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Neuroscience Institute

At the CHOC Neuroscience Institute, we specialize in bringing hope to patients and their families living with neurological conditions. We know families may be searching for answers about a child’s condition or seeking the very best in treating a complex disorder. We are one of the leading pediatric programs in the nation, providing comprehensive evaluation, treatment and surgical care for children and adolescents with disorders of the brain, spine, muscles and central and peripheral nervous systems. U.S. News & World Report has consistently ranked us among the nation’s top children’s hospitals for neurology and neurosurgery. Meet Dr. Michael Muhonen, director of the Neuroscience Institute.

A Team Approach to Hope and Healing

Neurological conditions in children can be complex and require a team of caregivers, each bringing specialized expertise. Our board-certified neurologists and neurosurgeons work together on every aspect of a child’s care, from thorough diagnostics to the latest treatments and procedures available. They collaborate with nurses and nurse practitioners, social workers, neuropsychologists, rehabilitation therapists, dietitians, psychiatrists, pharmacists, speech and occupational therapists, and child life specialists to develop a unique treatment plan.

What We Treat

While we are experts in evaluating, treating and managing all forms of neurological conditions, our specialty programs in the following areas are what set our Neuroscience Institute apart.

•    Epilepsy and seizures
•    Down syndrome
•    Muscular dystrophy and muscle diseases
•    Tumors of the brain, spine and nervous system
•    Concussion
•    Hydrocephalus
•    Sleep disorders
•    Spasticity and cerebral palsy
•    Craniosynostosis, plagiocephaly and other skull deformities
•    Spina bifida
•    Developmental delays
•    Tics and Tourette syndrome
•    Moyamoya disease
•    Neurofibromatosis
•    Headaches
•    Stroke
•    Head and spine trauma
•    Spinal dysraphism
•    Autism

Family-Centered Care

Because we are committed to family-centered care, we carefully consider the physical, mental and emotional needs of each patient and family. Our care teams are tightly integrated to make the experience seamless, whether it’s coordinating inpatient and outpatient visits, communicating with a child’s referring physician, or making sure patients and their families fully understand every option available to them. We offer the most comprehensive child life and family support programs in the region.

State-of-the-art Neurodiagnostics

Our neurodiagnostics laboratory is equipped with the latest technology to diagnose and treat neurological conditions in children. The lab is accredited by the Laboratory Accreditation Board of the American Board of Registered Electroencephalographic and Evoked Potential Technologists (ABRET). We also specialize in electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction velocity studies to evaluate disorders of the muscles and motor neurons. Learn more about our Neurodiagnostics Lab.

Innovative Programs, Specialized Expertise

We are a national leader in pediatric epilepsy care, offering cutting-edge diagnostics, innovative medical approaches and advanced surgical interventions from the nation’s foremost epilepsy experts. CHOC is the only children’s hospital in California to be named a Level 4 epilepsy center by the National Association of Epilepsy Centers (NAEC). Learn more about our Comprehensive Epilepsy Program.
Sustaining a concussion is a serious matter that often needs more than a trip to the emergency room or a bag of ice. Our concussion team, led by pediatric neurologists, can help your family with a carefully guided plan to manage symptoms and return to sports and school. Learn more about our Concussion Program.
With fellowship-trained staff in sleep medicine, our pediatric sleep disorder center focuses on identifying the physical or behavioral factors that affect sleep, from obstructed airways and breathing issues, to conditions including apnea, epilepsy and narcolepsy. We provide state-of-the-art polysomnography monitoring 24 hours a day for overnight and nap studies, all in a child-friendly environment with accommodations for parents. Learn more about our Sleep Disorder Center.
Through an alliance with the Down Syndrome Association of Orange County, our program brings community services and clinical specialists together to ensure the unique needs of children with Down syndrome are being met. We help coordinate the many areas of a child’s care, with an emphasis on preventive medicine and case management in partnership with a child’s primary care physician. Learn more about our Down Syndrome Program.
Working closely with the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s, our brain, spine and nervous system tumor program offers the latest in diagnostic services and the most advanced surgical and clinical interventions in treating pediatric tumors. Our multidisciplinary team of experts includes neurosurgeons, neuroradiologists, neuropathologists, pediatric oncologists, radiation oncologists and neuropsychologists. We are a member of the national Children’s Oncology Group, and we are the only medical center in the southwestern United States to offer COG Phase 1 clinical trials. Learn more about our Neuro-oncology Program.
The Neuroscience Institute works closely with the Cleft and Craniofacial Program to care for children with cleft lip and/or palate, craniostenosis and other genetic and congenital syndromes. The complexity of craniofacial disorders requires a team approach involving pediatric specialists in numerous fields including neurology, genetics, orthopaedics, plastic surgery, and ear, nose and throat. A child can be seen by this panel of specialists in a single consultation. Learn more about our Cleft and Craniofacial Program.
Our pediatric neurologists collaborate with biochemical geneticists to care for children with rare metabolic disorders that cause neurological symptoms, such as seizures, spasticity, weakness and abnormal movements. With support from a genetic counselor, dietitian and case manager, the clinic team oversees the complex care of these patients who often require multiple medications, metabolic diet considerations, genetic counseling and specialized equipment.
Through this innovative program, our Neuroscience Institute and Orthopaedic Institute partner to provide evaluation and treatment of children with a variety of neuromuscular conditions. This wide-ranging program offers on-site specialty clinics in three areas: muscular dystrophy and muscle disease, spasticity related to neurological conditions such as cerebral palsy, and spina bifida. Learn more about our Neuromuscular Disease Program.
Developmental delays can be sign of a neurological issue, so your doctor may refer your child to a neurologist for testing and evaluation. At CHOC Children’s, we have a team of specialists who are experienced in treating developmental delays, as well as CHOC psychologists and physical, speech and occupational therapists. Learn more about our developmental services.
The Neuroscience Institute offers a regular clinic for babies with deformational conditions of the head, including plagiocephaly, craniosynostosis and torticollis. We provide laser analysis of the head shape and a full range of surgical and non-surgical treatments such as cranial remodeling and custom helmeting.

The Neuroscience Institute performs a range of treatments for all types of neurological conditions.

In this segment from American Health Journal, CHOC neurologist Dr. Mary Zupanc, speaks about the most common types of headaches children may have and their causes.


Is it a brain tumor? In this segment of American Health Journal, CHOC neurologist Dr. Sharief Taraman tells us what type of condition could mimic a brain tumor and the symptoms that patients can experience.


Derek looked like any other baby when he was born. But 3 1/2 months later, his mother noticed his head was slowly getting larger. Find out how a CHOC neurosurgeon used a landmark procedure to cure Derek's hydrocephalus.


In this segment from American Health Journal, Mary Zupanc, MD, provides background on what a tic is and explains the different types of tics a child may experience.


Make an Appointment

CHOC Children’s Neurology Center

Call us to make an appointment at our Neurology Center. You will be asked to bring your medical records with you.

Our clinic is located in the Centrum North building (#11 on the campus map). Our neurologists also see patients at CHOC locations in Newport Beach, Mission Viejo and Corona.

Get printable maps of our campus in English or Spanish.

1120 W. La Veta Ave., Suite 125 | Orange, CA 92868

Phone: (888) 770-2462 (press 2 for specialty care clinics)

Research and Training

The Neuroscience Institute is actively leading clinical research to better understand and treat neurological conditions that affect children, including epilepsy, brain injuries, neuromuscular disease and autism. We are continually studying the effectiveness of new medications, as well as emerging surgical techniques such as MRI-guided laser ablation technology and intra-operative electrocorticograpy. As leaders in epilepsy surgery, we track long-term surgical outcomes and make recommendations for new protocols that are safer and more effective. The CHOC Comprehensive Epilepsy Program is also one of 15 pediatric epilepsy centers in the United States chosen for the Pediatric Epilepsy Research Consortium to conduct long-term research into epilepsy in infants and children. Other past and current studies at the Neuroscience Institute involve brain-computer interface technology, stem cell transplants and ground-breaking treatments for hydrocephalus, spasticity and cerebral palsy.

The University of California, Irvine/Children’s Hospital of Orange County (UCI-CHOC) pediatric neurology residency program is a fully accredited, university-based program. We believe in providing residents with a top-notch, broad-based educational experience in a collegial environment. Our program philosophy and personality have earned us our reputation as a residency-friendly program. We offer aspiring physicians a unique and exciting training opportunity. Learn more about our Child Neurology Residency Program.

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UC Irvine

CHOC Children's is affiliated with the UC Irvine School of Medicine