Putting It Together: Neurocognitive Disorders

Considering all that you have learned during this module, you now are more aware of the different, neurological, neurocognitive, and medication-induced movement disorders. For a quick wrap-up, the main differences between the three are these:

A person in a wheelchair being assisted and pushed by another person on a sidewalk.

Figure 1. Paralysis as a result of a neurological disorder can make everyday tasks difficult.

A neurological disorder is any disorder of the nervous system. Structural, biochemical, or electrical abnormalities in the brain, spinal cord, or other nerves can result in a range of symptoms. They may be caused by damage to the brain. Examples of symptoms include paralysis, muscle weakness, poor coordination, loss of sensation, seizures, confusion, pain, and altered levels of consciousness.

Neurocognitive disorders (NCDs) are a category of mental health disorders that primarily affect cognitive abilities including learning, memory, perception, and problem-solving. Neurocognitive disorders include delirium and mild and major neurocognitive disorder (previously known as dementia). They are defined by deficits in cognitive ability that are acquired (as opposed to developmental), typically represent decline, and may have an underlying brain pathology. These are the main types of disorders we discussed in this module, although the neuro part of the definition correctly implies that there is a neurological cause for the disorder, so the terms have some overlapping.

Movement disorders are clinical syndromes with either an excess of movement or a paucity of voluntary and involuntary movements, unrelated to weakness or spasticity. They can be caused by medications used to treat mental disorders. Movement disorders are synonymous with basal ganglia or extrapyramidal diseases. Movement disorders are conventionally divided into two major categories: hyperkinetic and hypokinetic.