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In the simplest of terms, a neurologist is a doctor that deals in identifying and treating disorders of the nervous system. A neurologist is a specialty doctor who requires a referral to see them. Things that will often get referred to the neurologist include:

Problems with coordination

Muscular weakness

Tactile or sensory issues

Disorientation and confusion

Problems with equilibrium

In addition, neurologists will see people regularly who have seizure disorders, neurodegenerative disorders, ALS, spinal cord disorders, headaches, and migraines, or people who have suffered one or a multitude of strokes.

Career Path

Before practicing as a neurologist, it is a requirement to have:

Attained a bachelor’s degree in a related field(biology, chemistry, physics, pre-med)

Graduated from medical school

Pass licensure examination

Intern for one year in a related field

Complete a three-year residency


After completing the rigorous coursework and training necessary to practice, a neurologist will often complete a fellowship in a specific field of neurology after residency. These include:

Headache medicine


Stroke care

Geriatric neurology

Child neurology

Neurocritical care

Neuromuscular medicine

Autonomic disorders

Intervention neuroradiology

Common Practices: What to Expect From an Appointment

The first appointment with a neurologist is typically an intake, and the neurologist will likely perform both a physical and a neurological exam to test strength, coordination, and reflexes. Many neurological disorders have overlapping symptoms, and as a result, the neurologist may order specialized testing prior to making a diagnosis.

Spinal Tap

Some neurological disorders may present themselves in spinal fluid. To test this, a needle is inserted into the subarachnoid space after being numbed, and fluid is drawn out for sampling.

Tensilon Test

Used to diagnose myasthenia gravis, this test observes muscular interaction with an injected drug called Tensilon.


This test is used to help diagnose spinal cord and general muscle and nerve dysfunction and centers around peripheral nerves. This test is sometimes uncomfortable because to perform this test, a series of electrodes are inserted into the muscle tissue itself to measure activity both during movement and at rest. Further testing is sometimes ordered to measure a nerve’s ability to stimulate the muscle as well.


This test uses electrodes placed around the scalp to diagnose conditions of the brain and measures brain signals via the technician, causing changes in the testing environment.

There are other tests that a neurologist may order, especially in terms of imaging, like a CT scan or a PET scan.