A Neurological Disorder:


A neurological disorder is any disorder of the nervous system. Structural, biochemical or electrical abnormalities in the brain, spinal cord or other nerves can result in a range of symptoms. Examples of symptoms include paralysis, muscle weakness, poor coordination, loss of sensation, seizures, confusion, pain and altered levels of consciousness. There are many recognized neurological disorders, some relatively common, but many rare.

They may be assessed by neurological examination, and studied and treated within the specialities of neurology and clinical neuropsychology. Interventions for neurological disorders include preventive measures, lifestyle changes, physiotherapy or other therapy, neurorehabilitation, pain management, medication, operations performed by neurosurgeons or a specific diet.

The World Health Organization estimated in 2006 that neurological disorders and their sequelae (direct consequences) affect as many as one billion people worldwide, and identified health inequalities and social stigma/discrimination as major factors contributing to the associated disability and suffering. Although the brain and spinal cord are surrounded by tough membranes, enclosed in the bones of the skull and spinal vertebrae, and chemically isolated by the blood–brain barrier, they are very susceptible if compromised.

Nerves tend to lie deep under the skin but can still become exposed to damage. Individual neurons, and the neural circuits and nerves into which they form, are susceptible to electrochemical and structural disruption. Neuroregeneration may occur in the peripheral nervous system and thus overcome or work around injuries to some extents, but it is thought to be rare in the brain and spinal cord.

The specific causes of neurological problems vary, but can include genetic disorders, congenital abnormalities or disorders, infections, lifestyle or environmental health problems including malnutrition, and brain injury, spinal cord injury, nerve injury and gluten sensitivity (with or without intestinal damage or digestive symptoms). Metal poisoning, where metals accumulate in the human body and disrupt biological processes, has been reported to induce neurological problems, at least in the case of lead. The neurological problem may start in another body system that interacts with the nervous system. For example, cerebrovascular disorders involve brain injury due to problems with the blood vessels (cardiovascular system) supplying the brain; autoimmune disorders involve damage caused by the body's own immune system; lysosomal storage diseases such as Niemann-Pick disease can lead to neurological deterioration.

The National Institutes of Health recommend considering the evaluation of an underlying celiac disease in people with unexplained neurological symptoms, particularly peripheral neuropathy or ataxia. In a substantial minority of cases of neurological symptoms, no neural cause can be identified using current testing procedures, and such "idiopathic" conditions can invite different theories about what is occurring.

Numerous examples have been described of neurological disorders that are associated with mutated DNA repair genes . Inadequate repair of DNA damages can lead directly to cell death and neuron depletion as well as disruptions in the pattern of epigenetic alterations required for normal neuronal function. Neurological disorders can be categorized according to the primary location affected, the primary type of dysfunction involved, or the primary type of cause. The broadest division is between central nervous system disorders and peripheral nervous system disorders.

The Merck Manual lists brain, spinal cord and nerve disorders in the following overlapping categories: A neurological examination can, to some extent, assess the impact of neurological damage and disease on brain function in terms of behavior, memory or cognition. Behavioral neurology specializes in this area. In addition, clinical neuropsychology uses neuropsychological assessment to precisely identify and track problems in mental functioning, usually after some sort of brain injury or neurological impairment. Alternatively, a condition might first be detected through the presence of abnormalities in mental functioning, and further assessment may indicate an underlying neurological disorder.

There are sometimes unclear boundaries in the distinction between disorders treated within neurology, and mental disorders treated within the other medical specialty of psychiatry, or other mental health professions such as clinical psychology. In practice, cases may present as one type but be assessed as more appropriate to the other. Neuropsychiatry deals with mental disorders arising from specific identified diseases of the nervous system.


Ann Jose

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