Pediatric Neurological Disorders
Neurological disorders can seriously affect a child's health, success in school, self-esteem and happiness. But with proper diagnosis and treatment most neurological disorders become manageable, improving a child's self-image and social life.
The Pediatric Sleep Institute, a department of Texas Health Center for Diagnostics & Surgery, provides the necessary information for your physician to accurately detect and diagnose your child's neurological disorder.
Common Childhood Neurological Disorders
A nervous system disorder that causes recurring seizures. These seizures may or may not be associated with loss of consciousness. Epileptic seizures may include involuntary muscle spasms. These seizures are produced by an abnormal electrical discharge in the brain sometimes caused by high fever (Febrile seizures), genetic diseases, head injuries or infections.
Generalized Seizures (involving both sides of the brain)
Generalized tonic-clonic seizures: A dramatic seizure in which the body may undergo rhythmic jerking and muscle stiffening. This kind of seizure may be accompanied by difficulty in breathing, foaming of the mouth and drooling. During these seizures eyes may roll back (Febrile seizures).
Absence seizures (petit map):These seizures are characterized by a loss of awareness, staring and blinking.
Myoclonic seizures:These seizures are characterized by sporadic muscle jerks that may be associated with loss of balance and head droops.
Partial Seizures (produced by small areas of the brain)
Simple partial seizures: These seizures can take many forms, depending on the part of the brain that is affected. The affected child may be aware that a seizure is occurring. These seizures may begin with an "aura" or a warning sign that the seizure is beginning. This may be followed by uncontrolled movements, sudden emotions, memory distortions, nausea and sweating. The child may become pale or experience unusual sensations: strange tastes or smells, odd sounds or voices and distortions in the way things look.
Complex partial seizures: These seizures may also be preceded by an "aura" although the child may be unaware of what is going on around them or what they are doing. During complex partial seizures a child may make repetitive motions such as smacking the lips, picking at their clothing and/or babbling. The child may appear to be in a dream-like or trance state which lasts from 30 seconds to three minutes.
The patient perceives every visible object to be spinning or moving. The patient may also experience dizziness, loss of balance and nausea.
An attack resulting in a temporary loss of consciousness that is caused by a brief loss of blood supply to the brain.
Headaches are not a neurological disorder, but they can accompany some neurological disorders. They can be caused by factors such as vascular (migraine) headaches or muscular tension headaches resulting from excessive, continuous muscular contractions in the head and neck.
When to Consider a Neurological Evaluation
Neurological disorders can manifest in many ways. You should consult with your physician if your child experiences:
- Fainting or dizzy spells
- Loss of consciousness
- Blank staring
- Frequent or severe headaches
- Unexplained muscle spasms or jerks
A child suffering from a neurological disorder may exhibit one or more of these symptoms. You should seek the advice of a trusted physician.
What is a Neurological Evaluation?
Electroencephalogram, more commonly known as EEG, is a painless neurological test that measures the electrical signals from the outer layer of the brain. Data from the test is then recorded on a computer. An EEG is used to evaluate seizure and sleep disorders.
What happens during an EEG?
Prior to the procedure the patient's scalp is measured and marked in order to localize placement of electrodes. The scalp area is cleaned with a special exfoliate cream. A technician will fill the cup electrodes with a special conductive paste that helps pick up electrical signals. The cup electrodes are then attached to the scalp and held in place with tape. This procedure takes between 1-2 hours and is painless.
During the test the patient lies down. They will be encouraged to hold still as long as possible. A strobe light, or frequent flashes of light, will be used to stimulate brain wave function to facilitate the exchange of electronic data between the electrodes and the recording system. The patient will then be asked to breathe deeply and rapidly. These stimulation techniques may induce certain types of seizure disorders.
Has your child been prescribed a neurological evaluation? Get preparation instructions.