Basics of neurological disorders for primary care physicians

HeadacheNeurological disorders include structural, biochemical, or electrical abnormalities in the brain, spinal chord, or the nerves leading to or from them, resulting in a wide range of debilitating symptoms. Neurologic disability is on the rise and may be considered a “hidden” epidemic for India, soon to join the burden of infectious and chronic diseases. Neurologic disability is mainly a result of several trends: an increase in traumatic brain injuries (TBI) from road traffic incidents (RTI), an increase in age-related chronic diseases such as dementia and stroke, and a continuing presence of neuroinfections.

Key Point: Neurologic disability patients often need rehabilitation in walking, balance, coordination, pain management, speech, and cognitive skills. Primary care providers will be the most important treatment resource to many patients who cannot afford the costs of rehabilitation institutions.

The social stigma associated with disability in India makes seeking proper treatment more difficult for the disabled. People who suffer from neurologic disability may experience symptoms such as paralysis, muscle weakness, spasticity, pain, speech impairment, difficulty walking or standing, and psychosocial issues, including depression, cognitive decline, and social isolation. Inadequate treatment and long-term care of the neurologically disabled will strain the healthcare system, strain the economy, and lower the quality of life for many.

“…while the overall life expectancy in India is increasing, the overall quality of life will be diminished by the increasing prevalence and duration of neurologic disability.”
-Das A, Botticello AL, Wylie GR, Radhakrishnan K. Neurologic Disability: A Hidden Epidemic for India. Neurology Nov 20, 2012; 79:2146-2147. 

Primary care physicians (PCPs) are...

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