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What is a neurological condition?

A CT scanNeurological conditions are caused by damage to the nervous system, often as a result of illness or injury. Problems of the nervous system usually affect the brain and spinal cord and the nerves and muscles in the body.

The cause of many neurological conditions is not yet known and there is much research invested in trying to understand more about the environmental and genetic factors involved.

Neurological conditions can affect all ages and can begin at any time in a person's life. Not all are serious. Some neurological conditions are life-long and may be present from birth, such as Spina Bifida or cerebral palsy. Other conditions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease will affect mainly older people.

An injury or illness, such as a head injury or stroke, meningitis, or cancers of the brain and spine can cause a neurological condition. Some neurodegenerative conditions, such as multiple sclerosis and motor neurone disease, occur mainly in adulthood and are progressive, causing deterioration over time. This means that a person's ability to live independently eventually becomes difficult and they will rely more on appropriate services to assist them.

Most neurological conditions affect people's quality of life and some will cause life-long disability. It is important that people affected by a neurological condition receive the right care and treatment at the right time. Many neurological conditions can be dealt with in primary care and in the community though some people will have to be referred to more specialist services for investigations. Diagnosis of a neurological condition is often made by a neurologist following diagnostic investigations. Sometimes, however, a diagnosis cannot be made.

In general, neurological conditions are not well understood by the general public. Levels of awareness are low even about some of the more common conditions such as epilepsy. As a result of this people with a neurological condition may face stigma and unhelpful attitudes from others.

If you are concerned about a particular neurological condition and wish to find further information or support, you may find it useful to contact one of the Alliance member organisations.

Neurological Symptoms

Some people experience functional and dissociative neurological symptoms including functional weakness and dissociative (non-epileptic) attacks. These are neurological symptoms that are genuine (and not imagined) but not due to a neurological disease. Instead they are due to a problem in the way the nervous system is working.

Symptoms like these are surprisingly common but can be difficult for patients and health professionals to understand. is a free self-help website written by a neurologist with a special interest in these problems which aims to give a better understanding of these symptoms. There are links, downloads and patient stories relevant to many different types of symptoms that can be experienced as part of these problems including pain, memory problems and abnormal movements. Click here to visit the site.