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By Emile Franssen

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Sample text

That percentage has now risen to twelve and a half per cent of a total population which is more Broken connections 16 than three times as great as in 1900. When there are more people in the group most at risk for the occurrence of the disease, then it is understandable that it is more prevalent. In the second place it is now possible to make the diagnosis with much more certainty than was previously the case. The clinical picture of the disease has now been well described. It is true that the cause of the disease is not yet known and that there is still no blood test by which the diagnosis can be established with absolute certainty.

The development of the brain functions follows a certain pattern. That is reflected in the activities of the child. First comes smiling, then being able to hold his head upright, further sitting, walking, talking, then becoming toilet-trained and then being able to do the daily activities of washing and dressing by himself. There are individual variations on this pattern. Sometimes for instance children are able to talk before they can walk. The functions which the child successively learns to control become increasingly complicated; they run parallel to the development of the brain.

1. INTRODUCTION In 1907 Aloïs Alzheimer, a neurologist in Frankfurt-on-Main, described a disease which was characterized by slowly advancing dementia accompanied by serious behavioral disturbances. The end of the disease was marked by the total mental and physical deterioration of the patient, who lay motionless in bed like a fetus in the womb, with legs and knees pulled up. When the first symptoms of dementia occurred, the patient was barely fifty. Five years later she died in an institution. From the post mortem it appeared that the patients brain had shrunk considerably.

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