Headaches, Mood Swings, and Dropping Things
Differential Diagnosis of a Nervous System Disorder
Department of Biological Sciences
Department of Biology
Department of Biology
This interrupted case study walks students through the stages of determining a diagnosis for a neural condition/disease in a 62-year-old female. The case includes the medical history, presenting signs and symptoms, pre-diagnoses, evaluation/observations, testing, analysis of the results from testing, narrowing the differential diagnosis, and the final diagnosis. In order to successfully complete the case, students will need to learn about the epidemiology, signs and symptoms, pathophysiology, diagnostic testing, and results of testing of several neural conditions/diseases including Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Guillian-Barre syndrome, Huntington’s disease, hydrocephalus, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, primary amebic meningoencephalitis, and subacute sclerosing panencephalitis. Students will create a table encompassing the characteristics of these diseases, completing it with the information provided in each stage to narrow down the diagnostic possibilities until the final diagnosis. By the end of the activity, students will understand that overlapping characteristics among these neural conditions/diseases increases the difficulty of reaching a final diagnosis. This case should be beneficial for upper-level undergraduate and graduate students pursuing a future career in the allied health professions.
- Discuss a variety of neural diseases and neural conditions that affect the brain that are caused by genetic, autoimmune, infectious and environmental factors.
- Apply the steps of the typical diagnostic procedure: the medical history, signs/symptoms, evaluation/observations, testing, analyses of the results from tests and the final diagnosis.
- Analyze and differentiate the epidemiology, signs and symptoms, pathophysiology, diagnostic procedures and treatment methods of neurological disorders when narrowing down the differential diagnosis to final diagnosis.
KeywordsDifferential diagnosis; neural disease; neural condition; Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease; Guillian-Barre syndrome; Huntington's disease; hydrocephalus; multiple sclerosis; Parkinson's disease; meningoencephalitis; panencephalitis
Educational LevelUndergraduate upper division, Graduate, Clinical education
Type / MethodsDiscussion, Interrupted
Subject HeadingsEpidemiology | Medicine (General) | Neuroscience |
Case teaching notes are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering.
Teaching notes are intended to help teachers select and adopt a case. They typically include a summary of the case, teaching objectives, information about the intended audience, details about how the case may be taught, and a list of references and resources.