Pediatric Neurology

Choose Essentia Health for high-quality neurology care for your child in Northeastern and Central Minnesota. You can depend on our pediatric neurologist to diagnose and treat brain, spinal cord, nerve, and muscle conditions while providing support and guidance to your family.

What's a Pediatric Neurologist?

A pediatric neurologist is a pediatrician with specialized training in the diagnosis and management of conditions that affect the nervous system in newborns, children and adolescents.

Conditions Treated

See the full list of conditions we treat, and select a condition to find providers and locations near you.

Conditions

Team-Based Care

Count on a team of professionals with decades of experience to work together and deliver the best possible care, including medication management. Depending on your child’s condition, their health care team may include:

Your child’s condition can impact their behavior and ability to learn. Rely on Essentia’s team of specialists to answer your questions and provide guidance. Your child’s neurologist will work with other pediatric specialists—such as mental health and developmental experts—to provide specialized care for conditions like autism, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and spina bifida.

Concussion Care

A concussion is a brain injury. Symptoms can happen up to 72 hours after the injury and may include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Headache
  • Not being able to wake up
  • Slurred words
  • Trouble walking

If your child has signs of a concussion, go to the emergency room right away. 

Sports Concussions

If your child has a head injury while playing or practicing a sport, they should stop playing immediately. Like with other concussions, you should go to the emergency room as soon as possible. Learn about how student athletes can prevent sports injuries.

Head Injury Testing

Trust the specialists at Essentia to accurately assess your child for signs of traumatic brain injury. Your child’s evaluation may include:

  • Physical exam to test coordination, balance, reflexes, and nerve function
  • Imaging tests, such as a computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
  • ImPACT® (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing), which uses a computer program to check your child’s response time and memory skills

Epilepsy Specialists

Our care team can help your child manage symptoms of epilepsy and seizure disorders. Your child’s personalized care plan may include medications, procedures, and advanced treatments, such as vagal nerve stimulation (VNS).

Vagal Nerve Stimulation

VNS prevents seizures by sending a mild electrical pulse to the brain from a small device called a generator. A surgeon will place the device in your child’s chest and the generator can last for up to 15 years.

Epilepsy Resources

Your child’s health care team may recommend services that can support your family. For more information about pediatric epilepsy care, contact the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota or call 800-779-0777.

Muscular Dystrophy Clinic

If your child lives with muscular dystrophy, you can access multiple members of their care team in a single location when you choose our Pediatric Muscular Dystrophy Clinic in Duluth, Minnesota. During your appointment, you and your child might see a:

  • Dietitian
  • Pediatric neurologist
  • Rehabilitation therapist
  • Physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor

Benefit from our partnership with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Four times a year, pediatric pulmonologists and cardiologists who specialize in muscular dystrophy join Essentia’s clinic through telehealth technology.

Pediatric Migraines

Medical Insight: Pediatric Migraines – Essentia Health Video Transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

(DESCRIPTION)
The Essentia Health logo appears, consisting of three leaves in a circle. Text, Essentia Health Medical Insight

(SPEECH)
TRACY BRIGGS: For children who suffer migraine headaches, the pain is very real and very intense.

(DESCRIPTION)
Graphic of a translucent child with hand to forehead, brain pulses with bright light

(SPEECH)
But according to Essentia Health Pediatric Neurologist, Dr. Chris DeCock, there is good news for the majority of kids, because the power to conquer frequent headaches is in their own hands.

(DESCRIPTION)
Dr. Chris Decock -- Essentia Health Pediatric Neurologist

(SPEECH)
DR. CHRIS DECOCK: In our adolescent population, there are just some bad choices they make. TRACY BRIGGS: Bad choices that Dr. DeCock admits he and a lot of adults make too. Including not drinking enough water, eating poorly, too much screen time, and not enough sleep.

(DESCRIPTION)
A woman sits up in bed, a man asleep next to her.

(SPEECH)
On top of that, Dr. DeCock says, children and teens are under more pressure than ever these days.

(DESCRIPTION)
A boy stands at a chalkboard with complicated formulas and circles a section of numbers. Another stares at papers on a desk with arms folded.

(SPEECH)
DR. CHRIS DECOCK: The stakes are much higher for some reason. There's a lot more pressure on people. They're staying up later. They're working harder. There's more stressors, more anxiety. Anytime you have stress, anxiety, depression, all of that's going to make things worse.

(SPEECH)
TRACY BRIGGS: All of these things can trigger the intense, throbbing pain associated with migraines. But Dr. DeCock says there is hope. First, see your doctor to assess what's going on with your child. They may suggest small dietary changes that can help, or medication like ibuprofen or Benadryl. But Dr. DeCock says medicine alone can't solve this.

(SPEECH)
DR. CHRIS DECOCK: Here's all these choices we make, or situations we find ourselves in, right? Dehydration, anxiety, depression, what we're eating, that sort of stuff. And then here's medicine trying to work. The problem is, if we don't get rid of this, your medicines aren't going to be that effective anyway. And so lifestyle modification really should be the first line for headache treatment.

(SPEECH)
TRACY BRIGGS: Dr. DeCock says some headache sufferers can do everything right and still have migraines. But he says for most of us, including children, taking a close look at our everyday choices could provide some solutions and much needed relief. With this Essentia Health Medical Insight, I'm Tracy Briggs.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

(DESCRIPTION)
Text, Essentia Health Medical Insight

Patient Story

Autumn Paulus shares how her care team at Essentia Health adapted their treatment to get her back to ice skating after suffering a concussion.

Like Nowhere Else: Autumn's Story Video Transcript

(DESCRIPTION)
A teenage girl with dark hair and glasses laces up a pair of white ice skates in an indoor ice rink. She wears a black high collared jacket, black pants, and mismatched gloves.

(SPEECH)
AUTUMN: My name is Autumn Paulus, and I'm 13 years old, and I'm a figure skater.

(DESCRIPTION)
The girl spins several times on the ice, first with her right leg out in front, then twisted over her left ankle. , then skates backwards, her right arm outstretched in front of her.

(SPEECH)
Whenever I'm on the ice, I feel like it's my one place I can go, and I can escape from everything else and just be me and the ice. On June 10, I was in a class for figure skating, and then I ended up tripping.

(DESCRIPTION)
She stumbles and falls coming out of a jump

(SPEECH)
SPEAKER: It didn't look that spectacular. She just tripped. But she hit her head on the ice.

(DESCRIPTION)
Photo of a short cut over Autumn's left eyebrow, thin line of blood trailing down the side of her face.

(SPEECH)
We honestly thought it was just going to be some stitches. And we brought her in. She had her stitches, and ended up having memory loss, and slowly her balance started going.

(DESCRIPTION)
Photos of Autumn's head wounds. Sign, Essentia Health Duluth Clinic, 3rd Street Building

(SPEECH)
For her care at Essentia, she started out with Dr. Canoff and pediatric neurology. They were absolutely stellar. They were the ones that actually coordinated a whole community of care for her.

(DESCRIPTION)
Autumn stands on a round platform atop half a round ball. A man holds her hand as she wobbles, trying to gain her balance.

(SPEECH)
The balance clinic is very specialized. It was certainly amazing to have that opportunity to have her in it, especially as a figure skater.

(DESCRIPTION)
Autumn buckles a harness that is strapped over her shoulders and waist.

(SPEECH)
MIKE: My name's Mike Ryder. I was Autumn's physical therapist. Working with Autumn was certainly a fun challenge. The early on treatment was more about developing some basic balance skills.

(DESCRIPTION)
The man twirls in front of Autumn

(SPEECH)
Learning from Autumn about what she needed to do as a figure skater and the types of things she did as a figure skater, we were able to work together to come up with a plan and a progression to help her regain those abilities. SPEAKER: I think what surprised me with her care at Essentia was the level of commitment that the care team had for her and for her goal and the extra steps that were taken.

(DESCRIPTION)
Autumn's feet on a moving platform

(SPEECH)
AUTUMN: When I first stepped on the ice, I got this feeling that I could never forget. It

(DESCRIPTION)
Autumn spins on ice.

(SPEECH)
was like me making peace with the ice again. I almost broke down into tears because I was so happy to get back on the ice. For me to fully heal, I need to get back to skating. Because that's one way I can only heal. Because the ice didn't break me. I'm too strong enough for it to break me.

(DESCRIPTION)
With one knee bent and the other behind her, Autumn glides across the ice in a red flowing skating dress with gold accents, her hair swept high atop her head.

(SPEECH)
My dreams are worth fighting for, because some dreams are bigger than an injury. And Essentia Health helps get you back on that path to that dream, like nowhere else.

(DESCRIPTION)
She spins, arms above her head. Across the rink, Autumn skates backward. A white Essentia Health logo appears, consisting of three leaves in a circle. Autumn speeds by.

Ask for a Referral

You’ll need a referral from your child's primary care provider for this service.

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