Pediatric neurology is the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord and nerves in children.
What is it?
Pediatric neurology treats disorders of the brain, spinal cord and nervous system from infancy through adolescence. Pediatric neurologists may be consulted for a wide range of conditions, spanning from cases of concussions to chronic conditions.
What are the subspecialties?
Pediatric neurology is a branch of internal medicine. There are many emerging sub-specialties of neurology relevant to the care of children with neurological disorders, such as neuro-epidemiology, neuropathology, interventional neurology and neuroimaging.
What are the commonly associated medical diseases or symptoms?
Pediatric neurologists work with children who have developmental problems such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, mental retardation, autism spectrum disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, neurofibromatosis, learning disabilities and a variety of neuromuscular disorders. Symptoms vary greatly among the different chronic conditions. General symptoms include muscle weakness, loss of sensation, seizures, pain, decreased attention span, delayed cognitive development and difficulty reading and writing.
What are the commonly associated medical procedures?
Although each neurological disease treatment plan is unique and uses a combination of diagnostic tests and procedures, common procedures include craniotomy, spinal fusion, and minimally invasive spine surgery. During a craniotomy, a surgeon accesses the brain by removing a flap of skull, and places a deep brain stimulator to correct brain lesions and injuries. A spinal fusion combines multiple vertebrae using rods or screws in order to stabilize the spine. Minimally invasive spine surgery is used to make structural corrections to the spine without damaging surrounding muscles.
Are there preventative measures I can take?
Researchers and clinicians are working together to identify the causes of neurological disorders. Certain neurological disorders such as epilepsy are not preventable, but there are many healthy practices that professionals believe prevent the onset of additional conditions and make existing disorders more manageable. Lifestyle changes such as eating fruits and vegetables, monitoring blood pressure and weight and refraining from smoking are appropriate for neurological disorder prevention.
What are the common misconceptions about this specialty?
A common misconception in pediatric neurology is that there is an association between vaccines and autism spectrum disorder. There is no scientific evidence of a linkage between vaccines and children with autism spectrum disorder. Furthermore, vaccines are a safe, clinician-approved method of protecting one’s child and other children from the spread of preventable diseases.
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