A neurologist is a medical doctor with special training and skills in disorders of the nervous system. This includes disorders of the brain, spinal cord, nerves and muscles.
Paediatric neurologists work on neurological problems in children.
If your child has health or development concerns, health professionals like neurologists are there to care for your child and help you understand your child’s condition and treatment. With the support and expertise of these professionals, you can help your child thrive.
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
- movement disorders – that is, problems with abnormal movements
- acquired brain injury
- speech, language and memory problems
- neural tube defects.
The treatments the neurologist suggests for your child will depend on your child’s condition. Treatment often involves a combination of:
- lifestyle changes – for example, exercise and diet
- further monitoring – for example, using blood tests and scans
- referral for further treatment or rehabilitation – for example, to a physiotherapist, occupational therapist or speech pathologist.
To see a neurologist, your child will need a referral from your GP or from another medical specialist like a paediatrician. Your GP or medical specialist can help you decide about seeing a neurologist and help you find someone who’s right for your child.
Before going to a neurologist
Before seeing the neurologist, it’s a good idea to find out about the following:
- Why you’re going: talk with your GP about why your child needs to see a neurologist.
- Appointments: do you need to make the appointment or will the GP make it for you?
- Waiting lists: how long before you can get an appointment to see the neurologist?
- Is there anything you can do while you’re waiting for the appointment – for example, can your child start some treatment or therapy?
- 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.