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Understanding Neurological Disorders

Neurological disorders are diseases of the central and peripheral nervous systems. In other words, the brain, spinal cord, nerves and muscles, which regulate and coordinate body’s activities.

Dementia is a progressive degeneration of the brain and its ability to function. It is an extremely serious condition that changes a person’s personality and affects their ability to go about their daily life. Dementia mostly occurs in the elderly.


People with dementia suffer from worsening memory, particularly in relation to new information. At first, they may notice things like losing their keys more often, but as the disease progresses they may no longer recognise their own family members. They also worsen in their ability to make judgements, to manage their affairs, and to plan things. People with dementia lose social skills, and often have problems controlling their mood, with a tendency to become irritable or agitated. The symptoms typically emerge and worsen over a period of years.


There are a number of different causes of dementia, of which the most common is Alzheimer’s disease, linked with the build-up of abnormal ‘amyloid plaques’ and ‘tau tangles’ in the brain. Certain other types of dementia also have an abnormal build-up of tau protein in the brain; as a group, these are termed ‘tauopathies’.


People with dementia will ultimately become completely dependent on a caregiver. However, a limited number of symptomatic treatments are available that can improve a person’s functioning and quality of life, particularly in earlier stages of the disease.

Pain is an unpleasant sensation that can occur acutely (e.g., after bruising or breaking a bone) or chronically (e.g., after a back injury or stroke). Sometimes, there is no obvious cause of pain. Different people experience pain in different ways, and there is also an emotional component, whereby the pain that is felt changes according to a person’s mood.


Whereas acute pain is the body’s way of warning us about damage, chronic pain has no use and arises due to a malfunction of the body’s pain system. Neuropathic pain is an example of chronic pain, caused by damage to nerve cells by injury, poison, or as a consequence of some other disorder. Neuropathic pain can be excruciating, affecting a person’s quality of life, mood, sleep, relationships, and ability to work.


Headache is pain that occurs in the head. Headaches are extremely common, and can be ‘primary’, such as migraine, tension-type headache and cluster headache, or ‘secondary’, meaning that they are a consequence of another disorder. Migraine is associated with strong headaches that are usually accompanied by nausea and/or sensitivity to light and sound. During a migraine headache, which lasts for hours or days, a person is unable to go about their daily life. Tension-type headaches are, in general, milder and not associated with nausea while cluster headaches are a relatively rare and extremely painful type of headache usually felt around a person’s eye or temple.