Impression | Health Dictionary

In dentistry, a mould (using a rubber or alginate compound) of the teeth and gums from which a plaster-of-Paris model is prepared. This model provides a base on which to construct a denture, bridge or dental inlay. A similar process is used in ORTHODONTICS to make dental appliances to correct abnormalities in the positioning of teeth.


Impression | Health Dictionary

Keywords of this word: Impression


Medical Dictionary

(Welsh) One who makes an impression Argraffe, Argrafe... Medical Dictionary

Medical Dictionary

CEREBRUM This forms nearly 70 per cent of the brain and consists of two cerebral hemispheres which occupy the entire vault of the cranium and are incompletely separated from one another by a deep mid-line cleft, the longitudinal cerebral ?ssure. At the bottom of this cleft the two hemispheres are united by a thick band of some 200 million crossing nerve ?bres

– the corpus callosum. Other clefts or ?ssures (sulci) make deep impressions, dividing the cerebrum into lobes. The lobes of the cerebrum are the frontal lobe in the forehead region, the parietal lobe on the side and upper part of the brain, the occipital lobe to the back, and the temporal lobe lying just above the region of the ear. The outer 3 mm of the cerebrum is called the cortex, which consists of grey matter with the nerve cells arranged in six layers. This region is concerned with conscious thought, sensation and movement, operating in a similar manner to the more primitive areas of the brain except that incoming information is subject to much greater analysis.

Numbers of shallower infoldings of the surface, called furrows or sulci, separate raised areas called convolutions or gyri. In the deeper part, the white matter consists of nerve ?bres connecting di?erent parts of the surface and passing down to the lower parts of the brain. Among the white matter lie several rounded masses of grey matter, the lentiform and caudate nuclei. In the centre of each cerebral hemisphere is an irregular cavity, the lateral ventricle, each of which communicates with that on the other side and behind with the third ventricle through a small opening, the inter-ventricular foramen, or foramen of Monro.

BASAL NUCLEI Two large masses of grey matter embedded in the base of the cerebral hemispheres in humans, but forming the chief part of the brain in many animals. Between these masses lies the third ventricle, from which the infundibulum, a funnel-shaped process, projects downwards into the pituitary body, and above lies the PINEAL GLAND. This region includes the important HYPOTHALAMUS.

MID-BRAIN or mesencephalon: a stalk about 20 mm long connecting the cerebrum with the hind-brain. Down its centre lies a tube, the cerebral aqueduct, or aqueduct of Sylvius, connecting the third and fourth ventricles. Above this aqueduct lie the corpora quadrigemina, and beneath it are the crura cerebri, strong bands of white matter in which important nerve ?bres pass downwards from the cerebrum. The pineal gland is sited on the upper part of the midbrain.

PONS A mass of nerve ?bres, some of which run crosswise and others are the continuation of the crura cerebri downwards.

CEREBELLUM This lies towards the back, underneath the occipital lobes of the cerebrum.

MEDULLA OBLONGATA The lowest part of the brain, in structure resembling the spinal cord, with white matter on the surface and grey matter in its interior. This is continuous through the large opening in the skull, the foramen magnum, with the spinal cord. Between the medulla, pons, and cerebellum lies the fourth ventricle of the brain.

Structure The grey matter consists mainly of billions of neurones (see NEURON(E)) in which all the activities of the brain begin. These cells vary considerably in size and shape in di?erent parts of the brain, though all give o? a number of processes, some of which form nerve ?bres. The cells in the cortex of the cerebral hemispheres, for example, are very numerous, being set in layers ?ve or six deep. In shape these cells are pyramidal, giving o? processes from the apex, from the centre of the base, and from various projections elsewhere on the cell. The grey matter is everywhere penetrated by a rich supply of blood vessels, and the nerve cells and blood vessels are supported in a ?ne network of ?bres known as neuroglia.

The white matter consists of nerve ?bres, each of which is attached, at one end, to a cell in the grey matter, while at the other end it splits up into a tree-like structure around another cell in another part of the grey matter in the brain or spinal cord. The ?bres have insulating sheaths of a fatty material which, in the mass, gives the white matter its colour; they convey messages from one part of the brain to the other (association ?bres), or, grouped into bundles, leave the brain as nerves, or pass down into the spinal cord where they end near, and exert a control upon, cells from which in turn spring the nerves to the body.

Both grey and white matter are bound together by a network of cells called GLIA which make up 60 per cent of the brain’s weight. These have traditionally been seen as simple structures whose main function was to glue the constituents of the brain together. Recent research, however, suggests that glia are vital for growing synapses between the neurons as they trigger these cells to communicate with each other. So they probably participate in the task of laying down memories, for which synapses are an essential key. The research points to the likelihood that glial cells are as complex as neurons, functioning biochemically in a similar way. Glial cells also absorb potassium pumped out by active neurons and prevent levels of GLUTAMATE – the most common chemical messenger in the brain – from becoming too high.

The general arrangement of ?bres can be best understood by describing the course of a motor nerve-?bre. Arising in a cell on the surface in front of the central sulcus, such a ?bre passes inwards towards the centre of the cerebral hemisphere, the collected mass of ?bres as they lie between the lentiform nucleus and optic thalamus being known as the internal capsule. Hence the ?bre passes down through the crus cerebri, giving o? various small connecting ?bres as it passes downwards. After passing through the pons it reaches the medulla, and at this point crosses to the opposite side (decussation of the pyramids). Entering the spinal cord, it passes downwards to end ?nally in a series of branches (arborisation) which meet and touch (synapse) similar branches from one or more of the cells in the grey matter of the cord (see SPINAL CORD).

BLOOD VESSELS Four vessels carry blood to the brain: two internal carotid arteries in front, and two vertebral arteries behind. These communicate to form a circle (circle of Willis) inside the skull, so that if one is blocked, the others, by dilating, take its place. The chief branch of the internal carotid artery on each side is the middle cerebral, and this gives o? a small but very important branch which pierces the base of the brain and supplies the region of the internal capsule with blood. The chief importance of this vessel lies in the fact that the blood in it is under especially high pressure, owing to its close connection with the carotid artery, so that haemorrhage from it is liable to occur and thus give rise to stroke. Two veins, the internal cerebral veins, bring the blood away from the interior of the brain, but most of the small veins come to the surface and open into large venous sinuses, which run in grooves in the skull, and ?nally pass their blood into the internal jugular vein that accompanies the carotid artery on each side of the neck.

MEMBRANES The brain is separated from the skull by three membranes: the dura mater, a thick ?brous membrane; the arachnoid mater, a more delicate structure; and the pia mater, adhering to the surface of the brain and containing the blood vessels which nourish it. Between each pair is a space containing ?uid on which the brain ?oats as on a water-bed. The ?uid beneath the arachnoid membrane mixes with that inside the ventricles through a small opening in the fourth ventricle, called the median aperture, or foramen of Magendie.

These ?uid arrangements have a great in?uence in preserving the brain from injury.... Medical Dictionary

Dictionary of Tropical Medicine

The ear is concerned with two functions. The more evident is that of the sense of hearing; the other is the sense of equilibration and of motion. The organ is divided into three parts:

(1) the external ear, consisting of the auricle on the surface of the head, and the tube which leads inwards to the drum; (2) the middle ear, separated from the former by the tympanic membrane or drum, and from the internal ear by two other membranes, but communicating with the throat by the Eustachian tube; and (3) the internal ear, comprising the complicated labyrinth from which runs the vestibulocochlear nerve into the brain.

External ear The auricle or pinna consists of a framework of elastic cartilage covered by skin, the lobule at the lower end being a small mass of fat. From the bottom of the concha the external auditory (or acoustic) meatus runs inwards for 25 mm (1 inch), to end blindly at the drum. The outer half of the passage is surrounded by cartilage, lined by skin, on which are placed ?ne hairs pointing outwards, and glands secreting a small amount of wax. In the inner half, the skin is smooth and lies directly upon the temporal bone, in the substance of which the whole hearing apparatus is enclosed.

Middle ear The tympanic membrane, forming the drum, is stretched completely across the end of the passage. It is about 8 mm (one-third of an inch) across, very thin, and white or pale pink in colour, so that it is partly transparent and some of the contents of the middle ear shine through it. The cavity of the middle ear is about 8 mm (one-third of an inch) wide and 4 mm (one-sixth of an inch) in depth from the tympanic membrane to the inner wall of bone. Its important contents are three small bones – the malleus (hammer), incus (anvil) and stapes (stirrup) – collectively known as the auditory ossicles, with two minute muscles which regulate their movements, and the chorda tympani nerve which runs across the cavity. These three bones form a chain across the middle ear, connecting the drum with the internal ear. Their function is to convert the air-waves, which strike upon the drum, into mechanical movements which can a?ect the ?uid in the inner ear.

The middle ear has two connections which are of great importance as regards disease (see EAR, DISEASES OF). In front, it communicates by a passage 37 mm (1.5 inches) long – the Eustachian (or auditory) tube – with the upper part of the throat, behind the nose; behind and above, it opens into a cavity known as the mastoid antrum. The Eustachian tube admits air from the throat, and so keeps the pressure on both sides of the drum fairly equal.

Internal ear This consists of a complex system of hollows in the substance of the temporal bone enclosing a membranous duplicate. Between the membrane and the bone is a ?uid known as perilymph, while the membrane is distended by another collection of ?uid known as endolymph. This membranous labyrinth, as it is called, consists of two parts. The hinder part, comprising a sac (the utricle) and three short semicircular canals opening at each end into it, is the part concerned with the balancing sense; the forward part consists of another small bag (the saccule), and of a still more important part, the cochlear duct, and is the part concerned with hearing. In the cochlear duct is placed the spiral organ of Corti, on which sound-waves are ?nally received and by which the sounds are communicated to the cochlear nerve, a branch of the vestibulocochlear nerve, which ends in ?laments to this organ of Corti. The essential parts in the organ of Corti are a double row of rods and several rows of cells furnished with ?ne hairs of varying length which respond to di?ering sound frequencies.

The act of hearing When sound-waves in the air reach the ear, the drum is alternately pressed in and pulled out, in consequence of which a to-and-fro movement is communicated to the chain of ossicles. The foot of the stapes communicates these movements to the perilymph. Finally these motions reach the delicate ?laments placed in the organ of Corti, and so a?ect the auditory nerve, which conveys impressions to the centre in the brain.... Dictionary of Tropical Medicine

Beneficial Teas

Keemun tea is a popular Chinese black tea produced in Qimen County in the Anhui Province of China. It is classified as being a top quality black tea around the globe, especially in the British market whereKeemun tea is considered a delicacy. The tea gained popularity very quickly in England where it has become an important ingredient in English Breakfast tea blends. Keemun tea comes from a sub-variety of the Chinese tea plant Camellia Sinensis, named Zhu-ye-zhing which grows in a mountainous area covered by forest in Anhui Province. In that area, the lack of sun, high humidity and low temperature allow the growth of perfect thin black tea leaves which are withered, rubbed, twirled and then baked dry. There are many Keemun tea varieties such as:
  • Keemun Gongfu or Congou which has thin, dark and tight shaped leaves.
  • Keemun Mao Feng which has slightly twisted leaf buds and a smoother flavor. For a proper taste, it is recommended to brew a smaller quantity of this type of tea and let it steep for 7 minutes.
  • Keemun Xin Ya - a type of tea with a less bitter taste.
  • Keemun Hao Ya
Keemun Tea brewing If it is properly brewed, you will obtain a clear red color cup of Keemun tea with a fruity, exotic and floral (but not as floral as Darjeeling tea ) aroma. To get a perfect cup of tea, add 1-2 teaspoons of tea leaves per 8 oz cup into the teapot. Boil the water, pour it over the tea leaves and let it steep between 2 - 3 minutes. In China, people drink Keemun tea without any kind of sweetener or milk. Keemun tea benefits Keemun tea has many benefits even though it does not contain as many antioxidants as green or white tea. The caffeine in the Keemun tea helps enhancing your memory and gives you energy during the day. Since this tea is a type of black tea, it has many benefits for the human body:
  • Accelerates your metabolism and allows you to burn fat much easier and faster. With a balanced diet and regular exercise,Keemun tea is a strong allied in the process of weight loss.
  • Keemun tea can be a good alternative for coffee. The caffeine in the black tea will give you the energy that you need in the morning and will make you feel full of energy all day long.
  • Improves your digestion by dissolving the excess acidity.
  • Inhibits the growth of cancer cells and the development of rheumatoid arthritis.
Keemun tea side effects Being a black tea, Keemun tea has a significant amount of caffeine which can cause anxiety, insomnia or irritability if you drink it before bed. Pregnant women are not advised to drink black tea during the pregnancy since it has been related to spontaneous abortions and birth defects. Also, if you are breastfeeding you should consider reducing the amount of black tea. People who suffer from anemia are strongly recommended not to drink Keemun tea since it can cause dizziness, blurred vision or headaches. It is often said that Keemun tea has an orchid fragrance that leaves a lasting impression in people`s memory.  It has a reputation for being a truly exquisite tea with its fruity and wine-like flavor that, combined with the wonderful health benefits, make the tea drinking a delightful experience.... Beneficial Teas

Medical Dictionary

A statistical term meaning the value obtained when you add up the total of a set of observations and divide the result by the number of observations. It can give a false impression if there are a few outliers – individual results well beyond the range of the remainder.... Medical Dictionary

Medical Dictionary

Also known as a nerve cell, this is the basic cellular building-block of the NERVOUS SYSTEM, which contains billions of neurones linked in a complex network and acting in di?erent combinations to keep the body informed about the outside world, and then to organise and activate appropriate responses. There are three main types of neurone:

Sensory These carry signals to the central nervous system (CNS) – the BRAIN and SPINAL CORD – from sensory receptors. These receptors respond to di?erent stimuli such as touch, pain, temperature, smells, sounds and light.

Motor These carry signals from the CNS to activate muscles or glands.

Interneurons These provide the interconnecting ‘electrical network’ within the CNS.

Structure Each neurone comprises a cell body, several branches called dendrites, and a single ?lamentous ?bre called an AXON. Axons may be anything from a few millimetres to a metre long; at their end are several branches acting as terminals through which electrochemical signals are sent to target cells, such as those of muscles, glands or the dendrites of another axon.

Axons of several neurones are grouped

together to form nerve tracts within the brain or spinal cord or nerve-?bres outside the CNS. Each nerve is surrounded by a sheath and contains bundles of ?bres. Some ?bres are medullated, having a sheath of MYELIN which acts as insulation, preventing nerve impulses from spreading beyond the ?bre conveying them.

The cellular part of the neurones makes up the grey matter of the brain and spinal cord – the former containing 600 million neurones. The dendrites meet with similar outgrowths from other neurones to form synapses. White matter is the term used for that part of the system composed of nerve ?bres.

Functions of nerves The greater part of the bodily activity originates in the nerve cells (see NERVE). Impulses are sent down the nerves which act simply as transmitters. The impulse causes sudden chemical changes in the muscles as the latter contract (see MUSCLE). The impulses from a sensory ending in the skin pass along a nerve-?bre to a?ect nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain, where they are perceived as a sensation. An impulse travels at a rate of about 30 metres (100 feet) per second. (See NERVOUS IMPULSE.)

The anterior roots of spinal nerves consist of motor ?bres leading to muscles, the posterior roots of sensory ?bres coming from the skin. The terms, EFFERENT and AFFERENT, are applied to these roots, because, in addition to motor ?bres, ?bres controlling blood vessels and secretory glands leave the cord in the anterior roots. The posterior roots contain, in addition to sensory ?bres, the nerve-?bres that transmit impulses from muscles, joints and other organs, which among other neurological functions provide the individual with his or her

proprioceptive faculties – the ability to know how various parts of the body are positioned.

The connection between the sensory and motor systems of nerves is important. The simplest form of nerve action is that known as automatic action. In this, a part of the nervous system, controlling, for example, the lungs, makes rhythmic discharges to maintain the regular action of the respiratory muscles. This controlling mechanism may be modi?ed by occasional sensory impressions and chemical changes from various sources.

Re?ex action This is an automatic or involuntary activity, prompted by fairly simple neurological circuits, without the subject’s consciousness necessarily being involved. Thus a painful pinprick will result in a re?ex withdrawal of the a?ected ?nger before the brain has time to send a ‘voluntary’ instruction to the muscles involved.

Voluntary Actions are more complicated than re?ex ones. The same mechanism is involved, but the brain initially exerts an inhibitory or blocking e?ect which prevents immediate re?ex action. Then the impulse, passing up to the cerebral hemispheres, stimulates cellular activity, the complexity of these processes depending upon the intellectual processes involved. Finally, the inhibition is removed and an impulse passes down to motor cells in the spinal cord, and a muscle or set of muscles is activated by the motor nerves. (Recent advances in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques have provided very clear images of nerve tracts in the brain which should lead to greater understanding of how the brain functions.) (See BRAIN; NERVOUS SYSTEM; SPINAL CORD.)... Medical Dictionary

Community Health

Individuals with health problems go to their doctor, are diagnosed and prescribed treatment. Public-health doctors use epidemiological studies (see EPIDEMIOLOGY, and below) to diagnose the causes of health problems in populations and to plan services to treat the health and disease problems identi?ed. Their concern is often focused particularly on those who are disadvantaged or marginalised, and on the delivery of safe, e?ective and accessible health care: however, to achieve their goal of better health and well-being for everybody, they must also in?uence decision-makers across the whole community.

Central to an understanding of public health is recognition that public-health practitioners are concerned not just with individuals, but also with whole populations – and that improving health care plays only a part of public-health improvement. The health of populations (public health) is also dependent on many factors such as the social, economic and physical environment in which the people live and the nutrition and health care available to them.

For thousands of years, a fundamental feature of civilisations has been to seek to improve the health of the population and protect it from disease. This has led to the development of legal frameworks which di?er widely from country to country, depending on their social and political development. All are concerned to stop the spread of infectious diseases, and to maintain the safety of urban food and water supplies and waste disposal. Most are also associated with housing standards, some form of poverty relief, and basic health care. Some trading standards are often covered, at least in relation to the sale and distribution of poisons and drugs, and to controls on industrial and transport safety – for example, in relation to drinking and driving and car design. Although these varied functions protect the public health and were often originally developed to improve it, most are managerially and professionally separated from today’s public-health departments. So public-health professionals in the NHS, armed with evidence of the cause of a disease problem, must frequently act as advocates for health across many agencies where they play no formal management part. They must also seek to build alliances and add a health perspective to the policies of other services wherever possible.

Epidemiology is the principal diagnostic method of public health. It is de?ned as the study of the distribution and determinants of health-related states in speci?ed populations, and the application of this study to the control of health problems. Public-health practitioners also draw on many other skills, such as those of statisticians, sociologists, anthropologists, economists and policy analysts in identifying and trying to resolve the health problems of the societies they serve. Treatments proposed are likely to extend well beyond the clinic or hospital and may include recommendations for measures to resolve poverty, improve sanitation or housing, control pollution, change lifestyles such as smoking, improve nutrition, or change health services. At times of acute EPIDEMIC, public-health doctors have considerable legal powers granted to enable them to prevent infection from spreading. At other times their work may be more concerned with monitoring, reporting, planning and managing services, and advocating policy changes to politicians so that health is promoted.

The term ‘the public health’ can relate to the state of health of the population, and be represented by measures such as MORTALITY indices

(e.g. perinatal or infant mortality and standardised mortality rates), life expectancy, or measures of MORBIDITY (illness). These can be compared across areas and even countries. Sometimes people refer to a pubic health-care system; this is a publicly funded service, the primary aim of which is to improve health by the use of population-based measures. They may include or be separate from private health-care services for which individuals pay. The structure of these systems varies from country to country, re?ecting di?erent social composition and political priorities. There are, however, some general elements that can be identi?ed:

Surveillance The collection, collation and analysis of data to provide useful information about the distribution and causes of health and disease and related factors in populations. These activities form the basis of epidemiology, which is the diagnostic backbone of public-health practice.

Intervention The design, advocacy and implementation of policies to improve health. This may be through the provison of PREVENTIVE MEDICINE, environmental measures, in?uencing the behaviour of individuals, or the provision of appropriate services to limit disability and handicap. It will lead to advocacy for health, promoting change in many areas of policy including, for example, taxation and improved housing and employment opportunities.

Evaluation Assessment of the ?rst two steps to assess their impact in terms of e?ectiveness, e?ciency, acceptability, accessibility, value for money or other indicators of quality. This enables the programme to be reviewed and changed as necessary.

The practice of public health The situation in the United Kingdom will be described as, even though systems vary, it will give a general impression of the type of work covered. HISTORY Initially, public-health practice related to food, the urban environment and the control of infectious diseases. Early examples include rules in the Bible about avoiding certain foods. These were probably based on practical experience, had gradually been adopted as sensible behaviour, become part of culture and ?nally been incorporated into religious laws. Other examples are the regulations about quarantine for PLAGUE and LEPROSY in the Middle Ages, vaccination against SMALLPOX introduced by William Jenner, and Lind’s use of citrus fruits to prevent SCURVY at sea in the 18th century.

It was during the 19th century, in response to the health problems arising from the rapid growth of urban life, that the foundations of a public-health system were created. The ‘sanitary’ concept was fundamental to these developments. This suggested that overcrowding in insanitary conditions was the cause of most disease epidemics and that improved sanitation measures such as sewerage and clean water supplies would prevent them. Action to introduce such measures were often initiated only after epidemics spread out of the slums and into wealthier and more powerful families. Other problems such as the stench of the River Thames outside the Houses of Parliament also led to a demand for e?ective sanitary control measures. Successive public-health laws were passed by Parliament, initially about sanitation and housing, and then, as scienti?c knowledge grew, about bacterial infections.

In the middle of the 19th century the ?rst medical o?cers of health were appointed with responsibility to report regularly and advise local government about the measures needed to control disease and improve health. Their scope and responsibility widened as society changed and took on a wider welfare role. After more than a century they changed as part of the reforms of the NHS and local government in the 1960s and became more narrowly focused within the health-care system and its management. Increased recognition of the multifactorial causes, costs and limitations of treatment of conditions such as cancer and heart disease, and the emergence of new problems such as AIDS/HIV and BOVINE SPONGIFORM ENCEPHALOPATHY (BSE) have again showed the importance of prevention and a broader approach to health. With it has come recognition that, while disease may be the justi?cation for action, a narrow diseasetreatment-based approach is not always the most e?ective or economic solution. The role of the director of public health (the successor to the medical o?cer of health) is again being expanded, and in 1997 – for the ?rst time in the UK – a government Minister for Public Health was appointed. This re?ects not only a greater priority for public health, but also a concern that the health e?ects of policy should be considered across all parts of government.

(See also ENVIRONMENT AND HEALTH.)... Community Health

Medical Dictionary

This is the lower portion of the CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM which is situated within the SPINAL COLUMN. Above, it forms the direct continuation of the medulla oblongata, this part of the BRAIN changing its name to spinal cord at the foramen magnum, the large opening in the base of the skull through which it passes into the spinal canal. Below, the spinal cord extends to about the upper border of the second lumbar vertebra, where it tapers o? into a ?ne thread, known as the ?lum terminale, that is attached to the coccyx at the lower end of the spine. The spinal cord is thus considerably shorter than the spinal column, being only 37– 45 cm (15–18 inches) in length, and weighing around 30 grams.

In its course from the base of the skull to the lumbar region, the cord gives o? 31 nerves on each side, each of which arises by an anterior and a posterior root that join before the nerve emerges from the spinal canal. The openings for the nerves formed by notches on the ring of each vertebra have been mentioned under the entry for spinal column. To reach these openings, the upper nerves pass almost directly outwards, whilst lower down their obliquity increases, until below the point where the cord ends there is a sheaf of nerves, known as the cauda equina, running downwards to leave the spinal canal at their appropriate openings.

The cord is a cylinder, about the thickness of the little ?nger. It has two slightly enlarged portions, one in the lower part of the neck, the other at the last dorsal vertebra; and from these thickenings arise the nerves that pass to the upper and lower limbs. The upper four cervical nerves unite to produce the cervical plexus. From this the muscles and skin of the neck are mainly supplied, and the phrenic nerve, which runs down through the lower part of the neck and the chest to innervate the diaphragm, is given o?. The brachial plexus is formed by the union of the lower four cervical and ?rst dorsal nerves. In addition to nerves to some of the muscles in the shoulder region, and others to the skin about the shoulder and inner side of the arm, the plexus gives o? large nerves that proceed down the arm.

The thoracic or dorsal nerves, with the exception of the ?rst, do not form a plexus, but each runs around the chest along the lower margin of the rib to which it corresponds, whilst the lower six extend on to the abdomen.

The lumbar plexus is formed by the upper four lumbar nerves, and its branches are distributed to the lower part of the abdomen, and front and inner side of the thigh.

The sacral plexus is formed by parts of the fourth and ?fth lumbar nerves, and the upper three and part of the fourth sacral nerves. Much of the plexus is collected into the sciatic nerves, the largest in the body, which go to the legs.

The sympathetic system is joined by a pair of small branches given o? from each spinal nerve, close to the spine. This system consists of two parts, ?rst, a pair of cords running down on the side and front of the spine, and containing on each side three ganglia in the neck, and beneath this a ganglion opposite each vertebra. From these two ganglionated cords numerous branches are given o?, and these unite to form the second part – namely, plexuses connected with various internal organs, and provided with numerous large and irregularly placed ganglia. The chief of these plexuses are the cardiac plexus, the solar or epigastric plexus, the diaphragmatic, suprarenal, renal, spermatic, or ovarian, aortic, hypogastric and pelvic plexuses.

The spinal cord, like the brain, is surrounded by three membranes: the dura mater, arachnoid mater, and pia mater, from without inwards. The arrangement of the dura and arachnoid is much looser in the case of the cord than their application to the brain. The dura especially forms a wide tube which is separated from the cord by ?uid and from the vertebral canal by blood vessels and fat, this arrangement protecting the cord from pressure in any ordinary movements of the spine.

In section the spinal cord consists partly of grey, but mainly of white, matter. It di?ers from the upper parts of the brain in that the white matter (largely) in the cord is arranged on the surface, surrounding a mass of grey matter (largely neurons – see NEURON(E)), while in the brain the grey matter is super?cial. The arrangement of grey matter, as seen in a section across the cord, resembles the letter H. Each half of the cord possesses an anterior and a posterior horn, the masses of the two sides being joined by a wide posterior grey commissure. In the middle of this commissure lies the central canal of the cord, a small tube which is the continuation of the ventricles in the brain. The horns of grey matter reach almost to the surface of the cord, and from their ends arise the roots of the nerves that leave the cord. The white matter is divided almost completely into two halves by a posterior septum and anterior ?ssure and is further split into anterior, lateral and posterior columns.

Functions The cord is, in part, a receiver and originator of nerve impulses, and in part a conductor of such impulses along ?bres which pass through it to and from the brain. The cord contains centres able to receive sensory impressions and initiate motor instructions. These control blood-vessel diameters, eye-pupil size, sweating and breathing. The brain exerts an overall controlling in?uence and, before any incoming sensation can a?ect consciousness, it is usually ‘?ltered’ through the brain.

Many of these centres act autonomously. Other cells of the cord are capable of originating movements in response to impulses brought direct to them through sensory nerves, such activity being known as REFLEX ACTION. (For a fuller description of the activities of the spinal cord, see NEURON(E) – Re?ex action.)

The posterior column of the cord consists of the fasciculus gracilis and the fasciculus cuneatus, both conveying sensory impressions upwards. The lateral column contains the ventral and the dorsal spino-cerebellar tracts passing to the cerebellum, the crossed pyramidal tract of motor ?bres carrying outgoing impulses downwards together with the rubro-spinal, the spino-thalamic, the spino-tectal, and the postero-lateral tracts. And, ?nally, the anterior column contains the direct pyramidal tract of motor ?bres and an anterior mixed zone. The pyramidal tracts have the best-known course. Starting from cells near the central sulcus on the brain, the motor nerve-?bres run down through the internal capsule, pons, and medulla, in the lower part of which many of those coming from the right side of the brain cross to the left side of the spinal cord, and vice versa. Thence the ?bres run down in the crossed pyramidal tract to end beside nerve-cells in the anterior horn of the cord. From these nerve-cells other ?bres pass outwards to form the nerves that go direct to the muscles. Thus the motor nerve path from brain to muscle is divided into two sections of neurons, of which the upper exerts a controlling in?uence upon the lower, while the lower is concerned in maintaining the muscle in a state of health and good nutrition, and in directly calling it into action. (See also NERVE; NERVOUS SYSTEM.)... Medical Dictionary

Medical Dictionary

Any spot or impression upon the SKIN. The term, stigmas of degeneration, is applied to physical defects that are found in people with learning disabilities (see LEARNING DISABILITY).... Medical Dictionary

Medical Dictionary

A state of being partially conscious, or the condition in which mental processes occur and outside objects and events are perceived with the mind nearly or quite unconscious of them. Such subconscious impressions or events may be forgotten at the time but may nevertheless exert a continued in?uence over the conscious mind, or may at a subsequent time come fully into consciousness. Much importance is attached to the in?uence of painful or unpleasant experiences which, although forgotten, continue to in?uence the mind; these may be a factor in the development of anxiety states. This injurious in?uence may be reduced when the subconscious impressions come fully into consciousness and are then remembered and clearly seen in their relative importance.... Medical Dictionary

Medical Dictionary

A tendon – also known as sinew, or leader – is the cord of tissue that attaches the end of a muscle to the bone or other structure upon which the muscle acts when it contracts. Tendons are composed of bundles of white ?brous tissue arranged in a very dense manner, and are of great strength. Some are rounded, some ?attened bands, whilst others are very short – the muscle-?bres being attached almost directly to the bone. Most tendons are surrounded by sheaths lined with membrane similar to the SYNOVIAL MEMBRANE lining joint-cavities: in this sheath the tendon glides smoothly over surrounding parts. The ?bres of a tendon pass into the substance of the bone and blend with the ?bres composing it. One of the largest tendons in the body is the Achilles tendon, or tendo calcaneus, which attaches the muscle of the calf to the calcaneus or heel-bone.

Tendon injuries are one of the hazards of sports (see SPORTS MEDICINE). They usually result from indirect violence, or overuse, rather than direct violence.

Rupture usually results from the sudden application of an unbalanced load. Thus, complete rupture of the Achilles tendon is common in taking an awkward step backwards playing squash. There is sudden pain; the victim is often under the impression that he or she has received a blow. This is accompanied by loss of function, and a gap may be felt in the tendon.

Partial Rupture is also accompanied by pain, but there is no breach of continuity or complete loss of function. Treatment of a complete rupture usually means surgical repair followed by immobilisation of the tendon in plaster of Paris for six weeks. Partial rupture usually responds to physiotherapy and immobilisation, but healing is slow.... Medical Dictionary

Medical Dictionary

The sense that enables an individual to assess the physical characteristics of objects – for example, their size, shape, temperature and texture. The sense of touch is considered here along with other senses associated with the skin and muscles. The cutaneous senses comprise:

Touch sense proper, by which we perceive a touch or stroke and estimate the size and shape of bodies with which we come into contact, but which we do not see.

Pressure sense, by which we judge the heaviness of weights laid upon the skin, or appreciate the hardness of objects by pressing against them.

Heat sense, by which we perceive that an object is warmer than the skin.

Cold sense, by which we perceive that an object touching the skin is cold.

Pain sense, by which we appreciate pricks, pinches and other painful impressions.

Muscular sensitiveness, by which the painfulness of a squeeze is perceived. It is produced probably by direct pressure upon the nerve-?bres in the muscles.

Muscular sense, by which we test the weight of an object held in the hand, or gauge the amount of energy expended on an e?ort.

Sense of locality, by which we can, without looking, tell the position and attitude of any part of the body.

Common sensation, which is a vague term used to mean composite sensations produced by several of the foregoing, like tickling, or creeping, and the vague sense of well-being or the reverse that the mind receives from internal organs. (See the entry on PAIN.)

The structure of the end-organs situated in the skin, which receive impressions from the outer world, and of the nerve-?bres which conduct these impressions to the central nervous system, have been described under NERVOUS SYSTEM. (See also SKIN.)

Touch a?ects the Meissner’s or touch corpuscles placed beneath the epidermis; as these di?er in closeness in di?erent parts of the skin, the delicacy of the sense of touch varies greatly. Thus the points of a pair of compasses can be felt as two on the tip of the tongue when separated by only 1 mm; on the tips of the ?ngers they must be separated to twice that distance, whilst on the arm or leg they cannot be felt as two points unless separated by over 25 mm, and on the back they must be separated by more than 50 mm. On the parts covered by hair, the nerves ending around the roots of the hairs also take up impressions of touch.

Pressure is estimated probably through the same nerve-endings and nerves that have to do with touch, but it depends upon a di?erence in the sensations of parts pressed on and those of surrounding parts. Heat-sense, cold-sense and pain-sense all depend upon di?erent nerve-endings in the skin; by using various tests, the skin may be mapped out into a mosaic of little areas where the di?erent kinds of impressions are registered. Whilst the tongue and ?nger-tips are the parts most sensitive to touch, they are comparatively insensitive to heat, and can easily bear temperatures which the cheek or elbow could not tolerate. The muscular sense depends upon the sensory organs known as muscle-spindles, which are scattered through the substance of the muscles, and the sense of locality is dependent partly upon these and partly upon the nerves which end in tendons, ligaments and joints.

Disorders of the sense of touch occur in various diseases. HYPERAESTHESIA is a condition in which there is excessive sensitiveness to any stimulus, such as touch. When this reaches the stage when a mere touch or gentle handling causes acute pain, it is known as hyperalgesia. It is found in various diseases of the SPINAL CORD immediately above the level of the disease, combined often with loss of sensation below the diseased part. It is also present in NEURALGIA, the skin of the neuralgic area becoming excessively tender to touch, heat or cold. Heightened sensibility to temperature is a common symptom of NEURITIS. ANAESTHESIA, or diminution of the sense of touch, causing often a feeling of numbness, is present in many diseases a?ecting the nerves of sensation or their continuations up the posterior part of the spinal cord. The condition of dissociated analgesia, in which a touch is quite well felt, although there is complete insensibility to pain, is present in the disease of the spinal cord known as SYRINGOMYELIA, and a?ords a proof that the nerve-?bres for pain and those for touch are quite separate. In tabes dorsalis (see SYPHILIS) there is sometimes loss of the sense of touch on feet or arms; but in other cases of this disease there is no loss of the sense of touch, although there is a complete loss of the sense of locality in the lower limbs, thus proving that these two senses are quite distinct. PARAESTHESIAE are abnormal sensations such as creeping, tingling, pricking or hot ?ushes.... Medical Dictionary