Positive effects of Functional Neurology in treating Neurodegenerative Disease
Neurodegenerative illnesses affect an estimated 50 million individuals globally, with that number expected to rise to 115 million by 2050. These disorders are deemed incurable since there is no known technique to stop the gradual destruction of neurons.
However, there are new and promising results in the field of Functional Neurology when it comes to treating patients with neurodegenerative disease. Through therapy and rehabilitation, the negative effects of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s can be mitigated by stimulating the current working parts of the neurological system and encouraging neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to regrow and regenerate new pathways in order to learn and adapt.)
Research in functional neurology has revealed that oxidative stress and inflammation are the two key contributors to neurodegeneration. At the subatomic level, biomedical research has shown several commonalities between these disorders, including aberrant protein assemblages (like proteinopathy) and triggered cell death. Because of these commonalities, therapeutic improvements in one neurodegenerative disease may benefit other diseases as well. Functional neurology is a branch of medicine that deals with neurodegenerative illness and offers a wide range of treatments and therapies.
We consulted functional neurology experts over at R U Well Adjusted in order to properly understand the benefits that functional neurology has to offer in curing neurodegenerative disease.
What is neurodegenerative disease?
The phrase “neurodegenerative disease” refers to a group of disorders that predominantly damage the neurons in the brain. Neurodegenerative disorders are a serious hazard to people’s health. These age-related illnesses are becoming more common, thanks to an increase in the older population in recent years.
The progressive loss of structure or function of neurons, known as neurodegeneration, is the cause of a neurodegenerative illness. Neurodegeneration can occur at several levels of neuronal circuitry in the brain, ranging from molecular to systemic.
The nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord, is made up of neurons. Because neurons do not ordinarily multiply or replenish themselves, they cannot be replaced by the body when they are injured or die. Cell death could result from such neural injury.
Programmed cell death
PCD, or programmed cell death, is the death of a cell caused by an intracellular program in any form. In neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, amytrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and Huntington’s disease, this mechanism is activated. PCD may be directly harmful in neurodegenerative illnesses, or it may emerge in reaction to other injuries or disease processes.
Apoptosis (type I)
In multicellular organisms, apoptosis is a type of planned cell death. One of the most common types of programmed cell death (PCD), it involves a series of biochemical events that result in a distinct cell shape and death.
Caspases (cysteine-aspartic acid proteases) cleave at amino acid residues that are exceedingly selective. Caspases are divided into two categories: initiators and effectors. Effector caspases’ inactive forms are cleaved by initiator caspases. This triggers the effectors, which then cleave additional proteins, triggering apoptosis.
Autophagic (type II)
Autophagy is an internal phagocytosis process in which a cell actively consumes damaged organelles or misfolded proteins by encapsulating them in an autophagosome, which then merges with a lysosome to eliminate the autophagosome’s contents. Defects in autophagy may be a common mechanism of neurodegeneration, owing to the presence of atypical protein aggregates in numerous neurodegenerative disorders.
Cytoplasmic (type III)
Non-apoptotic cell death, commonly known as Type III or cytoplasmic cell death, can also cause PCD. For example, trophotoxicity, or the overactivation of trophic factor receptors, could be the cause of type III PCD. At low doses, cytotoxins that cause PCD can cause necrosis, but at greater concentrations, they can cause aponecrosis (a mix of apoptosis and necrosis). Varying types of aponecrosis are caused by different combinations of apoptosis, non-apoptosis, and necrosis.
Transglutaminases are human enzymes that are found throughout the human body, but especially in the brain. Transglutaminases are enzymes that bind proteins and peptides intramolecularly and intermolecularly using isopeptide bonds in a process known as transamidation or crosslinking. These proteins and peptides clump together due to transglutaminase binding. Chemical and mechanical disruption are no longer a problem for the structures that develop.
The aberrant structures made up of proteins and peptides are present in the majority of significant human neurodegenerative disorders. One or more distinct major proteins or peptides are found in each of these neurodegenerative disorders. These are amyloid-beta and tau in Alzheimer’s disease. It is alpha-synuclein that causes Parkinson’s disease. Huntington’s disease is caused by a protein called huntingtin.
Amyloid-beta, tau, alpha-synuclein, and huntingtin have all been shown to be substrates of transglutaminases in vitro or in vivo, meaning that they can be covalently bound by transglutaminases to one other and potentially to any other transglutaminase substrate in the brain.
Transglutaminase increased expression: It has been proven that the expression of the transglutaminase enzyme is enhanced in certain neurological disorders (Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease).
Isopeptide bonds found in these structures: Isopeptide bonds (the product of the transglutaminase reaction) have been found in the aberrant structures that are typical of these neurodegenerative disorders.
Co-localization: In the autopsy of individuals with these disorders, co-localization of transglutaminase-mediated isopeptide bonds with these aberrant structures was discovered.
Types of Neurodegenerative diseases
Amyloidoses, tauopathies, -synucleinopathies, and TDP-43 proteinopathies are the most frequent neurodegenerative disorders. Proteins with aberrant conformational characteristics are found in these diseases. Growing research suggests that aberrant protein conformers can move from cell to cell along anatomically related pathways, which could explain some of the autopsy anatomical patterns. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, multiple system atrophy, and prion diseases are among the other neurodegenerative diseases.
Although neurodegenerative diseases are frequently presented as separate entities, there is frequently an overlap, such as between Alzheimer’s disease and Lewy body disorders. Neuropathology will continue to remain the gold standard for the foreseeable future because none of the neurodegenerative illnesses have complete diagnostic accuracy.
Understanding disparities between clinical and pathological diagnoses requires investigating disease heterogeneity at autopsy. This is a crucial issue since there are several attempts underway to identify biomarkers to diagnose and track illness development in clinical trials.
What is Functional Neurology?
To expand and enhance human function, functional neurology employs a number of evidence-based methods, such as visual rehabilitation, vestibular rehabilitation, proprioceptive rehabilitation, and a thorough grasp of neuroanatomy and its pathways. The process of rehabilitation is known as neuroplasticity.
Our brain and nervous system can strengthen and generate new neural pathways through the process of neuroplasticity. It, like muscular strengthening, is based on repetitions. You must use a muscle in order to grow it. The same is true with neurons. If you want to enlarge your brain, you must activate the areas that you wish to strengthen.
Chiropractic neurology is another name for functional neurology. Although chiropractors make up the bulk of functional neurology practitioners, the field includes a diverse range of healthcare specialists.
This speciality has been taught to medical doctors, osteopaths, physical therapists, naturopathic physicians, and a variety of other health professionals.
How can Functional Neurology help treat Neurodegenerative Diseases
Most neurological problems can be treated by functional neurologists since we treat the person rather than the disease. We can’t heal neurological illnesses or modify a person’s prognosis if they have a degenerative condition. Our treatment isn’t intended to treat diseases that aren’t treatable. Rather, our treatment focuses on improving function in the sections of the nervous system that are still functional, allowing our patients to have improved function and a higher quality of life.
In cases of neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease, many of the nerve cells are often permanently lost and some pathways at work in the nervous system can become irrevocably damaged. Despite promising developments made in neurologic research, there is regrettably no treatment that can reverse this damage. However, functional neurology engages patients in therapies that can positively influence the other remaining parts of the nervous system. Through precise treatment of what still works, functional neurology can still benefit patients with neurodegenerative diseases and give patients a healthy life and better well being. Stimulating and exercising existing neural pathways through various therapies can make patients more endurance, function efficiently, and allow for mental and motor skills for normal everyday life.
Therapies are focused around stimulation of neurological structures through various exercises. Stimuli utilized in therapy include electrical modalities, laser and light therapies, auditory and visual inputs, and tactile and proprioceptive therapies. These are employed to stimulate the portions of your brain that are deficient and to build endurance in your fragile systems. The insufficient areas are then stimulated by performing a series of workouts in a precise order and for specific tasks. As your brain’s endurance and efficiency improve, we progress from basic brain reflexes and processes to increasingly demanding activities. We create activities that bring the many problematic regions together and retrain them to work together. We next design exercises that allow us to imitate the situations in which you have the greatest difficulty and assist you rebuild your function in real-world situations.