The human brain is a complex and mysterious organ that governs every aspect of our lives. Unfortunately, sometimes things can go wrong, and neurological disorders can arise. A neurological disorder is a disease that encompasses a variety of conditions that can impact the nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord and nerves.
These disorders can affect your ability to think clearly, walk normally and make decisions. They can have severe and life-changing consequences, manifesting in symptoms that affect a person’s movement, sensation, and cognitive functions.
While some of these disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, are familiar to many, several rare and distressing neurological disorders are not widely known. These disorders range from debilitating to gruesome, and although they are fascinating, they have devastating consequences.
Common Causes of Neurological Disorders
The most common causes of neurological disorders include:
- Genetics (inherited traits passed down through families)
- Environmental factors such as viruses or toxins in food/water supply etc.,
- Injuries to head & spine area due to accidents or other reason
Ten Horrifying Neurological Disorders
While many such disorders are relatively common, some are exceedingly rare and can be both horrifying and fascinating at the same time. We will explore ten of the rarest and most terrifying neurological disorders.
1. Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a rare and fatal neurodegenerative disorder that affects the brain. CJD can be caused by eating food contaminated with prions, which are proteins that have been misfolded into an abnormal shape.
Symptoms of CJD
The symptoms of CJD usually begin slowly, but they can progress rapidly over time to include changes in behavior, mood swings, memory loss and hallucinations before leading to death within months or years after onset. There is no cure for CJD; treatment focuses on managing symptoms until your body naturally runs its course as your brain deteriorates.
2. Huntington’s Disease
Huntington’s disease is a genetic disorder that causes the degeneration of nerve cells in the brain. It typically begins between ages 30 and 50, but symptoms may not appear until later in life or never at all.
Symptoms of Huntington’s Disease
The symptoms of Huntington’s disease include:
- Tremors (shaking)
- Mood swings and depression
- Impaired thinking ability and dementia
Huntington’s disease is diagnosed by performing blood tests, imaging studies (such as CT scans), and genetic testing on family members diagnosed with the condition. There is no cure for Huntington’s disease; treatment focuses on managing symptoms such as depression or anxiety with medications such as antidepressants.
3. Multiple System Atrophy
Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is one of the rare, degenerative neurological disorders that affects the brain and spinal cord. It causes various symptoms, including muscle weakness, coordination problems and difficulty with speech and swallowing.
The cause of MSA is unknown, but it’s thought to be genetic; it can run in families or appear spontaneously without any family history of the disease.
Symptoms of MSA
The symptoms usually begin between ages 50-60 years old, although they may begin earlier or later depending on the type you have.
- Muscle weakness affects one side of your body at first (hemiparesis). This will worsen over time until both sides are affected equally by about 5 years after onset; eventually, you will lose all voluntary movement control over your muscles except for eye movements.
- Problems with balance due to difficulty walking due to muscle weakness.
- Problems with thinking skills, such as memory loss.
- Difficulty speaking because some muscles involved in speech production are also affected.
- Trouble swallowing food due to weak muscles needed for chewing/swallowing food properly.
4. Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy
Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) is a rare and usually fatal neurological disorder that causes damage to the white matter of the brain. It’s caused by an infection with the JC virus, which is transmitted through contaminated blood products or organ transplants and from mother to fetus during pregnancy.
Symptoms of PML
The symptoms of PML include:
- Changes in mental status, such as confusion and personality changes
- Weakness on one side of your body (hemiparesis)
If you experience any of these symptoms, you should immediately see a doctor. The sooner you’re diagnosed with PML, the better chance it is for treatment to be successful, and even then, there’s no guarantee it will work!
5. Niemann-Pick Disease
Niemann-Pick Disease is a rare genetic disorder that affects the nervous system. It can cause problems with movement, balance, and speech.
Symptoms of Niemann-Pick Disease
The Symptoms include:
- Weakness in arms or legs (paralysis)
- Poor coordination and balance
- Problems with walking or talking
The disease usually develops during childhood. The symptoms may occur slowly or suddenly after an illness like a cold or flu. Symptoms often get worse over time as the disease progresses to its final stages of dementia, which results in death within 10 years of diagnosis for most people with Niemann-Pick type C (the most common form).
6. Rasmussen’s Encephalitis
Rasmussen’s encephalitis is a rare neurological disorder that causes brain inflammation. It can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms are similar to those of other diseases, including meningitis and multiple sclerosis.
Symptoms of Rasmussen’s Encephalitis
Rasmussen’s encephalitis symptoms include:
- Memory loss
- Seizures (jerking movements or spasms)
- Confusion and disorientation
7. Encephalitis Lethargica
Encephalitis lethargica is a rare neurological disorder that causes paralysis and sleepiness. It’s also known as “sleepy sickness” because it can cause people to fall asleep for hours, even while awake. The first signs of encephalitis lethargica appear between 2 weeks and 6 months after infection with the virus that causes measles or mumps.
Symptoms of Encephalitis Lethargica
Encephalitis lethargica symptoms include:
- Paralysis in one side of your face (hemiplegia)
- Problems speaking or swallowing
- Difficulties with balance and coordination
If you have these symptoms and think you might have encephalitis lethargica, see your doctor immediately so they can diagnose you properly before treating this serious condition.
8. Primary Lateral Sclerosis
Primary lateral sclerosis (PLS) is a rare disorder that affects the spinal cord, causing weakness and difficulty with movement. It’s often mistaken for multiple sclerosis (MS), which has similar symptoms but is much more common.
Symptoms of PLS
The symptoms of PLS include:
- Muscle weakness on one side of your body
- Muscle spasms or twitches in one limb or part of your face, such as an eye or lip
- Pain in muscles, tendons, joints and other parts of your body that may come and go over time
9. Sydenham’s Chorea
Sydenham’s chorea, also known as St. Vitus Dance, is a rare autoimmune disorder that causes involuntary movements and muscle spasms in children. The disease usually develops within the first six months of infection with group A streptococcus bacteria (strep throat). It can also be triggered by rheumatic fever or scarlet fever.
Symptoms of Sydenham’s Chorea
The symptoms of Sydenham’s Chorea include:
- Muscle twitching or jerking throughout the body
- Rapid arm movements that may appear rhythmic at times
- Drooling, difficulty swallowing and drooping eyelids due to facial weakness
The diagnosis is made by ruling out other conditions with similar symptoms, such as Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Tourette syndrome.
10. Corticobasal Degeneration
Corticobasal degeneration (CBD) is also one of the rare neurological disorders that affects the brain’s frontal and posterior regions. The symptoms of CBD are similar to those of Parkinson’s disease, including muscle rigidity and slowness of movement. However, unlike Parkinson’s disease, CBD also causes dementia and speech problems.
The cause of this condition is unknown, but it appears to be related to damage in certain areas of the brain, including those responsible for planning movements or controlling emotions.
This is the place to be if you’re looking for a good scare. We’ve covered 10 rare and horrifying neurological disorders that can affect your body, mind and spirit. From Tourette’s syndrome to Alzheimer’s disease, these conditions can change your life in ways you never imagined possible.