What is a Neurologist?
Introduction to Neurology
Neurology is the branch of medicine concerned with the study and treatment of disorders of the nervous system. The nervous system is a complex, sophisticated system that regulates and coordinates body activities. It has two major divisions:
- Central nervous system: the brain and spinal cord
- Peripheral nervous system: all other neural elements, such as eyes, ears, skin, and other “sensory receptors”
A doctor who specializes in neurology is called a neurologist. The neurologist treats disorders that affect the brain, spinal cord, and nerves, such as:
- Cerebrovascular disease, such as stroke
- Demyelinating diseases of the central nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis
- Headache disorders
- Infections of the brain and peripheral nervous system
- Movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease
- Neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease)
- Seizure disorders, such as epilepsy
- Spinal cord disorders
- Speech and language disorders
Neurologists do not perform surgery. If one of their patients requires surgery, they refer them to a neurosurgeon.
Education to Become a Neurologist in the United States
- Four years of pre-medical education in a college or university
- Four years of medical school resulting in an M.D. or D.O. degree (doctor of medicine or doctor of osteopathy degree)
- One year internship in either internal medicine or medicine/surgery
- At least 3 years of specialty training in an accredited neurology residency program
Many neurologists also have additional training or interest in one area of neurology, such as stroke, epilepsy, neuromuscular, sleep medicine, pain management, or movement disorders.