When the Immune System Attacks the Brain

Immune system disorders arise when your body mistakenly views tissue in your own central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) as foreign and produces proteins called antibodies that attack the tissue. Examples include multiple sclerosis, neuromyelitis optica, and neurosarcoidosis.  If you have an immune system disorder affecting your nervous system, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital can provide you with expert diagnosis and comprehensive care that includes:

  • A Team of Specialists: Our neurologists, neuroradiologists, neuroimmunologists, and neuropsychologists collaborate to take care of you, working with providers from other specialties as needed to provide the best care.
  • An Accurate Diagnosis: We take an aggressive approach to find out what is causing your symptoms. Identifying the underlying problem early and correctly enables our healthcare team to manage it effectively and help you maintain your quality of life. We perform a complete neurological examination. Depending on your symptoms, you may also have blood tests, a spinal tap, MRI of the brain, "evoked potentials" (tests which assess brain signaling), and/or biopsy of affected nerve tissue.
  • A Personalized Treatment Plan: Our team assembles a plan of care to help manage your symptoms and prevent or reduce relapses.
  • Rehabilitation Services: Our rehabilitation medicine physicians, occupational and physical therapists, speech therapists, therapeutic recreation specialists, and rehabilitation nurses can help you learn to function effectively in your home despite your illness. They will evaluate and support your speech and swallowing, and teach you how to use assistive devices such as canes and wheelchairs.
  • Support for You and Your Family: We understand how an immune system disorder can affect your life and the lives of your family members. Our social workers, psychologists, and other members of your healthcare team communicate with you and your family to see how you’re doing and to provide the support you need.
  • Clinical Trial Opportunities: You may be able to participate in clinical trials assessing new therapies to limit disease progression and restore function. For example, current trials focus on the molecular basis and environmental causes of multiple sclerosis and new targets for treatment.