Functional Neurology

As the internet allows one access to information from around the world, one’s nervous system acts as the “information superhighway” to the body. The nervous system acts as the fundamental control system for all muscles, organs, and senses. It allows the brain to understand where the body is in time and space and responds with the appropriate balance and motion. The nervous system provides communication between the organs and one’s brain, keeps the heart and lungs, digestive and detox, reproductive and endocrine systems working in balance, and tells one when to relax and when to fight or try to escape.

Though the nervous system is composed of many pieces and is responsible for an unbelievable amount of information, it is basically broken down into two groups: the sensory/motor and the autonomic (sympathetic/parasympathetic).

1.) The sensory system recognizes where one is in time and space and the motor system responds to where one is in time and space.

2.) The autonomic system consists of two parts:

A. The parasympathetic nervous system, which controls one’s digestive, immune, hormonal, sexual, cognitive, and sleep functions.

B. The sympathetic nervous system, which tells one how to respond to a challenge or to a threat.

When something goes wrong with the nervous system, basically one of four actions occur:

1. Something will turn off when it should be on, resulting in too much (facilitation) activity.

2. Something will turn on when it should be off, resulting in not enough (inhibition) activity.

3. Something will turn on when it should be off, resulting in too much (facilitation) activity.

4. Something will turn off when it should be on, resulting in not enough (inhibition) activity.

Everything else is pretty much a combination of these four possible challenges. This can become much more complicated then was described above. However, from a beginning standpoint, this is the keystone to understanding dysfunctions associated with the nervous system.

Therefore, dysfunction of the nervous system can present with a wide range of signs and symptoms. When the sensory/motor system is affected, one may experience:

  • dizziness and vertigo

  • nausea

  • tinnitus

  • visual problems

  • tremors and shakes

  • weakness or spasticity

  • ablative lesions:

  • Parkinson’s

  • stroke

  • Traumatic Brain Injury

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (Autism-Asperger’s)

  • learning and behavioral disorders

  • OCD and Tourette’s

  • imbalances between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems can also result in dysfunction associated with:

  • mood

  • sleep

  • sexual

  • digestive

  • immune

  • cardiovascular

Functional neurology is an effective way of working with one’s systems to ensure optimal level of performance. The source of the neurological imbalance is identified through careful review of one’s history and a physical examination. By using non-drug therapies, designed to affect specific areas of the brain or body, doctors are able to speed up or slow down activity in the areas of the nervous system necessary to re-establish balance and maximize function.

How is this accomplished?

Functional neurology starts with the premise that the brain is a multimodal (can do more than one thing at once) system. In other words, the brain receives information from a variety of sources (the seven senses: Touch, Sight, Sound, Taste, Smell, Vestibular, Proprioception). Several of these systems almost always act in concert for the brain to appropriately understand and respond to the environment. Therefore, Functional Neurology utilizes a multimodal approach to treat dysfunctions of the nervous system. Why? As the brain uses different sources of input to regulate, while in a healthy normal state, it also uses multiple sources of information when trying to adjust while in a state of dysfunction. In cases such as cerebral palsy, genetic disorders, and other conditions where severe damage has been applied to the nervous system, the level of functional improvement may be hindered. However, as research is starting to show, the central nervous system has the potential for making plastic (lasting) changes and that given areas of the brain often have projections from many systems. The possibility for functional improvement always exists as long as there is some level of activity occurring in the brain.

Functional Neurology is neurology based upon the way one’s nervous system was designed to perform. By working with inputs such as light, sound, smell, and touch, along with motor activities, doctors offer the possibility for improved levels of function (decreased pain, improved balance, increased strength, better attention, etc). Utilizing these inputs over a period of time and at varying speeds (frequency) allows the nervous system the best chance to adapt and improve.

Types of Treatment:

Functional neurological approaches to therapy may include to use of:

  • Sound (Metronome, Listening Program

  • Light Therapy

  • Movement Therapy

  • Visual Exercises

  • Smell

  • Adjusting

  • Nutritional Support

  • Vestibular Exercise

  • Proprioception Therapy

  • Soft Tissue Therapy

  • Electrotherapy

  • Visualization Exercises

  • Mirror Imaging Exercise

  • Balance Exercises

  • Reflex Remediation Exercises

These are just a few examples of techniques that may be utilized to assist in improving an individual’s functional abilities. Each individual’s program is tailored to their specific needs.

The length of treatment varies based upon each individual’s case. Some people do better by undergoing an initial short-term intensive program of being seen several times a week for 4-8 weeks. Others, however, do well with an initial 3-4 visits to establish a home-based functional neurological program, with follow-up visits every 6-10 weeks. The level of care is based upon the severity of the neurological compromise, as well as what the individual wishes to try and accomplish.

Dr. Miller is a Medicare provider and participates in a large number of private insurance plans, to include: Blue Cross, Aetna, Cigna, Remsco, CDPHP, MVP, United Healthcare, HealthNow, Empire (Not NYSHIP – sorry), AARP, and many more. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Miller and start a functional neurological program, just call 607-729-0591 or click to contact him.

A little video demonstrating functional neurology.

Click to download a brochure on TEMPORAL SEQUENCING

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