Neuromuscular disorders affect the nerves that control voluntary muscles, and the nerves that communicate sensory information back to the brain. Nerve cells (neurons) send and receive electrical messages to and from the body, to help control voluntary muscles. When the neurons become unhealthy or die, communication between the nervous system and muscles breaks down. As a result, muscles weaken and waste away (atrophy). The weakness can lead to twitching, cramps, aches and pains, and movement issues. If sensory nerves are damaged, balance problems, numbness, tingling or painful sensations can occur.
The Department of Neurology is highly regarded in diagnosing and caring for patients with all varieties neuromuscular diseases. The Neuromuscular Medicine program is directed by Dr. Robert H. Baloh, and the Neuromuscular Diagnostic laboratory, where electromyography and nerve conduction studies are performed, is directed by Dr. Richard Lewis. Both Dr. Baloh and Dr. Lewis are internationally recognized experts in the clinical diagnosis and management of neuromuscular disorders and maintain active translational research programs investigating new therapies for these diseases, including:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Spinal muscular atrophy
- Peripheral nerve damage and peripheral neuropathy
- Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (inherited nerve disease)
- Myasthenia gravis
- Myopathy and myositis
- Muscular dystrophy
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