More Americans are living longer and surviving chronic conditions like heart disease and cancer. Ironically, this triumph is also leading to a drastic rise in neurological disorders, which disproportionately attack the elderly.
Dr. Clifton Gooch, professor and chair of the department of neurology at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine in Tampa, is the lead author of study that details the enormous cost of neurological diseases to the nation. The study is reported in the Annals of Neurology, the official journal of the American Neurological Association and the Child Neurology Society.
Working with USF College of Public Health colleagues Dr. Etienne Pracht, and Dr. Amy Borenstein, Dr. Gooch looked at the nine most prevalent and costly diagnosed neurological disorders and found the annual cost is staggering, totaling nearly $800 billion. By 2030, $600 billion will be spent treating stroke and dementia alone. In addition, low back pain, traumatic brain injury, migraine headache, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury and Parkinson’s disease emerged as the most common disorders posing a serious financial burden.
“Our paper shows the enormous burden that neurological diseases have on the U.S. population, and the importance of funding research for these diseases to a level that reflects their impact on our society,” said Dr. Amy R. Borenstein, professor emeritus, department of epidemiology and biostatistics.
“Given these extraordinary and rapidly growing costs, a concrete strategy is urgently needed to reduce the burden of neurological disease,” Dr. Gooch said.
In the paper, Dr. Gooch calls on the federal government to provide more NIH funding to speed the development of treatments and cures for diseases such as dementia and stroke, including therapies to delay, minimize and prevent them. He also proposes the creation of a more effective national database to track treatment successes and failures.
“Neurological disorders are usually not thought of when people think of the big killer and disabling diseases, partially because neurological disorders affect the brain by many different pathways. For example, with cancer a similar pathway is affecting many different organs,” Dr. Borenstein said.
“The very future of the neurological sciences and the patients we serve is now at stake, and the welfare of generations yet to come hangs upon the success of our efforts,” Dr. Gooch said.
Dr. Gooch writes that the years of productivity lost in the 100 million Americans living with neurological and musculoskeletal disorders is more than any other category of disease.