MedTalks is Los Angeles Times HS Insider’s first-ever medical column by Sriya Datla that highlights the role of medicine and discusses various medical specialties with a focus on their impact on modern life. In this week’s article, Datla dives into neurosurgery, a scientific interdisciplinary field, and examines its significant impact on the world of medicine. Datla explores the career of a neurosurgeon and discusses the implications involved in the field.
The human brain. An abstract idea gradually becomes a reality through decades of research, development and innovation. During a seventh-grade trip to the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose, I found my eyes following a neurotransmitter, as it crossed a synapse at lightning speed, and for the first time, saw what I was learning in books come to life right in front of me. This was the year when I sparked an interest in neuroscience, an opportunity that significantly impacted my aspirations.
As I was encouraged to learn furthermore about the human brain, I decided to take a psychology college course. This course explored how the interdisciplinary nature of the field advances our understanding of our biological and body functions, thoughts and behavior. Inspired by the psychology course I took which explored the human mind and its logical connections, I founded the Active Minds chapter at ECRCHS.
Active Minds is a non-profit organization that supports mental health awareness and education for young adults. As the Chapter Founder and President, I lead our club’s initiative to gain knowledge about how the human brain relates to mental health. Our club’s initiative discusses mental health disorders that affect human beings. With the help of our school’s psychiatrist, our chapter leads discussions that center around how cognitive neuroscience helps prevent psychological disorders.
When people think of neurosurgery, many think of simply a surgeon performing surgery on the brain. While this may be an important aspect of the interdisciplinary field, neurosurgery also diagnoses and treats disorders of the nervous system, which consists of the brain and spinal cord, peripheral nerves, and the cerebrovascular system of the body.
According to the World Health Organization, approximately 6.8 million people globally die from neurological diseases every year. These neurodegenerative diseases include degenerative conditions of the spine, brain, and pituitary tumor removal, and treatment of trauma in the brain or spine.
Neurosurgery is a challenging surgical specialty in that neurosurgeons must study constantly developing techniques and technologies. Neurosurgeons may work with patients of all ages from premature babies to elderly people. The neurological conditions of pediatric patients are of the utmost importance because a majority require highly complex treatments. Some examples include brain tumors, epilepsy, facial malformations and craniosynostosis.
Neuro-oncology specialists have a focus in the treatment of malignant or cancerous brain, spinal, and skull tumors in addition to tumors that affect other parts of the nervous system. This neurosurgery specialty focuses on the treatment of neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, Tourette’s syndrome, cerebral palsy as well as epilepsy.
A good neurosurgeon doesn’t just take care of patients and perform “perfect” neurosurgeries that never go wrong. Being a good neurosurgeon also means delivering the bad news to a family member or loved one. This emotional ability is important in the healthcare field as many workers should be able to manage their own emotions and sympathize with their patients.
As I continue to be mesmerized by the magnificent variety of the subject, the more I realize how studying neuroscience can let me positively impact the lives of humans. But without the San Jose Children’s Discovery Museum, I guess one could say that I would have never found “my neuroscience of purpose.”