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Neurosciences center

We know what makes your child’s nervous system unique 

No matter the neurological condition – from seizures and brain tumors to cerebral palsy and concussions – we have the right experts to help. Our neurosciences team crosses multiple specialties and uses best practices to ensure comprehensive care for kids in Virginia and up and down the east coast. Our team of compassionate experts is trained to diagnose and help families manage the rarest diseases and most critical conditions involving the brain, spine and nervous system.  

As pediatric neurologists, neurosurgeons, physical medicine and rehabilitation providers and researchers, we know that your child’s developing nervous system isn’t merely a miniature version of yours. You want your child to be treated by a medical team that understands what makes them unique. 

Caring for your child as a team

Care here begins with board-certified doctors in pediatric neurology, neurosurgery, physical medicine and rehabilitation and other specialties as needed. Based on your child’s needs, we collaborate with medical specialists in other areas, including genetics, developmental pediatrics, urology, ophthalmology, orthopaedics and more. Our multidisciplinary approach ensures we are treating your whole child, including psychosocial care, which helps children with complex medical conditions learn to navigate their health – and still be a kid.  

Our medical team has the unmatched expertise and training to provide the best pediatric care in the region. Of the 200 board-certified pediatric neurosurgeons in the country, four practice right here at CHoR. We also are designated as a Level 4 Epilepsy Center, which means we offer the most sophisticated monitoring, treatment and surgical options for children with epilepsy. We continue to grow our team, leadership, research and expertise thanks to nearly $4 million in recent neurosciences funding from Children’s Hospital Foundation. 

Our neurosciences team includes experts from across CHoR. Learn more about our teams in: 

Conditions and treatments 

Neuro-oncology 

Our pediatric neuro-oncologists offer treatment for children with brain, spine and peripheral nerve tumors. We work closely with researchers and specialists at VCU Massey Cancer Center to provide the best possible care for your child. 

Interventional epilepsy  

We provide numerous treatments for epilepsy, a group of disorders that vary from brief, steady seizures to long periods of vigorous shaking. Diagnostic tools and treatments include: 

  • Dense array EEG 
  • Video epilepsy monitoring 
  • PET (shows the brain’s use of oxygen or sugar to show where seizures arise) 
  • Interictal SPECT (measures blood flow to the brain to find seizure onset zones) 
  • Ketogenic diet 
  • Cortical and deep brain mapping 
  • Excisional and laser ablation 
  • Vagal nerve stimulation   
  • 3T MRI 

We can also monitor your child in our Epilepsy Monitoring Unit. 

Neuromuscular  

Neuromuscular disorders are a collection of conditions that impact the nerves, muscles and the connections between them. Kids with neuromuscular diseases often experience weakness, spasms or pain. We provide expert and compassionate care for children with neuromuscular conditions including: 

  • Muscular dystrophies, including Duchenne, myotonic, facial, scapular, humeral and limb girdle  
  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth, a hereditary disorder that impacts peripheral nerves 
  • Spinal muscular atrophy
  • Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, which includes progressive weakening of the legs and arms 

Traumatic brain injury 

Often abbreviated as “TBI,” a traumatic brain injury occurs after a violent hit or piercing to the head. This can include blunt-force trauma, such as a major blow, or an injury due to penetration of the skull, causing physical damage to the brain or spinal cord. Our physical medicine and rehabilitation doctors, neurologists and neurosurgeons work with physicians and specialists from across CHoR to provide the best possible care for your child.  

As a Level 1 pediatric trauma center, we are uniquely equipped to manage TBIs from diagnosis and pediatric intensive care through rehabilitation and therapy.  

Spasticity and dystonia  

Movement disorders can impact the daily life of children and interfere with everyday activities. Conditions may include spasticity (contraction of muscles) and dystonia (involuntary movement). 

Treatments could include: 

  • Therapy (physical and occupational) 
  • Medication 
  • Orthotics 
  • Orthopaedic surgery 
  • Rhizotomy, which can relieve pain and spasms by severing root nerves in the spine 
  • Intrathecal baclofen infusion pump, which speeds the delivery of muscle-relaxing medications 
  • Developmental interventions 

Cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy affects different children in different ways. Our specialty providers are experienced in helping families manage CP, with the goal of improving function and quality of life.  

Spina bifida

Our neuroscience team works closely with specialists in urology, orthopaedics, developmental pediatrics and social work to treat spina bifida, a birth defect that causes an improperly formed spinal cord.

Craniofacial care  

Our teams care for children with a wide range of craniofacial needs and help build confidence along the way. Expert and compassionate care is provided for all craniofacial conditions including those that impact the brain, nerves and spinal cord, such as: 

  • Craniosynostosis 
  • Encephaloceles, a birth condition where skull pieces don’t close completely and allow sacs to develop 
  • Complex cranial deformities 
  • Traumatic injuries 

Neurocutaneous syndromes

Some children are born with neurological conditions that can cause tumors to grow throughout their body. Although this is a lifelong condition, we can help manage and treat your child’s symptoms. Two of the most common conditions are tuberous sclerosis and neurofibromatosis. 

Pediatric stroke 

Working in tandem with the VCU Health Comprehensive Stroke Center, and in collaboration with our pediatric intensive care unit and emergency medicine team, we have developed an innovative pediatric stroke protocol to treat rare strokes in children. VCU Health is certified by the Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association as a Comprehensive Stroke Center, which identifies us as part of an elite group of providers providing complex stroke care. 

Congenital and complex spine conditions 

We treat a variety of spine disorders that children might be born with or that result from serious injuries, including: 

  • Ehlers-Danlos and hypermobility spectrum disorder, which impact joint mobility 
  • Spinal dysraphism, lipoma and tethered cord, various malformations of the spinal cord 
  • Chiari, a malformation of the brain, and syringomyelia, a disorder in which a fluid-filled cavity forms within the spinal cord 
  • Spine trauma 
  • Kyphosis/scoliosis, which are extreme curvatures of the spine 

Hydrocephalus and cerebral cysts  

We treat conditions that cause abnormal accumulations of brain fluid or cysts in the brain. These can be present at birth or develop over time. We’re focused on improving quality of life and helping kids be kids. In addition to traditional cerebral fluid shunt treatments, we are pioneers in the use of endoscopic treatments without shunts. 

Putting research into leading-edge practice 

Beyond our multidisciplinary focus, our neurosciences medical team continues to develop and adopt leading-edge treatment and protocols. Much of our work focuses on minimally invasive surgical treatments, which allow for quicker recovery: 

  • Unparalleled experience in minimally invasive surgery for craniosynostosis, where an infant’s skull bones prematurely fuse together 
  • Laser surgery to treat tumors and seizures 
  • Surgical endoscopy to treat brain tumors and cure hydrocephalus without shunts 

Hunter's story: Pediatric stroke

 
Lawrence Morton
Lawrence Morton MD Neurology Read more
John Collins
John Collins MD Neurosurgery, Craniofacial care, Spasticity Clinic, Spina Bifida Clinic Read more
Michele Ellett
Michele Ellett MSN, RN, CPNP Neurosurgery Read more
Amy Harper
Amy Harper MD Neurology, Muscular Dystrophy Clinic Read more
Debra Hearington
Debra Hearington PNP Neurology Read more
David Jaffe
David Jaffe MD Neurology Read more

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