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We all know people who have been impacted by neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and dementia. Once the diagnosis is official, we often wonder two things: 1) when did we started seeing “real” symptoms, and 2) what could we have done to prevent it?

When mom forgot her keys in the freezer the first time, it was funny. As she started forgetting more things, we chalked it up to her keeping up with her six children. It was even funny when she would yell at us and didn’t know whose name to use.

Now, I can look back and see early signs of neurodegenerative issues almost 30 years ago. Although my mom is generally in good health, she’s not as agile as she once was. Fifteen years ago she was active, participating in local Curves’ classes, and dancing with my father whenever she could. She has since been diagnosed with two neurodegenerative diseases; now, it’s all she can do to handle a two hour drive to visit with the grandkids. 

The latest research on dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases is actually very promising. Research suggests that signs of these diseases are present as early as 20 years before the main symptoms start to present. Modern science is unveiling new information on how the brain works and what we can do to improve our lives.

The cleaning mechanism of the brain!

Beta-amyloid plaques appear contribute to dementia and the neurodegenerative process. However, it’s unclear whether they are the main cause or simply a byproduct of another process in the brain. We know that when these plaques are present, it’s bad news for the brain. Recently discoveries point to a clearing mechanism in the brain called the glymphatic system, a hydraulic system that clears the brain. This system controls the flow of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) into and out of the brain. Unfortunately, it only works when CSF is fully intact in the brain.

Discovered by neuroscientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center, research indicates that this fast-acting glymphatic mechanism cleans half of the beta-amyloid found in the brain. The mechanism moves cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) along previously unseen channels near the arteries and veins of the brain (which are the secondary, slower cleaning mechanism of the brain). 

“Understanding how the brain copes with waste is critical. In every organ, waste clearance is as basic an issue as how nutrients are delivered. In the brain, it’s an especially interesting subject, because in essentially all neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, protein waste accumulates and eventually suffocates and kills the neuronal network of the brain,” said Jeffrey Iliff, Ph.D., first author of the study and research assistant to Maiken Nedergaard, MD, DMSc.

Understanding how to improve the health of these channels in the brain may improve brain health while potentially reversing many of the problems associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s. 

What it means for people without this disease (today)

According to Peter Attia, M.D., mortality data suggests that if you live past 40 or 50, you likely won’t die of a car or other accidental death. This means that one of three disease types is going to be our end: heart disease and stroke (atherogenic), cancer, or neurodegenerative disease. Past 70 and 80, the cancer risks decrease, and even some of the heart disease risk decreases. What we’re left with are the neurodegenerative diseases. When the problem shows up, it may already be too late.

If you have had a bump or accident, there is potential that they have caused a neurostructural shift in your spine, limiting CSF flow. Small shifts at the base of the neck of 1 to 2 mm can have a huge impact on the spinal cord, causing direct neurological stress, mechanical irritation, and even blood flow problems to the brain stem, like light-headedness or dizziness.

Another mechanism that may be involved in neurodegenerative diseases is poor glucose metabolism in the brain. (There are groups who call Alzheimer’s disease Type 3 diabetes). Several promising studies indicate a low carbohydrate, high-fat diet (a ketogenic diet) helps reduce symptoms associated with Alzheimers and Parkinson’s diseases.

Get your dancing shoes on!

My mother is doing well. During her last visit, moving was rough. She had fallen a few months earlier and hit her head and face. I knew it was time to update her imaging to determine how her neurostructural shift had changed, and it had. A new correction to her spine resulted in her moving better (with a spring in her step!) within the hour; she even commented that she felt like dancing. Had I known 30 years ago that a neurostructural shift was preventing her body from functioning properly, I surely would have found a doctor to help her!  

I have a number of patients with cognitive issues who experience immediate relief to their cognition after a correction. Some senior citizens under my care get checked regularly for a neurostructural shift. This allows them to stay active and enjoy their family without sacrificing their mental acuity. Our job is to help you achieve that quality of life for as long as you want to keep it!

As an engineer, Dr. Schurger looks at the whole body as a system to determine what is best for each patient. He performs custom spinal imaging for each patient in order to create a custom correction. Dr. Schurger has transformed himself through the ketogenic diet and offers nutritional advice to help patients improve their overall health (weight loss being a side effect). His practice, Upper Cervical Springfield is at 450 S. Durkin Drive, Ste. B, Springfield. Call 217-698-7900 to set up a complimentary consultation to see if he can help correct a neurostructural shift.