What Makes a Good Neurologist?

This blog will answer what makes a good neurologist. It will also cover in depth what neurology is when you should see a neurologist and what tools neurologists use to assess the brain. In the end, the article will answer some frequently asked questions. 

What Makes a Good Neurologist?

A good neurologist enjoys the complexity of neuroscience and using physical examination to make diagnoses and treatment plans for their patients. They want to willingly contribute to a speciality that is growing at a rapid pace and evolving into a major field. 

Good neurologists have a sound understanding of holistic treatment and use deductive reasoning. They are intellectually stimulated. They are comfortable maintaining longitudinal relationships with patients who may have life-threatening and serious illnesses. They are not hesitant to play the role of a guide to their patients. 

They enjoy the nuances of physical examination, lab tests, and imaging technologies. 

What do Neurologists study?

Neurologists study the brain. They treat diseases of the brain and spinal cord. They also treat diseases of the peripheral nerves and muscles. They treat conditions such as epilepsy, stroke, multiple sclerosis (MS) and Parkinson’s disease.

What is Neurology?

Neurologists are specialised physicians who look into the non-surgical management of several nervous system disorders for both the central and peripheral nervous systems. If you’re into surgeries, neurosurgery is the speciality that you should be looking into. 

Neurologists are responsible for managing all neurological problems ranging from headaches, and migraines, to more catastrophic diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Strokes, and Multiple Sclerosis (MS). 

It is widely believed neurologists are involved more in the diagnoses of conditions and don’t play a big role in the treatment for the same. There are various conditions that have not progressed much when it comes to modern medicines. 

However, there has been tremendous growth in the research of neurological conditions and therapies for the same are increasing in number. 

A neurosurgeon assesses, diagnoses and treats conditions that affect your body’s nervous system, which includes your brain, spinal cord and spinal column, and all of your nerves that extend from your spinal cord.

Neurologists work along with neurosurgeons to help carry out and interpret tests required for brain disorders. Neurologists help family members and provide support. 

How Competitive Is Neurology?

When it comes to competitiveness, neurology is less competitive as it ranks at number 16 out of the 22 specializations that exist. The average score one needs in Step 1 is 232 and for Step 2CK is 245. 

When should I visit a Neurologist?

It is a good time to see a neurologist if you have the following symptoms:

Dizziness

If you feel like your head is spinning (vertigo) or that you have difficulty keeping your balance intact, it could be a sign of a serious underlying condition.

Numbness or tingling

If numbness or tingling, especially if it is occurring only on one side of the body, it could be an early sign of a stroke or another serious condition. If the numbness occurs suddenly, it is best to book an appointment with a neurologist.

Movement problems

If you have difficulty in walking, shuffling your feet, or there are tremors and unintentional jerks in your muscles, it could all point to problems in the nervous system.

Memory problems

If you notice your memory worsening, your personality changing, and you keep mixing up words then it could be early signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

Chronic or severe headaches

Getting migraine headaches is a reason enough to make an appointment with a neurologist. This should, however, be especially done if the symptoms are associated with a particular neurological deficit.

Chronic pain

When you experience chronic pain that cannot be ruled out or managed by your physician, it is time to see a neurologist as it can be due to other underlying problems.

What are the uses of radiological tools that are used by Neurologists?

Neurosurgeries are successful because they use an array of radiology tools. These tools are used for the diagnosis and treatment of neurological disorders. They are as follows:

Computed Tomography (CT)

Computed Tomography (CT) is a computer-assisted X-ray technique. This creates 3D “slices” of the brain and the spinal cord. These are called tomographic images and give the clinician better and more detailed information than conventional x-rays. 

To form a three-dimensional (3D) image of the patient, these slices are collected by the machine’s computer, they are digitally “stacked” together to form a three-dimensional (3D) image of the patient.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) uses magnetic and radio waves to generate high-quality pictures of the brain, especially soft tissues. The images are highly detailed. 

A neurologist may order an MRI of the brain if they want to diagnose stroke, traumatic brain injury, brain and spinal cord tumours, inflammation of arteries or brain nerves, irregularities of vascular functioning of the brain, or any brain damage that could be due to epilepsy, any abnormally developed brain areas or structures, and if there is any presence of a neurodegenerative disorder. 

MRIs are also used to diagnose as well as monitor the escalation of disorders such as multiple sclerosis (Hashemi et al., 2012).

Positron Emission Tomography (PET)

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) uses radioactive tracers in order to evaluate the metabolic function of the nervous system. A positron emission tomography (PET) scan is a type of imaging test that can help understand and reveal the biochemical function of your tissues and organs, as well as the metabolic activities of the brain. This test uses

a radioactive drug (tracer) and also shows both normal and abnormal metabolic activity. 

This type of test also detects the abnormal metabolism of the tracer in diseases before the disease is more prominent in other tests such as computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). 

Magnetoencephalography (MEG) 

Magnetoencephalography (MEG) is a technique used for mapping the brain. This is done by recording the signals nerves send each other with the help of magnetic receptors.

Magnetoencephalography (MEG) is a non-invasive medical test. This test maps the function of the brain and identifies the location and the source of epileptic seizures. 

This test measures the magnetic fields that are produced by the brain’s electrical currents. It is also used to map the various other functions of the brain such as the centre of the sensory, motor, language and memory activities.

Electroencephalography (EEG)

In this method, scalp EEG represents the aggregates of post-synaptic currents of millions of neurons. There are two types of brain activities that are reflected through the recorded EEG signals:  

The spontaneous EEG  is one that has been used in a clinical setting for a long time and is usually used to evaluate seizure disorders and reflects neuronal responses that occur in the absence of behavioural. This kind of process is yet to be used in cognitive neuroscience research. (Williamson, Kaufman, Lu, Wang, & Karron, 1997). 

Event-related potentials (ERPs) are associated with specific thoughts or stimuli. The amplitudes of ERPs tend to range from low, less than a microvolt to several microvolts, compared to tens of microvolts for spontaneous EEG. 

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)

The fMRI is an indicator of neural activity that detects the amount of blood flow in each brain region. The images are taken in the form of cross-sectional “slices” that are obtained as the magnetic field is passed across the brain. 

These images in the form of slices are taken at a rapid rate and are imposed on images of the brain structure. These show how brain activities change over time. 

Conclusion

This blog answers what makes a good neurologist. It also covers in depth what neurology is when you should see a neurologist and what tools neurologists use to assess the brain. In the end, the article will answer some frequently asked questions. 

Frequently Asked Questions: What Makes a Good Neurologist?

Do neurologists go to medical school?

In order to become a neurologist, it is important to attend medical school and graduate with either a DO or MD medical degree. After this, you will complete a year as an intern in internal medicine and about three years of residency in neurology. To know more, click here.

Are neurologists and neurosurgeons the same?

No, neurologists and neurosurgeons are not the same. Neurologists specialise in treating conditions that stem from neurological problems, such as epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, peripheral nerve disorders, GBS, and ALS. 

Whereas neurosurgeons focus on brain injuries, removal of tumours, and carpal tunnel syndrome. However, both neurologists and neurosurgeons work closely because both have specialised knowledge of the nervous system.

Who is a neurosurgeon? 

Neurosurgeons are doctors that diagnose and treat problems in the brain, spine, and nervous system. These can be treated through non-surgical or surgical methods on the basis of the type and severity of the injury or disease.

References

Hashemi, R. H., Bradley, W. G., & Lisanti, C. J. (2012). MRI: the basics: The Basics. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

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