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Neurology

Unlocking the Mysteries of the Brain

Early detection and treatment of neurological disorders make a profound difference in children’s lives.

Early detection and treatment of neurological disorders make a profound difference in children’s lives.

Neurological disorders can severely limit a child’s happiness, independence, and potential throughout their lives. Research shows that more than half of all behavioral, developmental, neurologic, and psychiatric conditions start in childhood, so it’s important that children receive timely and appropriate treatment.

Children are not simply “small adults.” Because their bodies are still growing and their brains still developing, they need care tailored to their physiology and psychology. That is one of the prime concerns for the Children’s National experts who treat children with neurological conditions.

Overview

Overview

Our team of pediatric neurologists treats complex pediatric neurological conditions, such as autism spectrum disorders, brain tumors, epilepsy, and white matter disease. We also have some of the world’s foremost experts on neurodevelopmental disorders affecting the brain and central nervous system, such as concussion/ traumatic brain injury, learning disabilities, and neurofibromatosis. Our physicians assess children with behavioral and emotional difficulties that interfere with performance and social interactions.

The Gilbert Family Neurofibromatosis Institute at Children’s National is an internationally recognized center of clinical care, clinical/translational research, and basic research for this genetic disorder. It presents complex manifestations in children, including learning disabilities, sleep disorders, depression, and tumors of the brain, optic nerve, nervous system, and body.

Brain Tumors

Brain Tumors

The Brain Tumor Institute at Children’s National Health System is a multidisciplinary program that evaluates children throughout the world with brain tumors. Using the newest biologic therapies, the institute seeks alternative treatments with fewer long-term effects.

The Brain Tumor Institute has one of the nation’s most active clinical and translational research programs. It is the only brain tumor center in the region that is a member of the Children’s Oncology Group’s Phase I Consortium, Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium, the Pacific Neuro-Oncology Consortium, the Collaborative Ependymoma Research Network, and Neurofibromatosis Clinical Trials Consortium.

Active basic and translational research programs are ongoing in medulloblastoma, brain stem gliomas, low- and high-grade gliomas, drug development, detrimental effects of biologic treatment, developmental neurobiology, and molecular diagnostics.

A brain lab, with a fully integrated intra-operative MRI, allows the institute to provide genetic consultation and testing. Such testing helps assess the genetic predisposition to developing brain tumors and the associated risks of cancer development for other family members.

If surgery is required, Children’s experienced neurosurgical team uses advanced techniques, such as image-guided surgery and laser-guided heat ablation.

Developmental Needs

Developmental Needs

Our neurodevelopmental pediatricians care for patients with disorders such as developmental delays, Down syndrome, Asperger syndrome, communications disorders, autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity disorder, and spina bifida. This is a collaborative effort with other specialists at Children’s National, customized to fit the needs of individual patients.

Epilepsy

Epilepsy

Epilepsy is the most common and serious lifelong neurological disorder. Children’s National has one of the largest and most progressive epilepsy programs in the country, providing highly specialized care tailored to each child’s unique needs. Treatment can include medication, dietary programs, and surgery.

Our physicians treat patients with some of the most complex epilepsy cases in the world. Bringing together the very best talent, promising research, and innovative therapies, Children’s National addresses the complications of hard-to-control epilepsy, including social, educational, and emotional challenges. 

Neurosurgery

Neurosurgery

Our neurosurgery team treats infants, children, and teens affected by disease, trauma, or malformation of the brain, spine, or nervous system. All of our physicians are published experts and board-certified in pediatric neurosurgery. We offer patients and their families a dedicated neuroscience care unit, including private suites, neuro-pediatric intensive care rooms, and a neuro-newborn intensive care unit.

Our neurosurgeons are recognized leaders in minimally invasive strategies. Many procedures involve small incisions and minimal blood loss and pain, typically resulting in less scarring and quicker recoveries. Advanced neuro-imaging and neurophysiological monitoring are standard practice. 

Mental Health

Mental Health

An estimated 20 percent of all children have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder, but only one in five of them receive treatment. Delaying diagnosis until adulthood can make treatment more difficult and can exacerbate psychosocial and economic repercussions. Fortunately, scientific advances in genetic medicine and imaging are providing new opportunities to identify and intervene in childhood. Breakthroughs over the past decade have improved our understanding of the brain’s architecture and development and the critical connections and cellular pathways that control brain function.

Children’s National is a leader in a first-of-its-kind partnership—the DC Collaborative for Mental Health in Pediatric Primary Care— to improve the early detection and treatment of psychiatric disorders in children. Partners include the Children’s Law Center, the American Academy of Pediatrics, Georgetown University, and the DC Departments of Health, Finance, and Behavioral Health. One of its first outcomes has been to help ensure community pediatricians include basic mental health assessments in primary care visits.

Children’s National also has been a leading voice in advocating for children in mental health policy discussions, including participating in the White House National Conference on Mental Health and convening the first Children’s Mental Health Summit in Washington, DC. 

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