What is cerebellum ?
The cerebellum is the second largest part and one of the most important parts of the brain. It mainly functions to assist in the person’s coordination with regards to balance and motor skills. The cerebellum is referred to as the mini brain which is tucked just below the cerebral hemispheres and the brain itself. The cerebellum is made up of white matter and gray matter. Inside the cerebellum are millions of neurons responsible for relaying the information sent from a certain body part to be processed inside the cerebellum.
Functions of the Cerebellum
The cerebellum has three main functions, namely, movement, balance and muscle tone. For movement, the cerebellum helps in the coordination of the motor skills such as driving, walking, running, dancing or even as simple as cutting a sheet of paper with a pair of scissors. The cerebellum also helps with balance and muscle tone. When a child gets older, his/her brain and the cerebellum also grow and develop. As this happens, the child would learn how to balance and walk. Other than this, the cerebellum is also responsible for attention, language and response to emotions such as fear and pleasure. If a person would have an accident that would affect the cerebellum, the person’s ability to move and speak would also be greatly affected. The person would then move slower and his coordination skills would falter that even putting food into one’s mouth becomes such a difficult task. The speech would become remarkably slow and slurred as well.
How the Cerebellum Works
The cerebellum is where the signals from the spinal cord, basal ganglia and cortex are being processed. The cerebellum is composed of millions of neurons which respond to the signals sent from other parts of the body so we could move smoothly and walk or run with balance.
Damage to the cerebellum
It is very dangerous if the cerebellum gets damaged in any way. Coordination would be significantly altered so the person’s way of living would greatly change. Those who are affected could not do the things they previously enjoyed doing. Below are some examples of the possible conditions that could occur if the cerebellum is damaged by any means:
- Loss of coordination
This is the most common complication when a person has a problem with the cerebellum. The signals and neurons could go haywire and would result to coordination problems, such as walking, running, driving or even speaking.
- Eye problems
A person with a problem with the cerebellum could develop dysmetria. This is a condition wherein the person has a difficulty in judging or gauging how near or far the distance is. With this condition, driving would become difficult because the person wouldn’t know when to stop. The individual affected could also develop nystagmus or the uncoordinated movement of the eyes.
- Slowed movements
The person could not move fast even if he or she wants to. The ability to multi-task is also out of the question.
The individual with a damaged cerebellum would tremble as he does an activity even something as simple as lifting a light object.
- Muscle weakness
The person would feel fatigued and weak at all times due to muscle weakness brought about the damage to the cerebellum.
How to Check if the Cerebellum is Working Properly
It is important to know the condition of the cerebellum since the early detection of a problem is helpful in finding the quickest and the most painless treatment method to remedy the trouble.
Below are the common cerebellum function tests that healthcare experts usually utilize:
- Romberg’s test – In this assessment, the person is asked to stand erect at one corner with his eyes closed. After a few minutes, if the person sways or topples over, something is wrong with his cerebellum.
- Finger-Nose-Finger – This is a basic test wherein the person evaluated is asked to follow the direction of the fingers with the use of one’s nose.
- Gait’s test – Gait’s Test is used to assess the balance of the person. One of the common procedures employed involves letting the person sit and lean from side to side to check if he/she doesn’t topple over or stagger.
- Other tests – Other means of checking if the cerebellum is working properly would include alternating hand movements and vestibular exams.
If it is found out that there is something amiss with the cerebellum, immediate medical attention should be given. The best thing you can do to help yourself is to consult with a doctor and trust him or her with the best treatment option he has to offer.
Apart from that, there are also certain things that can be done in order to prevent problems with the cerebellum from occurring. For instance, even simple precautionary measures like wearing a helmet when driving or riding a motorcycle and while playing extreme sports such as football, can go a long way in preventing major head injuries. And of course, living a healthy lifestyle is always a wise choice.