Neurology : Specialists

What does neurology mean?

Neurology is a sub-section of medicine which is concerned with diseases of the nervous system.

What is the nervous system?

This complex system in the body is responsible for sending, receiving and interpreting nerve impulses throughout the human body. These impulses control every muscle and organ in the body and enable them to function as they should.

The nervous system is comprised of the brain, nerves and spine and controls every process in the body.

It consists of three sub-systems which are joined together. These are:

  • Central nervous system: consists of the majority of the nervous system and includes the brain and spinal cord.
  • Peripheral nervous system: extends beyond the central nervous system. It transmits nerve impulses to the rest of the body and acts as a connection point between the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system.
  • Autonomic nervous system: this forms part of the peripheral nervous system and controls the functions of internal organs, for example, heart rate, breathing, digestion and urination.

What is a neurologist?

This is a specially trained physician who specialises in diseases of the nervous system. He or she will investigate and/or treat a range of disorders which include:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Motor neurone disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Neuralgia

What does a neurologist do?

He/she will treat a range of neurological diseases such as those mentioned above. Some neurologists specialise in neurological disorders in children whereas others are involved in clinical research.

A neurologist will carry out a physical examination before referring a patient for tests, for example an MRI scan. There are also a series of tests which are specific to a particular condition, for example an ‘electromyography’ for progressive nerve disorders. This involves the insertion of a needle under the skin to measure muscle activity.

Many neurologists choose to specialise in a particular area, e.g. multiple sclerosis.

If surgery is required then the patient is referred to a neurosurgeon.

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