Clinical neurophysiology is a subspecialty in the field of neurology that deals with the study of neurophysiologic parameters to evaluate and diagnose neurologic conditions. Clinical neurophysiologists are medical practitioners who underwent extra years of subspecialty training in Neurophysiology on top of the basic years of training for neurology.
Clinical neurophysiology is more of a research and/or a diagnostic field of medicine rather than a therapeutic one. This field relies on the concept that messages are transmitted from one neuron (nerve cell) to another via electrochemical impulses. By recording these electrical signals that pass between cells, neurophysiologists can identify abnormalities in the nervous system.
Some of the modalities that are used by neurophysiologists include the following:
- Electroencephalography - Electroencephalography (EEG) records the nerve impulses in the central nervous system. This is done by attaching electrode sensors to the scalp to detect the flow of electricity from once cell to another. EEG is commonly used if a patient is suspected to suffer seizures and other diseases of the central nervous system.
- Electromyography and nerve conduction test (EMG-NCV) - EMG-NCV studies are used primarily to detect the nerve impulses in the peripheral nervous system. It detects the conductivity or flow of electricity from one neuron to another and from one neuron to a muscle. This test is useful for the determination of conduction problems, peripheral nerve cell problems, and muscular problems.
- Polysomnography - Polysomnography or sleep study involves analyzing the brain patterns of individuals while they are sleeping. Disorders that can benefit from polysomnography include epilepsy, night terrors, sleep-walking and other sleep-related disorders.
- Evoked potentials - Evoked potentials involve testing and recording the responses of the brain and the peripheral nervous system to various sensorimotor stimuli like visual cues and sounds.