Functional Neurology like standard neurology, will test and evaluate for pathologies utilizing the same tests, studies and procedures. After gathering this data, a person is then given a diagnoses. This is where the similarities stop. What is done with these findings is what makes or breaks a particular case. Historically, doctors have looked at nervous system abnormalities and attempted to solve them primarily with the use of drugs and surgery, because these were the only tools they had been trained in or knew how to use at the time. The tools have changed since then, but only recently. Numerous groundbreaking discoveries were made during the Decade of the Brain (1990-2000) which was funded by the National institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland.
Functional Neurology is a system in which measurable exam findings (such as heart rate, respiration, motor output of muscles, EEG analysis, sensory testing, posture, reflexes, sense, etc.) are used to determine if a functional loss is present. A functional loss simply represents altered/impaired nervous system performance without pathology. If a functional loss is present, it is then determined where the loss stems from (such as brain, cerebellum, peripheral nerves etc.) From there, a plan of specific exercises is crafted in order to stimulate the weak areas and regain proper function by very precisely applying specific forms of movement, light, sound, and touch. This therapeutic approach, which works quite well without drugs and surgery, is known as “Functional Neurology”.
Functional neurology focuses on improving the body’s function as a primary method of improving the health of patients. Instead of just a symptom based treatment approach, functional neurology addresses underlying causes. A functional neurologist evaluates for subtle imbalances in the function of the nervous system. It is this expertise in detecting and determining how to retrain these subtle changes in function that sets a functional neurologist apart from other specialists. When there is an imbalance in the system, we can usually correct it. Even with pathological conditions, sometimes a functional approach allows for increased healing called neuroplasticity to occur.