Neurology from Greek: νεῦρον (neûron), “string, nerve” and the suffix -logia, “study of”) is a branch of medicine dealing with disorders of the nervous system. Neurology deals with the diagnosis and treatment of all categories of conditions and disease involving the central and peripheral nervous systems (and their subdivisions, the autonomic and somatic nervous systems), including their coverings, blood vessels, and all effector tissue, such as muscle. Neurological practice relies heavily on the field of neuroscience, which is the scientific study of the nervous system.
A neurologist is a physician specializing in neurology and trained to investigate or diagnose and treat neurological disorders. Neurologists may also be involved in clinical research, clinical trials, and basic or translational research. While neurology is a nonsurgical specialty, its corresponding surgical specialty is neurosurgery.
Significant overlap occurs between the fields of neurology and psychiatry, with the boundary between the two disciplines and the conditions they treat being somewhat nebulous.
A large number of neurological disorders have been described as listed. These can affect the central nervous system, the peripheral nervous system, the autonomic nervous system, and the muscular system.
The academic discipline began between the 16th and 19th centuries with the work and research of many neurologists such as Thomas Willis, Robert Whytt, Matthew Baillie, Charles Bell, Moritz Heinrich Romberg, Duchenne de Boulogne, William A. Hammond, Jean-Martin Charcot, and John Hughlings Jackson.
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.
In the United States and Canada, neurologists are physicians having completed postgraduate training in neurology after graduation from medical school. Neurologists complete, on average, about 8 years of medical college education and clinical training, which includes obtaining a four-year undergraduate degree, a medical degree, which comprises an additional four years of study, then complete one year of basic clinical training and four years of residency. The four-year residency consists of one year of internal medicine internship training followed by three years of training in neurology.
Neurologists examine patients who are referred to them by other physicians in both the inpatient and outpatient settings. Neurologists begin their interactions with patients by taking a comprehensive medical history and then performing a physical examination focusing on evaluating the nervous system. Components of the neurological examination include assessment of the patient’s cognitive function, cranial nerves, motor strength, sensation, reflexes, coordination, and gait.