Pediatric Neurological Disorders

Neurological disorders can seriously affect a child's health, success in school, self-esteem and happiness. But with proper diagnosis and treatment most neurological disorders become manageable, improving a child's self-image and social life.

The Pediatric Sleep Institute, a department of Texas Health Center for Diagnostics & Surgery, provides the necessary information for your physician to accurately detect and diagnose your child's neurological disorder.

Common Childhood Neurological Disorders


A nervous system disorder that causes recurring seizures. These seizures may or may not be associated with loss of consciousness. Epileptic seizures may include involuntary muscle spasms. These seizures are produced by an abnormal electrical discharge in the brain sometimes caused by high fever (Febrile seizures), genetic diseases, head injuries or infections.

Generalized Seizures (involving both sides of the brain)

Generalized tonic-clonic seizures: A dramatic seizure in which the body may undergo rhythmic jerking and muscle stiffening. This kind of seizure may be accompanied by difficulty in breathing, foaming of the mouth and drooling. During these seizures eyes may roll back (Febrile seizures).

Absence seizures (petit map)

These seizures are characterized by a loss of awareness, staring and blinking.

Myoclonic seizures

These seizures are characterized by sporadic muscle jerks that may be associated with loss of balance and head droops.

Partial Seizures (produced by small areas of the brain)

Simple partial seizures: These seizures can take many forms, depending on the part of the brain that is affected. The affected child may be aware that a seizure is occurring. These seizures may begin with an "aura" or a warning sign that the seizure is beginning. This may be followed by uncontrolled movements, sudden emotions, memory distortions, nausea and sweating. The child may become pale or experience unusual sensations: strange tastes or smells, odd sounds or voices and distortions in the way things look.

Complex partial seizures: These seizures may also be preceded by an "aura" although the child may be unaware of what is going on around them or what they are doing. During complex partial seizures a child may make repetitive motions such as smacking the lips, picking at their clothing and/or babbling. The child may appear to be in a dream-like or trance state which lasts from 30 seconds to three minutes.


The patient perceives every visible object to be spinning or moving. The patient may also experience dizziness, loss of balance and nausea.


An attack resulting in a temporary loss of consciousness that is caused by a brief loss of blood supply to the brain.


Headaches are not a neurological disorder, but they can accompany some neurological disorders. They can be caused by factors such as vascular (migraine) headaches or muscular tension headaches resulting from excessive, continuous muscular contractions in the head and neck. 

When to Consider a Neurological Evaluation

Neurological disorders can manifest in many ways. You should consult with your physician if your child experiences:

  • Fainting or dizzy spells
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Blank staring
  • Frequent or severe headaches
  • Unexplained muscle spasms or jerks

A child suffering from a neurological disorder may exhibit one or more of these symptoms. You should seek the advice of a trusted physician.

What is a Pediatric Neurological Evaluation?

Electroencephalogram, more commonly known as EEG, is a painless neurological test that measures the electrical signals from the outer layer of the brain. Data from the test is then recorded on a computer. An EEG is used to evaluate seizure and sleep disorders.

What happens during an EEG?

Prior to the procedure the patient's scalp is measured and marked in order to localize placement of electrodes. The scalp area is cleaned with a special exfoliate cream. A technician will fill the cup electrodes with a special conductive paste that helps pick up electrical signals. The cup electrodes are then attached to the scalp and held in place with tape. This procedure takes between 1-2 hours and is painless.

During the test the patient lies down. They will be encouraged to hold still as long as possible. A strobe light, or frequent flashes of light, will be used to stimulate brain wave function to facilitate the exchange of electronic data between the electrodes and the recording system. The patient will then be asked to breathe deeply and rapidly. These stimulation techniques may induce certain types of seizure disorders.

Has your child been prescribed a neurological evaluation? Get preparation instructions. 

How to Prepare for a Neurological Evaluation

Before the Neurological Evaluation

Patient should arrive bathed, with clean hair. Hair gels, sprays and other oily substances should not be used.

If your child is currently being treated for ADHD or any other medical conditions, please inform our scheduler so that we can better prepare for your child’s study.

What to Bring

  • Parent or guardian, if patient is less than 18 years of age.
  • Insurance card, social security number, name and date of birth of insured
  • Patients are invited to bring a favorite DVD, stuffed animal or toy, blanket, a light snack and a water/juice bottle or baby bottle for infants.

During the Neurological Evaluation

Your child’s neurological technician will confirm your medical history and question you and your child about neurological symptoms and behaviors, activities and answer your questions about the electroencephalogram (EEG). You and your child will then be taken to a comfortable suite where the electroencephalogram (EEG) will be performed.

Your technician will attach small lead wires on your child’s head with glue. You may be asked help hold your child or distract him or her while the leads are put into place. Our technicians are experienced in placing these monitors on children of all ages and developmental backgrounds. The leads are small and painless and should be easily removed after the study is complete.

Additional Instructions for Other Types of Neurological Evaluations

Sleep Deprived Electroencephalogram (EEG)

A sleep deprived EEG is a neurological test of the brain and brain waves. Patients who come to their EEG with a “sleepy brain” will yield better test results. The test takes approximately 1 to 2 hours to complete – all EEG’s are customized for your child, so times may vary. The patient’s brain waves are monitored by an experienced pediatric neuro technician. During the test strobe lights may be used or the patient may be asked to blow on a pinwheel to induce hyperventilation.

Additional Preparation Instructions for a Sleep Deprived EEG:

  • No more than 4-5 hours of sleep prior to the patient’s scheduled appointment.
  • Please! No caffeine the night prior or day of the study.
  • Patient may have a light breakfast.
  • Patient should continue to take regular medications unless the patient’s doctor states otherwise.

Long Term Monitoring (LTM)

A prolonged EEG test that allows the doctor to review video and audio in a controlled environment for a longer period of time. Study results allow the doctor to monitor your child during daytime and nighttime hours. Tests can last 12, 24, 48, or 72 hours.

Additional Preparation Instructions for an LTM:

  • Same as sleep study — please see sleep study instructions.

Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT)

This test usually follows a sleep study and consists of a "series of naps" the morning after a polysomnogram (PSG).

After the Neurological Evaluation

Your study will be reviewed and interpreted by a pediatric neurologist. The results will be sent to your referring physician within five to ten business days after completion of the study. Evaluation time may vary depending on the depth of the study requested by your physician, but results are generally available within this time period.

To receive results, you should contact your child’s physician. If you have further questions regarding the study and its results, appointments are available with our board certified physician. Our technicians are not authorized to discuss their observations regarding your child’s symptoms. This information must come from your referring physician.

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If you have additional questions about pediatric neurological disorders and treatment options, please contact our Patient Navigator at 972-543-1250 or

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