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Meningitis

Bryan Applications, M

Inflammation of the coverings of the brain is known as meningitis, but, for practical purposes, when one speaks of meningitis it is inflammation of the inner most membrane, the pia matter, that is meant. Meningitis may be caused by extension of sepsis from a diseased middle ear, from the orbit, the nose or the face or scalp; or the infection may be brought by the blood, in pyemia. This is called the suppurative type. Resembling it is the meningitis occurring in pneumonia, typhoid fever, influenza, measles and other infectious fevers. The meningococcus is the cause of epidemic cerebro-spinal meningitis, and of posterior basal meningitis, which occurs, almost exclusively, in young infants.

Tuberculosis is another cause, and chronic meningitis may occur from alcoholism and from syphilis. Suppurative meningitis is often fatal in two or three days, and lasts at most one or two weeks. Tuberculous meningitis, which occurs usually in children under ten, though it may occur in adults, rarely lasts beyond two or three weeks. Posterior basal meningitis may run on for two or three months, and the patient may recover. Recovery is rare in the suppurative and tuberculous forms.

In the suppurative type of meningitis there is headache, giddiness, fever, which is often high, intolerance of light, sound and touch, delirium and vomiting.

There may be twitching and spasm of muscles, and convulsions, especially in children. The head is usually drawn back and Kernig’s sign (q.v.) is generally present.

There may be squinting of the eyes, drooping of the upper eyelid, inequality of the pupils, and possibly facial paralysis.

Sometimes there is paralysis of a limb or of one side of the body. Unconsciousness deepens into coma, and the pulse, which has been slow in comparison with what might have been expected from the amount of fever, becomes very rapid towards the end.

Tuberculosis meningitis forms part of a general infection with the tubercle bacillus, and the mischief is mainly situated Towards the base of the brain, thus involving the cranial nerves. For a short time before the onset of symptoms definitely pointing to meningitis a child shows signs of ailing, goes off its food, loses flesh and is peevish.

Symptoms resembling those above described then supervene. Often the child utters a wailing cry, commonly referred to as the hydrocephalic cry. The temperature as a rule is not very high. There is flattening or even hollowing of the belly. After some days the child sinks into profound unconsciousness.

Epidemic cerebro-spinal meningitis is discussed under the heading Cerebro-spinal. Posterior basal meningitis resembles the epidemic form. Opisthotonos, or curving of the back, may be extreme, the heels approaching the back of the head.

What is called serous meningitis is rather inflammation of the lining of the ventricles of the brain, an ependymitis. It mainly affects adults, the symptoms of the acute form resembling those of the suppurative type of meningitis and those of the chronic type a brain tumor.

Recognition of the existence and nature of meningitis is greatly assisted by a chemical and bacteriological examination of the cerebro-spinal fluid. The treatment of meningitis consists in keeping the patient quiet in a darkened room and keeping the head cool. The head is shaved, and cooling lotions applied, or an ice-bag. By lumbar puncture cerebro-spinal fluid is allowed to drain away sufficiently to relieve tension, and in the meningococcal types serum may be injected.

In posterior basal meningitis this is not useful, however, except during the first week. Feeding may have to be done through a nasal tube. If the temperature is high it must be lowered by sponging. Drugs may be required for symptoms, and sometimes hexamine is given in the hope that it may exert an antiseptic effect in the cerebro-spinal fluid, as it is one of the few drugs that finds its way into this fluid. See: Cerebro-spinal.

Application and treatment:

Although the treatment of children may involve more risk the younger it is, cases in which children have been treated seem to respond far better than adults, healing faster, and recovering faster overall. It is essential that a unit having a built-in voltage meter is used, and great care is exercised in the doing, so as to assure that excessive output is avoided. This is very important. The treatment will have the effect of minimizing the damage. It cannot be expected to restore dead brain cells, but there is every reason to believe that the stimulus will aid in the clean-up of damaged areas, and prevent further damage resulting from the presence and subsequent decay of those cells which are unrecoverable.

Many persons experience a noticeable change in their mental sharpness following their first few sessions. Experiments have been conducted involving retarded children, in which some noticeable benefit was derived, and the dullness of mind was somewhat alleviated.

Although a complete cure would be miraculous, it is not impossible, and one would expect the degree of cure will be determined by the degree of actual damage. Areas of the brain which are healed by the sessions will remain so, however, and this may be of real value during the developmental phases of the child’s growth.

Direct stimulation of the brain is not recommended, and may do harm, however, a trained physician, with considerable knowledge of the damaged area of the brain, may derive greater benefit from direct applications. For the lay person, it is recommended that the child be immersed in an ungrounded tub or basin, with the head out of the water, allowing the entire body to act as the contact area. This will be considerably safer than other possible techniques. This suggested method will require some experimentation in order to make it work properly, and the parent is advised to conduct those experiments on himself first, before trying any such method on a child.

It should be remembered that the use of frequency in this way is experimental. Dramatically adverse reactions are extremely rare, to the extent that we have acquired no such cases to review or to recount here. There is the possibility of adverse reactions only in theory, but so long as such a possibility exists, short of gross operator errors, due caution is in order.