When you become part of the Portsmouth Regional Hospital neurosciences family, we get to know you as a whole person—and we follow you for the rest of your life, answering your questions, offering you support and, of course, providing you with care that's tailored to your unique needs.

Customized & Comprehensive Neuro Care

We treat a broad spectrum of neurologic conditions, including brain tumors, migraine headaches, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, stroke and many other conditions related to the spine, ear, nose and throat (ENT) and sleep.

A degenerative disorder of the brain affecting millions of Americans, Alzheimer's disease damages and kills nerve cells over a period of time, affecting memory, reasoning ability and the capacity to perform everyday tasks. While a cure doesn't exist yet, early detection can make Alzheimer's a treatable and manageable condition.

Dementia is a broad term for a collection of cognitive problems. Leading causes of dementia include Alzheimer's, head injuries and stroke. Less-common contributors are oxygen deprivation and poisoning by heavy metals.

Accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer's and dementia is crucial, since some conditions may be treated and potentially reversed. With early diagnosis of Alzheimer's, medications and related care may improve daily functioning and quality of life while potentially slowing progression of the disease.

At Portsmouth Regional Hospital, we offer a range of diagnostic tests and treatment options for Alzheimer's and dementia, including brain imaging scans, psychiatric assessments and home safety consultations by our rehabilitation specialists and occupational therapists. Caregivers in the Seacoast Region can participate in a valuable monthly support group based in Portsmouth.

Uncontrolled growth of cells can create a mass known as a tumor. At Portsmouth Regional Hospital, we treat benign, malignant and metastatic brain tumors. Common symptoms include headaches, dizziness, seizures, weakness in the extremities or problems with cognitive and motors skills.

Detailed images from advanced diagnostic MRI or CT scans help our skilled neurosciences team detect and define the presence, location and boundaries of the tumor. The scans create a map of your brain that assists our experienced neurosurgeons during stereotactic image-guided cranial surgery and ensures precise and accurate procedures with excellent outcomes. Additional options to treat brain tumors at Portsmouth Regional Hospital include radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

Learn about our advanced treatment options for brain cancer. Find in-depth information about brain tumors at our online Health Library.

An uncommon structural disorder, Chiari malformation (CM) is usually caused by an abnormally small or deformed section of the skull that allows brain tissue to be displaced into the spinal canal. This blocks the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, creates pressure on the brain and leads to problems with cognitive and motor skills.

CM Type 1, also known as the adult form, develops as the skull and brain grow during childhood and adolescence. Symptoms may include headache, dizziness and balance problems, tingling or numbness in hands and feet, unsteady gait, eye movement problems, difficulty swallowing and speech problems.

At Portsmouth Regional Hospital, our neurologists or neurosurgeons use special head and spine MRI scans to detect and define the anatomical structures involved with CM Type 1. Detailed images from advanced MRI scans create a map of your brain to assist our experienced neurosurgeons during stereotactic image-guided cranial surgery, ensuring precise and accurate procedures with excellent outcomes.

Although cysts spherical, fluid-filled growths that can appear anywhere in the body are typically benign, cysts that form in the brain may create problems because they place pressure on tissues that control vital functions.

Colloid cysts, named for the thick, gelatinous substance they contain, may interfere with the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) through the four spaces in the brain called ventricles and the spinal column. Colloid cysts that develop along the upper side of the third ventricle, in the center of the brain, may block the flow of CSF and cause a fluid build-up called hydrocephalus or "water on the brain." As the fluid backs up, the ventricles enlarge and press against the brain, stretching nerve connections and causing problems that range from headache and nausea to mental impairment.

At Portsmouth Regional Hospital, our neurosciences team uses advanced brain imaging procedures such as ultrasound, MRI and CT scans to evaluate your condition. We're the only Seacoast hospital with Camino Laboratories' fiber-optic technology that monitors pressure inside the skull and brain to assist with accurate diagnosis. Our experienced neurosurgeons can relieve pressure on the brain by placing a shunt to divert excess fluid or removing the cyst with our precise and accurate, minimally invasive, stereotactic image-guided cranial surgery.

While almost everyone may have a headache from time to time, some people experience headaches as a painful, serious, chronic problem that recurs frequently and can be disabling. Of the more than 150 categories of headache, the best known are tension-type, cluster and migraine. Others include rebound and sinus. Headache triggers vary from bright lights, foods like aged cheese or red wine and sinus problems to perfumes, caffeine and caffeine withdrawal.

Tension-type headaches are the most common adult headache. Thought to be caused by tightened muscles in the back of the neck and scalp, the dull, aching and non-pulsating pain affects both sides of the head. Whether they occur randomly or during periods of stress, fatigue or anger (episodic) or daily or as a continuous problem (chronic), over-the-counter medications like aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen sodium can be effective. However, if you take any of these daily with little or no relief, consult a physician.

Rebound headaches occur from over-use of headache medications, either prescription or over-the-counter varieties. The rebound effect results from dependency on the drug. If you use medications containing caffeine and consume caffeinated beverages, risk of rebound headache increases.

Cluster headaches occur one to three times daily in waves that may last two weeks to three months. Affecting less than one percent of people but described as the most intensely painful of headaches, they typically start around or behind the eye, move to other parts of the head and often recur at the same time each day.

Migraine headaches, perhaps the most famous and complex type to treat, affect as many as 30 million Americans, mostly women. In a migraine, blood vessels constrict and dilate, releasing inflammatory substances that cause painful pulsations accompanied by sensitivity to light and sound. Pain intensity ranges from mild to severe, lasts from a few hours to as long as a week and typically recurs two to four times a month. In addition to pain, about a third of people with migraines report a preceding "aura," the perception of flashing lights, zigzag patterns, tunnel vision or blind spots. Symptoms may include any combination of the following:

  • Moderate to severe pain (pounding, throbbing) affecting the whole head or shifting from one side to the other
  • Sensitivity to light, noise, odors
  • Vision changes, including blurriness, bright flashing dots or lights, blind spots, wavy or jagged lines (aura)

Fortunately, many options exist for diagnosing, treating and managing debilitating headaches. Portsmouth's Migraine & Headache Clinic services can help you find lasting relief.

When to See a Physician for Your Headache
Headaches or unusual migraine symptoms may indicate the need for medical attention. Even if nothing turns out to be wrong, you're wise to seek help if you experience:

  • More than the occasional headache
  • Severe headaches or those that appear without warning
  • Headache with symptoms not previously discussed with your doctor, such as confusion, dizziness, fever, numbness, persistent vomiting, shortness of breath, slurred speech, stiff neck, unrelenting diarrhea, vision loss, weakness or unpredicted symptoms affecting ears, nose, throat or eyes
  • Persistent headache which gets worse or won't stop
  • Headache that interferes with your normal daily activities
  • Taking pain relievers more than two days a week
  • Recommended doses for over-the-counter medications are inadequate
  • Headache resulting from coughing, sneezing, bending over or sexual activity
  • Headache that continues or began after a head injury or other trauma
  • Unusual for you headache characteristics
  • Changed symptoms leading up to your migraine

Seek Immediate Help or Go to an Emergency Room
Your headache may signify more serious problems if you're having:

  • "The worst headache ever"
  • Your worst migraine ever
  • Headache with unresolved loss of vision, uncontrollable vomiting or loss of consciousness
  • Headache pain lasting long than 72 hours with less than a solid four-hour pain-free period while awake
  • Headache or migraine with symptoms unusual or frightening for you

The accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the brain commonly known as "water on the brain" causes swelling that stretches and distorts nerve connections and produces a variety of symptoms ranging from headache, nausea, lethargy and coordination and balance disturbances to mental impairment and memory loss.

At Portsmouth Regional Hospital, our neurosciences team uses advanced brain imaging procedures such as ultrasound, MRI and CT scans to evaluate your condition. We're the only Seacoast hospital with Camino Laboratories' fiber-optic technology that monitors pressure inside the skull and brain to assist with an accurate diagnosis of hydrocephalus. Our experienced neurosurgeons can relieve pressure on the brain by diverting fluid through placement of a shunt using our precise and accurate, minimally invasive, stereotactic image-guided cranial surgery.

A chronic disease of the central nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord, multiple sclerosis results when the body's immune system attacks the fatty substance (myelin) surrounding and protecting nerve fibers, which disrupts nerve impulses that control motor functions. Where the myelin sheath or underlying nerve fibers are damaged or destroyed, the altered impulses can lead to symptoms such as dizziness, balance and coordination problems, vertigo, numbness in arms and legs or other motor function difficulties.

Although causes are unclear and no cure currently exists for MS, Portsmouth Regional Hospital offers you access to our skilled and experienced neurosciences team, including neurologists, neurosurgeons and physiatrists, as well as our extensive rehabilitation services, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech-language therapy. We're here to help you treat flare-ups, manage symptoms, cope with the illness and live a fulfilling life.

A movement disorder caused by loss of certain nerve cells in the brain, Parkinson's disease decreases the brain chemical dopamine, which leads to difficulties in walking and speaking, stiffness in arms and legs, problems with balance and coordination and tremors in arms, hands, legs, face and jaw. Both genetic and environmental factors play a role in developing the disease.

While no cure currently exists for Parkinson's, many medical, surgical and therapeutic measures can be taken to manage symptoms and enhance your quality of life. Portsmouth Regional Hospital now offers patients with Parkinson’s disease a new surgical option, Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS). DBS is a treatment used to reduce tremor and block involuntary movements in patients with motion disorders. Small electric signals are delivered to render parts of the brain inactive without damaging or destroying healthy brain tissue. Portsmouth Regional Hospital is the only facility on the Seacoast, one of only two in New Hampshire, to offer deep brain stimulation for patients with tremor and motion disorders.

At Portsmouth Regional Hospital, our experienced neurosciences team and extensive rehabilitation services professionals collaborate to help you continually address your specific circumstances and maintain function at the highest possible level throughout the course of the illness. You benefit from regularly adjusted medications or potential neurosurgery procedures, as well as physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech-language therapy through our strong outpatient Neuro Day Rehabilitation Program.

Review information about various brain and nervous system conditions and stroke in our online Health Library. Explore your options for tests and imaging at Portsmouth Regional Hospital.

Rehabilitation & Recovery

Support for your recovery and return to function following brain, nervous system or spine-related injury, damage, tumor, surgery or stroke is all part of the extensive rehabilitation services available to you through Portsmouth Regional Hospital. Our Neuro Day Rehab program is specially designed for the needs of individuals dealing with stroke or neurologic conditions.