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7 Quick Questions with Geriatric Neurologist Anelyssa D’Abreu, MD

Anelyssa D'Abreu, a UVA geriatric neurologist

Neurologists treat disorders of the nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord. Anelyssa D'Abreu, MD, specializes in geriatric neurology and movement disorders. She cares for older patients with neurodegenerative disorders, including:

Meet Geriatric Neurologist Anelyssa D'Abreu, MD

D'Abreu grew up in Brazil and attended medical school there. Her research focuses on improving care for patients with neurodegenerative disease and their families.

Why did you become a doctor/provider?

I primarily wanted a career in which I had a direct positive impact on people's lives. Medicine offered this while developing and working on multiple competencies such as clinical care, teaching, and research. I loved this idea that being a neurologist, I could do many different things at once. 

Why did you choose geriatric neurology?

Although it has changed tremendously, mostly due to advances in stroke and neurocritical care, neurology was primarily an outpatient specialty that cared for patients with chronic disorders. I always loved the idea of developing and nurturing a long-term relationship with patients and families.

I just find neurology fascinating, too. No other specialty made me feel as challenged as neurology did during medical school.

What's one thing about your specialty that might surprise people?

More than once, people seemed surprised that I do not "open the head." I explain that those are neurosurgeons! Then, I explain further what neurologists do and care for.

Noticing Muscle Spams?

Movement disorders can get in the way of enjoying life. If you're experiencing spasms or tremors, talk with your provider about treatment options.

What's the most exciting research happening in your field right now?

I find it hard to pinpoint one. I believe the public would be happy to know there are multiple ongoing trials in dementia and Parkinson's disease, and hopefully, better treatments will be available soon.

Where did you grow up?

I'm from Brasilia, which is the capital of Brazil. It is a fascinating beautiful, and magical city. It was a wonderful place to grow up.

Who is your inspiration or hero?

I do not have one hero, and I frequently try to find inspiration in my daily life and interactions. As a neurologist, I have learned strong life lessons from patients and their families: resilience, love, empathy, selflessness, patience, forgiveness. So, I guess they are my heroes!

What's your favorite thing about working at UVA?

The people! Amazingly friendly and caring people around me every day.

View Transcript

My name is Anelyssa D'Abreu. I am a neurologist. I did my fellowship in geriatric neurology, and I specialize in seeing patients with neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Lewy body dementia, and dementias in general. I wasn't one of those people that decided when they were just born, you know, like they always knew they were going to be a doctor. It was never like that. It was always about, I want to do something that I can help people and that I have this direct impact in people's lives. It was always this. I'm from Brazil. So I did my medical school in Brazil. Then I came, did my residency here. And then I went back to Brazil. I practiced a lot of years in Brazil before coming back here again. So I kind of had I think a broad idea of how medicine works in different health systems. One of the things that caught my attention here at UVA is that there is a strong interest in caregiver health and wellbeing. And this is something that I'm very passionate about, which is taking care of the family as well.

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