Reprinted with permission from The Jewish Link of Bergen County…
When children catch a cold or need vaccinations, many parents may take them to a pediatrician. If children (or adults) break a bone, they might go to an orthopedic doctor. But, what kind of doctor should children and adults see after sustaining a concussion? What about the child who is struggling with homework, can’t settle down in the classroom or is feeling anxious about going to school? What about the child who exhibits challenging behaviors on a regular basis and recommended behavior strategies don’t help? These issues are all related to the brain so a doctor specializing in how the brain functions should evaluate and treat these issues: a neurologist.
A neurologist is a necessary and important medical professional for individuals with neurological, neurobehavioral, neuropsychiatric or neurodevelopmental symptoms or signs. That is, individuals who are struggling with daily functioning, learning or development.
What can a neurologist do to help improve an individual’s everyday functioning? A neurological evaluation is an important component in knowing if there is an underlying medical cause for a condition or illness. After learning about the presenting problems and concerns, and reviewing a patient’s medical and neuropsychiatric history and educational difficulties, a neurologist will complete a physical and neurological examination. Then, a neurologist will discuss clinical findings and diagnostic impressions and make suggestions for additional targeted diagnostic testing that can provide further insight for treatment recommendations.
A good neurologist is also a worthy investigator. Someone who is willing to “peel back the layers” of symptoms and look for the true cause is also most likely to find the most effective treatment. This is exactly what happened for Theresa and her son, Colin, after she had him evaluated by a neurologist at The Center for Neurological and Neurodevelopmental Health (CNNH).
Colin, a bright, perceptive third grade boy, was suffering academically in school and feeling very frustrated. “His self-esteem was taking a nosedive,” recalls his mother. “He would rip up his homework if he did not comprehend something. Many times I would break down myself because I felt helpless and fearful.” Colin’s mom did a lot of research online and felt that there may be a medical reason for his frustration, rather than simply being a learning disability, which she had been told. Her pediatrician recommended going to CNNH.
“Our first appointment included a thorough history and neurological examination. Then, we completed a High Density Electroencephalogram (HD-EEG).” HD-EEG is an advanced tool for detecting and localizing electrical abnormalities in the brain (“brain waves”) typically associated with autism, ADHD, epilepsy, concussion, brain injuries and other neurological disorders. HD-EEG provides an electrical “image” of brain activity, enabling improvements in diagnosis and treatment of brain disorders. Theresa remembers, “The tests were painless for Colin and the process was so comprehensive, which gave me comfort.”
In Colin’s case, the neurologist discovered that Colin was having abnormal discharges known as “spikes” in some sections of his brain. These were called “subclinical spikes”, as Colin was not having any observable seizures. With this accurate and evidence-based diagnosis, Colin was able to receive the specific treatment he needed that targeted his biological causes rather than his external symptoms.
His mother proudly shares, “his teacher notes that Colin is notably more engaged, participative and confident. He even helps others in his class, now and his confidence is much improved. It is wonderful to see how proud he is of his accomplishments!”
“The brain is complex and each person’s situation can be different,” reminds Mark Mintz, M.D., CNNH’s president, CEO and founder. “As we know from Colin’s situation, it is important to investigate each unique patient’s symptoms comprehensively and individually. Whether it is a concussion, ADHD or even a headache, sometimes it’s a matter of asking the right question to get the correct answer. As a neurologist, it is our job to make those discoveries to provide a smarter approach to treating the brain.”