History of Child Neurology and Neurosciences Institute

In 1947, William Lipscomb, MD, was appointed to the Medical Staff of The Children’s Hospital. Among the Mayo Clinic-trained neurosurgeon’s first actions was to urge the hospital to acquire an electroencephalograph (EEG) machine.

With the new technology, Children’s could care for the growing number of patients admitted for seizure disorders. His request was granted. Some 70 years later, EEG technology remains an essential tool at Children’s Hospital Colorado (CHCO). The core science is the same as it was in 1947, but applications are expansive. Extended electroencephalography with simultaneous video monitoring is central to care at the region’s only Pediatric Level IV Epilepsy Center, and for the 18,000 children currently seen annually by the CHCO Neurology team.

The Section of Child Neurology was established in the late 1960s under the direction of pediatric neurologist Gerhard Nellhaus, MD, remembered as “a brilliant but complex man” with interests that extended to translating the works of German playwright Bertolt Brecht into English. Nellhaus’ charts plotting the growth of head-circumference are used across the world a half-century later.

In 1971, Nellhaus was joined at Colorado General Hospital (CGH) by Mary Anne Guggenheim, MD, and at about the same time at The Children’s Hospital (TCH) by clinician and devoted teacher Paul Moe, MD. David Stumpf, MD, became Director of Pediatric Neurology in the School of Medicine and at CGH in 1977. He established a training program in Pediatric Neurology, and held the position until he departed for Northwestern University Medical School in 1985, where he later would be appointed Chair of Neurology. Interim Director W. Davis Parker, MD, succeeded Stumpf until the appointment of Alan Seay, MD, in 1990 as head of a Section that brought TCH-based and CGH-based neurologists into a single group.

Pediatric neurology was a small, mostly young group of clinicians and researchers during many of those early years. The mentorship and support of adult neurologists James Austin, MD, and Stuart Schneck, MD, were invaluable. Seay led the Section through the exciting initial years of the affiliation between TCH and the Health Sciences Center and in 1996 recruited Paul Levisohn, MD, to develop the Section’s first separate epilepsy program.

The start-up was modest, with Levisohn and a nurse practitioner, but they had the important resource of the region’s first hospital unit devoted to long-term, continuous monitoring of EEG activity in children with complex seizures. Kevin Staley, MD, assumed the role of Section Head in 2000 until his departure in 2005 to become Chief of the Section of Pediatric Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Child Neurology and Mental Retardation at Harvard Medical School. Amy Brooks-Kayal, MD, was recruited from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 2008. She led the Section through a period of dramatic growth until her departure to take the Andrew John Gabor, MD, PhD, Presidential Endowed Chair of Neurology at UC Davis School of Medicine.

Between 1996 and 2018, the Section of Child Neurology grew from a small team of five physicians to a cadre of more than 60 physicians and advanced practice providers. The Pediatric Neurology Program is nationally recognized for diagnosis, treatment, and research in epilepsy and seizure disorders, neurogenetic disorders, neurometabolic disorders, neuro-developmental disorders, neuromuscular diseases, and neurocognitive disorders.

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