Senior Honors Theses

Publication Date

Spring 4-20-2015

School

School of Health Sciences

Major

Biology: Biomedical Sciences

Keywords

nodding syndrome, Africa, epilepsy, child development, childhood epilepsy, Uganda, Sudan, healthcare

Disciplines

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy | Community Health | Disorders of Environmental Origin | Nervous System Diseases | Neurosciences | Parasitic Diseases | Pathological Conditions, Signs and Symptoms | Physical Sciences and Mathematics | Psychological Phenomena and Processes | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Work

Abstract

Nodding syndrome (NS) is an emerging epidemic neurological disease that is shrouded in mystery. It is currently only found in the post-conflict regions of South Sudan, northern Uganda, and Tanzania. NS occurs in children from the ages of five to fifteen and is characterized by a loss of motor control in the neck muscles. Seizure episodes can range in intensity from atonic to tonic-clonic, and the onset of the first episode generally marks the beginning of a decline in the child’s physical and mental health. NS is a progressive disease that generally results in physical wasting, stunted growth, behavioral difficulties, and a decline in cognitive and motor skills. The underlying cause of the disease has yet to be soundly established, but several closely correlated factors have been discovered and effective treatment methods are currently being developed. Children with NS are also susceptible to detrimental social factors such as negative perception and stigmatization. Additionally, socioeconomic conditions greatly influence the ability of healthcare workers to identify and treat the disease.