To remain patient-centered and focused on promoting those aspects of the art and science of medicine which are timeless and will remain forever relevant regardless of whatever technologies come along. To foster an understanding of neurologic disorders and promote education and legislative programs which advance a commitment to research, and access to healthcare. To engage with our community, locally and globally.
The practice of medicine is often described as an Art and a Science. Never more true than in the practice of Neurology, medicine’s “final frontier.” The science still mostly eludes us: For if the brain was easily knowable, we would be forever too simple to grasp any understanding of its functions.
With the science still incomplete, the art–the interaction between physician and patient–takes on even greater importance.
Let’s start with a handshake.
I learned much from professors, mentors and colleagues. But I had never learned more than from the patients and their families I have been privileged to meet. One such patient was an adolescent young lady brought to the office by her mother who described their harrowing journey to uncover the what and why her daughter had the delays in cognitive and motor development they had seen over her fifteen years. They had traveled far and wide and had every study available without any answers. They had been to major university centers, and had seen scholars in the field of neurology, without any insights. Finally they were told to see a mental health specialist because it was “in her head.”
I listened. The whole while my new patient kept her head down and never said a word. I approached her and took her hand in mine. We shook hands. When she released my hand I turned to the patient’s mother and asked: “Had anyone commented on her handshake?”
“No one ever shook her hand before.”
How could this be? After so many MRIs, lab work, whatever other studies and doctor visits over several years without an answer. Yet no one had taken the time to shake her hand. And that’s the one place where one was to find the diagnosis and the answers the patient and her family deserved!
And it was an answer with ramifications that would reverberate over generations within the patient’s family.
So let’s start with a handshake.