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Diagnosis and Treatment Options for Pediatric Neurological Conditions

Neurological conditions are complex. Symptoms often overlap and sometimes can be misinterpreted. Having state-of-the-art neurological diagnostic equipment is important for clear imaging and test results, but we know that’s only half the equation. The pediatric neurologists interpreting the results must be highly skilled and knowledgeable experts across a wide range of neurological disorders.

At University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s, we not only use specialized diagnostic equipment for extremely accurate testing, our comprehensive, multidisciplinary team of neurologists has the vast knowledge and experience to accurately interpret test results and develop optimal treatment plans.

Diagnostic Evaluations for Pediatric Neurological Conditions

Our team of pediatric specialists have access to a full range of diagnostic evaluations for any neurological condition, including:

  • Electroencephalography (EEG): An EEG test is performed by attaching electrodes to the head. These electrodes detect brain waves and help specialists identify abnormalities in brain activity that could indicate epilepsy. A video EEG is when the session is filmed so neurologists can compare what was outwardly happening with brain activity. EEGs are often used to diagnose epilepsy, sleep disorders and other neurological conditions.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): An MRI scan is a procedure that uses a large magnet, radio waves and a computer to create detailed images of organs and tissues in the body. It’s used to diagnose problems in many areas of the body.
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scans: A PET scan is a type of nuclear medicine imaging test that can be used to examine various body tissues to identify certain conditions by looking at blood flow, metabolism and oxygen use. PET scans may also be used to see how well the treatment of certain diseases is working.
  • Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging: SPECT imaging is used to pinpoint where seizures originate in the brain by providing information on changes in blood flow.
  • Neuropsychology: Neuropsychological testings compare brain function and structure and how they relate to different behaviors and psychological processes. This information can then be used in cognitive behavioral therapy.
  • Newborn screenings: Newborn screens can include interviewing parents for health and family history or taking blood samples to run genetic and other tests to identify conditions.

Advanced Treatments, Therapies and Procedures

New advances and neurology treatments have emerged in the last few decades to vastly improve the quality of life for those with neurological conditions. Pediatric neurologists at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s have been at the leading edge of these advances, participating in clinical trials and other studies.

  • Advances in gene replacement therapy and medications such as Spinraza have been successful in the treatment of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) and other neuromuscular conditions, giving families hope for a once hopeless disease.
  • Many forms of epilepsy can be controlled with medicine, diet and/or other therapies. Our neurology specialists are currently participating in two clinical trials to help control seizures in rare forms of epilepsy.
  • Focal epilepsy can be cured with surgery.
  • Patients are being treated with Botox injections for certain types of headaches.

Low or Non-Invasive Neurology Treatments

Advances in neurology treatments have also led to the development of low or non-invasive options.

  • The ketogenic diet—a strict, high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet—is used to control epilepsy. The diet forces the body to produce ketones, where the brain and heart function normally using ketones as an energy source in place of carbohydrates. Although the diet doesn’t work for every child, it has helped many children become seizure-free without the use of medication or surgery.
  • Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) uses electric pulses to the brain to stop a seizure from occurring. This treatment can be used by children 12 or older whose partial seizures are not well controlled with medication. When the child feels a seizure coming on, he or she holds a magnet over a battery implanted in his or her chest which then sends energy impulses to the brain to stop the seizure.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy can be used to help patients with tic disorders control or stop their tics without the use of medication.