Demystifying PANS/PANDAS: A Functional Medicine Desktop Reference on Basal Ganglia Encephalitis
By Nancy O'Hara, MD
See the child’s behaviors in a whole new light.
Demystifying PANS/PANDAS is a unique and long overdue resource in the field of pediatric neurobehavioral health, providing a comprehensive overview of the “three-pronged approach” to assessment and care, conventional and naturopathic interventions, a trove of case studies from which to learn, and plenty of clinical pearls along the way.
Even more importantly, this book provides a roadmap for practitioners and families feeling confused and isolated by this condition, empowering them to make better decisions about their client’s or children’s health and sparking a greater conversation about this devastating illness.
Time and time again, I heard:
“I walked into the next exam room to greet a family I had known for years, an 11-year-old boy who was bright, funny, articulate, and confident, now huddled in the corner of the room, trying to resist rocking his neck in what seemed like a mini choreic movement. He and his parents looked terrified, and I was horrified. “What happened?” I asked. The parents said two days ago he had awoken like this and for the first time he had wet the bed and his covers were everywhere. I asked all the usual questions; Any signs of abuse, any antecedents of depression, any drugs or medications? All no’s and his exam, except for the movements and “the deer in the headlights look,” was normal. What was this? What didn’t I see? What could we do? As a practitioner for 25 years, I was stumped. Could this be that PANDAS thing about which I had vaguely heard? Where could I get answers?”
—Dr O’ Hara’s MD Mentee
“My daughter had recurrent sore throats as a young child, but nothing I ever felt was too concerning. After a significant strep infection in middle school, she was instantly a changed person. One day, she’s an honor student and star player on a club soccer team, and the next, she’s begging us to sleep in our bed, as she’s frightened to be alone at night. Her brain function deteriorated abruptly, and she mentally, socially, and physically regressed to her elementary school years.”
“After traveling home from vacation, my son contracted a virus. A few days later, his behavior became obsessive and aggressive, a far cry from the carefree and fun-loving boy I knew. He constantly needed to wash his hands and had a vocal tic that sounded like incessant clicking. It’s as if it happened overnight. It seemed like a bomb went off in his brain, not knowing what to do or who to turn to. I was scared.”
Does any of this sound familiar? As a practitioner or a parent, you are not alone.
About 1 in 200 children in the United States is affected by a condition resulting in inflammation in the brain, triggered by exposure to an infectious or metabolic agent.
Better known as PANS (Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome) or PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcus), these issues can be challenging diagnoses to receive, as some clinicians have never heard of it. Some do not believe it exists, and even more have received no training on how to manage it if they do encounter it in their practices. This is truly an abrupt onset, an autoimmune reaction triggered by an infectious or metabolic cause leading to Basal Ganglia Encephalitis! A mouthful, but a well-researched and devastating but treatable disorder.
There is hope! From a pediatrician with nearly thirty years of experience in neurobehavioral health and functional medicine comes a desktop reference on this controversial yet critical condition. Geared toward physicians and all practitioners but also helpful for families, Demystifying PANS/PANDAS is a comprehensive and concise dive into Basal Ganglia Encephalitis, walking the reader through the journey of its abrupt onset, diagnosis, and treatment with functional and allopathic medicine. Join Dr. Nancy O’Hara as she discusses how to work within the current medical framework to achieve a correct diagnosis, the fundamentals of foundational health families can work on at home and simple but effective ways to overcome pitfalls and roadblocks on the path to wellness.