What Do Neurologists Do?

Updated April 17, 2017

A neurologist is a medical specialist who has specific training in diagnosing and treating problems with the nervous system. This requires extensive training in addition to medical school. A board certified neurologist requires still more specialised training to achieve certification.


The nervous system is comprised of the brain, nerves and the spinal cord. It is an important part of the way the entire body functions, from how well the body experiences sensations to how well the brain works. People experiencing problems with movement often visit a neurologist to discover the cause. People with brain injuries and spinal cord injuries and deformities also see neurologists for care.


A neurologist examines nerves located on the neck and head as well as examining the strength of muscles, reflexes, balance and how much sensation the patient has in those areas. The neurologist may also test cognitive skills such as memory and language skills. All of these skills and abilities are rooted in brain and nerve activity. Any problems or disorders that cause problems with any of these abilities will be treated by a neurologist.


Neurologists are specially trained to perform and to use a number of specialised tests for diagnosis. Computed axial tomography, also known as a CAT scan, is one test that is can be run on the brain to look for damage or abnormalities. Magnetic resonance imaging, also known as an MRI, as another test ordered by neurologists to look for nerve or spinal damage. Electroencephalography, also called an EEG, as a test that neurologists use to measure the function of the brain.

Time Frame

To become a neurologist, a person must complete college with a GPA high enough for entrance into medical school. Usually, a science major is required for acceptance. Medical school is a four-year study of medicine in general, with some study of neurology as part of the general course work. A one-year internship in either surgery or internal medicine is required after medical school. A three-year medical residency conducted in neurology is then required.


Neurologists treat a wide range of conditions and diseases. They may work in private practice or on staff at a hospital. Some neurologists work in ambulatory care facilities. Neurologist treats patients who have Parkinson's disease, migraines, epilepsy, encephalitis, cancer, Lou Gehrig's disease, carpal tunnel syndrome and back pain, among other afflictions.

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