Neurophysiology

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For your muscles to move properly and for your skin to feel sensations properly, your nerves have to conduct electrical impulses to and from the brain and spinal cord. Sometimes disease can affect the way the impulses are carried along the nerve, or prevent them altogether, or interfere with the way the impulses are transmitted once they reach the muscles. This can cause paralysis (where the muscles do not respond to signals from the brain) or paraesthesia (‘pins and needles’, where an area of the body feels numb, or tingles abnormally, or feels painful).

Studying how nerves transmit impulses and the effects this has is called neurophysiology, and the neurophysiologist is a scientist who works with the doctors and nurses to find out if anything is wrong with the way the nerves are working and to check how effective any treatment is. Another name for this is nerve conduction studies.

Investigations called nerve conduction studies are often carried out in rooms with specialised equipment. You might be asked to attend as an outpatient for these. Neurophysiologists also work in PICU, and in the operating theatres where studies can be carried out during an operation to check that all is as it should be.

Our department at Birmingham Children's Hospital see well over 2000 patients every year and we carry out investigations to help clinicians and surgeons deliver the best quality of care possible. We will help children with many conditions ranging from Epilepsy to disorders of nerves and muscles, as well as measuring if the brain has been affected by infections, disorders of liver or kidney and monitor the effect of any medication on brain function.

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