Brain Stem and Spinal Cord (Nursing)

by Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN

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    00:01 Hi. Welcome to our video series on neurological disorders.

    00:04 In this one, I'm gonna give you an introduction to the spinal cord.

    00:08 Now, don't be intimidated by this topic, there's some super cool things for you to learn about this.

    00:14 So let's start with kind of an easing you into this subject.

    00:17 What connects the brain and the spinal cord? Alright, pause the video, try and come up with an answer without looking at your notes.

    00:28 Okay. What did you come up with? Let's take a look at the next slide.

    00:32 The brainstem; the brain and spinal cord are connected by the brainstem.

    00:38 Okay. So you've heard us talk about that, but let's break it down what it really is.

    00:42 See the brainstem has three parts.

    00:45 As you see in the graphic there, it's the midbrain, the pons and the medulla.

    00:50 Okay. For - pause for just a minute, make sure you have in your mind the order that they go.

    00:55 Which section is closest to the whole brain? It's the midbrain.

    01:01 Which one's in the middle? Pons. I know, you've got this.

    01:05 And then my favorite one to say, medulla oblongata.

    01:08 Okay. So, I want you to spend some time just going over each one of those three parts.

    01:14 So you have it solid in your brain the anatomy of your brain; the midbrain, the pons and the medulla oblongata.

    01:22 Now, this is the basic motor and sensory function of the body.

    01:26 If someone has brainstem damage, there's really not much hope because this is the ones - the basic beating and breathing.

    01:34 Sometimes the patient has experienced massive brain damage, but the brainstem is still functioning.

    01:41 So you may hear someone say, "They're just a brainstem that's left," that's what they mean.

    01:46 Just the basic functions, not the executive level functions or the things that give you your personality, just the basic breathing and heart beating kind of functions if all that's left is the brainstem that's able to function.

    02:00 So, the spinal cord is kind of a bridge between the brain and the other organs of the body.

    02:06 This is what controls the rest of your body.

    02:09 We call it the central nervous system because it goes right down the center of your body.

    02:15 The brain and spinal cord make the central nervous system.

    02:20 Now, all the nerves that come off and go out to the very ends of my body, that's the peripheral nervous system.

    02:26 But it's the spinal cord that acts as the bridge between my central nervous system and the various other organs of the body.

    02:33 So, let's talk about the spinal cord.

    02:35 The primary function of the spinal cord is to facilitate transfer of information.

    02:41 Okay, I wanna stop right there.

    02:42 So think about the spinal cord as an information highway, right? Information goes up and bossy directions come back down.

    02:51 So information goes up, out from the rest of your body, up to your brain.

    02:55 Then your brain decides what you need to do and sends information or signals back down to the rest of the body.

    03:01 So, the primary function of a spinal cord is just the highway for information to go from the brain to the rest of the body and back.

    03:11 Okay. So the spinal cord sends sensory information from the sensory receptors that are spread all the way throughout the body to the brain.

    03:18 The spinal cord will pick up signals from the motor area of the brain and send them to the target muscle and glands in the body.

    03:25 So if I just wanna move my finger, right, I have to send a signal down to my hand to tell it to make a fist and to tell it to release.

    03:33 I wanna pick up a leg, set down a leg, same concept.

    03:38 So, if you think about, this is what the main function of the spinal cord is, right, it's the information highway.

    03:44 So if that spinal cord gets damaged in any way, it's not gonna work efficiently, I'm gonna lose control of certain parts of my body.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Brain Stem and Spinal Cord (Nursing) by Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN is from the course Spinal Cord Injuries and Syndromes (Nursing) .

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. It connects the brain to the spinal column
    2. It is composed of the midbrain, pons, and medulla oblongata
    3. It provides basic motor and sensory responses
    4. It is a reservoir for cerebrospinal fluids
    5. Breathing will not be impacted if the brain stem is injured
    1. To facilitate transfer of information to and from the brain
    2. To process sensory signals to the brain
    3. To process motor signals from the brain
    4. To act as a structural support aligning the center of the body

    Author of lecture Brain Stem and Spinal Cord (Nursing)

     Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN

    Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN

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