A neurological disease is a disorder that affects the body’s nervous system. Over six hundred conditions fall under the category of neurological disease. The nervous system is an important part of the way a human’s body works. Thus, neurological diseases are rarely minor conditions, although some are certainly more dire than others. A neurological disease will affect one of the two areas of the nervous system: the central nervous system, or the peripheral nervous system.
The central nervous system is the most crucial part of the nervous system, and includes the brain and the spinal cord. This part of the nervous system is protected by the skull and the vertebrae. The central nervous system processes the input from the peripheral nervous system, and reacts with the appropriate motor output.
The peripheral nervous system extends beyond the central nervous system into the limbs and the torso. Its function is to receive external stimuli, and communicate this to the central nervous system for physical response. Through its various subsystems, it initiates the unconscious responses that humans perform, such as constricting pupils in more light, or increasing adrenaline in situations of extreme stress or danger. The peripheral nervous system doesn’t have the skeletal protection that the central nervous system has, and thus is more susceptible to damage.
One category of neurological disease is the result of faulty genes. Huntington’s disease and muscular dystrophy are both caused by genetics, and can be passed on to future generations. A neurological disease may also be a result of abnormal development of the nervous system. Spina bifida is caused by the abnormal development of the spinal cord. There is generally no cure for these types of neurological disorders.
Degenerative neurological diseases are common, too. Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease are both caused by nerve cells that have become damaged and died. There are also seizure disorders, like epilepsy. This type of neurological disease is caused when a cluster of nerve cells send out the wrong signals. Diseases in both of these categories may be treated with drug therapy for the symptoms.
A neurological disease may also be a result of an injury to the spinal cord or the brain. Patients who are paraplegics normally have suffered from an injury to the brain or spinal cord. Typically, where the injury occurs the patient is paralyzed from that level down. Immediate treatment of these injuries can minimize long-term effects. Should the injury result in permanent paralysis, drug therapy and physical rehabilitation may be prescribed to minimize some of the injury’s damage.
Cancers or infections also result in neurological disorders. The cause of brain cancer is still unknown, but it may be treated with surgery or chemotherapy. Infections like meningitis are caused by viruses that enter the body through open cavities and travel to the brain. There are vaccines that prevent brain infection, but even if the infection is contracted, early detection makes drug therapy generally successful.