Overview of Nervous System Disorders in Children
What is the nervous system?
The nervous system is a complex, sophisticated system that regulates and coordinates body activities. It is made up of 2 major divisions:
Central nervous system. This consists of the brain and spinal cord.
Peripheral nervous system. This consists of all other neural elements.
In addition to the brain and spinal cord, principal organs of the nervous system include:
Sensory organs of taste
Sensory organs of smell
Sensory receptors located in the skin, joints, muscles, and other parts of the body
What can damage the nervous system?
The nervous system is vulnerable to various disorders and can be damaged by:
Blood flow disruption
Immune system disorders
Inborn genetic or metabolic problems
Toxic exposures or direct effects of drug exposures
What are the symptoms of nervous system disorders?
The following are the most common symptoms of nervous system disorders. But each child may have slightly different symptoms. Different disorders will cause different symptoms to happen. Symptoms may include:
Delays in developmental milestones
Increase or lack of growth in head size
Changes in activity, reflexes, or movements
Lack of coordination
Changes in level of consciousness or mood
Muscle rigidity, tremors, or seizures
Muscle wasting and slurred speech
Older children may also report persistent or severe headaches, loss of feeling or tingling, or visual changes
The symptoms of a nervous system disorder may look like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Healthcare providers who treat nervous system disorders
Healthcare providers who treat nervous system disorders may have to spend a lot of time working with your child before making a diagnosis of the specific condition. Many times, this means your child will need tests to rule out other conditions so the correct diagnosis can be made.
Rehabilitation for neurological disorders
The branch of medicine that manages nervous system disorders is called neurology. The medical providers who treat nervous system disorders are called neurologists.
The branch of medicine that provides surgery for nervous system disorders is called neurosurgery or neurological surgery. Surgeons who operate as a treatment team for nervous system disorders are called neurological surgeons or neurosurgeons.
The branch of medicine that gives rehabilitative care for children with nervous system disorders is called physical medicine and rehabilitation. Healthcare providers who work with children in the rehabilitation process are called physiatrists.