Neurology is a specialty in the medical field that involves diagnosing and treating diseases that affect the central (brain and spinal cord), peripheral (nerves), and autonomic (involuntary physiological responses) nervous systems. This also includes the muscles throughout the body. Generally, neurologists are found working in hospitals, private practices, and public clinics, but the area that a neurologist specializes in can lead them to work in more medical settings. Here are some of those specialties and where these neurologists are employed.
Brain Injury Medicine
Brain injury medicine is a subspecialty of neurology that focuses on traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). TBIs usually result from a violent blow to or sudden jolt of the head. This can be penetrating or nonpenetrating and can be mild, moderate, or severe. Because a brain injury can result in physical, psychological, and social/emotional consequences, neurologists specializing in brain injury medicine are usually employed in rehabilitation centers.
This subspecialty of neurology diagnoses and treats disorders of the nervous system that affect the muscles, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neuron disease (MND), and epilepsy. They may also diagnose and treat neuromuscular disorders, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), muscular dystrophies, and myasthenia gravis (MG). Clinical neurophysiologists work closely with neurosurgeons, so they’re found working in the operating rooms and intensive care units (ICUs) of hospitals.
Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Palliative medicine is specialized care given to those with serious illnesses which may or may not be terminal. When the illness is terminal, palliative care is combined with hospice care. Neurologists specializing in hospice and palliative medicine treat (but don’t cure) patients suffering from diseases such as Parkinson’s or dementia. They may be employed by hospice care centers or simply work as consultants to a hospice care team.
Neurology and Other Medical Specialties
Because the brain controls all of the body’s functions (except for reflex actions), neurology is essentially connected to virtually all specialties and subspecialties of medicine. Some of the lesser-known combinations include neuro cardiology, neuro gastroenterology, neuro nephrology, and neuro pulmonology. Here’s a look at some of the more well-known neurology combinations in medicine.
Neuro endocrinology combines neurology and endocrinology (the study of the endocrine/glandular system) to study the interaction between the nervous system and the endocrine system. Neuro endocrinologists work alongside neurosurgeons, interventional radiologists, and radiation oncologists to treat neuroendocrine disorders, such as pituitary disease.
Neuropathology combines neurology and pathology (the study of infectious diseases) to study diseases of the nervous system and the eyes. This type of neurologist is usually employed in a laboratory setting, examining the tissues of individuals suffering from diseases like ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. They can also find employment in hospitals and academic settings.
Neuro Urology combines neurology and urology (the study of the urinary tract and reproductive organs) to study the effect nerve damage has on the pelvic organs. Neurourologists usually work in lab and academic settings, but they can also find work in hospitals and other clinical settings.
Pediatric neurology is neurology applied to infants, children, and adolescents. Their nervous systems are vastly different from adults, so special training goes into dealing with the nervous system of children. Pediatric neurologists have knowledge of brain injuries, neuromuscular disorders, neuroendocrine disorders, neuropathological diseases, and neurogenic conditions that affect the bladder as they pertain to children. They’re usually employed in pediatric hospitals and other clinical settings that focus on treating children.
Sleep medicine is a specialty of medicine that focuses on diagnosing and treating sleep disorders and disturbances. Because the nervous system plays a huge role in sleep, neurologists are some of the most common physicians that specialize in sleep medicine. The majority of physicians specializing in sleep medicine find work in sleep laboratories and other clinics dedicated to studying sleep.
Vascular neurology is the subspecialty of neurology that studies and treats diseases that affect the structure and function of the blood vessels that supply the brain, such as cerebrovascular diseases, strokes, and age-related memory disorders like vascular dementia. Many vascular neurologists work in hospitals, labs, or academic research centers.
Overall, general neurologists and those working in a specialty field can find employment in a variety of different medical settings. While neurologists can’t easily switch from neurology to another specialty of medicine, they can switch to another subspecialty within neurology. They may decide to do this to increase their chances of finding employment.