Progressive neurological disorders: overview

A neurological disorder is a condition affecting any part of the central or peripheral nervous system.

Progressive neurological disorders are conditions where there is a progressive deterioration in functioning. Progression may be gradual over many years or even decades or more rapidly over weeks and months. These disorders are likely to affect the individual for the rest of his or her life.

Key points:

  • Early intervention is vital to ensure the individual and their carer(s) understand the condition and are educated and supported in their ability to deal with ongoing and deteriorating communication and swallowing issues (DH, 2005).

  • A flexible and responsive approach is often required as the needs of people with rapidly progressing conditions can change quickly.

  • Discussion with the person and family members, where appropriate, is important in preparing for later decisions, alternative methods of communication and nutrition, if these become appropriate. It is important to monitor and ensure methods of communication throughout the course of the disorder.

  • Management of swallowing problems, intermittent or otherwise, needs constant surveillance with alternative strategies being discussed with the individual, carers and other members of the multidisciplinary team.

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