Paediatric neurology is a branch of the general neurology, which involves treatment and care for children and adolescents up to the age of 18. Further treatment after coming of age is provided by a neurologist. In order to receive advice from a paediatric neurologist, a referral from a paediatrician or GP is required.
Paediatric neurology specialists treat diseases and dysfunctions of the child’s neurological system, which are related to developmental defects, often resulting from pregnancy problems or prolonged and complicated labour. They may also be a consequence of taking certain medications or diseases with complications. As part of neurological care for the youngest patients who have been diagnosed with psychomotor disorders, physical rehabilitation is provided.
When to visit a specialist?
Developmental defects detected in the foetus during prenatal tests or those found after the birth are the basic indication for parents to visit a paediatric neurologist who will evaluate the child’s psychomotor development and help to give a diagnosis.
Neurological diseases in young patients give several symptoms that parents should consult with a doctor as soon as possible, especially if the child has suffered a head or spinal injury. Reasons for concern include the following:
- reduced or increased muscle tone,
- bending of the body in only one direction in a 4-month-old child,
- trembling hands and legs when the child cries,
- delayed development of the child who does not lift their head up after 3 months or does not start to sit up alone after 6–7 months,
- body asymmetry,
- in older children – acute headaches, significant concentration problems and too aggressive reactions.
All the above symptoms qualify for neurological rehabilitation which should not be delayed by the parents.
What does the visit look like?
During the visit, a paediatric neurologist examines motor coordination to diagnose neurological ailments. For example, they may ask the child to make rapid alternating movements. In addition, the specialist examines sensibility and checks whether speech develops correctly. If the baby has some neurological disorders, they may also be examined by a rehabilitation doctor, speech therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist.
In complicated cases, a paediatric neurology specialist can prescribe diagnostic imaging examinations, including the following:
- computed tomography,
- electromyography (EMG),
Paediatric neurology: What diseases may the specialist diagnose?
A paediatric neurologist diagnoses and treats many conditions such as:
- cerebral palsy and other paralysis syndromes,
- spinal hernia,
- paresis, paralysis, headache,
- congenital nervous system defects.