• Lifestyle Changes to Manage Brain Tumors

    A brain tumor is a serious condition. It may impair doing things that are part of your lifestyle. Each tumor occupies and affects different parts of the brain. Therefore, the list of difficulties you may have will be unique to you.
    Talk to your neurosurgeon, neurologist, or neuro-oncologist about the kinds changes your tumor is likely to bring about. Although your team will do everything possible to treat your condition appropriately, many times there are permanent effects of the tumor and/or treatment. It is important that you understand both the potential short-term and long-terms effects of a brain tumor and the necessary treatment. The location of a brain tumor gives very accurate information on what brain functions are at risk. Below are some of the issues you may need to address.
    Of concern with every brain tumor is the likelihood of seizures . Anticonvulsant medications prevent many seizures. But, because the tumor continues to grow, the medication may only work for a short time. For this reason alone, you should not operate hazardous equipment, including motor vehicles. In fact, if you have had a seizure, most state laws mandate that you not drive a motor vehicle (specifically a car or truck on a public road) for a minimum of 6 months from the date of your last seizure. If you have a brain tumor, your commercial drivers license may be revoked.
    Ask your doctor for a referral to a local support group that can assist you with rides, as well as help with activities that may now be hazardous for you, such as mowing your lawn. Your employer may have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to reassign you to new tasks if your job requires managing heavy or hazardous equipment or supplies. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, your employer must make accommodations for you.
    If the tumor is near one of the areas in your brain that controls movement of a certain part of your body—such as hands, arms, legs, eyes, speech—normal function and coordination may be affected. Usual activities may become dangerous, such as working with power tools or knives. For most functions, rehabilitation can help with some return of function. After treatment is completed, or at least well under way, you may start a program of speech, occupational, or physical therapy to work on recovering what has been lost.
    Thought processes, such as memory, calculation, understanding, and intelligence, may deteriorate until the tumor is treated effectively. Let those close to you know that you may have trouble in these areas. Ask them to be on the lookout for changes and to help minimize any consequences from these changes. Counseling can help you deal with these changes in the more productive way.
    In the same manner, your personality may change. If you feel comfortable, advise your family, friends, and employer (if you are still working) of your condition. This may help to minimize misunderstandings. As with cognitive dysfunction, you may find that counseling, including family counseling, will help you manage the changes you are going through as a result of your illness and treatment.
    You should be in continual contact with your doctor throughout your evaluation and treatment. Report anything new.

    References

    American Brain Tumor Association website. Available at: http://hope.abta.org/site/PageServer .

    Harrison TR, Fauci AS. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 14th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 1998.

    The Whole Brain Atlas website. Available at: http://www.med.harvard.edu/AANLIB/home.html .

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