Neurology, the branch of medicine concerned with the study and treatment of disorders of the nervous system, is as wide-reaching as the nervous system. The nervous system regulates and coordinates the entire body's activities from the top of the head to the bottom of the feet. The system is divided into two major divisions: the central nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord; and the peripheral nervous system, which encompasses all other neural elements (i.e. eyes, ears, skin, and other "sensory receptors").
As neurology is one of the most diverse branches of medicine, the entire branch has to be divided into subspecialties in order to effectively research and treat the far-reaching impact that disorders of the nervous system can demonstrate. Neurology guidelines must be created for the two major divisions, as well as all subspecialties that fall under those divisions. For example, while multiple sclerosis (MS) falls under the central nervous system, guidelines must be created that are specific to MS and are differentiated from epilepsy, which also falls under the central nervous system. There are many recognized neurological disorders, and they must all be assessed by neurological examination and studied and treated within the subspecialties of neurology.
Physicians must correctly assess the affected division of the nervous system first in order to delve deeply into the subspecialty area that is causing a neurological disorder in a patient. Interventions for neurological disorders include various techniques from relatively easily implemented preventative measures and lifestyle changes to neurorehabilitation, medication, or operations performed by neurosurgeons.
The brain and the spinal cord are imperative to life and the functions of the entire body. Although the brain and spinal cord are well protected, they are extremely susceptible if their structures are compromised. There are millions of nerves that run from the brain and nervous system throughout every single area of the body, and if any of them are damaged they are vulnerable to electrochemical and structural disruption. Specific causes for neurological disorders vary, and it often takes time to identify the direct source of the issue. The time, effort, and concentration necessary to correctly identify the specific classification of the neurological disorder will provide physicians with the means to treat patients successfully.
The fact is, many common neurological disorders are regularly treated by primary care physicians who do not have the specialized knowledge of the disorder, eg. Stroke, headache, Parkinson's disease, dementia, etc. Primary care physicians do not have the means to keep up with changing trends, both in diagnosis and treatment, of neurological disorders. Subspecialties allow patients to receive the specific areas of treatment that are indispensable to their health and well-being.
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- AHRQ 2016 Medication Use in Severe Alzheimer's
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- Neurology Guidelines/AHRQ 2014 American Neurology