The Brain Stem

The Brain Stem

Located at the top of the spinal cord, the brainstem relays information in and out of the brain. It is made up of 3 smaller regions; the medulla, the pons and the midbrain. These are critical for all basic biological functions as well as:

  • Regulates breathing, digestion, heart rate, blood pressure
  • Controls alertness and swallowing
  • Provides pathway for tracts of cranial nerves that bridge the cortex (“thinking”) with the cerebellum (“movement”)
  • Contributes to functions of seeing and hearing

An injury to the brain stem can result in:

  • Inability to breathe independently and regulate heart rate
  • Unable to maintain consciousness
  • Poor transmissions of signals for motor control (paralysis)
  • Problems with swallowing and sensation of choking (Dysphagia)