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 and teenagers.
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 they have problems with the brain, spinal cord, nerves and muscles. These problems could include:
- acquired brain injury
- cerebral palsy
- movement disorders – that is, problems with abnormal movements
- nerve and muscle problems – for example, muscular dystrophy
- neural tube defects
- speech, language and memory problems
To work out exactly what the problem is with your child’s brain or nerves, the neurologist might do tests like an
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, an occupational therapist or a 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 things like 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? Does the appointment need to be in person, or can it be via telehealth?
- 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?
- Costs: how much will the appointment with the neurologist cost? Check whether you’re eligible for Medicare, private health insurance or other rebates.
- Locations: find out where you have to go to see the neurologist – for example, public hospital, private hospital or consulting rooms.
You can talk about these 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.