Deep brain stimulation: practical insights and common queries.

The number of patients with deep brain stimulation (DBS) devices implanted is increasing. Although practices vary between centres, patients are typically given training and information from their DBS nurse or clinician, as well as a comprehensive device manual and contact details for their device manufacturer. However, for the lifetime of a patient with a DBS system, most of their secondary care often occurs in a centre without a co-located DBS service. The local neurologist is often asked pragmatic questions regarding the do’s and don’ts for patients with DBS systems. While a DBS centre or device manufacturer can provide advice, we thought that it will be helpful to outline the overall management of DBS for movement disorders and the approach to commonly raised questions. We describe briefly the clinical application of DBS and discuss common scenarios where there are possible compatibility issues around the device.

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Speech and language therapy approaches to managing primary progressive aphasia.

The term primary progressive aphasia (PPA) describes a group of neurodegenerative disorders with predominant speech and language dysfunction as their main feature. There are three main variants – the semantic variant, the nonfluent or agrammatic variant and the logopenic variant – each with specific linguistic deficits and different neuroanatomical involvement. There are currently no curative treatments or symptomatic pharmacological therapies. However, speech and language therapists have developed several impairment-based interventions and compensatory strategies for use in the clinic. Unfortunately, multiple barriers still need to be overcome to improve access to care for people with PPA, including increasing awareness among referring clinicians, improving training of speech and language therapists and developing evidence-based guidelines for therapeutic interventions. This review highlights this inequity and the reasons why neurologists should refer people with PPA to speech and language therapists.

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Language and language disorders: neuroscience to clinical practice.

Language disorders are common in neurological practice but their accurate recognition and description can be challenging. In this review, we summarise the major landmarks in the understanding of language disorders and the organisation of language in the brain. We describe approaches to assessing language disorders at the bedside or in the clinic as well as the treatment and rehabilitation of aphasia. Finally, we describe how the field of neuroscience is providing new computational and neuroscientific approaches to study the mechanisms of recovery and rehabilitation of aphasia.

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Dizziness demystified.

Four vestibular presentations caused by six different disorders constitute most of the neuro-otology cases seen in clinical practice. ‘Acute vestibular syndrome’ refers to a first-ever attack of acute, spontaneous, isolated vertigo and there are two common causes: vestibular neuritis / labyrinthitis and cerebellar infarction. Recurrent positional vertigo is most often caused by benign paroxysmal positional vertigo and less commonly is central in origin. Recurrent spontaneous vertigo has two common causes: Ménière’s disease and vestibular migraine. Lastly, chronic vestibular insufficiency (imbalance) results from bilateral, or severe unilateral, peripheral vestibular impairment. These six disorders can often be diagnosed on the basis of history, examination, audiometry, and in some cases, basic vestibular function testing. Here we show that most common neuro-otological problems can be readily managed by general neurologists.

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Plasma exchange in neurological disease.

Plasma exchange is a highly efficient technique to remove circulating autoantibodies and other humoral factors rapidly from the vascular compartment. It was the first effective acute treatment for peripheral disorders such as Guillain-Barré syndrome and myasthenia gravis before intravenous immunoglobulin became available. The recent recognition of rapidly progressive severe antibody-mediated central nervous system disorders, such as neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders and anti-N-methyl-D-aspartate-receptor encephalitis, has renewed interest in using plasma exchange for their acute treatment also. In this review we explain the principles and technical aspects of plasma exchange, review its current indications, and discuss the implications for its provision in the UK.

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