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
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.