The human cerebellum holds up to 50% of a person’s total neurons. It controls balance, voluntary movement, and the ability to learn motor skills and some speech. It accounts for 10% of total brain mass. Now imagine someone missing this part of the brain and living normally – impossible, right?
In 2014, doctors in China revealed that a 24 year old woman was living without her cerebellum. What is more shocking is that the woman was clueless and never felt as if something was missing. This reflects the flexibility and adaptability of our brain.
It all started when the woman (who shall not be named) experienced nausea and dizziness. Her mother took her to a Chinese hospital in Shandong Province and the doctors carried out CAT scan as per routine.
The doctors were taken aback when they spotted the giant gap instead of her cerebellum. It came as a shock to the mother too as she told the doctors that her daughter had lived a normal life, despite walking issues until the age of 7 and speech problems until the age of 6. She further stressed on how normal everything was, telling them that she is married and has a daughter. The lead expert on this case said that her parents had no history of neurological disorders and that her siblings were all declared neurologically normal.
Upon further research, the doctors found out that the woman could not stand unassisted till the age of 4 and only started to walk after turning 7. She was unable to jump or run and due to trouble in speech, she did not enter school until the age of 6.
This condition is termed as ‘complete primary cerebellar agenesis’ and it’s so rare that the number of such cases can be counted on one’s fingertips. In most cases, the patients either face death or permanent brain damage.
However, this woman got super lucky as she managed to keep on living with only minor ailments such as blurred speech and unsteady walk. The scientific reason behind this ‘luck’ is that she lost her cerebellum at an early age due to which her brain adapted accordingly.
Another similar case was reported in 2007, when a man was living a normal life even though he was missing 90% of his brain. What even..
All the doctors and researchers are now keen to look into this matter and further study the adaptability and flexibility of the human brain. This case study was published in the journal Brain.
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