Functional Neurology: Is a little-known sub-specialty the answer for many TBI patients?
Functional neurology, also known as complementary and integrative neurology, is a non-pharmacological or surgical specialty that rehabilitates and treats nervous system disorders. Functional neurologists rely on a large array of treatment options, such as various therapies, chiropractic manipulation, dietary changes, sleep interventions, and more. These cutting-edge alternative and integrative practices are especially alluring for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) patients, where traditional neurology often fails to treat the full picture due to both the complexity and the relative dearth of research in this population (Zellmer, n.d). In fact, functional neurology is a thriving sub-specialty treatment option for those who know about it. Neuro-optometrists, neuro-ophthalmologists, neuropsychologists, and neurologists are just a small sampling of specialists that refer to functional neurology with much success.
What Makes Functional Neurology Unique?
The question begging to be asked is: what makes functional neurology different than the many specialties that refer to it? The largest overarching difference is with the educational training between them. Neurologists and neuro-ophthalmologists have been trained under the traditional medical model and have an MD degree. and Other specialists such as neuro-optometrists and neuropsychologists have doctoral training such as an OD or Ph.D. with additional specialization. Functional neurologists, however, are usually trained under the chiropractic discipline with additional training in functional neurology and usually carry the initials DC to denote their unique training. The rigorous chiropractic and integrative medicine model of functional neurologists often allow for deeper and more meaningful changes than those that can be offered through traditional medicine alone. This is especially the case in incidences where a TBI patient is unsure of the root cause of their difficulties (Jahangiri, n.d.). Functional neurologists are also less hindered by insurance constraints, such as appointment duration and coverage over supplements or cutting-edge tests, which partially mediates their success rates. However, functional neurology is still a recognized sub-specialty covered by most insurances (Loewan, 2020; Hope After Brain Injury, n.d). Another key difference between functional neurology and referring specialties is in their diagnostic exams. While neurology and other specialties may make use of specialized imaging and testing, functional neurology is more concerned with an expert chiropractic neurological exam that looks at not just how the central nervous system is doing, but also how the rest of the body is being affected. This whole-body approach is often exactly what is needed in cases where test results do not lead to an integrated treatment approach for the patient—especially when symptoms do not correlate well with test results (The Functional Neurology Center, n.d.)
Functional Neurology Techniques:
Some of the varied holistic treatment modalities employed by functional neurologists include:
- Occupational therapy
- Cognitive training
- Chiropractic manipulation
- Vision therapy
- Numerous physiotherapy modalities
- Auditory therapy
- Gait réhabilitation
- Sleep schedule optimization
- Nutritional interventions
- And more
As previously mentioned, functional neurology is great for holistic care, especially when the clinical picture is more severe than the current testing in traditional medicine can obtain. It is great for medically complex patients such as TBI survivors, who could benefit from both the relative autonomy that is afforded to functional neurology practitioners and the extra specialized chiropractic training. All in all, functional neurology is a great treatment option for TBI patients who are looking for that last specialist to make sense of their clinical puzzle.
Power of Patients Featured Functional Neurologist
Interested in finding a functional neurologist to assist with your or your loved one’s care? Michael Lovich DC DACNB DACBSP is a Board-Certified Chiropractic Functional Neurologist, and Board-Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician. In addition, he holds an MS in sports medicine with additional training in brain-based functional medicine, and functional movement-based rehabilitation. He has also served as a medical director and on the medical staff for various organizations and events in professional, amateur, collegiate, and high school athletics. He specializes in integrating the physical aspects of sports medicine and chiropractic care with the brain’s neurological and physiological systems that are often overlooked. He is the owner of Delta S Performance, Functional Neurology, and Sports Medicine, with clinics in the Denver, Boston, Seacoast, and Providence metro areas. Get in touch by email:
Where does Power of Patients fit in?
Power of Patients is committed to both serving the TBI community and driving clinical research. Using the Power of Patients customized symptom tracker to track one’s progress through the functional neurology medical route will not only help and your clinician better understand how the treatments are affecting you, but it will also give Power of Patients the opportunity to use your information to study effective treatments for TBI patients. Overall, it is a win-win situation for patients, caregivers, clinicians, and medical researchers. See how Power of Patient’s symptom tracker can help you or your loved one today!
Zellmer, Amy (n.d). Functional Neurology After Traumatic Brain Injury. Retrieved October 5, 2021, https://thefnc.com/research/downside-functional-neurology-brain-injury-dr-schmoe-huffington-post/
Jahangiri, Alexis (n.d). What is Functional Neurology and how can it help me?. Retrieved October 5, 2021, https://sdchironeuro.com/what-is-functional-neurology-and-how-can-it-help-me/
Loewan, Jaycie. (February 2020). Functional Neurology: What It Is and What Patients Need to Know. Retrieved October 5, 2021, https://www.cognitivefxusa.com/blog/functional-neurology-vs-neurology-what-you-need-to-know
Hope After Brain Injury. (n,d).Neurology vs. Functional Neurology. Retrieved October 5, 2021, https://www.hopeafterbraininjury.org/neurology-vs-functional-neurology/
The Functional Neurology Center. (n,d). Functional Neurology vs. a Neurologist. Retrieved October 5, 2021,https://thefnc.com/research/functional-neurology-vs-a-neurologist/