What is Neurology?
Neurology is an area of medicine that relates to the structure, function, and diseases affecting nerves and the nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord.
Doctors who specialize in neurology, called neurologists, go through extensive education and training before they can become board-certified physicians. The typical path for a neurologist includes four years of college, four years of medical school, and four years of residency. Many neurologists choose to spend an additional one to two years in fellowship programs where they can receive training in specific subspecialties or diagnoses, including epilepsy, sleep medicine, and pediatric neurology.
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How Doctors Diagnose Neurological Conditions
When a doctor suspects that a person's signs and symptoms could be caused by a neurological condition, they will rely on a range of techniques and tests to help confirm a diagnosis. Most likely, the first technique is a neurological exam. During this exam, your doctor will ask you questions about your personal and family medical history, and use a number of tests to evaluate your coordination, balance, reflexes, vision, speech, hearing, movement, sensation, and in many cases your memory, mood, and behavior.
In some cases, a neurological exam may be enough on its own to confirm a diagnosis. Doctors may also order or perform additional imaging or testing techniques, including:
Brain scan (MRI and CT scan)
Brainstem auditory evoked potential (BAEP)
Evoked potential (EP)
Laboratory testing, including blood, urine, and cerebrospinal fluid tests
Neurological scan of the spine
Neurological CT scan (brain and spine CT scan)
Positron emission tomography (PET)
Somatosensory evoked potential (SEP or SSEP)
Visual evoked potential (VEP)
These aren't all the tests your doctor may order for you or your loved one if they suspect a neurological condition. Additional tests could be useful to rule out other conditions. Sometimes, your doctor might refer you to other medical specialists, as well, in case other underlying health issues are suspected.
Before you undergo any test or diagnostic procedure, your doctor will go over what to expect during the test and give you a chance to ask any questions you might have
Thanks to exciting advances in the field of neurology, we now have a wide range of treatments available to help people living with neurological conditions. Selecting the right treatment depends on factors like a patient's condition, health status, age and goals.
Medications are often prescribed to help slow the progression of a neurological condition or manage its symptoms. Sometimes, surgery is beneficial for removing tumors or other invasive procedures that may help control or improve a person's function and quality of life.
A neurologist also helps coordinate and collaborate with other healthcare providers to ensure patients receive multidisciplinary and individualized care for their condition, including physical, occupational, and speech therapy, lifestyle modifications, and psychotherapy.