What is Functional Neurology?

Functional Neurology is a burgeoning new field in healthcare with promising advancements in treating neurological based diseases. Functional Neurologists focus primarily on the assessment and optimization of brain function and the nervous system using a specific set of diagnostic tools and treatment techniques. These tools are used to identify and treat a wide range of neurological conditions, such as chronic pain, migraines, movement disorders, and balance problems. 

Unlike traditional neurology, which tends to focus more on finding physical or structural defects in the nervous system, Functional Neurology, as the name implies, takes a more functional approach by instead evaluating what is or isn’t working so well in the nervous system and using targeted treatments to restore or improve function. The goal of Functional Neurology for Movement and Balance is to help patients achieve better overall health and well-being by optimizing the function of their nervous system. 

The role of the brain in movement and balance: Why it’s important

The brain controls all of the body’s fundamental activities. Therefore it’s crucial that we learn how it contributes to movement and equilibrium. It is the brain’s job to give messages to the muscles and regulate their activity. This allows us to do things like walk, run, and jump. The brain’s role in regulating balance ensures that we don’t stumble around unsteadily.

Symptoms include chronic pain, muscle weakness, tremors, and balance concerns. These are just some of the symptoms that can arise from dysfunction in the brain’s regulation of movement and equilibrium. These symptoms can have a detrimental effect on a person’s quality of life. It makes it hard for them to do things like going to work, or school, sometimes even light exercise like climbing up the stairs.

We can achieve better diagnosis and treatment of neurological disorders if we can get a better understanding of the brain’s function, especially in these areas. In addition, patients can take charge of their own health and happiness by practicing stress management strategies, eating right, and engaging in other behaviors associated with positive brain health.

The Anatomy of Movement and Balance

Movement and balance are undoubtedly complex processes that involve a plethora of physiological systems and mechanisms all working together like a grand orchestra.

Understanding the underlying mechanisms behind movement and balance, specifically how the brain and nervous system are entwined with these mechanisms is essential for diagnosing and treating neurological conditions. Having an understanding as to how these physiological mechanisms work together, functional neurologists can then apply targeted treatment plans to optimize nervous system function, the goal of which is to improve overall physical function.

The nervous system is often the first receptor of sensory information from the outside world, as well as then generating an appropriate motor response. This creates a complex interplay between sensory input, motor output, and various feedback loops that inform the body on how to adjust, contort, tense, or relax in order to maintain balance instinctively.

Once we begin moving, our brain sends out signals to our muscles through a complex network of nerves and neurons. These signals cause our muscles to contract, which is what produces movement. The motor cortex, basal ganglia, and cerebellum are all critical regions of the brain that play a part in initiating and controlling movement.

Balance, on the other hand, involves a more complex set of physiological processes. The inner ear provides sensory information about the body’s position in space, while the cerebellum and brainstem work together to coordinate movements and maintain balance.

The vestibular system, situated deep in the inner ear, is our lynch pin for maintaining balance. It contains tiny hair cells that can sense even the smallest changes in head position and movement and send signals to the brainstem and cerebellum to adjust movements accordingly.

Other physiological mechanisms that mess up or improve your movement and balance including muscle tone, reflexes, and coordination between muscle groups. These mechanisms actually allow the body to hold posture, adjust movements, and respond to changes in the environment.

Common Movement and Balance Disorders

Functional neurology and advanced diagnostics can be used to assesss and treat various conditions that come with movement and balance disorders.

  • Parkinson’s disease: Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects the dopamine-producing cells in the brain. It can lead to tremors, rigidity, and difficulty with balance and coordination.
  • Multiple sclerosis: Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disorder that affects the central nervous system. It can cause a range of symptoms, including muscle weakness, spasticity, and balance problems.
  • Cerebral palsy: Cerebral palsy is actually an entire group of disorders that affect movement and posture caused by damage to a still developing brain before or shortly after birth, and can lead to spasticity, involuntary movements, and difficulty with balance.
  • Vertigo: Vertigo is a sensation of spinning or dizziness, most of the time can be caused by problems with the inner ear which often leads to balance problems and difficulty with coordination.
  • Concussion: Concussions are a type of traumatic brain injury that can totally cause a range of symptoms, including headaches, dizziness, wooziness, and balance problems.

Functional neurology, incredibly, can be used to diagnose and treat these and other movement and balance disorders. By using advanced diagnostic tools to gain a deeper understanding of the underlying causes of these disorders, healthcare professionals can rather easily develop spot treatment plans that help to improve nervous system function and reduce symptoms. This may include a range of interventions – physical therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and medication – but by addressing the underlying causes of these disorders, Functional Neurology for Movement and Balance offers hope for patients wishing for better health and well-being.

Treatment Options for Movement and Balance Disorders

There are a bunch of different treatment options available for movement and balance disorders –  medications, physical therapy, neurostimulation, and functional neurology.

  1. Medications

Medications are often used to treat movement and balance disorders by mitigating symptoms and improving overall function. Levodopa, for instance, is used to treat Parkinson’s disease. Baclofen is used to reduce spasticity in cerebral palsy. These medications may be prescribed alone or in combination with other therapies.

2. Physical Therapy

Physical therapists work with patients to improve strength, flexibility, and coordination, with the until symptoms recede and overall function improves. This may include exercises designed to improve balance, gait training, and other interventions to improve mobility and minimize the risk of falling over.

3. Neurostimulation

Neurostimulation is a relatively new treatment option for movement and balance disorders but nevertheless effective. Electrical stimulation is employed to modulate the activity of the nervous system and hopefully reduce symptoms. Examples of neurostimulation techniques used for these conditions include deep brain stimulation (DBS) for Parkinson’s disease and spinal cord stimulation (SCS) for spasticity and pain.

4. Functional Neurology

Functional neurology is a holistic and comprehensive approach to treating movement and balance disorders, focusing more on optimizing nervous system function. This may include slew of different interventions, including physical therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and medication, as well as more hi-tech options like neurofeedback and brain stimulation.

Functional Neurology for Movement and Balance is a promising approach to treating movement and balance disorders. By focusing on optimizing the function of the nervous system, it can contribute greatly in reducing symptoms and improving overall quality of life for patients. And the best part is that it’s especially useful for those who haven’t responded well to other treatments, or who have more complex conditions that require a more individualized approach. So if you’re struggling with a movement or balance disorder, functional neurology might be a great option to explore with your healthcare provider.

Conclusion

Functional Neurology is a brilliant new approach to healthcare that focuses on optimizing the function of the nervous system to its best condition. It’s based on the idea that the brain and nervous system are sort of key role players in regulating all aspects of our health and well-being, including of course movement and balance. Functional neurologists use an array of diagnostic tools and treatment techniques to root out and address hidden problems in the nervous system that may be contributing to a patient’s movement and balance disorders.

Functional neurology can be extremely effective in improving movement and balance, as seen in many cases. By optimizing the function of the nervous system, functional neurologists can definitely help to reduce symptoms like tremors, rigidity, and difficulty with coordination. They may even use a variety of specialized techniques, such as eye movements, vestibular stimulation, and exercises to improve muscle strength and coordination. Additionally, functional neurologists work closely with physical therapists to develop a more personalized treatment plan that addresses both the underlying neurological issues and the physical limitations of the patient themselves.

Functional Neurology has had many inspiring success stories in treating movement and balance disorders. Patients who have undergone functional neurology treatments have recovered seemingly lost motor skills, as well as reductions in symptoms such as tremors, stiffness, and difficulty with coordination. Many patients have also experienced improvements in things such as digestion, sleep, and mood – not bad. By taking a holistic approach to healthcare and addressing the underlying neurological issues that contribute to movement and balance disorders, Functional Neurology for Movement and Balance can help patients recover and maintain good health and well-being.