Mild diffuse cerebral atrophy is a symptomatic brain condition generally involving the loss, or deterioration of, neurons and the connections between them, usually indicating the presence of other brain diseases. Atrophy can be generalized, indicating shrinkage of the entire brain, or focal, in which case only specific regions of the brain are affected. Focal, or localized, cerebral atrophy results in decreased functionality in that area of the brain.
Cerebral atrophy can be caused by injury or disease. Injury-based causes include stroke, brain trauma and steroid use. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, cerebral atrophy is commonly associated with many diseases that affect the brain, including Alzheimer’s disease, cerebral palsy, Huntington’s disease, leukodystrophies, mitochondrial encephalomyopathies, multiple sclerosis, and infectious diseases such as AIDS and encephalitis.Symptoms often include dementia, seizures and a group of language disorders called aphasias.
Dementia can be identified as an impairment of memory and intellectual functions, often severe enough to inhibit social skills and work functionality. Seizures can appear as disorientation, convulsions, loss of consciousness or repetitive movements. Aphasias involves disturbances in speaking or understanding language and can result in loss of comprehension, partial phrases, odd choices of words and incomplete thoughts. Research has been conducted to determine causes for neuron deterioration and atrophy within the brain in the hope of developing preventative measures, treatments and even cures for the diseases that cause cerebral atrophy.