Dealing with Neurological Disorders contributed by Samitivej Hospital

Samitivej Hospital is an international award hospital in Thailand and a service provider of medical tourism in Southeast Asia.

A neurological disorder is a condition that involves the nervous system – caused by either a disease or injury to the nervous system. According to the World Health Organisation’s report on ‘Neurological disorders: Public health challenges’, “neurological ailments varying from migraines to Alzheimer’s disease affect almost one billion people across the world.”

The report also states that, “24 million people are affected by disease like Alzheimer’s and other dementias and 50 million are hit by epilepsy, which requires far-reaching care.”

Other neurological illnesses would include: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, autistic spectrum disorders (including Asperger’s Syndrome), Celebral palsy, epilepsy, major traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, stroke and Tourette syndrome. These conditions affect the brain, spinal cord, cranial nerves, peripheral nerves, nerve roots, autonomic nervous system and muscles, which may result in behavioral problems, loss of memory and speech.

Often indications start with a mild and intermittent twitching or numbness in one extremity. Tremors, rigid muscles, slowed motion, difficulty swallowing, loss of automatic movements such as blinking, swinging the arms, and unconscious acts, and eventually dementia. Neurological ailments can be remarkably difficult to treat and are often debilitating.

Neurological ailments develop slowly – usually with mild signs, which progress over time. At its early stage, most neurological ailments start with little accidents (although some of these little accidents could be devastating). This means that patients could be driving, working in the office, cooking meals or crossing the street when the symptoms strike. Neurological emergencies make up a number of serious conditions leading to significant morbidity and mortality. Most of them present emergently and patient outcomes can often be determined by the care provided in the first hours after onset.

Neurological ailments usually lead to depression and as the disease progresses, depression becomes greater. Treatment options vary greatly depending on the neurological disorder and some become more difficult to treat as they progress. The result of treatment depends on three equally significant factors; early recognition of the diseases, rapid & correct diagnosis and prompt treatments with optimum care.

Many health organization and hospitals adopt risk reduction campaign among high risk patient by annual physical check up, correct modifiable risk factors and encouraging regular exercise as primary prevention. Disease related health education is now considered to play one of the major roles in minimizing the damage in no-traumatic neurological diseases.

Medication such as dopamine agonists, Levodopa, carbidopa, selegiline, anticholinergics, or amantadine may help during various stages of neurological ailments. Surgery is an option for some patients who can withstand the surgical procedure and are able to progress through the physical therapy process. Surgical procedures include destroying very small amounts of brain tissue in the affected areas, or the stimulation of various parts of the brain. Surgical choices used to be very common, but fell out of favor for medications that can be as effective as surgical procedures as it is less intrusive and less traumatic.

It is not easy to tend to or self-care for patients with neurological ailments. Diet, exercise, awareness and walking with great care are all part of a wholesome treatment plan. A healthy diet can make a phenomenal difference in how well a neurological patient fares. Avoiding accidents will turn into a constant process. Speaking often can help keep the speech clearer and more discernable. Creating a strong network of support for family members and caretakers can help keep the overall environment less stressful and upbeat. Patients need to be open and frank about their ‘disabilities’ to family members and even colleagues in order to receive support from them.

Strong support systems and self-education are two of the best coping skills against neurological ailments. Support systems can allow a patient to keep his or her independence for nearly twice as long. Support systems can ward off depression and a feeling of hopelessness. Good communication and honesty can make the entire process much easier. Minimizing stress can help keep symptoms minimized, or at least frustration over symptoms minimized. Patients with neurological ailment should play an active role in making decisions regarding their own health care for as long as they possibly can. ©FlyFreeForHealth2009