Overview of nervous system disorders in children

What is the nervous system?

The nervous system is a complex, sophisticated system that regulates and coordinates body activities. It is made up of two major divisions:

  • Central nervous system - consisting of the brain and spinal cord.
  • Peripheral nervous system - consisting of all other neural elements.

In addition to the brain and spinal cord, principal organs of the nervous system include the following:

  • Eyes
  • Ears
  • Sensory organs of taste
  • Sensory organs of smell
  • Sensory receptors located in the skin, joints, muscles, and other parts of the body

What are some disorders of the nervous system?

The nervous system is vulnerable to various disorders and can be damaged by the following:

  • Trauma.
  • Infections.
  • Degeneration.
  • Structural defects.
  • Tumors.
  • Blood flow disruption.

What are the symptoms of nervous system disorders?

The following are the most common symptoms of nervous system disorders. However, each child may experience symptoms differently and different disorders will cause different symptoms to occur. Symptoms may include:

  • Delays in developmental milestones.
  • Increase or lack of growth in head size.
  • Changes in activity, reflexes, or movements.
  • Lack of coordination.
  • Changes in level of consciousness or mood.
  • Muscle rigidity, tremors, or seizures.
  • Older children may also report persistent or severe headaches, loss of feeling or tingling, or visual changes.

The symptoms of a nervous system disorder may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.

Physicians who treat nervous system disorders

Physicians who treat nervous system disorders may have to spend a lot of time working with your child before making a diagnosis of the specific condition. Many times, this involves performing numerous tests to eliminate other conditions, so that a proper diagnosis can be made.



The branch of medicine that manages nervous system disorders is called neurology. The medical doctors who treat nervous system disorders are called neurologists. 

Neurological Surgery

The branch of medicine that provides surgical intervention for nervous system disorders is called neurosurgery or neurological surgery. Surgeons who operate as a treatment team for nervous system disorders are called neurological surgeons or neurosurgeons. 

Rehabilitation for Neurological Disorders

The branch of medicine that provides rehabilitative care for patients with nervous system disorders is called physical medicine and rehabilitation. Physicians who work with patients in the rehabilitation process are called physiatrists. 

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