Published on May 05, 2014

Q&A: Neurological Conditions

with neurologist Salman Wali

Learn more about Mercy’s treatment of dementia, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis and sleep disorders

Salman WaliPerhaps you have chronic migraines. Or restless legs syndrome. These are just two of the many conditions that can be treated by the Mercy Neurology team at Mercy Philadelphia and Mercy Fitzgerald. Neurologist Salman Wali, MD, answers questions about the complex brain and nervous system.

Q: What neurological conditions can Mercy treat?

We can encompass all neurological problems, including stroke, epilepsy, headaches (including migraines), multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and sleep disorders, as well as dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.

Q: How do you treat these illnesses?

Treatments are customized based on the severity of the disease, patient’s symptoms, and tolerability of a particular medication. One particular condition may have different types of treatments available. For example, if someone has chronic headaches or migraines, we treat that with one or a combination of different medications, physical therapies, Botox and cognitive behavioral therapy. For Alzheimer’s, patients may be started on medications that aim to slow the progression of the disease. At times, we have Alzheimer’s patients work with our speech and occupational therapists for cognitive rehabilitation.

Q: How does Mercy work as a team?

It would depend on the symptoms. Some conditions may be managed by medications. However, the majority of neurological conditions require a multidisciplinary approach. A good example is a patient with multiple sclerosis: Physicians evaluate the patient and prescribe medication to reduce the attack rates of MS. Meanwhile, if the patient feels weak or dizzy, they work with our physical therapists and rehab specialists to see if they should be considered for acute in-patient or outpatient rehab. This is all part of the Mercy network: We can coordinate care. It’s a real team effort.

Q: Is it important to see a doctor for symptoms?

There is such a wide variety of neurological symptoms. Prompt identification and appropriate treatment of underlying disease can really improve a patient’s quality of life. For example, people with seizures and migraines tend to have attacks on an episodic basis. Frequent attacks can have an adverse effect on their quality of life. Prompt and appropriate treatment of their condition may reduce these attacks and improve the quality of their lives.

For chronic, progressive diseases, such as dementia or Parkinson’s, we can give medications that can slow the progression of the disease and improve symptoms. It is important to remember that some of these conditions may not have a cure -- but there are treatments to manage symptoms and keep people physically active so that they can still engage in various activities.

Q: Why did you choose to focus on neurology?

When I was a medical student, I found neurology intimidating. That drew me further into it. I found it more challenging. And I continue to find neurology so intriguing. There are so many things that we still don’t know about the brain and so much that we can learn. Every day is a challenge.