Neurological Applications of Functional Health
A functional neurologist is a practitioner (M.D., DO, DC, ND, PT) who has elected to specialize in neurology and specifically in a field where it is the patient that is assessed and not the diagnosis. Patients often have health goals that seem unreachable or have not responded to traditional therapies. Functional Neurology is another term for Chiropractic Neurology.
History of Functional Neurology
Back about the turn of the twentieth century, a practitioner named Dr. Palmer noticed the relationship between nervous system responses and chiropractic manipulations. Eventually, neurons were discovered which changed how we thought about nervous system communication.
The earliest written history of Functional Neurology (FN) appeared in 1997 by a chiropractor who wrote about how spinal manipulation could affect a physiological blind spot in the eye, fundamental proof of the brain/neural connection.
An explosion of information in the late 1980s and early 2000s yielded more proof of the relationship between manipulations and brain physiology.
Practicing FN involves the assessment, evaluation and conservative treatment of the neurons, particularly of the brain. In FN, neurological lesions are often called “functional lesion”. This label stuck because of the large number of mislabeled, misunderstood symptoms that existed such as in neurodevelopmental disorders or movement disorders. These lesions were described as reversible due to neuroplasticity and may occur at any place in the nervous system. The lesions are different than non-restorable lesions caused by the death of neuronal tissue as in a stroke.
Three Primary Focal Points
- Cellular level functions
- Related neurological pathways
- The FN concept of “hemisphericity” which refers to a cerebral hemisphere suffering from a dysfunctional “central integrative state” (CIS).
Hemisphericity and the Central Integrative States
Most accurately said, a functional lesion corresponds to lesions following dysfunctions of neuronal physiology that in turn would affect the way communication occurs in the central nervous system resulting in hyper- or hypo-functional areas in the brain. Such a lesion is said to affect only one side of the brain leading to an asymmetry of nerve output, thus the name hemisphericity. The CIS of a functional group of neurons is said to be an indicator of the “state of health” and is related to one or several groups of neurons and their level of dysfunction within a specific area of the nervous system.
Hemisphericity refers to a cerebral hemisphere (either right or left) which is antagonized by a dysfunctional CIS.
Evaluating the CIS of the central nervous system and particularly the brain is the primary reason behind the FN assessment. Tests are administered that measure the responses of the CIS being tested. A major sign of a dysfunctional CIS is its “fatigability” of the neurons being tested. This means that either the response to a continued or repeated stimulus cannot be maintained by the individual’s system in a normal fashion.
What Happens Next After the Fatigability Assessment?
Then, the faulty side of the brain needs to be located. Detecting even minor “asymmetries” in brain function may be considered by the FN practitioner as significant, one of the major differences between mainstream neurology and FN.
Many diagnostic tests may be employed in an FN assessment, some unique to FN, but most of them compatible with traditional neurology.
FN Treatment Theories
The primary objective is to restore function to the CIS to initiate physiological changes in the body and brain.
Treatment modalities include eye exercises, nutrition, breathing exercises, counting backward, joint manipulations, sound therapy, spatial rearrangement exercises, reminiscing about old photos and telling stories, trigger point stimulation, transcutaneous electrical stimulation, special physical exercises and more.
Common Treatment Conditions
- Common diagnosis often responsive to FN include:
- Mood Disorders
- Neurodevelopmental disorders
- Post-stroke conditions
- Regional Pain Syndrome
- Parkinson’s Disease
FN offers a different approach to disorders western medicine often fails. It is also used in conjunction with traditional neurological techniques as a complementary therapy.
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