Neurologists are specialists responsible for diagnosing and treating nerve-related symptoms such as memory loss, dizziness, headaches and head injuries. Patients who experience numbness, tingling, weakness, or pain or muscle spasm in their limbs might seek out a neurologist, who can determine if the problem is nerve related. Neurologists may also be involved with clinical research, clinical trials and other research.
Autonomic neurologists diagnose and treat diseases affecting heartbeats, widening and narrowing of blood vessels and involuntary actions of the body such as breathing and swallowing. They treat individuals with Adie’s syndrome, autoimmune autonomic neuropathy, diabetic autonomic neuropathy, hyperhidrosis, Shy-Drager syndrome, orthostatic hypotension, postural tachycardia syndrome and pure autonomic failure. Physicians who specialize in this area must have knowledge of the health and diseases of the autonomic nervous system, or ANS, interpret and perform laboratory and clinical evaluation of ANS and diagnose people with ANS dysfunctions.
Behavioral neurologists evaluate, manage and treat patients with brain disorders that alter behavior. They treat patients with attention, memory, emotion, language and behavioral problems. Doctors who specialize in behavioral neurology must possess knowledge of the pathological and clinical aspects of neural processes associated with behavior, cognition, emotion and elementary neurological functioning. They commonly treat syndromes and diseases such as amnesia, dementia, dyslexia and psychosis as well as those that result from traumatic injuries.
Neurophysiologists specialize in the study of neurological diseases; the neurophysiology discipline focuses on the treatment of problems of nerves and muscles. Neurophysiologists determine nerve activity and neuromuscular damage. They measure the electrical activity of nerve cells in the brain, so they must have skills in testing tools such as electroencephalography. Neurophysiology practitioners also conduct investigations that include nerve conduction studies and electromyography. Conditions of particular interest to neurophysiologists are epilepsy, nerve entrapment, stroke, epilepsy, dementia, multiple sclerosis and neuromuscular diseases.
Geriatric neurologists are concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and care of neurological conditions that affect older people. They also specialize in the study of the aging central nervous system and its vulnerability to certain neurological diseases. A geriatric neurologist's focus includes Alzheimer's disease, dementia, gait disorders and Parkinson's disease and the effects of medication on the nervous system. Geriatric neurology overlaps with other neurology specialties, including behavioral neurology and movement disorders. Aspiring neurologists, particularly those who specialize in disorders linked with aging, will see greater demand for their skills as the baby boomers age.
There are several other subspecialties. For example, neurologists may venture to vascular neurology, neuro-oncology, neurodevelopment neurology, pediatric neurology, or neuromuscular neurology. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, neurologists along with other physicians practicing with medical specialties received total annual median compensation of $356,885 in 2010. The American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology certifies neurologists. General neurologists must have nine years of medical education, while those with subspecialties receive three to eight years of postgraduate training.
- United Council for Neurologic Subspecialties: Autonomic Disorders
- United Council for Neurologic Subspecialties: Behavioral Neurology and Neuropsychiatry
- United Council for Neurologic Subspecialties: Geriatric Neurology
- Healthcare Salary Online: Neurologist Job Description
- Pubmed: The Future of Neurology
- American Academy of Neurology: Geriatric Neurology Section
- American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology: Neurology/Child Neurology
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Physicians and Surgeons
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