Dr. Joel Gutierrez is an expert in neurophysiology and dedicated his career to understanding problems in nerve conduction. By measuring electrical changes, he is able to map nerve connections in the body and tell exact why the nerves are malfunctioning. Being able to do this requires a painstaking knowledge of human anatomy, electrophysiology, and clinical neurology. Dr. Gutierrez has been working with the Center to understand nerve function in patients with familial dysautonomia for over a decade.
Each year, Dr. Joel Gutierrez has been able to come from Cuba, where he leads the Neurophysiology Department at the Cuban Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery. He spends time at the Center mapping reflex nerve pathways in patients with FD overtime..
His work is unsurpassed. He has helped us understand why patients with FD have trouble swallowing, a dulled sense of pain, injure their corneas, and struggle to walk. This knowledge has helped the team develop programs specifically designed for the treatment of patients with FD.
He has followed almost 30 patients with FD for the last 10 years testing them on an annual basis. It is an unprecedented piece of information, carefully collected in a very rare neurological disease. “We need patients with FD to come back to be re-examined” he explained, “we are collecting important information that we use to understand why patients have distressing symptoms”.
In clinical practice, nerve conduction studies are used by neurologists to diagnose a variety of medical conditions. The test itself is short and involves applying a small current to the skin and measuring muscle twitch. This painless, quantifiable test is used frequently in the treatment of patients with peripheral neuropathies. It helps us understand acute problems like drop foot or limb numbness. If we can understand how the function of these nerves change overtime we can plan ways to protect and restore them.
The Foundation has supported a Visiting Professorship Program at the Center since 2009. Thanks to their continued support, Dr. Joel Gutierrez is back at the Dysautonomia Center. This will allow him to continue his important work in FD.
The publications of Dr. Gutierrez on FD: