What is Functional Neurology and How Can it Help?

Dr. Katherine McDermont is a board certified Chiropractic Neurologist with a practice in San Mateo, CA. She treats patients with balance and vertigo problems, sciatica, neck and back pain, concussion and sports injuries as well as anxiety and depression. We invited her to explain what Functional Neurology is and how it can help patients who suffer from these conditions. Here is here her explanation of the what and how of functional neurology:

Functional Neurology and VertigoWe all agree conditions like imbalance, depression, anxiety, vertigo, post-concussion syndrome, etc. are problems with the brain. Yet, more often than not, we do brain imaging on these patients and do not find any abnormality in which we can point fingers at an apparent lesion. In cases like these, Functional Neurology is a branch of science that can be very helpful to understand the mechanism of what causes these conditions and symptoms.

Functional Neurology is the practice of neurology without the use of drugs or surgery. It is the understanding of how the nervous system (think brain, spinal cord, nerves) works and how the body can be assessed in real time, to determine if there are weaknesses in communication from the brain to the body. This communication is made up of very complex feedback systems and reflexes.

A Functional Neurologist or Chiropractic Neurologist is trained to determine if there are deficits in these pathways. Once identified, he or she will create customized exercises and tasks to strengthen these deficits. Just like strengthening weak muscles after a fracture, you can create changes in weak pathways in the brain. This is called neuroplasticity. Many symptoms of brain-based issues like anxiety, depression, balance challenges, vertigo, etc. are the result of weak pathways or communication in the brain.

A Functional Neurology assessment includes:

  • extensive eye tracking measurements called videonystagmography (VNG)
  • balance assessments called posturography
  • and a comprehensive neurological examination.

The distinction with Functional Neurology is that it is based on the understanding of how your body works and therefore, your rehabilitation will be uniquely designed for you. For instance, 20 different cases of vertigo could have 20 different rehabilitation strategies based on their individual needs. Rehabilitation can include but is not limited to using iPad applications for customized eye tracking programs, cerebellar neuro-feedback, vestibular rehabilitation, tinted lenses, hand-eye coordination and reaction time therapies.
Dr, Katherine McDermont

For further questions, please contact Dr. Katherine McDermont, board certified Chiropractic Neurologist.

Thanks for your thoughtful response Dr. McDermont.

~Karl Power, CEO

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