A neurologist is a medical doctor with special training and skills in disorders of the nervous system. This includes diseases of the brain, spinal cord, nerves and muscles.
Paediatric neurologists are paediatricians with extra training in neurology who work on neurological problems in children.
Why your child might see a neurologist
Your child might see a neurologist if it looks like she has problems with the brain, spinal cord, nerves and muscles. These problems could include:
- cerebral palsy
- nerve and muscle problems – for example, muscular dystrophy
- autism spectrum disorder
- movement disorders (problems with abnormal movements)
- acquired brain injury
- speech, language and memory problems
- neural tube defects.
To work out exactly what the problem is with your child’s brain or nerves, the neurologist might do tests such as an EEG or MRI. These tests can help the neurologist find out more about your child’s condition and how best to treat it.
The treatments the neurologist suggests for your child will vary according to the condition your child is being treated for. Treatment often involves a combination of medication, lifestyle changes (for example, exercise and diet), monitoring the condition (for example, using blood tests and scans) and referring for further treatment or rehabilitation (for example, to a physiotherapist, occupational therapist or speech pathologist).
Before going to a neurologist
Before seeing the neurologist, it’s a good idea to find out some information about the following:
- Why you’re going to the neurologist: talk with your GP about why your child needs to see a neurologist and whether there is anything you can do while you’re waiting for the appointment.
- Waiting list: how long before you can get an appointment to see the neurologist?
- Making an appointment: it might take you more than one phone call to make an appointment.
- Cost: how much will the appointment with the neurologist cost? It might be expensive, so you could check whether you’re eligible for Medicare, private health insurance or other rebates.
- Location: find out where you have to go to see the neurologist – for example, a public or private hospital or consulting rooms. You might have to travel further than you expect, depending on your child’s needs.
You can talk about these things and any other questions you have with your GP before you go to the neurologist. You could also ask the neurologist’s clinic when you make your appointment. It’s a good idea to write down any questions you have, so you don’t forget.