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Optic nerve atrophy help?

f:WINSOCKKA9QSPOOLMAIL lys at adflex.demon.co.uk
Mon Jul 31 08:38:20 EST 1995

> A year ago, I suffered a severe meningitis with prolonged, very high
> intracranial pressure.  The neurologist seeing me in hospital did
> not give me a spinal tap until 2-3 weeks after presentation.  By
> that time, my cranial nerves were badly damaged.  Both optic
> nerves were damaged by the ischemia.  There is no reason to
> think that they were directly infected, just physically hurt.
> I have recovered some sensory functions over the course of this
> year, but the basic pattern of optic nerve atrophy remains.  

> --Given that the situation has not been comletely stuck at
>   the worst (has improved somewhat), is there anything I can
>   do in the way of therapy or nutritional support to help the
>   nerves to recover?
> Amittai F. Aviram
> amittai.aviram at sc.edu  (or avirama at univscvm.csd.scarolina.edu)

I'm afraid I cannot help in the therapeutic department.  The 
improvement you have so far experienced may be the result of 
compensation by other surviving neurons. You should also be aware of 
the fact that immediately after injury there may be a depression of 
function that is artefactual and will fade with time. This "artefactual 
loss of function" will only account for a proportion of the impairment. 

If your recovery so far is due to the subsidence of artefactual 
suppression of function as well as functional compensation then it may 
well continue to improve. You would be unlikely, however, to regain your 
previous visual abilities. 

To grow back again, nerve cells need to interact with another kind of 
cell known as the schwann cell, usually located in the peripheral 
nervous system. As far as I know, these cells are not found in the 
optic nerve, which is pretty much central nervous system. It is hoped 
that it may be possible at some point to graft these peripheral cells 
into a central site of injury, but this is a long way off. Also I 
believe that this would need to be done close to the time of injury. I 
hope this is of some help.        


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