Why choose UCLA Health for pediatric neurology?
Since our program was founded, the pediatric neurology team at UCLA Health has offered expert care. We diagnose and treat infants, children and adolescents with neurological disorders. Our specialists have been instrumental in developing numerous techniques and tools, and we have achieved international recognition for our expertise.
Highlights of our program include:
Pioneers in children’s neurology: Since the 1980s, UCLA Health pediatric neurologists have consistently contributed to advancing care. We were among the first to use positron emission tomography (PET) scans to study brain development and childhood epilepsy. Many of the surgical approaches developed at our centers are now standard epilepsy treatments.
Contributors to national guidelines: Our specialists have contributed to both the American Academy of Neurology and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s concussion treatment guidelines. We follow these protocols in our Sports Concussion and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Program, offering young athletes the most effective care.
International recognition: Many of our physicians are internationally renowned for their contributions to pediatric neurology research. We have studied multiple areas of child neurology, such as researching how epilepsy affects brain development and how TBI affects cognitive function.
Clinical trial access: Because our specialists participate in ongoing research, we offer patients the latest, most promising new therapies as soon as they’re available. Eligible children may participate in clinical trials to benefit from early access to new treatments.
Our areas of care
Our pediatric neurologists offer full-scope pediatric neurology care, including specialized areas of care such as:
Adolescent Epilepsy Center
The specialists in this center use a holistic care approach to treat epilepsy in teens. We understand that seizures are only one piece of the puzzle. Mental health disorders, learning disabilities, medication side effects or social challenges are just a few examples of the many factors that affect your child’s overall well-being.
We use the latest monitoring and imaging tools to accurately diagnose your child’s seizures. Once we understand the cause, our pediatric neurologists can offer the most appropriate treatments, including medications, diet therapy, medical devices or surgery.
CDKL5 Deficiency Disorder Center of Excellence
This Center of Excellence is the first of its kind on the West Coast. We use a team-based approach to treat children and adults with CDKL5 deficiency disorder (CDD), a rare disorder that causes seizures and developmental delays.
Our specialists assess all aspects of your child’s life affecting their health to determine the best possible treatment plan. We provide the full spectrum of care, from diagnosis to surgery to ongoing medical management.
Infantile Spasms Program
Infantile spasms is a type of epilepsy that affects infants under age 2. We are a national and international referral center for infantile spasms. Our specialists participate in research and clinical trials, offering research-based, effective treatments.
Our comprehensive services include:
- Diagnostic testing
- On-site genetic testing
- Treatments such as medication, surgery, diet therapy or other options
Ketogenic Diet Therapy Program
The ketogenic diet, often called keto, is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate eating plan. We prescribe this diet to improve seizure control in people who don’t experience improvements with medication alone. Although this treatment has traditionally been available only to children, we now use it in adults as well.
Our team-based care approach ensures that diet therapy is safe and effective. The team includes:
- Epileptologists – neurologists specializing in epilepsy
- Ketogenic dietitians
- Nurse practitioners specializing in epilepsy and the ketogenic diet
Neurodevelopmental Disorders Program
We diagnose and treat children with a spectrum of neurodevelopmental disorders, such as:
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Communication disorders
- Intellectual disabilities
- Learning disabilities
- Tic disorders
Our comprehensive, evidence-based approach includes the expertise of multiple specialists, including those in:
- Child psychiatry
- Child development
- Neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)
- Orthopaedics and Cerebral Palsy Clinic
We work with regional centers, public schools and private schools to provide the best care possible for our patients. We also train future leaders in neurology, pediatrics and child neurology, ensuring that children have access to exceptional care for years to come.
Sports Concussions and Traumatic Brain Injury Program
Our specialists care for patients, participate in research and educate the community on sports concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBI). We manage these conditions based on proven research, using guidelines from the American Academy of Neurology, CDC and the international Concussion in Sport Group.
We offer a variety of treatments, including psychotherapy, exercise rehabilitation and diet therapy. Multiple specialists work together to deliver comprehensive concussion care. Your child benefits from the services of:
- Occupational therapists
- Sports medicine specialists
Tuberous Sclerosis Complex Program
Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is a rare genetic disorder. It causes noncancerous (benign) tumors to grow throughout the body, often in the brain, kidneys, heart or skin.
Our TSC program is among the largest of its kind in the Western United States. We use a multispecialty approach to pediatric care for this complex condition. We also have a TSC neurology clinic for adults. Our specialists participate in studies and clinical trials to expand our knowledge and treatment options.
The Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance recognizes our program as a TSC Center of Excellence. This means that patients receive the highest level of care based on guidelines developed by an international group of clinical experts. We focus on diagnosis and ongoing treatment, including medical therapies, surgical treatments and ketogenic diet therapy.
Conditions pediatric neurologists treat
Our child neurology team treats the full range of neurological conditions in children, including:
Brain tumors are irregular masses of cells in the brain. They may be cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign). Neurologists work with a range of specialists in the Pediatric Brain Tumor Program to offer comprehensive treatment for all types of brain tumors.
Congenital and hereditary disorders
We treat an array of congenital disorders (ones that your child is born with) and hereditary disorders (ones that your child inherits but may not be evident at birth), including:
Anencephaly: A condition in which a baby is born with an underdeveloped brain and skull
Cerebral palsy: A group of disorders that affect movement, balance, coordination and muscle tone
Chiari malformation: A condition in which the back portion of the brain (cerebellum) extends into the spinal column
Craniosynostosis: A condition in which a baby’s skull bones fuse too early, causing a misshapen skull
Hydrocephalus: An irregular buildup of the fluid that cushions the brain and spinal cord (cerebrospinal fluid)
Microcephaly: A condition that causes the head to be much smaller than expected
Spina bifida: A condition in which the spinal cord doesn’t develop properly before birth
Neurological disorders in newborns
Our specialists treat neurological complications occurring in newborns, such as:
Intraventricular hemorrhage: Bleeding into the ventricles, the spaces of the brain that contain cerebrospinal fluid
Periventricular leukomalacia: A type of brain injury that damages the white matter (inner part of the brain) surrounding ventricles
We treat chronic or emergency headaches in children. Children may have sudden, severe head pain that causes other symptoms, such as double vision or neck pain. Some children may benefit from taking medication for ongoing headaches.
Inflammatory and infectious disorders
Our neurologists treat inflammatory and infectious neurological disorders, such as:
Brain abscess: A collection of pus in the brain, possibly interfering with blood flow or leading to swelling
Encephalitis: Brain inflammation, often caused by a viral infection
Guillain-Barré syndrome: A rare disorder in which the immune system attacks the nerves, leading to muscle weakness
Meningitis: Inflammation in the meninges, the membranes that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord
Reye syndrome: A rare condition that causes swelling in the brain and liver
Our specialists treat conditions that affect muscle and nerve function, including:
Muscular dystrophy: A group of disorders that cause muscle weakness and loss of muscle mass
Myasthenia gravis: A disorder in which the immune system damages the communication signals between muscles and nerves, causing weakness and fatigue
Spinal muscular atrophy: A genetic disorder that affects the nervous system and causes muscles to waste away (atrophy)
Seizures and epilepsy
Seizures are sudden, uncontrollable bursts of irregular electrical activity in the brain. They cause varying symptoms, including behavioral changes and possible loss of consciousness.
When a child has two or more seizures at least 24 hours apart with no known cause, doctors consider this epilepsy.
Neurocutaneous syndromes are chronic (ongoing) conditions that cause tumors to grow throughout the body, including in the brain and spinal cord. Types of neurocutaneous syndromes include:
Neurofibromatosis (NF): A group of three conditions (NF1, NF2 and schwannomatosis) that cause tumors to grow on nerves
Sturge-Weber syndrome: A rare disorder that causes leptomeningeal angioma, irregular formation in the tissue that covers the brain and spinal cord
Tuberous sclerosis: A rare genetic disorder that causes noncancerous tumors to form throughout the body, including in the brain, skin, heart, eyes, kidneys or lungs
Our neurologists treat children who have traumatic injuries affecting their brain or spinal cord, including:
Acute spinal cord injury: Any injury that damages the spinal cord, often causing back pain, muscle weakness, numbness, tingling, or paralysis in the chest, arms or legs
Traumatic brain injury (TBI): A sudden injury that damages the brain, often caused by a violent jolt or blow to the head
Concussion: A type of TBI that occurs when a jolt or hit to the body causes the head and brain to move suddenly back and forth
Tests and treatments neurologists offer
Our child neurologists provide extensive testing options, including:
Neurological exams: These exams assess the nervous system. Neurologists may use special tools to check reflexes, balance, motor skills and more.
Electroencephalogram (EEG): This specialized test records electrical activity in the brain. We often use EEGs to diagnose seizures.
Imaging tests: Pediatric neurologists use several types of imaging tests to evaluate a child’s brain. We may use CT scans, MRIs or positron emission tomography (PET) scans.
Children’s neurology treatment may include:
Medications: Prescription medicines may treat a variety of neurological conditions, such as headaches or epilepsy.
Ketogenic diet therapy: Our specialists may prescribe a high-fat, low-carbohydrate eating plan called the ketogenic diet to help children manage epilepsy.
Occupational therapy: An occupational therapist helps children improve fine motor skills and participate in daily activities.
Physical therapy: A physical therapist may help children improve muscle strength, tone, flexibility, balance and mobility.
Speech therapy: A speech therapist helps children increase language and communication skills.
Surgery: If needed, our neurologists work with the pediatric neurosurgery team to offer surgical treatment.
Our pediatric neurologists are among the top specialists in the nation. We continually research and implement new treatment options. Children who come to us benefit from a collaborative treatment approach from a team of experts.