Functional Neurology is on the leading edge of Neuroscience and is an exciting approach to healthcare. We engage your brain and body, challenge and optimize your sensory-motor systems, and help you to perform at the best of your abilities. In the human nervous system,
every part performs a specific function or set of functions.
Through careful assessment, a Functional Neurologist can not only determine which areas of a person’s nervous system are weak,
but also devise an appropriate treatment to improve the quality of how their nervous system functions.
The Neuroplasticity Concept
A key concept in understanding Functional Neurology is “neuroplasticity”. Nerve connections in the brain are considered “plastic” because they can be shaped or modified by sensory, motor, cognitive or emotional experiences. Simply put, what you are exposed to can rewire your nervous system.
While this system was once considered “fixed” or unable to change after full maturity, we know that your brain is capable of remarkable change every day you are alive. Furthermore, a nerve cell can grow connections to new neurons (synaptogenesis) and can even extend to far reaching areas (neuronal migration).
Functional Neurology promotes healthy plasticity of the nervous system through proper stimulation and fuel delivery, as in blood circulation. Treatment is aimed at not only protecting the nervous system, but giving it the activation that it needs to thrive. We now know that even a nervous system that is functioning poorly can be rehabilitated, often with progressive and permanent success.
Initial Consult with a Functional Neurologist
The first goal of a Functional Neurologist is to be thorough and precise in identifying the areas of your nervous system that are dysfunctional. This will form the foundation for the individualized treatment plan best suited for your condition and your health goals.
Prior to your first visit, you should obtain a copy of any X-rays, CTs, MRIs, blood tests results etc. you have had. These reports will give the doctor a more complete picture of your care to date. You will be asked about your history and overall current health.
This may include a description of:
- Your present symptoms
- The steps you have taken to manage your condition
- Your personal and family medical history
- Illnesses and traumas you may have experienced
- Surgeries, hospitalizations and medical procedures you may have had
- Medications and supplements you may be taking
- Your diet and exercise habits
- Your sleeping habits, daily activities, work routine, stress level and home life
The Functional Neurologist will then perform an examination focused on your nervous system and how it relates to the rest of your body. Please note that it is a good idea to wear comfortable clothes for your visit and that you may be asked to change into a gown.
Your exam may consist of:
- Checking your blood pressure, pulse and breathing
- Testing your reflexes, strength and sensations
- Assessing your posture and balance
- Analyzing how your body moves
- Evaluating eye movements
From the information collected the doctor will determine if a Functional Neurology treatment is right for you or if your condition would be more appropriately managed by another health care professional.
Cutting Edge Techniques:
- Balance and vestibular rehabilitation
- Light, sound, smell and touch stimulations
- Eye exercises
- Cognitive training
- Specific adjustments to the joints
Concussion Baseline Evaluation
A concussion causes damage to the brain effecting an individual’s eye movements, balance, spatial orientation, speed, accuracy, endurance, reaction time, thought, emotion, and overall health.
Proper testing should be performed to establish an individual’s baseline integrity in each of these domains. This is the benefit of a Concussion Baseline Evaluation. Dr. DeStephano was formally trained to perform baseline testing through the Carrick Institute.
Did you know:
- One out of every 10 athletes will experience a concussion during any given sport season
- Less than 10% of concussions result in a loss of consciousness (seeing stars, blacking out, etc.)
- 78% of all concussions occur during games, as opposed to practices.
- One out of 2 athletes DO NOT report feeling ANY symptoms after receiving a concussion.
- In some cases, undiagnosed and untreated concussions can result in the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and swelling of the brain (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, CTE)
Successes with Functional Neurology
People who consult a Functional Neurologist are typically searching for a better understanding of their symptoms. This often leads them to seek an alternative treatment to what traditional medical neurology has offered them.
- Neurodegenerative diseases
Parkinson’s, Multiple Systems Atrophy (MSA), Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, dementia, Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP), Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease), etc.
Multiple sclerosis (MS), transverse myelitis, B12 deficiency, etc.
Dystonia, torticollis, blepharospasm, tremor, myoclonus, tics, chorea, restless legs syndrome, dyspraxia, etc.
Ear and equilibrium problems
Vertigo, dizziness, motion sickness, labyrinthitis, vestibular neuronitis, acoustic neuroma, mal de débarquement, Menière’s disease, ataxia, Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), fear of falling, tinnitus, etc.
Headaches and pain syndromes
Migraine, cluster headache, tension headache, chronic pain, complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS, Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), causalgia), fibromyalgia, etc.
Traumatic brain injuries, peripheral nerve injuries.
POTS, Autonomic dysregulation. Orthostatic hypotension.
Nerve, nerve root and plexus disorders
Trigeminal neuralgia, Bell’s palsy, brachial plexus lesion, disc herniation, canal stenosis, intermittent claudication, carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica, meralgia paresthetica, cheiralgia paresthetica, morton’s metatarsalgia, tarsal tunnel syndrome, intercostal neuropathy, Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS), polyneuropathy, etc.
Autism, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD/ADHD), Asperger’s, Tourette (TS), Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), Pervasive developmental disorder (PDD), dyslexia, processing disorders, dyspraxia, learning disability, language developmental delay, global developmental delay, Down syndrome, Cerebral Palsy (CP), etc.
The are six types of concussion, identified by the symptoms they exhibit: vestibular (balance issues); ocular (vision problems); mood and anxiety, migraine headaches, and cervical (problems with the neck). Most concussion sufferers exhibit several of these symptoms, but one or two tend to predominate,