Tuesday, January 25, 2022 Jan 25, 2022
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GOING TO THE SOURCE OF THE PAIN

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NORMA MEIAMED neurologist and psychiatrist

As a child in Johannesburg, South Africa, Norma Melamed dreamed of being a professional ballet dancer.

“But my parents steered me toward medicine,” she says, “which was probably the right thing.”

No doubt Melamed’s neurology students would concur. Since she came to Dallas in 1983, Melamed has won numerous teaching awards both at St. Paul Medical Center and Southwestern Medical School. Her specialty is neurology, which is concerned with disorders of the brain, spinal cord and nerves and the muscles they control.

While Melamed, 37, remains on the medical school teaching faculty, she devotes most of her time to her private-practice patients. Although muscle diseases are her main focus, she sees patients suffering from a variety of problems, from multiple sclerosis and dementia to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Harking back to her medical school training in South Africa, Melamed says she runs her practice in a manner that is deliberately slower paced than the norm in the U.S. and, she says, more attentive to patients. She devotes a minimum of an hour to a patient’s first visit.

Melamed gained her expertise in neurology as a resident (eventually chief resident) at Albany Medical College in New York. She also has training in psychiatry. The psychiatry/neurology combination is a natural, she says, as it allows her to investigate fully her patients’ symptoms.

She is relentless when trying to find the source of her patients’ pain. “Neurology and psychiatry are both intellectual and exacting fields that correlate anatomically and suit a compulsive mind,” she says.

During the last three years Melamed has been part of St. Paul’s heart transplant team. Accustomed to the slow rehabilitation of stroke victims, she is fascinated by the nearly overnight rebirth of transplant patients.

“True neurology does not have dramatic success,” she says. “But to see these people who can hardly breathe-who are dying- suddenly looking like a new person is incredible.”