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Neurology Specialist Doctor
Neurology Specialist Doctor
A neurology specialist doctor or a neurologist is a specialist doctor that treats varying health issues related to the nervous system. The nervous systems include the brain, muscles, peripheral nerves and spinal cord.
Neurology is a branch of medicine that studies the nervous system in-depth. This system is highly vital as it is responsible for regulating all coordination functions of the body, regulating how the organs work, receiving various stimuli and processing them, enabling the body to move, and powering the brain to think and remember things. In other words, the nervous system plays a role in nearly every aspect of our health and well-being as it regulates all activities in the human body from cognitive processing to stimulus processing.
When a person has a nervous system disorder, it is advisable to see a neurologist. Neurological diseases may affect all or part of the body functions.
In terms of the treatment provided to patients, neurology specialist doctors are generally divided into two categories of doctors: neurosurgeons and neurologists (non-surgical methods).
Neurosurgeons can be further divided into their sub-specialty types: tumor neurosurgery, vascular neurosurgery, functional neurosurgery, traumatic neurosurgery, paediatric neurosurgery, and spinal neurosurgery.
Sub-specialties in Neurology
For certain neurologists, mastering the field of neurology is not enough. Many neurologists take on sub-specialty education to learn more about nerves and the nervous system. These sub-specialties are:
- Paediatric neurology, a sub-specialty focusing on treating neurological disorders in children, from infants to adolescents. Neurological disorders treated by the paediatric neurology sub-specialist include hydrocephalus, muscle weakness, and brain tumors.
- Epileptic neurology, a sub-specialty that provides medical treatment related to epilepsy.
- Vascular neurology, a sub-specialty focusing on studying neurological disorders related to the brain’s blood vessels.
- Peripheral neuropath, a sub-specialty focusing on dealing with neurological disorders such as peripheral nerve disorders.
- Interventional neurology, a sub-specialty focusing on treating central nervous system disorders in the brain and spinal cord with radiological technology and minimally invasive methods of treatment.
- Neuro-oncology, a sub-specialty focusing on treating cancer or tumors in the brain and spinal cord.
- Geriatric neurology, a neurological sub-speciality that focuses on treating neurological disorders that occur due to aging.
- Intensive and emergency neurology, a sub-specialty focusing on emergency cases or critical neurological conditions.
Diseases Treated by Neurologists
Prior to discussing the diseases and problems that neurologists can handle, one should recognise first the types of nerves in the human body:
- Motor nerves, nerves that send signals (impulses) from the brain and spinal cord to all the muscles in the body.
- Sensory nerves, nerves that send back signals (impulses) from the skin and muscles back to the spine and brain.
- Autonomous nerves, nerves that control the involuntary or semi-conscious functions of body movements, such as heart rate, blood pressure, bowel movements, and body temperature regulation.
If you have any problems with the above mentioned nerve types, it is recommended to consult a neurologist. Below are some diseases that can be treated by a neurologist:
- Nervous system tumors.
- Multiple sclerosis.
- Dementia, for example in Alzheimer’s disease.
- Movement disorders.
- Myasthenia gravis.
- Central nervous system infections, such as meningitis, brain abscess, and inflammation of the brain (encephalitis).
- Lou Gehrig’s disease.
- Spinal cord disorders.
- Migraine / severe headache.
- Peripheral neuropathy.
- Parkinson’s disease.
- Pinched nerve.
- Pain related to nervous disorders.
Medical Procedures Performed by Neurologists
Generally, the neurologist will make a diagnosis by tracing the medical history and asking questions about the patient’s symptoms. Further, the neurologist will seek deeper information by conducting a series of general physical tests and neurological physical tests (neurological tests) around the brain and peripheral nerves.
Below are some types of neurological tests that a neurologist can conduct:
- Nerve Function Test, a test which includes examination of gait, speech, and mental status.
- Gait analysis, an examination of gait patterns to see whether the patient is able to walk normally. From here, the neurologist will find out whether the walking disorder is caused by injury, genetic factors, disease, or impaired function of the legs or feet.
- Speech analysis, an examination of how individuals communicate.
- Mental status analysis, an examination of the patient’s psychological condition, especially the patient’s ability to process memory, orientation, and intelligence.
- Cranial nerves tests, includes the olfactory nerve, optical nerve (vision), oculomotor nerve (eye movement), facial nerve (facial expression), and vestibulocochlear nerve (hearing and balance).
- Sensory system tests, an examination of the patient’s nervous response to touch, pain, temperature, vibration, and how to identify the shape and size of an object.
- Motor system tests, an examination of movement, muscle shape and size, muscle strength, and muscle mass.
- Reflex, cerebellum, and meningeal tests, a reflex examination by tapping several parts of the body, such as the elbows, knees, or ankles. While the meningeal examination is carried out through the Brudzinski method (neck stiffness test) and Kernig method (examination of the flexibility of the thighs in the hip joint to form a 90 degree angle). Meanwhile, the cerebellum test is carried out to find out the presence of dysarthia (slow speech), dysmetria (inability to start or stop fine motor movements), or gait disorders like ataxia.
- Autonomic nervous system tests, a test performed to check for signs of autonomic nerve dysfunction, such as sweating, paleness, changes in skin and nails, and changes in blood pressure.
After performing the series of examinations above, the neurologist can order for additional tests to determine the right diagnosis:
- Laboratory tests that include urine tests, blood tests, and brain fluid analysis.
- Radiological tests through CT scan, MRI, PET scan, angiography, X-rays, ultrasound examination.
- Nerve electrical tests, a test performed to examine brain electrical waves (electroencephalogram or EEG), muscle nerve electricity (electromigraphy or EMG), examination of the nerves of the eye and balance organs (electronistagmoraphy or ENG).
- Biopsy, a test performed to observe brain and nerve tissue in cases of tumors in the nervous system to determine if the tumor is malignant or benign.
Once the diagnosis has been determined, the neurologist will suggest a treatment method that is suitable and required by the patient. Treatment given in the early stages generally works well to reduce the symptoms of neurological disorders that arise. If necessary, a neurologist may also advise and refer the patient to a neurosurgeon.
When to See a Neurologist?
To see a neurologist, you may consult a general practitioner first. It should be noted that you are advised to immediately see a neurologist if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty walking
- Muscle weakness or paralysis.
- Frequently experience numbness in certain body parts.
- Decreased muscle mass (muscle atrophy).
- Unbearable pain.
- Visual disturbances.
- Difficulty speaking.
- Swallowing disorders.
- Excessive sweating.
- Sense of spinning dizziness (vertigo).
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