Neurophysiologists are doctors who use tests to evaluate the function of the nervous system. They are able to record the electrical transmissions of the brain, spinal cord, muscles and nerves in order to diagnose neurological diseases. A neurophysiologist may test for nerve and muscle conditions such as myasthenia gravis, demyelinating polyneuropathy, or ALS.
There are a number of tests that a neurophysiologist might use, depending on the part of the nervous system that is affected. Some of these include:
Nerve conduction studies, to show how well nerves are working
Electromyography, to show how well the muscles respond to signals from nerves
Electroencephalography (EEG), a test to measure brain activity (most often used to diagnose epilepsy)
Evoked potential studies, which measure electrical activity in the brain in response to a stimulus
Polysomnography, or a sleep study, which records brain activity and body functions during sleep
In addition, neurophysiologists are often called on to assist during brain or spinal cord surgery to monitor the health and function of the nervous system during the procedure.
After performing tests on the nervous system, neurophysiologists will offer their interpretation and opinion of the results to help make a diagnosis. They provide critical information to patients with serious neurological diseases.