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Skeletal System
Spinal Cord

What protects the delicate tissue of the brain?


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September 01, 2007 2:34AM

The brain and spinal cord, which can be thought of as an extension of the brain stem have a few protective mechanisms. The first is the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) which is like a cushion that bathes the brain. Also there ia a blood-brain barrier created by special cells that line the blood cappillaries that protect the delicate brain tissues from red blood cells (RBC) and certain chemicals, viruses, and medications. Then there are the meninges. They are layers of protective tissue that wrap around the brain and spinal cord much like our cloths protect our bodoes, the first layer is called pia mater. It means delicate mother, and you can think of this as silk underwear. After that the next layer is like our regular clothing, called the arachnoid mater, or just arachnoid, referring to its web-like structure, much like our cloths are webbed, or woven. The third layer is more like a leather jacket and leather pants. This is the 'tough mother' or dura mater. And finally, the brain and spinal cord is protected by a skeletal encasement, the brain in the cranium and the spinal cord in the vertebrae. Think of this like safety gear such as elbow and knee pads, shin guards, helmet, boots, wrist guards, and gloves. Such a complex system as the brain and spinal cord needs lots of layers of protection. I hope this created a complete picture for you so you can vizualize the layers surrounding the brain and spinal cord.