What is Functional Neurology and How to Treat It
The concept of medicine is evolving. These days, instead of seeing the doctor only when they feel sick, more people are visiting the doctor so they won’t get sick. It’s an important shift in the way we conceptualize medicine and its role in our daily lives.
Perhaps the biggest requirement for early disease prevention is to look at the body as a whole and acknowledge that all body systems are intertwined. This is the cornerstone of Functional Neurology.
If this is your first time ever hearing about Functional Neurology, you’re not alone. Let’s dive into what it is and how this practice can help you live a proactive, healthy life.
What is Functional Neurology?
Functional Neurology is a branch of Chiropractic Neurology.
At first blush, it may seem weird to associate chiropractic adjustment with brain function. How can manipulation of the body’s physical structure affect mental function and vice versa?
There is a strong link between optimal mental health and physiological behavior. In chiropractic neurology, specialists investigate the warning symptoms of pain, imbalance, and other disorders. Illness and degeneration are often caused by a break down in the function of the brain.
The biggest contributor to abnormal brain function is stress. While stress isn’t always bad, too much of it can cause the brain to misfire. This can lead to:
- Arthritis Pain
- Balance Problems (Dizziness, Lightheadedness)
- Chronic Pain (Neck, Back, Arm, Hip, Shoulder)
- Gastro-intestinal problems
- Headaches and Migraines
- Heart Palpitations
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Restless Leg Syndrome
- Thyroid Disorders
Understanding the symptoms (even in the beginning stages) will help a Functional Neurologist diagnose what areas of the brain may be negatively impacted by stress and create a course of correction.
Functional Neurology seeks to restore the proper function of the brain by correcting the misfired messages within the brain loop. Instead of curing illnesses and degenerative disorders with medicinal treatment, functional neurology focuses on restoring brain function. The thought is that a properly functioning brain can then correct the associated physiological dysfunctions caused by neurological misfiring.
But Functional Neurology includes more than just one discipline of medicine. Functional Neurology includes the following:
- Traditional Medicine
It should be noted that Functional Neurology avoids using drugs or surgery to correct disorders or injury. This is because Functional Neurology is built on the idea that the brain can and does rewire itself in response to one’s environment. The nerve connections within the brain are flexible and adaptable, and can be either positively or negatively affected by internal or external stimuli, especially stress.
What does a Functional Neurologist Do?
Functional neurologists specialize in the relationships between the brain, the nervous system, and the spine.
First and foremost, functional neurologists are chief investigators. They are scientists who believe that the proper function of the nervous system is essential to wellness. They also understand the absolute uniqueness of each person’s nervous system.
Functional neurologists never prescribe cookie-cutter advice — not the good ones, at least. An important part of a functional neurologist’s job is to create an individualized assessment and treatment plan, after investigating the cause of the physical or mental disturbance.
Whether you’re struggling with aging, memory loss, mental decline, loss of motility, vision problems, or something else entirely, a functional neurologist can help you by determining the neurological cause of your degradation.
In Functional Neurology, specialists investigate the root cause of an individual’s disorder.
Functional neurologists often use a combination of tools to determine and then implement a course of treatment. As a new patient, you will receive a thorough neurodiagnostic examination.
A neurodiagnostic examination will use testing equipment such as:
- Advanced imaging, such as Computed Tomography (CT scan), Doppler ultrasound, and Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
- Electroencephalography (EEG) — To monitor and measure the electrical activity of the brain.
- Videonystagmography — To evaluate balance and investigate the possible origins of dizziness and other balance disorders.
The functional neurologist will also check for hearing and vision abnormalities.
Additionally, a crucial part of the examination process is observation. The functional neurologist will visually examine the patient for physical abnormalities or asymmetries. This includes:
- General appearance of the body as a whole
- The appearance of hair, nails, and skin
- Pupil size and correlation to each other
Finally, the functional neurologist checks for vital signs, such as heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, and core temperature.
What are the Common Functional Neurology Treatments?
Many treatments in functional neurology focus on one side of the body, in an effort to stimulate the side of the brain that’s misfiring. If the left side of the brain is misfiring, treatment will focus on the right side of the body. The reason: Each side of the body is controlled by the opposite hemisphere of the brain.
Functional neurologists use a variety of tools to correct abnormal brain function, including:
Comprehensive Assessment of Postural Systems (CAPS™ for short) — a tool used to determine an individual’s proprioception, or the brain’s ability to sense the position and movement of the body.
GyroStim Rotating Chair — Treats imbalance by stimulating neural activity deep within the brain. It activates the brain’s neuroplasticity and catalyzes the process of self-correction.
In additional to the above treatment modalities, the functional neurologist may also use other measures to adjust incorrect brain function. This includes sensory stimulation, physical rehabilitative exercises, relaxation techniques, and manual chiropractic adjustments.
The functional neurologist may also create an individualized diet plan and prescribe dietary supplements as a course of treatment.
How can Functional Neurology Help Me?
Functional Neurology is an answer for patients who want to take a proactive stance on their healthcare. Instead of allowing disease to grow in your body for years unchecked, an investigative check up by a trusted functional neurologist can help you pinpoint early warning signs and prescribe preventative exercises or medicinal remedies.
But, as we’ve discussed above, embracing Functional Neurology doesn’t just help you prevent illness. By shifting your concept of medicine, and embracing the idea that your brain can rebuild your systems when given the right stimulation, you’ll live a more optimal and healthful life now.