Rethinking Seizure Care Blog

Neurologist vs. Epileptologist – What Is the Difference?

Posted by RSC Diagnostics on Sep 25, 2015

Doctor in white lab coat shaking patients handThere is some confusion over the exact differences between neurologists and epileptologists, but when you look closer at them, the differences become quite apparent. Let’s look at what each of these doctors do to learn how they differ.

What Is a Neurologist?

A neurologist is a doctor that specializes in the study and the treatment of disorders associated with the nervous system. This includes both the:

  • Central nervous system - includes the brain and the spinal cord.
  • Peripheral nervous system - includes all other sensory receptors and neural elements in the body.

The neurologist is able to treat a number of diseases and disorders that affect these areas of the body.

For example, they may treat someone who suffers from some type of cerebrovascular disease, such as a stroke. They may also treat multiple sclerosis, brain infections, disorders associated with the spinal cord, and speech and language disorders. They will also treat neurodegenerative diseases, which include things such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Here is where a large part of the confusion comes into play. A neurologist is able to treat those who suffer from epilepsy. However, they do not specialize in this area. That is the main factor that separates the two.

What Is an Epileptologist?

All epileptologists are neurologists, but not all neurologists are epileptologists. The difference is that the epileptologist has gone through extra schooling and has specialized in the field of treating those who have epilepsy. In fact, this is the only type of patient whom he or she treats. In order to specialize in this area, the epileptologist needs at least two additional years of specialized training. This field started in 1904 thanks to Dr. William P. Spratling, who is credited as being the first epileptologist in the world.

There are actually only a small number of these specialists in the country when compared with neurologists. Some epileptologists will specialize even further and work only with pediatric patients. Many times, they will work in epilepsy treatment centers, which can offer patients a range of services and various types of treatments for epilepsy.

Which Is Right for You?

Naturally, if you suffer from epilepsy, the best choice is likely an epileptologist. They have the added training and experience that could benefit you. However, since there are not as many epileptologists as neurologists, this often means you will not have one of these specialists in your area. You may try to locate one in your area here. If you cannot travel to their location, you can choose a neurologist. Many neurologists are capable of providing high quality treatment for patients who have epilepsy. Your neurologist may actually consult with an epileptologist if unable to treat your epilepsy.

The only real difference between these two medical professionals is the specialization and the additional schooling. Yet, both can help patients who are suffering from epilepsy. When you are searching for treatment, talk with your doctor and inquire about the level of experience he or she has in treating your particular condition.


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Topics: Epilepsy Treatment, Neurology, Epilepsy Awareness & Advocacy

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