How to Find Help Treating a Neurological Problem
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The study of neurology has had a long and fascinating history, and it’s one that has been fraught with misunderstandings and missteps. The brain is perhaps one of the most complex structures in the body, and it’s comprised partially of neurons – perhaps as many as 100 billion of them, according to UCLA’s neuroimaging lab. Neurons are constantly delivering and receiving information from and to the body. It’s these neurons that are affected when a neurological problem arises.
Understanding Neurological Problems
It’s safe to say that few people truly understand how neurological problems work exactly. We do know that this term encompasses a huge range of disorders, everything from epilepsy to stroke. These conditions can also include traumatic brain damage to the neural plaques seen in Alzheimer’s disease. There is a huge body of research on various conditions, but even the famous ones such as Alzheimer’s disease are not well understood. We know, for example, what these plaques are, but we don’t know exactly why they form or how they cause Alzheimer’s. It’s safe to say, however, that things like gene therapy may produce results, as there are a couple of genes that are thought to trigger the development of the disease.
The problem is that the idea of a neurological problem is so broad, it’s impossible to even mention every neurological issue in a relatively short article. It has to suffice to say that a neurological disorder affects the neurons in some form, and this can lead to adverse effects. Of course, these affects can vary hugely, so it’s not a particularly helpful definition. It’s best to divide the potential conditions into several groups:
- Physical injury (trauma, tumor)
- Neurological degradation (MS, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s)
- Infection (tetanus, meningitis, prions)
- Electrical (seizures, epilepsy)
- Blood (migraine, TIA)
- Other (narcolepsy, alcoholism, depression)
How to Diagnose a Neurological Problem
Depending on what the disorder is, a neurological problem can affect memory, movement, organ function or even things like growth. Ultimately, a diagnosis of a neurological disorder may involve an fMRI scan or other similar imaging technique to scan the neurons in the brain, as this is one of the few ways to identify neuron function. It will generally be compared to a normal version of a brain. This is possible as brains tend to look fairly similar in terms of activity under normal circumstances. The neurologist then may identify areas where issues exist.
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If the suspected condition is epilepsy, the issues might involve neurological storms of activity that light up the scan. In a brain tumor, you might see a large gray object on the scan; you might also see something similar with brain damage.
For things like Guillain-Barr? syndrome, you might undergo other tests. Your neurologist might request a lumbar puncture to test the spinal fluid for certain compounds that are associated with the syndrome. You might also undergo other tests to check your heart function and your response to certain stimuli.
What this effectively tells you is that there is no one test for a neurological problem. Testing depends on what your neurologist thinks might be wrong with you. Of course, you might think that things like epilepsy are pretty obvious, but there are such things as non-epileptic seizures, and these can happen regularly.
There are questions as to whether conditions such as autistic spectrum disorder are neurological disorders or merely quirks of normal functioning. Those who display signs of what was formerly referred to as Asperger’s syndrome generally do not enjoy the term “disorder,” as it implies something is wrong. For many, they’re just a little different.
Neurological disorders can be tough to deal with. If you’ve got questions about them and would like to talk to someone, call us at . We’re just a phone call away.
How to Recognize a Neurological Disorder
Neurological disorders take many forms, so it’s impossible to say how you’d recognize one for all disorders. However, you might’ve had a head injury recently, or you might be displaying signs of confusion or memory loss. You may have developed trembling – a classic sign of Parkinson’s – or perhaps things taste different. Those suffering from things like transient ischemic attacks may display confusion and issues with coordination for between 10 and 15 minutes and then revert back to apparent good health.
Neurological disorders can present with symptoms ranging from the subtle, such as general tiredness, to really unsubtle symptoms, such as collapsing or outright paralysis. Of course, looking online at your symptoms could bring up all sorts of potential neurological disorders, and none of them would be correct. It’s best to talk to your primary care physician if you believe that you have a neurological disorder, as he or she can refer you to a neurologist.
Steps You Can Take to Help Someone With Neurological Problems
Often, just being there for someone with a neurological disorder is enough. Understanding the condition and how it will progress are key steps to helping. If it’s undiagnosed, it’s best to encourage your loved one to seek help, as this can help to slow the impact of the condition.
Talking to Someone With a Neurological Disorder
Unfortunately, neurological disorders are often misunderstood. Countless stories have been told of those with various disorders being accused of alcoholism and substance abuse. It’s best not to judge, and don’t make assumptions. Encourage openness by asking how the person feels about it. Often, sufferers will be glad that they’re being believed and discuss how the disease affects their lives.
Of course, some conditions degrade brain function, so it’s hard to get someone with dementia, for example, to talk about the condition, as that person likely doesn’t quite understand what’s going on. You can remain upbeat, however, and maintain a positive projection.
It’s also good to have a plan of how you’re going to alter your life to accommodate the condition. If your partner is affected by a motor-skills neurological condition, such as Lou Gehrig’s disease, you need to plan out how you’re going to accomplish common tasks if you have stairs.
If you need help with ideas of what to discuss or just want to know how a disease could progress, give us a call at today. We’re always here to help.
Adolescents and Teens
Teens often have a sense of infallibility, and it can be hard for them to accept they have a body that they do not completely control. Those with epilepsy are much more likely to develop depression, according to an article in Neurology. Likewise, those who suffer from various motor conditions may suffer from social stigma as their disease may not be accepted or understood by some.
Of course, many kids do well at school even though they have a neurological disorder, so it does depend on the person. Kids may need extra help with education, and some are best served at specialized schools. Those with relatively simple disorders such as tardive dyskinesia that don’t affect the memory as much will often be okay in a regular learning environment.
Learning to Cope With Neurological Issues
Coping with neurological issues can be hard. For some, it means accepting that they will sometimes lose control of their bodies, albeit temporarily. For others, it involves the scarier prospect of losing their minds. Counseling can help with it; sometimes SSRIs or other drugs might be prescribed if depression or anxiety is observed.
Sometimes, just having someone to talk to can be very therapeutic. You can give us a call at 24 hours a day.
How to Treat Neurological Problems
Many conditions are not treatable. Once neurological damage has occurred, perhaps due to hypoxia or syphilis, it can be permanent. While a brain tumor can be removed and a combination of radiotherapy and chemo used to prevent its return, the damage to the surrounding tissue tends to be irreversible. This is why, for example, those who have suffered from stroke often end up with permanent paralysis.
There are treatable neurological problems, so it isn’t all hopeless. Epilepsy, for example, can respond well to medication, according to the Stanford Medical School’s Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences. However, there are no hard and fast rules, so it can be a bit hit and miss. The same goes for addiction and other psychological disorders. It’s worth remembering that there is a lot of research happening all the time, so it’s entirely possible that new techniques and medications will be discovered.
Deciding Between Possible Solutions
The range of neurological disorders is so vast that solutions are equally as varied. For many, diet changes are necessary to eliminate certain triggering factors. For some, drugs become an essential part of daily life. Either way, the solution depends on the condition. It’s best to discuss your options with your neurologist before making any firm choices.
Where to Find Neurological Treatment for a Friend or Family Member
For many, the first port of call involves their primary care doctors. This may lead to a consultation with a neurologist, and various tests may be scheduled. Treatment on neurological problem starts after diagnosis, however. If you’re struggling with being understood by your primary care physician, or if you have questions about how to help someone with a neurological problem, give us a call at today.