Inflammatory neurological diseases occur when your immune system or an infection attacks your nervous system.
These conditions—including multiple sclerosis (MS), transverse myelitis, optic neuritis, and encephalitis—can cause inflammation and nervous system damage that leads to symptoms throughout your body. Depending on which parts of the nervous system are affected, symptoms vary but may include:
- Balance problems
- Behavior changes
- Bladder and bowel problems, such as urinary incontinence
- Muscle weakness, especially in the arms or legs
- Vision problems
Because most inflammatory neurological diseases are rare, it’s hard to find specialists who know how to diagnose and treat them.
Fortunately, University of Iowa Health Care is home to some of the region’s most experienced neuroimmunologists (neurologists with special training in inflammatory neurological disease). We know how to distinguish these diseases from other conditions and prescribe the right treatments.
Leading expertise, right here in Iowa
During the last decade, there has been huge growth in the field of neuroimmunology. For the first time, many people with inflammatory neurological diseases have treatment options that help calm their immune system and control their symptoms.
Because the field is expanding so rapidly, neuroimmunology experts—like those at UI Health Care—are essential to keep up with the latest discoveries and treatments.
Our neuroimmunologists are often among the first to learn about new or better ways to diagnose and treat these conditions. And because we take part in clinical trials and other types of research, our patients are often among the first to try promising new treatments.
Unique services for people with inflammatory neurological diseases
We offer services that make it easier to diagnose and treat inflammatory neurological diseases. These services, which aren’t available at every medical center, include:
Neurologist-led infusion management:
Because many people with inflammatory neurological disease need IV (intravenous) medicines, we offer infusion treatments at three locations. Our staff understands how these medicines work and knows which side effects to watch for. We also work with your health insurance provider to confirm your treatments are covered. We have a team that can help patients enroll in special financial assistance programs.
Specially trained pharmacists:
Our team includes pharmacists who have a deep understanding of the medicines used to treat inflammatory neurological diseases. They’ll help you understand your medication doses and schedule and teach you about common (and potentially serious) side effects.
Our approach to neuroimmunology care
Inflammatory neurological diseases are complex. They can cause several physical and cognitive (thinking) problems that each require treatment. And, because they can be caused by gene mutations, infections, or immune system problems, we also need to address the underlying cause.
To that end, our neuroimmunologists work closely with other UI Health Care specialists. One or more of the following providers may also be involved in your care:
- Infectious disease experts who treat neurological symptoms caused by viruses, bacteria, or chronic infectious diseases (such as HIV)
- Neurogenetic counselors who can help determine if a neurological disease is due to a genetic mutation rather than inflammation.
- Neuro-ophthalmologists who treat vision problems caused by conditions such as optic neuritis
- Neuropsychologists who perform tests to see if your condition has affected any of your cognitive abilities
- Neuroradiologists who use special imaging techniques to evaluate your brain and spinal cord
- Neurosurgeons who perform surgeries to obtain biopsy material (microscopic sample) to help with diagnosis in severe cases of suspected nervous system inflammation
- Pulmonary specialists
- Rehabilitation specialists such as physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists who can often help you feel and function better and improve your ability to perform everyday tasks
- Rheumatologists/immunologists who specialize in treating immune system problems and inflammatory diseases that affect any part of your body and can help manage conditions like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis
- Urologists who can help you manage bladder problems caused by your condition
Neuroimmunology tests and treatments
Neuroimmunology conditions treated
- Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM)
- Acute flaccid myelitis
- Anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis
- Autoimmune encephalitis
- Immune disease treatment complications
- Infections Meningitis
- MOG antibody disease (MOGAD)
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Neuromyelitis optica
- Oncological complications
- Opsoclonus myoclonus
- Optic neuritis
- Paraneoplastic neurological conditions
- Rheumatological complications
- Transverse myelitis
- Viral encephalitis