Neurology is the specialty in medicine that studies conditions that affect the entire nervous system, including the brain. As a neurologist, you’re also able to further specialize in several areas that focus on specific areas of the central and peripheral nervous systems. Here’s a look at seven subspecialties within neurology and which types of clinical settings employ these types of neurologists.
#1: Brain Injury Medicine
Brain injury medicine is the area of neurology that focuses on treating those who have experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBIs can be either closed or penetrating in nature, with many outside forces (including blows and jolts) being able to cause them. Some groups of people who may have TBIs include:
- Veterans who were injured
- Senior citizens who experienced a fall
- Children who experienced abuse or a fall
- Athletes who were injured
Neurologists specializing in brain injury medicine can find employment in rehabilitation centers that help TBI victims recover from their injuries, particularly if they’re severe.
#2: Clinical Neurophysiology
Clinical neurophysiology is the subspecialty of neurology that researches disorders of the nervous system. As the name suggests, you’ll find employment in all types of clinical settings when specializing in clinical neurophysiology. These settings can include intensive care units (ICUs) and operating rooms, but you’ll also be able to find employment in less intense settings treating conditions such as:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Motor Neurone Disease (MND)
Most days in this specialty will consist of using electronic and magnetic techniques to look at the functioning of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves, and muscles.
#3: Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Palliative medicine is a subspecialty within many medical specialties that focuses on the care of people with terminal illnesses and diseases. Some examples of neurological-related terminal diseases include ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. The goal of palliative medicine is not intended to be a treatment, but to improve the quality of life for the patients and their families. Specializing in palliative medicine usually means that your patients will be in hospice care, but hospice is just one place where you’ll be working.
#4: Neuromuscular Medicine
Neuromuscular medicine is a subspecialty of neurology that treats conditions of the peripheral nervous system (PNS), or the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord and the muscles. Some of the most common diseases you’ll study and treat include:
- Neuropathies (amyloid, Guillain-Barré syndrome, focal, etc.)
- Myasthenia gravis
- Muscular dystrophy (Becker, congenital, Duchenne, facioscapulohumeral, etc.)
- Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS)
Within this specialty, you’ll be able to find employment in a variety of clinical, academic, and even rehabilitation settings.
#5: Pediatric Neurology
Pediatric neurology focuses on studying, diagnosing, and treating neurological disorders in infants, children, and even adolescents. Many of the neurological disorders listed above only occur in adulthood (some in later adulthood), but there are also neurological disorders that occur in childhood. Some conditions that pediatric neurologists can treat include epilepsy, migraines, TBIs, muscular dystrophy, tics, sleep problems, and autoimmune conditions.
Neurodevelopmental disabilities are characterized by problems with cognition, behavior, communication, and/or motor skills that usually result from abnormal brain development. Examples of these include:
- Learning disabilities
- Intellectual disabilities
- Conduct disorders
- Cerebral palsy
- ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder)
#6: Sleep Medicine
Sleep medicine is the subspecialty within neurology and other medical specialties that focuses on studying, diagnosing, and treating sleep disorders and concerns. Snoring is an example of a sleep concern, while sleep disorders include:
- Sleep apnea
- Restless leg syndrome
- Parasomnias (e.g., sleepwalking)
Because sleep involves the entire nervous system, the endocrine system, and the cardiovascular system, you’re more likely to find employment in specialty sleep centers/clinics, working alongside other types of physicians.
#7: Vascular Neurology
Vascular neurology focuses on studying, diagnosing, and treating conditions that affect blood vessels in the brain and spinal cord, or cerebrovascular disease. Stroke is one of the most common cerebrovascular diseases.
Endovascular Surgical Neuroradiology
Endovascular surgical neuroradiology is a very specialized branch of neurosurgery that treats cerebrovascular diseases. Because this is neurosurgery, these types of neurologists can find employment in hospitals and other surgical settings.
Neurology is a broad area of medicine because it includes the brain, and the brain is arguably the most important organ in the body because other organs can’t function without it. The nature of a neurologist’s job allows them to work with many other types of physicians, which in turn allows them to work in many different types of medical settings.