Neurological Disorders and Related Problems in the Elderly

  • Nages Nagaratnam
  • Kujan Nagaratnam
  • Gary Cheuk


Normal ageing is associated with both structural and functional changes in the brain and spinal cord. The changes in the brain include cerebral atrophy, neuronal loss, decrease in neurotransmitters and cerebral blood flow. As age advances, there is increasing diminution in the number of motor neurons in the spinal cord. The functional and morphological changes of the peripheral nervous system are deeply affected by ageing. The structural changes in the brain and spinal cord have functional implications. Ageing influences cognition, sensory and affective processes and memory. Parkinson’s disease is caused by degeneration of the dopaminergic neurons of the substantia nigra with accumulation of alpha-synuclein in the neuronal perikarya and neuronal processes. In multisystem atrophy, the hallmark is the formation of glial cytoplasmic inclusions in the oligodendroglia and staining positive for alpha-synuclein. In amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, there is progressive degeneration and death of anterior horn cells, corticospinal tract and/or bulbar nuclei. Neuropathy is pathologically classified on the specific cell type, namely, neurons (the neuronopathies), axon (axonopathies) and demyelinating neuropathies. In myasthenia gravis, there is blockade of the binding site for acetylcholine. Included in the chapter are related disorders such as sleep disorders, headache, memory loss, chronic pain and gait disorders in the elderly.


Age-related changes Parkinson’s disease Multisystem atrophy Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis Peripheral neuropathy Neuromuscular transmission Gait disorders 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nages Nagaratnam
    • 1
  • Kujan Nagaratnam
    • 2
  • Gary Cheuk
    • 3
  1. 1.Sydney Medical School (Westmead)The University of SydneyNorth RocksAustralia
  2. 2.Norwest Specialist Medical GroupBella VistaAustralia
  3. 3.Blacktown-Mt Druitt HospitalBlacktownAustralia

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