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Your immune system keeps you healthy. But sometimes, instead of protecting you, it treats your brain or spinal cord like a dangerous invader.

This can happen if you have autoimmune encephalitis (AE). Your immune system attacks your brain and/or spinal cord, causing inflammation — and a lot of tough symptoms. You might have problems thinking clearly, speaking or remembering things. Maybe it’s hard to keep your balance or your muscles move when you don’t want them to. You might even have hallucinations.

At Cleveland Clinic, we’re ready to help you face all of these challenging and frustrating changes. Our team of healthcare providers can quickly confirm your autoimmune encephalitis diagnosis. Then we’ll use the latest treatments to reduce your risk of serious complications — and help you feel more like yourself again.

Why choose Cleveland Clinic for Autoimmune Encephalitis Care?

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Trusted experts:

Our experienced healthcare providers are experts in autoimmune conditions, including AE. Providers from around the country trust us with their patients — even those with the most complex cases. Meet our team.

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Specialized equipment:

Our team uses the latest imaging tools to diagnose your condition. These technologies give us high-definition, detailed pictures of your nervous system.

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Comprehensive treatment:

We focus on improving all aspects of your health — physical, mental and emotional. Our dedicated team includes an autoimmune neurologist (a neurologist who’s trained in autoimmune diseases that affect the brain and nervous system), physical, occupational and speech therapists experienced in neurological conditions, as well as other providers, who work together to get you moving and speaking again. And our behavioral medicine experts help you manage emotional and behavioral issues caused by your AE.

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Innovation and research:

Cleveland Clinic is at the forefront of research in neurology and autoimmune disorders like AE. If you qualify, our clinical trials give you the chance to take advantage of the newest, advanced treatments before they’re widely available. And we use tablet-based neuroperformance testing to see how healthy your brain is during diagnosis and treatment.

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National recognition:

Cleveland Clinic is a trusted healthcare leader. We're recognized in the U.S. and throughout the world for our expertise and care.

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Virtual visits:

Not all appointments have to be in person once you start treatment. We can schedule virtual visits for some follow-ups. All you need is an internet connection and a smartphone, tablet or computer to meet with your provider one-one-one without leaving home.

Autoimmune Encephalitis Diagnosis at Cleveland Clinic

Autoimmune encephalitis happens when your body’s immune system attacks your brain or spinal cord by mistake, causing inflammation. It can be hard to pinpoint what’s causing this reaction, but an infection or certain cancers can sometimes be the culprit.

That’s why it’s important to have a team of healthcare providers with experience diagnosing and treating AE, along with other autoimmune disorders that can affect your nervous system.

Meet our team

Led by a neurologist, specialty trained in autoimmune neurology and neuroimmunology, your Cleveland Clinic care team could also include:

What to expect at your appointment

Maybe you’ve just been diagnosed with AE. Or maybe you’ve been living with it for years and want a fresh perspective on how to manage it. Either way, we’re here to help. When you need care, you don’t want to wait on a list before seeing someone. We try to get you in for an appointment as soon as possible.

It’s important to understand that there’s no single test to confirm you have autoimmune encephalitis. To get an accurate diagnosis, your care team will take a close look at your medical history and give you a neurological examination, along with other tests. The results of each test serve as a “piece” of the diagnostic “puzzle.” Your care team has special expertise in analyzing all the available data to make sure we know exactly what’s going on.

We’ll also take a close look at any imaging you’ve already had and go over the test results with you. We may need to repeat tests or do new ones to check for inflammation. These tests might include:


Our healthcare providers see patients at convenient locations throughout Northeast Ohio, Florida and Nevada.

Autoimmune Encephalitis Treatment at Cleveland Clinic

Your personalized treatment will focus on getting you back to your daily activities. As we work through your care plan, we might adjust it here and there to suit your unique symptoms, needs, challenges and how you’re recovering.


We typically begin your treatment with medications and other therapies to help reduce inflammation and the autoimmune response. Some are longer-term therapies, while others can treat sudden (acute) attacks or flares. You may need one or a combination of these treatments:


Rehabilitation is important to help you maintain or regain your physical, mental and emotional health as you begin your recovery. You can even start a rehab program right after your first visit, even if we haven’t yet confirmed an AE diagnosis.

Depending on your symptoms, your rehab plan may include:

Taking the Next Step

It’s hard to imagine your own body attacking your brain, but it can happen when you have autoimmune encephalitis. You might find yourself facing a whole lineup of challenging (even life-changing) symptoms. Cleveland Clinic can treat and help you recover from AE so you can enjoy life with as few lasting symptoms as possible.

Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic’s autoimmune encephalitis experts is easy. We’ll help you get the care you need.


Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic’s autoimmune encephalitis experts is easy. We’ll help you get the care you need.

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