The role of palliative care in patients with neurological diseases

Nat Rev Neurol. 2013 May;9(5):292-5. doi: 10.1038/nrneurol.2013.49. Epub 2013 Apr 2.


Palliative care aims to improve the quality of life of patients and their families affected by life-threatening illness. This approach applies to a large and growing proportion of neurological disorders, most prominently stroke and dementia. Challenges in the palliative care of patients with incurable neurological diseases include the broad spectrum of the rate of symptom progression, a lack of reliable prognostic markers, scarcity of evidence for efficacy of symptomatic treatments, and a high prevalence of difficulties with communication, cognitive impairment and behavioural disturbances. A genuinely multidisciplinary approach to neurological palliative care is, therefore, required. However, palliative care is not an integral part of neurological training in most countries. This Perspectives article aims to underscore the importance of integrating palliative care into daily clinical practice. The basic principles and challenges of neurological palliative care are also outlined in the light of relevant literature.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Humans
  • Nervous System Diseases / psychology*
  • Nervous System Diseases / therapy*
  • Palliative Care / methods*
  • Terminal Care