Neurology?! More like Neuro Don’t Bother!
BY: Dr. Prakrut Paidisetty, MBBS Intern at Dr. Ulhas Patil Medical College &Hospital
Neurology is one of those subjects that engages a young child’s mind to the world of medicine. As a child, the brain was one of the most common pictures I saw at hospitals and instantly associated it with medicine. Then as a medical student, I believed I would be the smartest person in the room because I would be able to decipher all the secrets of the mind! All these fantasies came crashing down when I first held that neuroanatomy textbook in my first year.
Fortunately came to my respite, the beautiful subject of physiology and that Oh so wonderful textbook called Guyton and Hall’s textbook of physiology. As a soon to be medical graduate and having some fresh memory, I would recommend that one should approach neurology through physiology first. Trust me, you will see a glimpse of all those fantasies about unlocking the mind in reality when you understand the physiology. In a broad sense, neurology is road map where data is being transferred from one place to another. Reading the physiology first, helps make sense of the map in the form of pathways. This in turn helps with the anatomy part of it because learning the pathways gives a spatial orientation to the system making the whole thing less cumbersome to memorize. Flowcharts are the best way to approach these pathways, and if you have an artistic flare drawing every structure will easily put you ahead of 90% of your class. Equipped with a basic understanding of both the Anatomy and Physiology, a final year medical student is now capable of understanding the common pathologies in neurology. There comes a time when the CNS pathways are fresh in your mind, and routinely thinking and recalling them when faced with daily situations will further ingrain in it in your mind. For example, if you smell some of your favorite food, quickly think about the smell pathway, its origin in the olfactory bulbs all the way to the three different locations in the cerebral cortex each having a different function emphasizing the evolution of our mind. So, now we have an extremely easy spaced repetition technique to keep the essential data fresh and on the tip of our tongues.
Understanding the practical aspects of neurology is essential for any medical student. I personally feel that repeatedly performing physical examination on patients and friends is the best way to hone your skills. Furthermore, once you are confident in your practical skills like eliciting reflexes, assessing visual acuity, assessing the GCS and others, teaching them to your friends and juniors will provide a huge boost to your confidence. It is always a good idea to be extremely surely about whatever you teach so as to not spread misinformation which will have adverse effects for the general public.
Now with deep theoretical knowledge and accurate clinical skills, learning neurology in medicine with its various diseases and management becomes a simpler and more fun process. Many students tend to neglect the CNS aspect of pharmacology due to its vast nature, but pharmacology is the backbone of medicine and the same goes for neurology as well. Pro tip: drugs affecting the CNS tend to have side effects of clinical importance and therefore, one should keep an eye out for the same.
Sometimes no matter how hard you try, some topics just go over your head, and that is extremely frustrating. However, with the rapid progress of med ed-tech, there are a plethora of resources and learning platforms like marrow, you-tube, sketchy, osmosis, etc. These have come to my aid during my dark times and learning from these will definitely be worth your time.
There you have it, a simplified and not too elaborate guide for beginner to unlock the secrets of the mind!
Neurology: Hindu Mission Hospital: Pathology Labs: Neurosurgeon: Neuroscience [Internet]. Hindu Mission Hospital. 2022 [cited 2023May8]. Available from: https://hindumissionhospital.in/neurology/
Dr. Prakrut Paidisetty, MBBS Intern at Dr. Ulhas Patil Medical College &Hospital