Functional Neurology and Brain Based Care

What is Functional Neurology?

Functional neurology methods use the same clinical tests as standard neurological science. Basically they both utilize tests that assess what parts of your brain work and what parts that may not be working as well as it should. Functional neurology takes it further by highlighting even the most subtle of asymmetries of patient findings. It can determine if one hemisphere of your brain is overactive or underactive. Functional neurology can determine if the problem is with the lobes of the brain, the cerebellum or a portion of your brainstem. Even subtle abnormalities can lead to a triangulation of any weak areas of the brain, or in some cases one might find overactive brain regions instead. Either way, this often results in custom designed brain exercises to correct those regions.

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Functional Neurological Exam

A Functional Neurological Examination must be performed in order to reveal which aspect of your brain is not firing properly. Since one side of your body is controlled by the opposite side brain (for the most part), a large majority of our treatments are geared towards working one part of the body to stimulate the opposite side of the brain.

Effective use of designer exercises

There are many ways to increase brain firing, but in order to successfully work on you we must determine which exercises or procedures are most effective for you. Having a pulse oximeter on you when performing an exercise, that was determined to be helpful at restoring lost function to a part of your brain, is the first step. Placing a pulse oximeter on you will show us your resting pulse and oxygen levels. After determining which areas of the brain that are not working as optimally as it should, we can devise a working exercise for you to do. These exercises could be visual (following an object in a very specific direction and at a specific rate), auditory (listening to specific sounds in a specific ear), and olfactory stimulation (smelling certain smells in a specific nostril). Balancing exercises (performing various balancing maneuvers with eyes open and/or closed), vibration therapy (placing various parts of the body on vibration plates that vibrate at various frequencies) and various computerized programs are some other brain treatments that are available. There are so many exercises and therapies that can be brain based that it would be impossible to note them all.

Just because you don’t have a disease doesn’t mean you don’t have symptoms

Why does knowing even the most subtle of abnormal neurological information be important in therapy? It’s important because it decides what to make of all of the information that we are taking in from the world around us. People who have imbalances in the brain that affect their lives usually do not have any disease, and their brain MRI is typically normal. They have neurological symptoms yet have no diagnosis, because there is no diseased brain tissue, only misfiring areas that do not work well with the rest of their brain. They feel like their ailments have become lost in translation when talking to various therapists and doctors. This is becomes frustrating because everyone involved is looking for a pathology or disease that is not showing up. The symptoms are real why won’t the exam findings and studies concur? Fortunately, Functional Neurology is aimed at helping cases like these.

Deeper treatment without overstimulating the brain and shutting it down

Basically, functional neurology helps direct treatment in the right direction. When treatment is aimed at up-training the precise abnormal brain regions, then increased function can be achieved. Functional Neurology directs whatever therapy is being applied to be able to work deeper and in a more targeted manner. It helps prevent the brain from fatiguing and prevent neurons from over-firing.

Key Points to Brain-Based Therapy


Messages from the outside world are sent from receptors of touch, sight, smell, pressure sense and balance to the spinal nerve roots. From here – these signals are further sent upwards to the cerebellum and brain via the spinal cord. All brain regions require input from other areas in order to stay healthy. Important signals are fed to the brain and it develops its response to the environment based on the information they convey. When these important signals never reach the brain or

these signals are distorted then optimal functionality is affected to some degree. Determining the reason for decreased brain function is what we hope to establish via functional neurology. After this, a treatment plan can be deciphered to include brain based therapies.

What is brain based care?

Brain Based Therapy is basically a system of treatment methods specifically designed from exam findings of the functional neurological examination. A functional neurological examination and other specific diagnostic testing helps determine which areas of the brain and nervous system are not functioning optimally. After these specific non functioning areas are found, a treatment plan can then be determined. The various types of Brain-Based Therapy treatments to help achieve balance is vast. Occupational therapy, Acupuncture, Physical Therapy, Chiropractic Adjustments, EMDR, Neurofeedback, Talk therapy, Interactive Metronome, Massage Therapy, are some therapies that can be specifically tweaked to meet the precise needs of the brain injured patient or client. Many times patients have actually had some of these therapies performed on them already, but have not seen any improvement. So why continue to do the same therapies or treatments that have previously shown not to work? Because of the unique alterations the brain had to go through after having sustained a brain injury, many treatments might have to be changed in order to work properly. Even if these treatments worked before the brain injury – they might not seemingly work now. They just need to be changed to suit the needs of the now altered state of the brain. Here are some examples of how a treatment might be adjusted following a head injury: – after a thorough neurologic examination – it might be determined that you should only receive chiropractic adjustments to the right side of your body, or massage therapy be applied only to your left, acupuncture be might need to be performed with a sedating approach instead of in a tonifying manner, balance exercise trainings to only include the right leg or even eye movement therapies to have the eye move in specific directions might be determined as the best approach for you.