There were advances in the underpinnings of neurology with descriptions of neurologic diseases and neuropathology, defining the scope and basis of neurologic practice. We now we have a look at the highlights that would effectually sum up these advancements.
- Increasing our understanding of epilepsy and brain function, the pioneering work of Wilder Penfield, MD, FRCPC led to a functional map of the human cortex in living subjects.
- There was progress in the mid-20th century in controlling syphilis and other infectious diseases of the brain with the introduction of antibiotics and mass immunisation for polio.
- The development of more effective drugs for the control of epilepsy started with the introduction of phenytoin.
- Imaging of the nervous system began with conventional radiology and angiography earlier in the century. Ever since it has taken a great leap forward with the introduction of computing tomographic scanning and magnetic resonance imaging in the 1970s
- Progress in neurological surgery using the microscope, computerised techniques, functional procedures and endoscopy was matched by the introduction by neurologists of high-tech treatments for neuromuscular diseases, cancer, stroke, besides immune-mediated diseases of the nervous system
By century’s end, there were advances in understanding the pathogenesis of the notorious ‘big five’ neurological diseases: multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and muscular dystrophy. However, only for the last disease was the molecular pathogenesis well understood. During the decade of the brain (1991–2000), there were great advances in molecular genetics and understanding the pathogenesis of neurologic diseases, preparing the way for novel treatments, including gene therapy, in the new millennium.