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What does a Neurologist Do?
Neurologists are medical doctors (MDs) or osteopathic doctors (DOs) who specialize in diseases, disorders and injuries of the brain and nervous system. A neurologist might be the primary doctor for a patient with a neurological disease such as Alzheimer’s, or may consult with other healthcare professionals, such as in the case of a stroke or concussion.
Movement Disorders Treated by Neurologists
Neurologists care for many patients with disorders that affect movement. These patients may have excessive or involuntary movement, lack of purposeful movement, or a condition that affects the speed or ease of that movement. Some common movement disorders are:
· Parkinson’s Disease. This progressive disease causes tremors, stiffness, slowed movement, and loss of balance.
· Huntington’s Disease. A degenerative genetic disorder, this disease causes uncontrolled, jerky movements, decreased mental abilities, and behavioral changes.
· Epilepsy is caused by disturbances in the brain’s electrical system which create unexpected seizures.
· Restless Leg Syndrome causes pain in the legs that is alleviated by movement. Patients have an uncontrollable urge to move their legs at night, which can lead to insomnia.
· Tics. These involuntary movements, usually of the face, arms, or shoulders, can be a symptom of a bigger disorder or the result of a birth injury, head trauma or the use of certain medications.
· Tourette’s Syndrome. This disease is characterized by physical and vocal tics and tends to affect children and adolescents.
· Wilson Disease is a genetic disorder causing an unhealthy accumulation of copper in the brain or liver which can cause a wide range of neurological symptoms.
· Ataxia is a loss of co-ordination and balance, often associated with other neurological diseases.
Neurologists also diagnose and treat the following conditions of the brain and nervous system:
· Alzheimer’s Disease/Dementia. These illnesses involve a loss of mental abilities, usually in the aged, that affect their memory and ability to function.
· Sleep Disorders. Neurologists can help with insomnia, sleep apnea, and other disorders affecting sleep quality.
· Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a rare, fatal, degenerative brain disease usually affecting older people.
· Multiple Sclerosis. This disease affects the nerve fibers and can have a variety of symptoms affecting movement, co-ordination and vision.
· Meniere’s Disease. A disorder of the inner ear, Meniere’s disease causes vertigo, ringing in the ears, and hearing loss.
· Aphasia, or the inability to communicate and understand speech and writing, occurs when the language center of the brain is damaged.
· Autism. This lifelong neurobiological disorder impairs a child’s ability to speak and socialize, and can affect behavior and sensory experience.
· Brain Tumors and Injuries