Sudden dizziness, fainting, an all-consuming headache you just can’t shake, muscle weakness, coordination issues, or progressive memory loss. If you find yourself with any of these symptoms, you may need the expert care of a neurologist.
A neurologist is a doctor who is specially trained in conditions affecting the central and peripheral nervous systems. These systems include your nerves and connective tissue, your brain, your spinal cord, and your muscles.
A neurologist can treat a variety of conditions including:
To schedule an appointment, please call
Pain in her arms and numbness in her mouth made Velma Ridgell think she was having a stroke. Having worked in a nursing home for nearly 14 years, she knew how serious a stroke could be. Luckily for Ridgell, she did not have a stroke, and she found out the reason for her stroke-like symptoms, thanks to help from neurologist Yongxing Zhou, MD, PhD.
Velma Ridgell feared she was having a stroke.
“I had a spell where my arms were going to sleep, and my mouth was going numb,” said the St. Inigoes mother and grandmother. “I was also getting pains in my legs and feet. I went to urgent care and my blood pressure was so high, they wouldn’t let me drive myself to the hospital.”
Read Velma's Story
Brought to the Emergency Department at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital, Velma underwent a series of tests to determine the cause of her pain and numbness. “I was scared to death — scared of what it was,” she recalled. “I worked at a nursing home for 14 years and had seen what a stroke can do.”
At MedStar St. Mary’s, Velma soon connected with board-certified neurologist Yongxing Zhou, MD, PhD, who examined her list of current medications and ordered an MRI to rule out a stroke.
After the results confirmed Velma did not have a cerebrovascular event, Dr. Zhou (pronounced “Joe”) was able to make his diagnosis: peripheral neuropathy, a condition affecting the normal activity of nerves that connect the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body. With Dr. Zhou’s recommendations and adjustments to her medications, Velma is experiencing less pain and better peace of mind. She follows up with Dr. Zhou at the Outpatient Pavilion in Leonardtown.
“I was very impressed by him and how quickly he figured out what was going on [with me],” added Velma, who continues to enjoy her favorite hobbies of quilting and gardening. “Dr. Zhou knows what he’s doing. I really trust him.”
Justin had never had a seizure before, however, after several seizures that sent him to the Emergency Department of MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital, it was board-certified neurologist Yongxing Zhou, MD, PhD, who helped Justin find the cause of his seizures and get his life back to normal.
Justin Quade, 20, of Mechanicsville, doesn’t remember much about the seizure that sent him to the Emergency Department in October 2018.
“I have never had a seizure before in my life,” said Justin. He was taken to the Emergency Department and diagnosed with sleep apnea and prescribed a CPAP machine, which helps regulate a person’s breathing while sleeping. “I wasn’t sleeping well, and I did sleep better with the CPAP.”
Read Justin's Story
In January, however, Justin had another seizure while sleeping and wearing the CPAP. “I don't really remember too much about it,” he said. “I went to work on Tuesday and woke up Thursday in the hospital.”
While he was a patient at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital, Justin was evaluated by Dr. Zhou. After talking with Justin and his family and running a few tests, Dr. Zhou determined that a medication Justin had been taking was most likely the cause of the seizures.
“I have been taking depression medication since middle school and cycled through a few different kinds,” Justin said. “My doctor up dosed me in September and I had my first seizure in October.”
“Dr. Zhou was like us - he wanted to find out why,” said Justin’s mom, Deborah Quade. “We had expressed our feelings about not putting Justin on more medication – Dr. Zhou just totally agreed with us.”
Justin has followed up with Dr. Zhou in his office, and is no longer taking any medication, except a daily multivitamin. “I am so glad Dr. Zhou walked into Justin’s room that day,” said Deborah. “The medication Justin was taking changed mood and his emotions. Now that he has stopped taking it he is a completely different person. Dr. Zhou gave me my son back.”
It was a normal day at work for Dana Fields, 56, of Mechanicsville. An esthetician at a popular local hair salon in downtown Leonardtown, she was working with a client when suddenly she fell out of her chair and fainted.
“When I fainted, it raised my blood pressure,” said Dana, “and everyone thought I had had a stroke or a seizure.”
Dana was taken to the Emergency Department where she was examined, released, and advised to follow up with her regular physician. Her physician referred her to Dr. Zhou.
“I was afraid to leave the house,” Dana said. “I was afraid to walk up and take communion at church - I was afraid I was going to fall.” Dana quickly made an appointment with Dr. Zhou.
Read Dana's Story
“Dr. Zhou spent at least an hour with me doing all types of tests and he diagnosed me with Meniere’s Disease, and he explained it all to me,” she said. “I was so relieved after meeting him.”
Meniere’s Disease is a condition that affects the inner ear and can cause symptoms such as hearing loss, dizziness, tinnitus, ear pressure, vertigo, and “drop” attacks during which a person may fall to the ground with no warning.
“He prescribed me several medications and told me he wanted me to call him on Monday,” said Dana. “I have never had a doctor tell me to call him before because he wanted to speak to me — especially a specialist.
“He is awesome,” said Dana. “I felt so comfortable with him.”
Dr. Zhou (pronounced “Joe”) cares for patients with a wide range of neurological needs and his subspecialty is epilepsy, a common neurological disorder caused by unusual nerve cell activity in the brain. In the United States, an estimated 3.4 million people have epilepsy.
Managing epilepsy means patients need to take prescribed medication properly, manage stress, get enough sleep, and be aware of potential drug interactions. Certain medications can lower seizure thresholds. Patients with epilepsy should also avoid vigorous activities.“It is important patients follow up with a neurologist every three to six months to make sure their seizure medication is working properly,” recommends Dr. Zhou.
Dr. Zhou is board certified and completed his medical residency and internship at Florida State University, the University of Florida, and Howard University Hospital. Following those programs, Dr. Zhou conducted his fellowship training in epilepsy at George Washington University Hospital. He joined the medical staff at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital in 2018.
It can often take months of waiting before you can see a specialist. You shouldn't have to wait that long for the care you need. Recognizing that your time is valuable, Dr. Zhou strives to see patients within a week.
During your first appointment, Dr. Zhou will discuss your medical history and any medications you are currently taking. Some tests can be performed in Dr. Zhou’s office and others–such as an MRI or lab work–will be ordered.
If your primary care physician recommends a follow up with a neurologist, please contact Dr. Zhou’s office.