When the nervous system is out of balance, you can develop a wide range of sensory and motor control symptoms from dizziness and vertigo, nausea, tinnitus, and visual problems, tremors and shakes, weakness or spasticity, as well as problems including Parkinson’s, post-Stroke, and traumatic brain injuries. Autism and Asperger’s, learning and behavioral disorders, attention deficits, OCD and Tourette’s, which often occur in childhood and continue into adulthood, are neurologically based. Imbalances between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems can result in mood, sleep, sexual, digestive, immune, and cardiovascular problems. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
‘Learning’ is all about the parts of the brain working together in an intricately choreographed dance, which requires precise timing and sequencing to input, store, and retrieve information. Virtually everything that happens in your body depends on your nervous system.
We first identify the source of neurological issues through careful examination procedures. Then, by using potent non-drug therapies applied with precision to specific areas of the body, we are able to speed up or slow down activity in the areas of the nervous system necessary to re-establish the balance and function, which define the optimum state of your health.
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.
Functional Neurological Rehabilitation and Brain Based Exercises
One of the hallmark methods of a Functional Neurologist are Functional Neurological Rehabilitation Exercises. After determining which areas of the brain that are not firing properly or not working together with each other the way they should, simple brain based exercises are personalized and performed to help these areas of the brain communicate better. These exercises are based on the unique needs of the patient based upon signs and observations from the Modified Functional Neurological Exam. These exercises are often quite simple to perform and might seem too easy, basic or trivial to some. Some exercises might only take a few seconds to perform while others might take several minutes, it all depends upon how soon your brain fatigues while performing these tasks.
Performing these simple, graduated exercises reawakens the repair mechanisms in the pathways in the brain, that were previously tested as not working optimally, and allows for better communication and firing. It is only after one masters these simple individualized training sessions that one can move onto more advanced exercises. It is vital to brain recovery for one to master the small stuff before moving on. Advanced training will move much more swiftly when the seemingly more trivial and minute pathways have been carefully mastered.
You must learn how to crawl before walking. You don’t just jump on a tight rope and start walking. You don’t catch a fastball thrown at you without learning how to catch a ball that’s been lobbed at you first. It’s simply too much for your brain to process without having been trained how to perform such a task. When one suffers from a brain injury, there are connections in the brain that no longer communicate with each other even though they previously did. Now in order for them to converse properly they have to create new pathways and learn how to communicate all over again.
Neurofeedback for Brain Balance
QEEG driven Neurofeedback is the most common neurofeedback approach that most resembles the “medical model”. The procedure begins with a Brain Map (QEEG) being performed. This uses many sensors that are attached to your head to measure how your brain is functioning compared to a database of “normal” brains. Scientists have produced such databases to be able to compare an individual’s brain to a highly functioning group of people with similar age and gender. In doing so we are then able to evaluate how an individual’s brain is functioning in comparison to an “optimal” group of highly functioning people. Assessing the degree in which an individual’s brain differs from normal allows the doctor or therapist to write a computer program to assist the individual in the learning process that will lead to the normalization of these differences. Abnormal readings usually coordinates with the patient’s symptoms. Comprising a protocol that normalizes these abnormal readings often reduces the symptoms that are caused by these abnormally functioning regions. Basically, you can learn how not to be depressed, anxious, emotionally unstable, or unfocussed.
If one part of the brain is out of kilter, the effects can ripple through the whole organism. We look at the electrical patterns generated by the brain to see the nature of the imbalance or dysregulation – both on a surface and deep brain level. By training specifically to correct the underlying imbalances, symptoms diminish.