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Northland DHB Neurology

Public Service, Neurology


What is Neurology?
Neurology is the study of the Nervous System (brain, spinal cord and nerves), how it controls various parts of the body and the diseases and disorders that may affect it.
The brain coordinates how we think and what we do physically as well as controlling how the body manages itself.  It sends messages to, and receives information from, the rest of the body via a complex system of nerves which use chemicals and electricity to send information.
The Nervous System can be divided into the
  • voluntary nervous system which controls what we choose to do and the
  • involuntary or autonomic nervous system that controls automatic functions that we don’t have to think about.

 A medical specialist in this field is a Neurologist.  A Neurosurgeon is a surgeon who operates on parts of the nervous system.  The two specialists often work together, depending on the problem.

Northland DHB does not employ a neurologist. Services are provided by the general physicians in conjunction with a visiting neurologist from Auckland 3 times a month. 


Referral Expectations

Your GP will refer you to the General Medical Clinic if they think you have a problem that involves the nervous system. These referrals are reviewed by the general physicians and, depending on the type of problem being referred, you will either be booked in to see a general physician, medical registrar or to see the visiting neurologist. Who you see is determined by the type of problem you are referred for.

Waiting times for clinics range from 1 day - 6 months, depending on the urgency of your condition. This is assessed from the letter or phone call we receive from your GP.

Before coming to our clinic you may be asked to undergo some tests or these tests will be arranged after your appointment. These are listed below in detail. 
Clinic appointments last 30-60 minutes.
A history of your symptoms will be taken as well as a review of any medications you are on (so please bring these with you).  The doctor may also review any old notes and previous problems you have had. 
You will then be examined which may include a general examination as well as an examination of the nervous system.  An examination of the brain and nerves may include testing your memory and concentration as well as other aspects of thinking processes.  It also involves examining how well the nerves to your head and body are working.   You may have further testing to establish the diagnosis.
The possible diagnosis will be discussed with you and what further tests or treatments are recommended.  We will correspond with your GP about your diagnosis, results of tests and a treatment plan.  You may have ongoing follow-up in our clinic or be discharged back to the care of your GP. 
As part of the neurology team we have a neuropsychologist who is an expert in assessing the thinking function of the brain.  Their assessment may be requested to help the neurologist make a diagnosis or to help plan treatment.
You may also be referred to a physiotherapist, or occupational therapist.  A physiotherapist provides physical therapy to assist with any disability you have.  An occupational therapist reviews what equipment/advice will assist in activities of daily living if you have a disability. 
In some cases you may require admission to hospital for treatment or testing. 

Common Conditions / Procedures / Treatments

  • Electroencephalogram (EEG)

    An EEG is a test to detect abnormalities in the electrical activity of the brain.… More

  • Nerve Conduction Studies (NCS)

    NCS are tests of the speed of conduction of impulses through a nerve.… More

  • Electromyography (EMG)

    EMG is a test that assesses disorders of muscles and the nerves controlling them.… More

  • Lumbar Puncture (LP)

    Cerebral Spinal Fluid (CSF) is the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.  It is often helpful when diagnosing certain conditions to examine this fluid for cells and chemicals/proteins.  A lumbar puncture allows the doctor to examine the content and pressure of this fluid.… More

  • Radiology

    Computer Tomography (CT)
    A CT image is created by using an X-ray beam, which is sent through the body from different angles giving cross-sectional images of the body.… More

  • Epilepsy

    Epilepsy is a condition where people have seizures or ‘fits’.  Seizures may present in many forms but are due to bursts of electrical activity within the brain.   The problem can be with the electricity of the brain on its own or due to some underlying structural lesion of the brain.… More

  • Parkinson's Disease

    Parkinson's disease is a disorder of the brain characterised by shaking (tremor), slowing of movement and difficulty with walking and coordination.… More

  • Headaches/Migraines

    Most headaches are not due to significant underlying problems but you may be referred if your GP is worried about the nature of your headaches or you are having difficulty controlling them with standard treatment.… More

  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

    Multiple sclerosis is a progressive disease involving the brain and spinal cord.  It occurs over time in multiple sites in these two areas of the nervous system.… More

  • Motor Neurone Disease (MND)

    This refers to a group of progressive disorders where there is destruction of motor neurones (the nerves that control voluntary muscle activity such as speaking, walking, breathing, and swallowing.)  Symptoms include: gradual weakening, shrinking of muscles and uncontrollable twitching of the muscles.  Sensation, memory and personality are not affected.… More

  • Head injury

    Head injury is also known as traumatic brain injury. This is when the brain tissue has been damaged due to trauma.… More

  • Headache Treatment Guidelines

    1. Acute treatment
    The patient will need to determine which acute treatment, either single drug or combination of medication, is most effective.… More

Contact Details

This page was last updated at 9:06AM on December 17, 2021. This information is reviewed and edited by Northland DHB Neurology.