Neurologist Fatima Alao, MD, has a passion for helping people that are suffering from neurological conditions such as stroke, headache, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy or dementia.
“Every patient is a mission for me. I take the time to listen and learn from them. I hear their problems, their frustrations and their fears,” she said. “Together, we arrive at the most accurate diagnosis possible, and together, we plan the most effective treatment.”
Dr. Alao comes to the community after completing fellowship training in epilepsy at Montefiore Medical Center, the University Hospital for Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York, in July. She also completed her residency in neurology through the same program in July 2012.
Born and raised in the Dominican Republic, Dr. Alao took an interest in medicine at a young age. Growing up with a cousin who suffered from epilepsy, she developed a strong compassion for people, like her cousin, who were afraid to do things because of their condition.
Dr. Alao immediately enrolled in medical school in the Dominican Republic following high school, where she received hands-on training caring for people in the hospital from day one. While intimidating at first, she loved medical school. “There’s a lot of need in the Dominican Republic. People are very sick and they don’t have access to advanced medical equipment,” Dr. Alao said. “It was very challenging, but I learned so much and it made me stronger.”
After being exposed to state-of-art equipment and treatments during a three-month visiting clerkship to a hospital in the Bronx, New York, she was determined to come back to the States to finish her studies. She completed preliminary training in internal medicine at Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn, New York.
Dr. Alao said she choose neurology because, “I was fascinated with the whole concept of how the brain controls the body. If something happens to the brain, through disease or injury, it affects everything and a part of who you are as a person could be lost as well.”
Neurological diseases and disorders are some of the most devastating illnesses a person can suffer from. They significantly affect not only sufferers, but their families and caregivers as well. Some of these challenges include problems with mobility, mental tasks (such as learning and memory), basic functions (such as swallowing and breathing), or emotional changes in mood. There is an increasing prevalence of neurological conditions in older aged people, particularly dementia.
However, Dr. Alao said neurologists today have many interventions at their disposal for treating epilepsy, stroke, movement disorders, sleep disorders and pain. She has great empathy and enjoys counseling patients and their caregivers to overcome any unhealthy mental and social limitations these conditions may cause. “I identify with those patients because I have seen their struggles. I want them to know that they can do whatever they want to do. There is always hope,” she said.
Dr. Alao is excited to fulfill a need in the community as the first fulltime neurologist at Sarah Bush Lincoln where her husband, Babatunde Alao, MD, also practices as a hospitalist. The couple had their first child, Maria Adrianna, in August.
For more information or to make an appointment with Dr. Alao, call (217) 234-7000. Her office is located at SBL Family Medical Center, 200 Richmond Ave. East, Mattoon.