ALS & other Neuromuscular Diseases
Neuromuscular diseases encompass many ailments that either directly (via muscles) or indirectly (via nerves) impair muscle functioning. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a neuromuscular disease that weakens the body’s muscles until they waste away. Muscular dystrophy, another neuromuscular disease, causes weakness in the muscles closest to the body’s midsection. While there are no cures for either disease, there are ways to improve patients’ quality of life. Treatment involves precise evaluation, diagnosis and monitoring in order to keep patients as comfortable as possible.
Alzheimer’s Disease & Other Memory Disorders
There are many types of memory disorders, including: Dementia, characterized by a slow decline in memory, problem-solving ability, learning ability and judgment. In Alzheimer’s disease — the most common cause of dementia — healthy brain tissue degenerates severely, causing a steady and profound decline in memory, as well as intellectual and social abilities. Delirium, another memory disorder involves a sudden change in a person’s mental status, which leads to confusion, disruption of the sleep-wake cycles and unusual behavior. While not a part of normal aging, the risk increases with age. Although there is no cure, there are treatments, including medications, that may improve patients’ quality of life.
- Learn More about Memory Disorders & Treatments
- Learn More about Alzheimer’s Disease
- Learn More about Dementia
Very different and more complex than acute pain, chronic pain has no time limit and may have no apparent cause. It can generate many psychological problems leading to debilitating feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Most common problems include: low-back problems, headache, recurrent facial tenderness, cancer and arthritis. Chronic pain requires careful investigation of symptoms and specialized care.
Epilepsy & Other Seizure Disorders
Seizure disorders are caused by uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain, which may produce physical convulsions, minor physical signs, thought disturbances or a combination of symptoms. They can be caused by head injuries, brain tumors, brain developmental problems, genetic and infectious diseases and fevers. In 50% of the patients with seizures, no cause can be found. Epilepsy is a complex seizure disorder. Symptoms, ranging from mild to severe, differ with each patient. At least two unprovoked seizures are required for an epilepsy diagnosis. Even mild seizures require treatment, which involves medication and can include surgery. Several types of seizures are easy to control, and many patients are well enough between seizures to lead normal lives.
- Learn More about Epilepsy Treatment
- Learn More about Device Implantation for Seizure Disorders & Treatments
Headaches can be isolated or recurrent and localized to one or more areas of the head and face. Primary headaches include tension headaches (muscular contraction), vascular (migraine), and cluster headaches not caused by other underlying medical conditions. Secondary headaches result from other medical conditions. Treatment depends on accurate categorization of the headache.
The bones of the spine are cushioned by small discs that act as shock absorbers. When damaged by injury or normal wear and tear, discs may bulge or rupture, forming a herniated disc, also known as a “slipped” or “ruptured” disc. Pain or numbness occur when the herniated disc puts pressure on the nerve roots or spinal cord. Herniated discs can occur anywhere in the spine, but most occur in the lower back. Symptoms in addition to pain vary greatly, depending on the location of the herniated disc. They may include: tingling or numbness, weakness in certain muscles, severe deep muscle pain and spasms. Medical treatment is usually tried first, including bed rest, pain and anti-inflammatory medications and exercises. Surgery may also be an option for those patients whose pain has not been relieved by other methods.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory disease that damages areas of the myelin sheath surrounding cells of the brain and spinal cord. Characterized by changes in sensation, visual problems, weakness, coordination and speech difficulties and impaired mobility, MS shares many characteristics with other conditions. Disease status can be evaluated by lengthy detailed physical and cognitive examinations. While there is no cure, there are medications that help control symptoms and improve quality of life.
Neuropathy & Other Peripheral Nervous System Disorders
Neuropathy is one of a group of peripheral nervous system disorders that affect any part of the nervous system except for the brain and spinal cord. They can be painful and cause numbness, tingling, swelling and muscle weakness in the extremities and other parts of the body. Neuropathies may be caused by injury, infection, toxic substances and such diseases as cancer, diabetes and kidney failure. Teatments are available to ease symptoms.
Parkinson’s Disease & Other Movement Disorders
Parkinson’s disease is the most common movement disorder. A group of complex neurological/neurodegenerative diseases, movement disorders include not only the involuntary slow or diminished movements manifested in conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor, but also the fast-paced and frenetic movements seen in dystonia and Tourette syndrome. Once diagnosed, Parkinson’s Disease is treated via personalized care plans, depending on each patient’s unique condition and special needs. The first line of treatment is medical therapy, with deep brain stimulation surgery an option for select patients.
Pediatric Neurological Disorders
Many neurological problems in children are congenital — birth defects or conditions that emerge in utero. They include: autism, behavioral disorders, brain tumors, Chiari malformation, dystonia and movement disorders, epilepsy, headaches, hydrocephalus, learning disorders, multiple sclerosis, neurofibromatosis, neurogenetic disorders, neurological problems of premature infants, neuromuscular disorders, pain and sleep disorders.
Spasticity is a disorder of the central nervous system (CNS) in which the nerves leading to certain muscles are unable to regulate themselves causing the muscles to continually tighten and contract. This interferes with gait and movement, and sometimes speech. Spasticity is most common in forms of spastic cerebral palsy; it also presents extensively in multiple sclerosis and to different degrees in most other neuromuscular diseases. Treatment includes massage and stretching, as well as medications to dampen the spastic signals between the nerves and muscles. The treatment also includes the surgical implantation of a Baclofen pump so the anti-spasticity medication can be infused directly into the spinal canal without causing sedation, a common side effect of high-dose oral Baclofen.
Status epilepticus (SE) is a life-threatening condition in which the brain is in a state of persistent seizure, continuous, unremitting and lasting longer than 30 minutes, or recurrent without regaining consciousness between seizures for greater than 30 minutes. Status epilepticus is most common in the very young and the very old, with the lowest incidence at ages 15-40. In the very young, febrile seizures are a leading cause of status epilepticus. In middle-aged adults, single, unprovoked episodes of status are more common; later in life, stroke is a common cause. In all cases, prompt treatment is the key to preventing serious outcomes. The goal of treatment is to stop the seizure activity as quickly as possible and treat any underlying precipitant. Mortality in children and adults is minimized when status lasts less than one hour. After an hour it increases slightly in children but jumps dramatically to close to 38% in adults.
Strokes are America’s third leading cause of death and the leading cause of serious, long-term disability. They can be caused by a disruption in the blood supply to part of the brain due to a blood clot or plaque-narrowed blood vessels; or when blood vessels in the brain leak or rupture. Most strokes damage the brain within minutes. Common symptoms of stroke include: Loss of sensation, weakness or paralysis in an arm, leg or one side of the body, partial loss of vision or hearing, double vision, dizziness, slurred speech, severe headache, cognitive problems, imbalance and falling. Stroke symptoms require immediate medical attention. For strokes caused by clots, rapid action with clot-busting drugs or mechanical clot removal may reduce the damage or prevent more damage. Strokes caused by bleeding require neurosurgical evaluation to detect and treat the cause of the bleeding. Medications and/or surgery may be used.
Tourette syndrome (TS) is characterized by repetitive, stereotyped, involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics. Some of the more common tics include eye blinking and other vision irregularities, facial grimacing, shoulder shrugging, head or shoulder jerking, using inappropriate language or repeated words used by others. Many with TS experience additional neurobehavioral problems including inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Because tic symptoms do not often cause impairment, the majority of TS patients do not require medication for tic suppression. However, effective medications are available for those whose symptoms interfere with functioning.