Our neurology department provides rehabilitation and care to children with neurological conditions, as well as general medical patients up to the age of 18 years old. Neurology comes from the Greek word ‘nerve’ and includes any conditions affecting the nervous system, including craniofacial, strokes, epilepsy, tumours, and head and spinal injuries.
Approximately 800 new patients are treated for neurological conditions at the hospital every year. We also host around 70 outreach clinics at 14 centres across the region.
We provide specialist assessment and treatment of acute and rapidly evolving neurological disorders in children including epilepsy, movement disorders, acquired brain injury, stroke, rare neuro-genetic disorders, neuromuscular disorders, headaches, neuro-inflammatory disorders, demyelinating disorders, acute neurological disorders and excessive daytime sleepiness.
Some of the services we offer are:
- Complex epilepsy services including epilepsy surgery, video EEG telemetry, ketogenic diet and vagal nerve stimulator
- Spasticity and movement disorders services including botulinum toxin injection treatment for tone disorders, functional neurosurgical interventions (intrathecal baclofen, deep brain stimulation, selective dorsal rhizotomy)
- Neuro-rehabilitation service
- Neuromuscular service
- Neuro-inflammatory disorders clinic
- Acute neurology including stroke
- Outreach service to local paediatric centres across Cheshire and Merseyside and wider north west England and Wales
Neurophysiology – our Roald Dahl EEG service
Neurophysiology focuses on how the brain and nervous system work and is a crucial diagnostic link in the evaluation of children with epilepsy and neuromuscular disorders.
Our neurophysiology team carries out tests which look at how the brain and nervous system work. These include a range of electroencephalogram (EEG) tests; this is when small sensors are attached to the scalp to pick up the electrical signals produced when brain cells send messages to each other. These signals can then be analysed to see if they are unusual.
At Alder Hey we conduct standard EEG tests as well as sleep-deprived EEG, ambulatory EEG (at home) and video-telemetry EEG as well as an Electromyography (EMG) service and overnight sleep studies for both neurology and respiratory patients.
Our neurophysiology service is also part of the Epilepsy Service for more go to the Epilepsy surgery.
Your brain is the central command centre of your body. It sits within your skull and sends messages to other parts of the body via your spinal cord. Your brain and spinal cord make up your central nervous system and are protected by layers of bone, tissue and a clear, colourless fluid (cerebrospinal fluid).
- Messages are carried to and from your central nervous system to other parts of your body by neurones and nerve impulses.
- Did you know different parts of your brain control different parts of your body?
- The biggest part of your brain is the cerebrum, and this is the ‘thinking’ part. It is split into two halves; the right side interprets pictures, shapes and colours while the left side controls your analytics and data e.g., your speech and counting.
- The part of your brain that controls movement, balance and coordination is called the cerebellum.
- Your hypothalamus controls your body temperature and will tell your body when to sweat or shiver. Your ideal body temperature is 37 degrees Celsius.
- A very small but important part of your brain is the pituitary gland. This produces and releases hormones into your body.
- Your brain is connected to your spinal cord by your brain stem, which is involved in all the functions that keep you alive such as breathing and circulation. All information passes through your brain stem on its way to and from your brain.
- Your emotions and fears are controlled by the amygdala.
Did you know you probably have around 150 billion nerve cells in your brain?!
About the Consultant Paediatric Neurologists
The paediatric neurology consultants are Dr Andrew Curran, Dr Rachel Kneen, Dr Ram Kumar, and Dr Stefan Spinty, who each have areas of special interest as described below. The departmental ethos is forward-looking and offers consultant-delivered care.
The Epilepsy Service provides a comprehensive and holistic service across the North West and North Wales and also outside the region. The service is supported by 1.5 WTE Nurse Specialists in paediatric epilepsy. The Roald Dahl EEG Unit, staffed by 3WTE senior, Highly Specialised EEG physiologists (neurology), a Consultant Clinical Neurophysiologist (Dr Brian Tedman) provides an EEG service for Alder Hey and eight District General Hospitals. The EEG service includes routine and ambulatory EEGs and video-EEG telemetry (surface and invasive) and intra-operative cortical mapping.
Alder Hey, in conjunction with Manchester Children’s Hospital, is one of four nationally commissioned centres for children’s epilepsy surgery services (CESS) in England. It is envisaged that the Alder Hey and Manchester CESS (termed ‘NorCESS’) will provide the epilepsy surgery service for the North of England and Northern Ireland. Miss Sasha Burn, Consultant Paediatric Neurosurgeon, is the surgical lead for the Alder Hey site.
The Epilepsy Service also includes a dedicated multi-disciplinary ketogenic diet service which provides a regional but also supra-regional service. This is led by Dr Rachel Kneen, Consultant Paediatric Neurologist. The service has 1 WTE dietician.
The Epilepsy Service has a national and international reputation for the clinical care of children with epilepsy, teaching and active research, specifically in the diagnosis and management of paediatric epilepsies.
The inpatient management of acquired brain injuries is provided by the paediatric neurology department (main clinical input from Dr Ram Kumar and Dr Andrew Curran) in conjunction with a multidisciplinary therapy team (“HIRT – Head Injury Rehabilitation Team”). There are weekly team meetings. There are approximately 50 complex neurorehabilitation patients referred from within the hospital each year, predominantly from neurosurgeons, oncologists and PICU. Currently, all the paediatric neurologists share in the clinical management of these patients.
Spasticity service (led by Dr Ram Kumar)
The spasticity service is a multidisciplinary service for children with tone disorders run in conjunction with a specialist physiotherapist. Multidisciplinary clinics with orthopaedics, neurosurgery and upper limb surgery are held regularly. Interventions provided include botulinum toxin for upper and lower limbs, intrathecal baclofen, selective dorsal rhizotomy and deep brain stimulation.
Neuromuscular service (led by Dr Stefan Spinty)
The regional neuromuscular service at AHCH has expanded very considerably over the years and continues to expand with monthly referrals averaging now 8.6. It is now one of the larger paediatric neuromuscular services in this country with a patient caseload of approximately 550. The established enthusiastic and comprehensive neuromuscular multidisciplinary team consists of a consultant lead (Dr Spinty), an associate Specialist in neuromuscular diseases, and Neuromuscular Care Advisors, and fully supported by a dedicated neuromuscular multidisciplinary therapy team. There are weekly neuromuscular MDT meetings, and eight dedicated weekly neuromuscular clinics including joint specialist orthopaedic, spinal, neuropathy and arthrogryposis clinics. There are monthly joint neuromuscular cardiac, endocrine and LTV multidisciplinary meetings and three monthly joint spinal meetings.
This new service started in 2012 due to the increasing recognition of autoimmune limbic encephalitis. Dr Rachel Kneen runs this service with the rheumatology team. Dr Kneen also has a clinical and research interest in CNS infectious diseases. Liverpool has an international reputation for research into CNS infection and the department is involved with running a course, teaching and different research projects in this area.
There are 3 speciality registrars of ST4+ (Specialist Registrar) level, an ST3 specialist registrar and an F2 grade doctor (SHO level) allocated to the department by the Mersey Postgraduate Deanery on a rotational basis. One of the ST4+ level doctors is a National Grid Trainee in Paediatric Neurology. There is a full paediatric neurology teaching programme, with additional sessions from individual consultants.
The neurology ward staff are trained and experienced in caring for children with a range of both acute and chronic neurological problems, including the medium and long-term rehabilitation of children with traumatic and non-traumatic brain injuries. Cross-training with the neurosurgical ward nursing staff is underway, pending the eventual integration of the two wards in the new Children’s Health Park Neurosciences ward.
Neurology inpatients benefit from access to a comprehensive range of specialist therapists from physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, and clinical psychology with additional neuropsychological expertise. The educational rehabilitation unit sited within the neurology ward allows assessment and educational re-integration of children following brain injury, including those who have been discharged.