Many neurological disorders can be treated. Although this statement may not have reflected our abilities in the 1980s, it is certainly true now. Advances in molecular biology, genetics and biophysics have greatly contributed to our understanding of neurological disorders and our ability to effectively treat them. The pharmaceutical industry has also greatly advanced our ability to effectively treat many conditions by actively becoming involved in neuroscience research resulting in the development of a multitude of effective and safer therapies.
Nearly three quarters of patients can effectively terminate a migraine attack with the use of medications known as triptans. In 60% of patients with epilepsy, freedom from seizures can be achieved using either one antiepileptic medication or a combination of such medications. Patients presenting to the emergency room within three hours of the onset of symptoms consistent with stroke (brain attack) may be able to benefit from the use of powerful clot-busters in an otherwise potentially devastating illness. Patients with Parkinson’s disease now have multiple medications at their disposal resulting in a significant improvement in their quality of life. For those who are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, we now have several medications that have been proven to reduce attack frequency and therefore result in a better quality of life. Although we are not able to cure patients with Alzheimer’s disease, several medications are now available to ease the burden of the disease for both patients and caregivers.
In some cases, patients with epilepsy can be cured with surgical intervention. For patients with Parkinson’s disease, implantation of deep brain stimulators to control tremors and dyskinesias (involuntary abnormal movements) has immensely improved the quality of life of these patients. The key to the success of surgical procedures is the appropriate selection of patients for referral to a neurosurgical center.