Expert neurologists and neurosurgeons in Central Virginia

Trust the leading brain and spine care providers in Central Virginia

Johnston-Willis Hospital's Brain and Spine Center in Richmond has the most experienced neurosurgeons and specialists, the latest technology and a successful track record of helping patients regain critical skills and optimal neurological health.

Our Brain and Spine Center offers the widest range of technologies and solutions for brain care in central Virginia. We are also one of the very few hospitals on the East Coast with operating suites and teams completely dedicated to brain and nervous system care, with the most sophisticated neuroscience intensive care unit and patient transition facilities.

For more information, or for a physician referral, please call (804) 320-3627.

Neurological conditions and disorders we treat

Our neurologists and neurosurgeons treat a wide range of neurological disorders, including:

  • Acoustic neuroma
  • Aneurysm
  • Arteriovenous malformation (AVM) and other neurovascular abnormalities
  • Back pain
  • Brain tumors
  • Degenerative and herniated disc
  • Epilepsy
  • Essential tremor
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Head injury and concussions
  • Intracranial hemorrhages
  • Movement disorders, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson's disease and spasticity
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Myasthenia gravis (MG)
  • Spine tumors
  • Spine injuries
  • Stroke
  • Trigeminal neuralgia (face pain)
  • Vertebral fractures

Neuromuscular disorders

Our neurosurgeons have extensive experience helping patients with neuromuscular disorders, such as Parkinson's disease and ALS, effectively manage the symptoms of tremor, slowness of movement, stiffness and walking problems caused by movement disorders.

What is Essential Tremor?

Essential Tremor is a progressive neurological condition that causes shaking of the hands, head, and voice. In some patients, the severity of essential tremor progresses to the point it significantly impacts daily activities such as eating, dressing, and writing.

What is focused ultrasound?

As the only hospital within our health system providing this treatment, we are proud to pioneer focused ultrasound.

Focused ultrasound is an incisionless treatment for patients who have not responded to medicine. It does not an invasive procedure and does not require electrodes or probes. The ultrasound is guided by Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to treat deep in the brain. Ultrasound energy is raised to a high temperature and focused on the Vim of the thalamus, a small target in the brain. A tiny burn, called an ablation, is created at the targeted point, creating an immediate effect on the tremors.

The procedure is conducted inside of an MRI imaging scanner to assist the physician in targeting the area, with precise temperature measurements and verification that only the targeted tissue is affected. Ultrasound energy is also non-ionizing, which means there is no exposure to radiation during the procedure.

Patients who undergo the procedure often have immediate and significant reduction in the tremors, creating an improvement in performing daily activities.

Is focused ultrasound for you?

If you are dealing with a movement disorder, focused ultrasound might be a good treatment option for you. The treatment process reduces essential tremors and, for some patients, eliminates them.

Each patient must undergo an evaluation process to evaluate the severity of your tremor and your overall health.

Denise Laine

Our essential tremor nurse navigator helps you navigate your diagnosis and treatment, ensuring you feel supported throughout your journey.

Denise Laine, BSN, RN
Neuroscience nurse navigator
Phone: (804) 483-5711

Denise provides insight and guidance through the focused ultrasound process, treatment plans, resources, and education.

Stroke care

A stroke is a medical emergency that requires immediate, highly skilled treatment. Our stroke care team is prepared to receive, diagnose and treat stroke patients 24/7, and we work with our local emergency medical services (EMS) partners to streamline your care on the way to our hospital.

We provide both neurorehabilitation services and a full range of physical therapy programs to help our patients recover from stroke, including speech therapy, occupational therapy and a driving assessment program.

Brain cancer and tumor care

Johnston-Willis offers comprehensive care for brain cancer and brain tumors. From diagnosis and treatment to recovery and survivorship, our neurological team is with you every step of the way.


An aneurysm is an outpouching of a blood vessel wall. This can occur anywhere there are blood vessels, including in the brain. The bulging, blood-filled pocket can put pressure on parts of the brain or even rupture, causing bleeding in the brain. Early detection and diagnosis may help prevent severe or fatal complications in some people.

Brain aneurysm risk factors include high blood pressure, smoking, drug use, a family history of aneurysm, being over 40 years old and the use oral contraceptives.

You may be experiencing an aneurysm if you have:

  • Sudden-onset severe headache
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Sudden blurred and/or double vision
  • Sudden trouble moving your arms and legs
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizure
  • Stiff neck

If you have a family history of brain aneurysms, talk to your doctor about getting screened. Treatment options include surgery and interventional techniques such as clipping and coil embolization.

In addition to clipping and embolization, Johnston-Willis is using Woven EndoBridge, or WEB, device implantation, a procedure offering patients a low-risk surgical option to treat brain aneurysms.

The FDA-approved device is carefully placed into the aneurysm using tiny specialized catheters similar to those used in the more commonly performed procedure known as coiling. The device is a basket made of very fine wire mesh. It acts as a plug inside the aneurysm, reducing the blood flow and preventing further bleeding.


Epilepsy is a neurological disorder characterized by abnormal brain activity, resulting in seizures or the onset of unusual sensations, behavior and emotions. Johnston-Willis offers an epilepsy monitoring unit (EMU) with specially outfitted rooms where our neuro teams carefully monitor patients experiencing or recovering from seizures.

Trigeminal neuralgia

If you're experiencing intense, sharp, severe pain on one side of your face, you need to visit a physician for a full evaluation. Although the sudden, intermittent, extreme burning or shock-like pain from this chronic condition, known as trigeminal neuralgia, seldom lasts more than a few seconds or, at most, a minute or two, the intensity can be physically and mentally draining.

Johnston-Willis is one of only a few neuroscience centers in the nation to offer the full range of treatment options for trigeminal neuralgia, including medications, glycerol injections, microvascular decompression or surgery.

woman looking through sharp glass of broken windown pane representing trigeminal neuralgia, a facial pain condition treated at Johnston-Willis hospital

Triggers for the intense flashes of pain of trigeminal neuralgia can include vibration or contact with the cheek from activities as simple as:

  • Washing the face or brushing teeth
  • Applying makeup
  • Shaving
  • Eating, drinking and/or talking
  • Exposure to wind or breezes

Diagnosing trigeminal neuralgia can be difficult because many other conditions can cause face pain. Treatments for various types of face pain differ, so finding the cause and making an accurate diagnosis is the key to effectively dealing with this disorder.

Central Virginia's leader in advanced neurosurgery

Johnston-Willis is one of the very few hospitals on the East Coast with operating suites and teams completely dedicated to the nervous system, with sophisticated intensive care units.

Minimally invasive stereotactic radiosurgery

We are also the only hospital in central Virginia to offer patients the Leksell Gamma Knife®Icon and only one of two hospitals in Virginia to use it. The Gamma Knife® Icon is a minimally invasive, stereotactic radiosurgery tool that uses extremely precise cobalt radiation beams to treat brain tumors, trigeminal neuralgia (face pain), Parkinson's disease, medically refractory essential tremors and other neurological disorders.

Contrary to the name, Gamma Knife® Icon is an outpatient procedure that does not use a knife. The Gamma Knife® Icon may eliminate the need for traditional surgery and helps preserve healthy tissue.

The procedure is painless and unlike other treatment options, it does not require patients to cut or shave their hair. Because there is no incision, recovery time is reduced and most patients leave the hospital the same day as the treatment.

We are proud that our award-winning Brain and Spine Center has completed over 3,500 Gamma Knife® cases with Gamma Knife® Perfexion. And now, with Gamma Knife® Icon, we are pleased to offer patients in Richmond, Virginia the latest innovation in neurological care.

Deep brain stimulation

If you've been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease or essential tremor, or if you think you may suffer from these illnesses, treatment plans at Johnston-Willis may include deep brain stimulation (DBS). DBS, a surgical procedure involves implantation of a device that sends electrical signals to brain areas responsible for body movement, can help reduce the symptoms of tremor, slowness of movement, stiffness and walking problems caused by movement disorders.

Deep brain stimulation involves placing a thin metal electrode (about the diameter of a piece of spaghetti) into one of several possible brain targets and attaching it to a computerized pulse generator, which is implanted under the skin in the chest below the collarbone.

DBS is not a cure for movement disorders, but it can successfully treat symptoms by disrupting the abnormal patterns of brain activity that become prominent in these diseases.

How deep brain stimulation helps

DBS is often described as a brain pacemaker because constant pulses of electrical charge are delivered at settings that are thought to restore normal brain rhythms, allowing the restoration of more normal movements. Used with medication, deep brain stimulation can:

  • Provide five additional hours of movement control each day
  • Improve quality of life more than medications alone
  • Make it easier to do daily activities, like bathing and getting dressed
  • Significantly reduce medication use, which may mean fewer related side effects

You may be a candidate for DBS if your Parkinson's symptoms have been previously controlled with medication but you are now experiencing abrupt on/off fluctuations, involuntary movements or other side effects that limit usefulness. DBS can also help if you have a tremor that is not responding well to medical therapy. The procedure is completely reversible, brain tissue is no destroyed and the device can be removed, leaving no permanent brain lesions.

Neuroscience ICU

After a neurological event or surgery, we will transition you to a private, spacious room within our neuroscience intensive care unit or our neuroscience step-down unit for recovery.

In these units, as well as our epilepsy monitoring unit, you will benefit from the latest in patient monitoring technology, which means faster response, more effective care and a quieter environment for recovery.

Neurological rehabilitation

Many patients require physical rehabilitation after a neurological event, such as a stroke. Our physical therapists, speech pathologists and specialists in occupational medicine develop personalized neurological rehabilitation programs to help patients regain skills and function.

Johnston-Willis Hospital's Brain and Spine Center has neurologists, neurosurgeons, pain management physicians, and physical therapists all located in one building. Dr. Rajesh Mehta talks about how one patient received the care she needed to restore her quality of life.

Award-winning neurology and neurosurgery close to home

We have received national recognition for our superior neurological care in Richmond, Virginia. Some of our awards and distinctions include:

  • We were the first and are one of only three hospitals in the U.S. to receive The Joint Commission Gold Seal Certificate of Distinction for brain tumor care.
  • We have received The Joint Commission Gold Seal Certificate of Distinction for Stroke Rehabilitation.
  • We were the first non-academic community hospital and the second in Virginia to achieve the Comprehensive Stroke Certification by DNV-GL Healthcare, the highest level of competence possible for stroke care.
  • We are the only hospital in central Virginia to have and use the Gamma Knife® Icon, a minimally invasive stereotactic radiosurgery tool used to treat certain brain tumors and other diseases in the brain. Read how Johnston-Willis Hospital is helping patients with brain cancer.
  • We were the first medical center in Virginia to use the iSchemaView RAPID neuroimaging platform, which allows our physicians to expand the stroke treatment window from six hours to 24 hours.
  • We are one of only a few neuroscience centers in the nation to offer the full range of treatment options for trigeminal neuralgia (unbearable face pain), including medications, glycerol injections, microvascular decompression or Gamma Knife® Perfexion surgery.

Neurological care videos