Neurological disorders are conditions that affect the brain, spinal cord, or nerves. They can be structural, biochemical or electrical in nature. Neurological disorders can cause a variety of symptoms, which can be always, usually, sometimes or rarely present. The symptoms may overlap with symptoms of other diseases or conditions, making diagnosis difficult.
Some of the most common neurological disorders are:
While these are perhaps the most common neurological disorders, many of them are age-related, or at least don’t start until later in life. Children are unlikely to develop dementia, Parkinson’s disease or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Instead, they are more likely to have congenital neurological conditions such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, or hydrocephalus.
Neurological disorders refer not only to things we think of as diseases, but also when the brain and nervous system function outside of the norm. Some other conditions that fall under neurological disorders include:
- learning disabilities
- intellectual disabilities
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD and ADHD)
Neurological conditions can range from inconvenient to life-threatening. Some can be treated, while others require more of a behavioral approach to help the child thrive.
In young children, it can be difficult to detect neurological abnormalities. Some warning signs to watch out for are:
- To attack
- Floppy Baby Syndrome
- Abnormal muscle tone at birth
- Unresponsive episodes
As children grow, failure to meet developmental milestones, including speech and motor skills, is another warning sign. Frequent headaches are another warning sign, although many parents may not recognize the headaches until a child has developed enough language to describe them. In young children, periods of inactivity, sensitivity to light and sound, and nausea may be signs of an underlying headache disorder.
If you suspect your child has a neurological disorder, you’ll want to have it seen by a pediatric neurologist. The neurologist will perform tests to confirm or rule out neurological disorders. Armed with that information, you can work with doctors to develop the most appropriate treatment protocol for your child.