Happy Valentine's

To understand injuries to the brain, it is beneficial to first have a general knowledge of the anatomy of the brain itself. Picture the brain as an ice cream cone. The cone is the brain stem and the brain is the scoop of ice cream on top. The brain rocks back and forth on the stem in a body of liquid known as cerebral spinal fluid.

The brain is divided into two halves or hemispheres. Usually the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body, and the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body. The right side of the brain judges the position of things in space, tracks the body's positioning, provides the understanding and remembering of things we do and see, assembles bits of information together to make an entire picture, and controls the left side of the body.

The left side of the brain provides the understanding and use of language including listening, reading, speaking, and writing, creates memory for spoken and written messages, provides detailed analysis of information, and controls the right of the body.

The front of the brain consists of the Frontal lobes and is located in the forehead region in both the left and right hemispheres. The Frontal lobes are considered our emotional control center and home to our personality. The Frontal lobes are involved in motor function, problem solving, spontaneity, memory, language, initiation, judgment, impulse control, and social and sexual behavior. MRI studies have shown that the frontal area is the most common region of injury following mild to moderate traumatic brain injury.

The Parietal lobes are at the top, back portion of our brain in both hemispheres. The Parietal lobes can be divided into two functional regions. One region involves sensation and perception and the other is concerned with integrating sensory input, primarily with the visual system. The first function integrates sensory information to form a single perception (i.e. cognition). The second function constructs the special coordinates system to represent the world around us. The functions of the Parietal region include location for visual attention, location for touch perception, goal-directed voluntary movements, manipulation of objects, and integration of different senses that allows for understanding a single concept.

The Temporal lobe is on the sides of the head above the ear. The temporal lobe provides hearing ability, memory acquisition, some visual perceptions, and categorization of objects.

The Occipital lobe is located at the back of the brain, in the lower section below the Parietal regional. The Occipital lobes are the center of our visual perception system. The main function of the Occipital lobes is vision.

The Cerebellum is located on the side of the brain below the Occipital and Temporal regions of the hemispheres just above the brain stem and toward the back of the brain. The function of the Cerebellum is to provide coordination of voluntary movement, balance and equilibrium and some memory for reflex motor acts.

The Brain Stem is the cone part of the brain that plays a vital role in basic attention, arousal and consciousness. All information to and from our body passes through the brain stem on the way to or from the brain. The brain stem provides functions of breathing, heart rate, swallowing, reflexes for seeing and hearing, sweating, blood pressure, digestion, body temperature, levels of alertness, ability to sleep and our sense of balance.

The Frontal and Temporal lobes and the Brain stem are most vulnerable to damage during trauma as they are located in an area near boney protrusions within the skull which surrounds the brain and brain stem.

If you should have any questions concerning this topic or any other personal injury-related matters please feel free to contact my office at (727) 494 2008.  
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Heart-Shaped Lasagna Bundt
Perfect for Valentine's Day!
One 16-ounce box lasagna noodles
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons sugar
12 ounces ricotta 
8 ounces shredded mozzarella (2 cups)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the lasagna noodles to al dente according to the package directions. Line a baking sheet with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels. Drain the noodles and spread them flat on the baking sheet to dry them completely (you may need to create 2 to 3 layers to fit all of the noodles; put paper towels between each layer). 

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and just beginning to brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and oregano and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the beef, 2 teaspoons salt and a generous amount of black pepper, and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon and stirring occasionally, until the beef is just cooked through, 7 to 8 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook until well incorporated and heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour in the tomatoes, sugar, 1 cup water, 1 teaspoon salt and a generous amount of black pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. 

Meanwhile, mix the ricotta, mozzarella, eggs, Parmesan, parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper in a medium bowl. 

Cut six noodles in half crosswise. 

Line the bottom of a 10-cup heart-shaped Bundt pan with 4 of the half noodles (2 along the straight lines of the heart and 2 along the arches). Lay 12 whole noodles in the bottom of the pan, slightly overlapping and directly on top of the half noodles, making sure that one side of each noodle hangs 2 to 3 inches over the edge of the pan and the other side of the noodle runs up the center of the pan.  

Pour 1 cup meat sauce on top of the noodles, then spread 1 cup of the ricotta mixture over the sauce. Top with 4 noodle halves. Repeat the layering 1 more time. Pour 1 cup meat sauce and spread the remaining ricotta mixture over the top (the ricotta mixture will be less than the 1 cup used in previous layers). 

Fold the edges of the overhanging lasagna noodles the lasagna towards the center, covering the filling and the hole in the center completely. Bake until the noodles on top are turning golden brown and are starting to crisp up, 45 to 50 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes. Invert the pan onto a cutting board. Reheat the remaining sauce if necessary and pour into the center of the heart. Slice and serve immediately. 

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