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Recognition of acute illness in people with chronic neurological disability
  1. A M O Bakheit
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor A M O Bakheit
 Plymouth Primary Care NHS Trust, Stroke Unit, Mount Gould Hospital, Plymouth PL4 7QD, UK; magid.bakheit{at}


Coincidental acute illness is common in patients with chronic progressive or stable neurological disability. Although the presentation of acute illness in these patients is often similar to that in people without pre-existing disability, sometimes it may be atypical. In addition, an adequate medical history is often difficult to obtain in patients with advanced neurological disease, for example because of the presence of aphasia, severe dysarthria, or cognitive impairment. In these circumstances early and accurate diagnosis of acute medical and surgical emergencies requires both clinical acumen and a high index of suspicion. The aim of this article is to describe the main atypical manifestations of acute illness in patients with chronic disabling neurological disorders.

  • acute illness
  • atypical presentation
  • neurological disability

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  • Funding: none.

  • Conflicts of interest: none declared.

  • The author is professor of neurological rehabilitation at the Peninsula Medical School, Universities of Exeter and Plymouth, UK

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