"The future of neurology is now"
Due to many technological advances in treatment, neurological disorders are completely transforming.
According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 6.8 million people lose their lives every year as a result of neurological disorders.
Ranging from epilepsy to stroke to multiple sclerosis, there have been a multitude of treatments available to help alleviate some of the effects of those disorders.
During a presentation at the annual Brain Health Fair in Philadelphia, Dr. Justin Jordan, MD, MPH—an assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, and the clinical director for neuro-oncology at the Massachusetts General Hospital—detailed some of the new technologies and groundbreaking treatments, as well as some of the latest scientific breakthroughs for neurological care.
“We have so many amazing technologies that have come out to improve neurological care that we’re providing to our patients,” he expressed.
He explained those technologies in three categories: Engineering Advances, Genetic Therapy Advances, and Targeted Care Advances.
Since the late 1990s, stroke patients have often received a tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) to dissolve the brain clot causing the stroke.
However, Jordan stated that the patient must make it to the hospital very soon after the stroke initiates in order for the tPA to be most effective, and it sometimes doesn’t dissolve the biggest clot.
Technological advances have now allowed doctors to feed a catheter into the brain arteries and remove the biggest clot.
“Amazingly, you can [now] come to the hospital within 24 hours in some cases, and we can still remove that clot and still lead to improvement in neurologic practice,” said Jordan.
While he doesn’t encourage patients to wait too long, he said that this advancement has tremendously improved stroke care.
Deep brain stimulation is one of the other engineering advances in neurologic care, and is really effective for movement disorders such as Parkinson’s, obsessive compulsive disorder, and dystonia.
“Wouldn’t it be better if you could just stop the migraines from happening altogether?” Jordan asked.
A new advancement has identified a protein called calcitonin gene–related peptide (CGRP), which is one of the common causes of migraines, and now antibodies can block it and stop them from coming altogether.
Similarly, for people with multiple sclerosis, which affects 2.5 million people worldwide. While injections have long been used, new oral pills have now allowed MS patients to stop the disease from getting worse and also prevent long-term complications.
Neurological disorders continue to effect and shorten the lives of people worldwide by the millions. However, with these new advances, the hope is for that number to continue to reduce more and more each year.
To close the presentation, Jordan called neurology, “a field with treatments.”
“We have increasing genetic tools and technological tools, and now we have hope for patients and families where we never had hope before with neurologic disease,” he added.