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MAYWOOD, Il. -- In a competition modeled after TV quiz shows, a team of neurologists from the United States will face Canadian neurologists in the annual "NeurobowlÂ®" on April 11.
Neurobowl is one of the highlights of the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, an international association of more than 22,000 neurologists. The 2010 meeting will be held April 10 -17 in Toronto. In the first round, Team USA will face Team Canada. The winning team will face last year's champs, known as the All-Stars, in the final round. The All-Stars have won Neurobowl eight times. "But Team USA and Team Canada both are formidable competitors, and we are aging, so you never know what may happen," said All-Star Dr. JosÃ© Biller, chairman of the Department of Neurology, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine in Maywood, Ill.
Like a quiz show, Neurobowl awards points for answering questions quickly and accurately, and subtracts points for wrong answers. The tougher the question, the higher the point value. Panelists are asked to diagnose perplexing neurological conditions, based on symptoms, video clips, X-ays, etc. Every so often, the host will toss out a pop culture question with a medical angle. For example: On the old TV doctor show, who played the title role of Dr. Ben Casey? (Answer: Vince Edwards.) AANnewsÂ®, the neurology academy's newsletter, says Neurobowl competitors are among "the best and brightest in neurology." In addition to Biller, the 2010 All-Stars include Dr. Nancy Newman of Emory University, Dr. Marc Patterson of the Mayo Clinic, Dr. James Russell of the Lahey Clinic near Boston and team captain Dr. Anthony Lang of the University of Toronto. Each All-Star has a different strength. Lang is strong in movement disorders, Newman in neuro-ophthalmology, Patterson in pediatric neurology, Russell in neuromuscular disease and Biller in stroke.
Even for neurologists, some of the questions can be brain teasers. Here are a few typical questions from recent years: A man has abdominal pain and loses skin on the palms of his hands and soles of his feet. What is the diagnosis? (Answer: arsenic neuropathy.) A 17-year-old girl falls from a horse and develops a headache. (Cerebrospinal fluid hypotension syndrome.) A patient with lung cancer suffers progressive weakness and numbness in the legs. (Leptomeningeal carcinomatosis.) And there's the occasional oddball question -- like the one about the dog with the neuromuscular disease myasthenia gravis. "You need to have a good sense of humor and remain collegial," Biller said. "It's entertainment."