acute spinal cord injury (SCI) - due to a traumatic injury that either results in a bruise (also called a contusion), a partial tear, or a complete tear in the spinal cord. SCI is a common cause of permanent disability and death in children.
anencephaly - a condition that is present at birth and affects the formation of the brain and the skull bones that surround the head, resulting in only minimal development of the brain. There is no bony covering over the back of the head and there may also be missing bones around the front and sides of the head.
brain abscess - an infection in the brain that is encapsulated (confined within its own area) and localized to one or more areas inside of the brain. This condition causes problems with brain and spinal cord functions.
cerebral palsy (CP) - a broad term that describes a group of neurological (brain) disorders. It is a life-long condition that affects the communication between the brain and the muscles, causing a permanent state of uncoordinated movement and posturing. CP is the result of an episode that causes a lack of oxygen to the brain.
Chiari malformation - a problem present at birth that affects the area in the back of the head where the brain and the spinal cord connect.
computed tomography scan (also called a CT or CAT scan) - a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of x-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images (often called slices), both horizontally and vertically, of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general x-rays.
congenital - present at birth.
craniosynostosis - a condition in which the sutures (soft spots) in the skull of an infant close too early, causing problems with normal brain and skull growth. Premature closure of the sutures may also cause the pressure inside of the head to increase and the skull or facial bones to change from a normal, symmetrical appearance.
electroencephalogram (EEG) - a procedure that records the brain's continuous, electrical activity by means of electrodes attached to the scalp.
electromyogram (EMG) - a test that measures the electrical activity of a muscle or a group of muscles. An EMG can detect abnormal electrical muscle activity due to diseases and neuromuscular conditions.
encephalitis - a condition characterized by inflammation of the brain. This condition causes problems with the brain and spinal cord function.
epilepsy - a condition in which there is a problem with the brain that causes long-term seizures in the child.
fractures - a partial or complete break in the bone.
genetic studies - diagnostic tests that evaluate for conditions that have a tendency to run in families.
Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) - A reversible condition that affects the nerves in the body. GBS can result in muscle weakness, pain, and even temporary paralysis of the facial, chest, arm, and leg muscles. Paralysis of the chest muscles can lead to breathing problems.
head injury - a broad term that describes a vast array of injuries that occur to the scalp, skull, brain, and underlying tissue and blood vessels in the child's head. Head injuries are also commonly referred to as brain injury, or traumatic brain injury (TBI), depending on the extent of the head trauma.
headache - pain or discomfort in the head or face area. Headaches can be single or recurrent in nature, and localized to one or more areas of the head and face.
hydrocephalus - the lack of absorption, blockage of flow, or overproduction of the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) that is found inside of the ventricles (fluid-filled areas) inside of the brain. This may result in a build up of fluid, which may cause the pressure inside of the head to increase and the skull bones to expand to a larger-than-normal appearance.
intracranial pressure (ICP) - the pressure inside the skull.
ketogenic diet - a diet very high in fat (about 90 percent of the calories come from fat). Protein is given in amounts to help promote growth. A very small amount of carbohydrate is included in the diet. This very high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet causes the body to make ketones. Ketones are made by the body from protein. They are made for energy when the body does not get enough carbohydrates for energy. If your child eats too many carbohydrates, then his/her body may not make ketones. The presence of ketones is important to the success of the diet. The diet is sometimes used to assist in the control of seizures.
lumbar puncture (also called spinal tap) - a special needle is placed into the lower back, into the spinal canal, which is the area around the spinal cord. The pressure in the spinal canal and brain can then be measured. A small amount of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) can be removed and sent for testing to determine if there is an infection or other problems. CSF is the fluid that bathes your child's brain and spinal cord.
magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - a diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body.
metabolic tests - diagnostic tests that evaluate the absence or lack of a specific enzyme (i.e., amino acids, vitamins, carbohydrates) that are necessary to maintain the normal chemical function of the body.
microcephaly - a condition, present at birth, in which the head is much smaller than normal for an infant of that age and gender.
myasthenia gravis (MG) - a life-long condition in which the body's immune system fights its own body. This causes problems with the nerves that provide communication to the muscles resulting in muscle weakness. This disease affects the voluntary muscles of the body that include the eyes, face, neck, chest, arms, and legs.
myelodysplasia (also called spina bifida) - a condition, present at birth, that can affect the development of the back bones, spinal cord, surrounding nerves, and the fluid-filled sac that surrounds the spinal cord. This neurological condition can cause a portion of the spinal cord and the surrounding structures to develop outside, instead of inside, the body. The sac-like lesion can occur anywhere along the spine.
neurocutaneous syndromes - a broad term that describes a group of neurological (brain) disorders. These diseases are life-long conditions that causes tumors to grow inside the brain, spinal cord, organs, skin, and skeletal bones. The most common symptoms in children with these diseases is the unique changes that can be found on the skin. The three most common types of neurocutaneous syndromes are tuberous sclerosis, neurofibromatosis (NF), and Sturge-Weber disease.
Reye syndrome - A condition that affects the brain, liver, and kidney function. It has a very rapid onset that can cause the child to go into a coma, or can result in death within hours of the symptoms.
seizure - occurs when part(s) of the brain receives a burst of abnormal electrical signals that temporarily interrupts normal electrical brain function.
spina bifida (also called myelodysplasia) - a condition that is present at birth. It can affect the development of the back bones, spinal cord, surrounding nerves, and the fluid-filled sac that surrounds the spinal cord. This neurological condition can cause a portion of the spinal cord and the surrounding structures to develop outside, instead of inside, the body. The sac-like lesion can occur anywhere along the spine.
spinal cord - a bundle of nerves that carries messages between the brain and the rest of the body.
spinal muscular atrophy - a degenerative problem that affects the spinal cord and nerves, resulting in muscle wasting and weakness.
spinal tap (also called a lumbar puncture) - a special needle is placed into the lower back, into the spinal canal. This is the area around the spinal cord. The pressure in the spinal canal and brain can then be measured. A small amount of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) can be removed and sent for testing to determine if there is an infection or other problems. CSF is the fluid that bathes your child's brain and spinal cord.
x-ray - a diagnostic test which uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.