Neurology is a branch of medicine that deals with disorders related to the nervous system, also known as neurological disorders. The nervous system, the body’s electrical wiring, is a sophisticated system that regulates and coordinates body activities. The nervous system is a complex collection of nerves and specialized cells, known as neurons, that transmit signals between different parts of the body. The nervous system is made up of two parts – the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS). The CNS is made up of the brain and spinal cord and is called central because it combines information and coordinates activity across the entire body. The PNS is made up of sensory neurons, clusters of neurons, known as ganglia, and nerves that connect to one another and to the CNS. The PNS contains all the nerves outside of the CNS. The main role of the PNS is to connect the CNS to the organs, limbs and skin.
Movement disorders are neurological conditions that cause problems with movement. There are many different movement disorders. Some of the more common types of movement disorders include ataxia, atypical parkinsonism, dystonia, essential tremor, Lewy body dementia, motor stereotypies, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease, ALS, and Tourette syndrome.
Huntington’s Disease, also known as HD, is a genetic disorder that causes the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain and is considered fatal. It affects the entire brain, but some areas are more vulnerable than others. HD is an inherited neurological disorder passed down from generation to generation in families. HD causes deterioration in an individual’s physical, mental and emotional abilities with symptoms occurring during their prime working years.
Parkinson’s Disease, also known as PD, is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that affects predominately dopamine-producing (“dopaminergic”) neurons in a specific area of the brain called substantia nigra. In simple terms, Parkinson’s Disease is a nervous system disorder that affects movement (movement disorder). PD is considered a diverse disorder that develops slowly over time and is different for everyone – no two people experience PD in the same way. Approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with PD each year and over 10 million people worldwide are living with it.
Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) Programming uses minimally invasive, non-destructive and reversible techniques. DBS is a neurosurgical procedure that involves implanting electrodes within certain areas of the brain and utilizing electrical stimulation to treat movement disorders related to Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, dystonia and other neurological conditions.
Electroencephalogram (EEG) is a test that identifies abnormalities in the brain waves or in the electrical activity of the brain. An EEG uses small metal discs, known as electrodes, attached to the scalp. The electrodes detect tiny electrical charges that result from the activity of the brain cells. The charges are amplified and appear as wavy lines on a graph on a computer screen or as a recording that may be printed out on paper. The EEG is a snapshot in time of the electrical activity in the brain. An EEG is one of the main tests used to diagnose epilepsy, but also plays a role in diagnosing other neurological disorders.
Electromyography (EMG) is a diagnostic procedure that evaluates the health condition of muscles and the nerve cells that control them, also known as motor neurons. Motor neurons transmit electrical signals that cause muscles to contract and relax. An EMG translates these signals into graphs or numbers, assisting physicians to make a diagnosis. EMG results can reveal nerve dysfunction, muscle dysfunction, or problems with nerve-to-muscle signal transmission.
Nerve conduction studies (NCS) measure the speed and strength of electrical impulses as they move down a nerve. NCS determines whether a nerve has been damaged. Nerve damage or a blockage in the conduction will slow and weaken the transmission of the electrical impulses.
Evoked potentials are used to show abnormalities in the function of nerve pathways that can be caused by neurological disorders. An evoked potential test measures the time it takes for nerves to respond to stimulation such as light, sound and touch. The test records how quickly and completely the nerve signals from the stimuli reach the brain. The evoked potentials test also tests the size of the response. Each type of stimulation response is recorded using electrodes taped to the head. Evoked potentials tests are important because they can indicate problems along nerve pathways that are too subtle to show up during a neurological exam or to be noticed by the patient.
Botulinum toxin, also known as Botox, is a drug made from a toxin produced by the bacterium called Clostridium botulinum. Botox, in small doses, is used as an injection by doctors to treat certain health problems. Botox injections work by weakening or paralyzing certain muscles or by blocking certain nerves. The effects of the Botox injections typically last three to 12 months. Roseman Medical Group utilizes Botox injections for chronic migraines, blepharospasm, hemifacial spasm, dystonia and spasticity.
This article was originally posted on Roseman University of Health Sciences’ blog, as well as published in the May/June edition of Roseman University’s print edition