Neurologists are specialist clinicians who focus on diseases and conditions that affect the nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord. There are more than 600 neurological disorders, each one ranging in severity, but all require the specialist intervention of a neurologist to effectively treat and manage.
In the UK, you have the option of seeing a neurologist on the NHS, or seeing a private neurologist. Both provide the same level of outstanding care and undergo the same training, but there are some differences that may affect which route you opt for. For most people, NHS waiting times are a big deciding factor in making the choice to see a private neurologist, although some go down this path because private neurology clinics often have access to newer treatments that aren’t available on the NHS just yet. Others choose to see a private neurologist for a second opinion, and some simply prefer the idea of choosing their clinical team.
Whatever your reasoning for choosing to see a private neurologist, you must first attend a consultation. The way a private neurologist consultation is carried out can differ from the NHS, namely in its efficiency and scope, but this isn’t all.
Attending a neurology consultation can be daunting at the best of times, due to the fact your health is often in question. With this in mind, we’ve put together this detailed article explaining what you can expect when you see a private neurologist, specifically at Dementech Neurosciences.
Preparing for a neurological appointment
Before you attend your neurologist appointment, it’s a good idea to come prepared. You don’t have to do anything specifically unless your neurologist asks you to, but the more information you come equipped with, the more you can get out of your appointment. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to keep a diary detailing any symptoms you’re having in the weeks leading up to your appointment. This ensures you don’t forget anything or leave out any important information during your appointment, but it also gives your neurologist a detailed insight into what you’re experiencing.
You can also write down a list of any medication you’re currently taking, and any allergies or sensitivities you may have. This information will already be on your medical record, but it’s still useful to have to hand.
If you’ve received treatment from a different healthcare provider, be it on the NHS or a different private practice, requesting copies of test results and appointment notes can also be a helpful headstart for your first consultation.
Attending any kind of medical consultation can seem overwhelming, especially where neurological conditions are concerned. For this reason, it’s a good idea to bring a loved one along to your appointment. Not only can they provide accounts of your symptoms, but they can also take notes of any information you’re given that you might forget. If you want to, you can bring a notebook so you can jot things down if that makes you feel more at ease.
Initial consultation with a neurologist
Once you arrive at your appointment, you’ll undergo an initial consultation with a neurologist. A large part of this meeting will involve talking at length about your symptoms and your medical history, which is why having a diary to hand is useful to make sure every symptom is covered and discussed.
As well as talking through what you’re experiencing, you’ll have a physical examination that focuses on your brain function and your nerves. The test may vary depending on your aforementioned symptoms and the information you provide your neurologist with, but generally speaking, your clinician may test:
- Speech and language
The initial conversation, paired with the tests above, can be enough to give your neurologist a good idea of what might be wrong, but oftentimes, additional testing is undertaken to rule out similar conditions and cement an accurate diagnosis.
Testing and scans for neurological disorders
Neurological conditions can sometimes be complex and many of them share similar symptoms, so it’s important that a wide range of tests are carried out to provide the most accurate diagnosis first time round. At Dementech Neurosciences, we have access to the very best testing and diagnostic technologies available, and we are able to arrange for a variety of relevant tests to be carried out in line with your consultation. Results are generally available within 48 hours.
This is different to the NHS where, oftentimes, you may need to wait a few weeks for tests to be arranged and carried out, and up to two or three weeks for results to become available.
With this in mind, some of the tests you may need to undergo at your private neurology appointment include:
- MRI or CT scan of your brain or spine – these scans can identify things like tumours, potential brain damage, and any problems caused by your nerves or blood vessels.
- Spinal tap or lumbar puncture – this involves extracting fluid from your spine to identify any potential infections or blood where it shouldn’t be.
- EMG (electromyogram) – electrodes are placed on your skin, or a needle is put into a muscle, to test the communication between a specific nerve and its relevant muscle.
- EEG (electroencephalograph) – if your symptoms include seizures, you may undergo an EEG which involves placing electrodes on your head to monitor your brain’s electrical activity.
- Blood tests and/or urine tests – these tests will identify things like infections or protein disorders.
- Evoked potentials – these tests work in a similar way to an EEG, except your neurologist will stimulate your hearing and vision, and potentially some other nerves, and see how your brain reacts.
- A biopsy of your muscles or nerves – tissue is extracted from certain nerves or muscles and tested to see if there could be a neuromuscular disorder.
During your appointment, your neurologist will also carry out a basic assessment where they may ask you some quick fire questions to test your cognitive abilities, get you to walk and move, test your reflexes, and look at your vision.
The types of tests you undergo will depend on your symptoms and what your neurologist is concerned about. There is no single test to identify the vast majority of neurological disorders; instead, a range of tests are done which rule out certain conditions or issues, such as infections or tumours. From this, your neurologist can make an informed diagnosis.
As mentioned, there is no specific test to confirm whether a disorder is present. With there being hundreds of neurological disorders, many of which share similar symptoms, lots of diagnostic tests are carried out to make sure the right diagnosis is made. At Dementech Neurosciences, our approach is to always try and mitigate the symptoms of a neurological disorder in the absence of being able to cure one. This means working to get you a fast diagnosis and setting about creating a treatment plan.
We know that receiving a diagnosis of a neurological condition can be hard. You may feel lots of different emotions, including anxiety, uncertainty, and fear. We have dedicated patient advisors on-hand to help you and your loved ones begin the process of accepting a diagnosis. They will talk you through your diagnosis and supportive care options, as well as answer any questions you may have regarding the next steps. They can also provide further information on anything you might need help with about future appointments.
Some of the more common neurological diagnoses include:
- Brain tumour
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
You will be under the care of a consultant neurologist who has years of experience with patients with your disorder, giving you the best care possible.
Neurological conditions are often best treated with a mixture of different approaches. Your neurologist will work with other members of your clinical care team to determine the best treatment plan for you. This could include medications, occupational therapy, neurosurgery, or physiotherapy depending on your condition and your symptoms. By preparing for your initial consultation and bringing an extensive list of medications you’re currently on, that you’re allergic to, and your general medical history, your neurologist will be able to narrow down your treatment options early and decide if further treatment will be necessary.
Book a private neurology appointment with Dementech Neurosciences
If you think you might need to see a neurologist about symptoms you’re experiencing and you want to go down the private route, our private neurology clinic here at Dementech Neurosciences can help. Our team of consultant neurologists are leaders in their field and our clinic is among the most comprehensive and high-tech in the UK.
Booking an appointment with us is easy. You can contact us to arrange an appointment at our London clinic, or you can book an appointment online. We are located in central London, but if you’re unable to visit us in person, we can arrange a video or phone consultation at a time that suits you. Your very first appointment will be with a neurologist, so you don’t need to worry about attending several appointments before being referred to one of our neurology consultants.
If you are on any NHS waiting lists, your place on those lists won’t be affected by seeing a private neurologist. To find out more, please call us on 0203 848 4500.