The Division of Pediatric Neurology is dedicated to treating children with neurological disorders – both developmental and acquired neurological diseases. Vanderbilt’s child neurologists are an integral part of both the Pediatric and Neurology departments. Faculty members are actively engaged in research and the application of new knowledge to children’s health issues. In fulfilling their obligation to children and families, the faculty also interacts with school systems and public health organizations.
Vanderbilt’s Pediatric neurologists and residents work in the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt – an 8-story, 616,785-square-foot hospital designed specifically for the needs of children. With all private rooms, family sleeping areas, multiple playrooms, food court, and various other child- and family-friendly elements, the hospital is built with the understanding that children are not small adults and require a different kind of care. To learn more about this hospital, visit www.vanderbiltchildrens.com.
Along with caring for the special needs of children, the Vanderbilt Pediatric Neurology faculty is actively seeking better ways to manage neurological disorders. The Division of Pediatric Neurology is dedicated to research in disorders of the brain, spinal cord, nerves, and muscles, as well as toward training the next generation of child neurologists.
All faculty members are jointly appointed in the Departments of Pediatrics and Neurology
Susan Beaird, D.N.P., C.P.N.P. joined the faculty in 2010, specializes in headaches.
W. Bryan Burnette, M.D., at Vanderbilt since 2007, specializes in neuromuscular disorders.
Robert Carson, M.D., Ph.D., who joined the faculty in 2011, specializes in epilepsy.
Kevin Ess, M.D., Ph.D., joined the faculty in 2006, and specializes in epilepsy and basic science research.
Cary Fu, M.D., joined the faculty in 2010, and specializes in epilepsy.
Kaitlin James, M.D., who joined the faculty in 2011, specializes in epilepsy.
Lori Jordan, M.D., Ph.D., joined the division as a stroke specialist in 2011.
Lauren King, MSN, CPNP joined the faculty in 2010, and specializes in headaches and epilepsy.
Eric Pina-Garza, M.D., who came to Vanderbilt in 1991 from the University of Texas, leads clinical trials in drug treatments for epilepsy and headaches, and has special expertise in ADHD.
Randy Williamson, M.D., joined the faculty in 2011, and specializes in pediatric critical care neurology and epilepsy.
Vanderbilt pediatric neurologists care for children with all neurological disorders. Consultation is commonly provided for children with migraine and other headache patterns, epilepsy, developmental disorders, cerebral palsy, movement disorders, and muscular dystrophies. The neurology group interacts with other pediatric specialists in the care of metabolic and degenerative disorders, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders, and disturbances of balance, gait, and coordination. The Pediatric Neurology Clinic is located on the 9th floor of the Monroe Carell, Jr. Vanderbilt Children's Hospital.
Parents often end up taking their children to several physicians, from eye specialists to allergy doctors, before finding effective headache treatment. Proper diagnosis is often delayed and children can be given unnecessary treatments. Migraine headaches are common in children, and the Monroe Carell, Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt is one of few places where children with recurring headaches can be diagnosed quickly and treated comprehensively. Other common headaches of childhood are caused by caffeine, over-use of common analgesics, stress, and increased pressure in the brain.
There is a large group of providers at the Monroe Carell, Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt who specialize in epilepsy. This includes the medical, dietary and surgical management of this disorder. Faculty are also actively involved in epilepsy related research at the basic, translational and clinical level.
Dr. Pina-Garza is currently leading an international pharmaceutical study on epilepsy. This study mainly involves drugs that are currently used in adults but not approved for use in children. The pediatric neurology clinic is the only regional facility that provides a complete spectrum of treatment options: drugs, vagal nerve stimulator, ketogenic diet, and surgery. For more information about epilepsy, visit the American Epilepsy Society's Web page at www.aesnet.org.
The neuromuscular clinic is sponsored by the Muscular Dystrophy Association and provides comprehensive care for children with muscular dystrophy, myasthenia gravis, peripheral neuropathies, and spinal muscular atrophies. Clinic staffing includes physician specialists, physical therapists, speech therapists, nutritionists, and equipment specialists.
As the only comprehensive child neurology clinical and research practice in the region, Vanderbilt medical students and residents have the opportunity to care for, and learn from, the full spectrum of disorders encountered in pediatric neurology. The Division is accredited to provide training that satisfies the requirements of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology for certification in Neurology with special competence in Child Neurology.