What is a neurologist?

A neurologist is a doctor who specialises in diagnosing and treating disorders of the brain, nerves, muscles and spinal cord. This can include diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
To gain their professional status, neurologists will undergo six years of specialist training, and most will also have a fellowship from the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. A neurologist may specialise in a particular area; for example, they may focus on treating children or a particular disease such as MS.

What does a neurologist do?

As we’ve seen, neurologists see patients with various conditions affecting the brain, nerves, muscles and spinal cord.

A patient may have symptoms like dizziness, memory loss or changes in body sensation such as tingling or numbness, which prompt their general practitioner to make a referral to a neurologist.

The kind of conditions neurologists diagnose and treat include:

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Spinal and brain injuries
  • Meningitis
  • Migraines and other headaches
  • Epilepsy
  • Strokes
  • Aneurysms

After making a diagnosis, a neurologist will then offer a treatment plan, which could range from offering medication for migraines to referring to a neurosurgeon who can carry out brain surgery to relieve epilepsy.

What does a neurologist do on your first visit?

On your first visit, your neurologist will talk to you about your medical history and your current symptoms and state of health.

They will examine you, focusing on how your brain and nerves are functioning, so you can expect things like your speech, vision, coordination and reflexes to be tested.

You may also have blood and urine tests, and imaging tests of your brain and spine to find out what’s going on. Once they have all the information they need, they should be able to offer you a diagnosis and treatment plan.

Do I need a referral to see a neurologist?

You need a referral from your general practitioner to see a neurologist in order to qualify for a Medicare rebate for initial and subsequent consultations, as well as any in-hospital treatment or surgery.

How much does it cost to see a neurologist in Australia?

The cost of seeing a neurologist will vary depending on the nature of the appointment and where you are seen (in a public or private facility). Generally, if you see a neurologist in a public health facility and use Medicare, you won’t incur any cost.

If you see a neurologist in their private practice, expect to pay around $300-$350 for the initial consultation, with a Medicare rebate of $114 for those eligible. You can check with the practice when you make your appointment. Subsequent visits are

If your neurologist believes that you will need surgery, they will likely refer you to a neurosurgeon. Only treatment rendered in-hospital is covered by private health insurance.

How do I find a neurologist?

If you are experiencing neurological symptoms, the first step will be to consult your GP. If they find signs of a neurological disorder after an initial examination, they will refer you to a neurologist, explaining the options available.

These include searching for a neurologist yourself. While this may sound daunting at first, there is help at hand.

Whitecoat helps you to make an informed decision about your healthcare, preparing you for the next step in your journey in a process that’s hassle-free from start to finish.

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