBB):  network of blood vessels and glia that protects nerve cells from direct exposure to blood.

C

Carotid Artery: a paired artery located in the neck that brings blood supply to the brain.
Carotid Endarterectomy:  a surgical procedure that is used to remove fatty plaques from the carotid arteries.
Central Pain Syndrome:  pain caused by damage in the thalamus; pain could be perceived as burning, tingling, stabbing, or can be felt as a mixture of the above.
Cerebral blood flow (CBF):  flow of blood through the arteries in the brain.
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF):  fluid that is produced in the brain ventricles tat participates in brain and spinal chord protection and metabolism.
Cerebrovascular Disease:  disorder of the brain due to narrowing (stenosis) or blockage of an artery due to blood clot or fatty plaque.
Cholesterol: a fatty substance produced in the liver and introduced by some foods that are needed for maintaining the cell membranes; excess of it in the arteries can contribute to atherosclerosis.
“Clipping” (See: Aneurism clipping)
Computed Tomography (CT) Scan:  series of X-ray images of the head brain, spinal chord.
Coumadin:  also knows as warfain, is a commonly used anti-coagulant (blood thinner).
Cytokines:  chemicals produced by blood cells and blood vessel cells to promote or suppress an inflammatory immune response to cell injury.
Cytotoxic Edema:  cell swelling due to toxic chemical production and influx of fluids.

D

Doppler Ultrasound: diagnostic imaging of the arteries by using sound waves.
Dysarthria:  difficulty in words production and pronunciation often caused by brainstem stroke.
Dysphagia:  dysfunction of swallowing when patient presents with choking on foods and/or liquids, often caused by brainstem stroke.

E

Edema:  same as swelling, caused by influx of fluids into the cell or tissue.
Embolic stroke:  stroke caused by embolus, ischemic nature.
Embolus: a clot formed by blood cells or fatty particles that dislodges from the heart r large arteries and can limit the blood flow to the brain.
Endothelial wall:  flat cells on the inner lining of the blood vessels.

F

Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI):  MRI imaging that measures blood flow within the brain.

G

Glia:  also named neuroglia; consist of supportive cells in the central nervous system and blood-brain barrier, they provide nutrients, oxygen, protection from infection, trauma, and toxicity (oligodendroglia, microglia, astrocytes are types of glia).
Glutamate (Glutamic Acid):  Excitatory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system.

H

Hemiparesis: weakness on one side of the body (usually sequence of brain disorder).
Hemiplegia:  paralysis on one side o the body (usually sequence of brain disorder).
Hemorrhgaic Stroke: stroke caused by bleeding
Heparin:  type of a blood thinner (anti cougalant).
High-density lipoprotein (HDL):  is a “good” cholesterol.
Homeostasis: balance in the body and cell fluids and chemicals.
Hypertension (high blood pressure):  state of disordered arterial blood pressure regulation that is usually measured equal or greater than 140/90 mm/hg.
Hypoxia: diminished oxygen delivery to the cell or the body.

I

Infarct:  an area of the tissue (e.g. brain or heart) that dies due to loss of blood supply.
Interleukins:  proteins secreted by immune system cells during inflammatory immune response (can happen at the time of ischemia).
Intracerebral hemorrhage:  bleeding inside the brain tissue.
Ischemia:  loss of blood flow to the organ such as brain or heart, caused by obstruction of the brain vessel.
Ischemic cascade:  series of events after ischemia that result in cell death and tissue damage.
Ischemic penumbra:  areas of the brain cells surrounding dead brain cells.
Ischemic stroke:  stroke that happens due to blockage of the vessel.

J

K

L

Lacunar Infarction (stroke):  stroke occurred in the distribution of the small artery of the brain, often caused by stenosis in those arteries ( in the literature, is also called small vessel disease.
Large vessel disease:  blockage (more often stenosis) of the large arteries of the brain.
Lipoprotein:  produced by the liver, it contains small cholesterol particles covered with protein.
Low-density Lipoprotein (LDL):  “bad” cholesterol,

M

MRA:  an imaging of the vessels using magnetic resonance technique.
MRI:  imaging technique using magnetic resonance.
Mitochondria:  organelles of the cells involved with the oxygen and energy metabolism; the “powerhouse” of the cell.
Mitral valve disease:  stenosis or other disorder of mitral heart valve.

N

Neuron:  main cell of the central nervous system.
Neuroprotective agents:  medications and supplements that protect nerve cells from injury.

O 

P

Plaque:  fatty deposits along the arterial wall that leads to atherosclerosis.
Plasticity:  if in reference to the brain, it means to ability to change and/or to adapt to injury.
Platelets:  type of blood cells involved primarily in coagulation.

Q

R

S

Small vessel disease:  disorder of the brain caused by blockage or stenosis of small arteries.
Stenosis:  narrowing of the artery, often caused by fatty plaques.
Stroke belt:  Southeastern United States, with the highest stroke mortality rate in the U.S.
Stroke buckle:  Three of the Southeastern states (North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia) that have extremely high stroke mortality.
Subarachnoid hemorrhage:  bleeding within brain membranes 9coverings of the brain).

T

Thrombolytics:  drugs used to treat acute ischemic stroke by dissolving the blood clot that caused the stroke.
Tissue necrosis factors: chemicals released by blood cells during inflammatory immune response to ischemia that cause secondary cell death.
T-PA:  or recombinant tissue plasminogen activator; genetically engineered anti-clotting medication that is naturally produced by the body.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS):  therapeutic technique that is involving small magnetic current to particular areas of the brain in order to promote plasticity.
Transient ischemic attack (TIA):  same as a stroke but resolves within 24 hours, does not leave residual deficit.

U

V

Vasodilators: medications that dilate blood vessel and thus increase the blood flow to the organ.
Vasospasm:  complication of subarachnoid hemorrhage when blood vessels in subarachnoid space constrict and diminish the blood flow to the brain.
Vertebral artery:  arteries supplying the posterior (back) portions of the brain. The vertebral arteries run along the vertebral column on the back of the neck. 

W

Warfarin:  same as Coumadin.

X

Y

Z

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