The brain is one of the most important and delicate organs in the human body. Neurological problems are those issues caused by a dysfunction of the brain or nervous system and result in psychological or physical symptoms depending on the area of the brain involved, leading to disorders.
The human brain begins developing when the child is in the womb and continues through infancy until adolescence. The brain cells are mostly formed before birth, although the nerve connections do not develop until later. Neurological disorders have a wide spectrum and can have various causes, complications, symptoms, and results. All neurological conditions involve the nervous system which comprises of the brain and the spine. The nervous system controls everything in the human body including movement, vision and hearing abilities. Symptoms and outcomes depend on the area of the brain that has been damaged.
These conditions can affect people among all age groups, however, few neurological conditions present only during early years of development. They can manifest as birth defects or in some cases, symptoms are diagnosed only during a child’s later years. Most of these neurological symptoms and signs are picked up when a child misses a developmental milestone or presents with a brain injury or infection. Brain related complaints like headaches are sometimes temporary and often disregarded. However, symptoms like constant dizziness or weakness that appear suddenly without any explanation or cause can be indications of neurological conditions.
There are various neurological disorders which affect pediatric population. Autism, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, sequelae of brain injury and headache are the most common neurological disorders seen in children. Each disorder and the symptoms associated with it vary in each child. The most commonly found neurological disorders in children are:
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder which is now increasingly being recognized worldwide. The disease manifest as a triad of impaired social interaction, impairment of verbal (spoken) and non-verbal (unspoken) communication, along with restricted, repetitive pattern of behavior with too much adherence to routines and restricted interests. Children with autism perceive the things around them in a different way as compared to other children of their age. There is no specific cause for autism, however, a number of environmental, behavioral and genetic factors can cause a child to develop the condition. An autistic child may have a speech impairment, challenged social and communication skills and emotional disorders. Children require different interventional techniques depending on their age and development. There is no one size fits all treatment for the condition. Each individual with the condition is unique and requires different treatment methods including medication and behavioral treatments or a combination of both.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
One of the most common neurological disorders in children than can even continue until adolescents is ADHD. Children in schools are most often left undiagnosed and branded as naughty given the symptoms they experience like forgetfulness and daydreaming. ADHD is a condition that makes it difficult for a child to be attentive and unable to control impulses. Such children find it difficult to finish tasks and are often distracted. This condition can be caused due to hereditary factors, poor nutrition, substance abuse or brain injury. ADHD need expert evaluation as there are specific criteria for diagnosis and every hyperactive child cannot be labeled as having ADHD. Disease symptoms can be managed through medication and therapy.
This is a condition rather common in children yet is less known about. Dyspraxia is a condition which makes it hard to coordinate physical movements. Children with this condition often find it difficult to maintain their posture and balance. There is no established cause for the condition as it is believed that each person’s nerve cells controlling muscle movement develop differently. Affected children can improve if the condition is diagnosed early with a specific intervention like process-oriented occupational therapy.
Epilepsy is a common disorder found in people of all ages. This is a chronic condition characterized by the occurrence of multiple seizures. A seizure is caused because of a temporary disturbance in the brain cells. Epilepsy may be caused by genetic factors, developmental disorders, infectious diseases and injury caused to the brain prior to birth. The severity of seizures depends and varies from individual to individual. Treatment options include medications for seizures and lifestyle interventions.
Most headaches aren’t symptoms of neurological disorders, however, in some cases they may be caused by a serious underlying issue. Headaches can be caused by changes in the brain or in the body which send pain messages to the brain and result in headaches. It is necessary to monitor headaches in children particularly when accompanied by other symptoms like vomiting, clumsiness, reduced alertness etc.
Dyslexia is a common learning disability in kids where children with this condition find it difficult to read accurately, spell, write and comprehend what is written. The exact cause of the condition is still not identified. Treatment involves specific teaching methods from various professionals to help kids with the condition. Children with dyslexia can read to above average levels, if diagnosed early.
This condition affects a child’s motor skills and is caused by brain damage caused before or during birth or early childhood life. This is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorder in children and is further divided into various types depending on neurological signs. This condition causes children to have difficulty in coordination and movements like standing, walking, bladder and bowel control, eating and even talking. The condition is non-progressive and doesn’t worsen with age. There is no definitive cause for the condition but it is believed to be caused during pregnancy when the fetus doesn’t grow properly or develops a brain damage. This condition cannot be cured, although treatment and therapies can help improve the condition.
Each neurological condition manifests itself differently in different children. Some conditions can be cured and some can only be managed. Early detection of each condition is crucial to ensure it doesn’t cause further complications. Parents must pay attention to any unusual symptoms their child depicts and always make sure to take the child’s concerns seriously. Seeking medical opinion in the case of a doubt is always advisable. Always be open and voice your concerns with your specialist because their goal is to work with you to meet your child’s needs.
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