How can Functional Neurology Help Stroke Patients Regain Function?

Are you seeking stroke treatment in Chicago?

Stroke is a debilitating disease that affects more than 795,000 people in the United States alone and is the leading cause of death in the US.

Stroke prevention and rehabilitation has gone a long way, but much of its methods still only focus on treating the symptoms.

Functional Neurology offers a more holistic approach that treats the source of the symptoms: brain damage. 

How can Functional Neurology Help Stroke Patients Regain Function?

What is stroke?

A stroke is the sudden loss of control or function of parts of the body which is triggered when an area of the brain is cut off from sufficient blood or oxygen. 

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel or artery responsible for delivering blood to the affected area is completely blocked or has been ruptured.

Poor blood flow to the brain and the resulting oxygen deprivation of the brain cells is extremely dangerous.

When a certain part of the brain is deprived of a proper blood and oxygen supply, that part of the brain could become permanently damaged or destroyed. 

Depending on which part of the brain is affected, stroke can cause people to lose cerebral functions that control speech, memory, movement, and even autonomic or involuntary functions such as heartbeat, breathing and circulation.

A person undergoing a stroke could die within minutes due to massive cell death and loss of brain cell function, so it is important to seek emergency medical attention immediately.

There are three primary types of strokes:

  • Transient ischemic attack or TIA, is a stroke caused by a blood clot that normally goes away on its own.
  • Ischemic stroke involves either a clot or plaque that’s causing a blockage in the artery. The symptoms and complications of this kind of stroke can last much longer than those of a TIA, or in some cases may even become permanent.
  • Hemorrhagic stroke is when a blood vessel bursts or leaks, causing blood to seep into the brain.

Known causes for stroke

Stroke prevention will require a preemptive understanding of the underlying causes.

There are many factors present when someone experiences a stroke, and these are some of the common risk factors and situations found present in functional neurology studies that deal with the rehabilitation of lost brain function.

  • High blood pressure is the highest risk factor for stroke. 
  • Smoking cigarettes increases stroke risk by 100%.
  • An unhealthy diet that is high in fat and sugar raises the risk factor of stroke by 30%.
  • A sedentary lifestyle increases stroke risk by 30%.
  • Consuming alcohol on a daily basis can increase stroke risk by up to 50 percent.
  • Stress, depression and anxiety are also considered risk factors.
  • Irregular sleep.
  • Diabetes and high blood sugar.
  • Excess belly fat.
  • Underlying cardiovascular disorders.

What are the symptoms of stroke?

A person suffering from stroke will have a very small window of time to be treated.

The loss of blood flow to the parts of the brain will quickly cause severe damage to the brain tissues, and symptoms will show up almost immediately.

Possible outcomes include brain damage, long-term disability, and death.

It is therefore crucial to get medical attention as soon as a symptom is identified.

Stroke symptoms can include:

  • Weakness or numbness in the face, arm and leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Loss of speech and comprehension
  • Problems seeing in one or both eyes and trouble walking
  • Sudden loss of coordination and balance
  • Slurred speech pattern
  • Severe dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sudden confusion, disorientation, or unresponsiveness
  • Sudden and severe headache with an unknown cause
  • Increased agitation and other sudden behavioral changes
  • Impaired vision, blackened vision, blurred vision, double vision
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis

What are the typical methods of treatment for stroke survivors?

The effects of brain damage due to a stroke can be severe and long lasting.

Rehabilitation for patients who have been disabled by a stroke is meant to help them regain functions for living everyday life.

But unfortunately, the most common methods of rehabilitation and treatment are not focused on the restoration of brain functions.

Instead, they focus solely on regaining motor skills, speech therapy and physical therapy. 

Rehabilitative therapy begins right after the incident of stroke and involves an initial 1 or 2 months of acute care.

Patients are provided with a physical therapist, occupational therapist, or speech therapist when available.

However, these therapists are typically not trained in neurology, or have very little training in the subject matter.

Most patients are, in effect, taught that they simply need to live with their disability, as opposed to actually getting treatment for the source of their disability, which is the brain damage.

What is Functional Neurology?

Functional neurology is a health care specialty that aids in diagnosing and rehabilitating almost every type of neurological conditions – simple or complex – without the use of pharmaceuticals or surgery.

It is a field in medicine focused on quantification, assessment, and rehabilitation of the human nervous system to promote neuroplasticity, integrity, and functional optimization.

This is achieved through the use of sensory and cognitive based methods of therapy.

What conditions does Functional Neurology treat?

Unfortunately, nerve cells are irrevocably lost after the event of severe neurodegenerative diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease.

Many of the pathways in the human nervous system can get damaged irreparably as well.

There are many cases where the neurological disease has caused unfixable issues.

Functional neurology aims to promote a better quality of life for patients by treating and improving functions in the parts of the nervous system that are still working.

The approach of functional neurology in working with neurological conditions is in treating the individual, not their diseases.

It is still possible to stimulate and exercise the working parts of the nervous system in order to increase their endurance and improve functionality so that the patient may still live a normal life. 

How does Functional Neurology therapy work?

In functional neurology, once the deficient parts of your brain have been identified, we begin to stimulate and build endurance in your fragile systems.

Therapy is conducted through various types of stimulus, some of which are laser and light therapies, tactile and proprioceptive therapies, auditory and visual inputs and electrical modalities. 

Our therapy starts with various types of stimulus, including electrical modalities, laser and light therapies, auditory and visual inputs, and tactile and proprioceptive therapies.

We use these to stimulate the deficient parts of your brain and build endurance in your fragile systems.

We then use a series of exercises that activate the deficient parts for precise tasks and in very specific orders.

We create a series of exercises that progressively train the various regions of your brain and nervous system to be stronger, in an effort to integrate their functions and help them to work together again.

We begin with simple, fundamental brain reflexes and various  functions, gradually moving up to perform more complex tasks as your brain’s efficiency and endurance steadily improves.

Eventually, we will build up enough functionality that we can begin to do exercises that have a real-world context in order to rebuild functions that will help you perform tasks for use in everyday life.

Methods used in Functional Neurology to treat or prevent stroke

Boosting brain health goes hand in hand with stroke prevention.

Many of the same strategies used to reduce the risk factor of stroke are the same ones that functional neurologists recommend to address many different disorders associated with brain functions. These include:

  • Eating healthy – A diet of whole foods supplemented with lots of vegetables is one of the best things you can do to decrease your stroke risk. Avoid eating sugars and trans fats such as those found in sodas, junk foods, and fast foods as these can clog up your arteries, preventing blood flow to the brain and across your body. Focus instead on whole foods, lots of vegetables, and healthy fats which promote the nourishment of the brain. 
  • Stable blood sugar – Keeping a well balanced blood sugar is critical to all aspects of brain health, especially for stroke prevention and rehabilitation. High blood sugar causes inflammation in the brain and hardens or clogs the arteries, which can become a precursor to stroke. People with type 2 diabetes have a 400% increased chance of having a stroke. 
  • Regular exercise – Daily exercise is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your body, and this is also true for brain health and decreasing your stroke factor. Exercise opens up the blood vessels, creating good blood flow across your body and brain. Improving your circulation through exercise is proven to lessen the severity of stroke and improve recovery time.
  • Custom supplementation – There are high-quality supplements that perform specific treatments to support the arteries, balance blood sugar, stabilize blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and improve circulation to the brain. These supplements can help lower your risk of stroke and improve your recovery time. 
  • Functional neurology rehabilitation – The examination techniques used in functional neurology are designed to identify and assess parts of the brain that have been compromised by stroke. Therapy is done by activating specific areas at and around the damage. Progress is then measured and treatments are adjusted according to the patient’s current capacity and endurance.

Functional Neurology for stroke treatment in Chicago

If you are seeking functional neurology as a stroke treatment in Chicago, visit Chicago Neuro today. For more information, visit: