WHAT IS FUNCTIONAL NEUROLOGY?
Neurology is a branch of medicine that deals with how the nervous system functions.
Your nervous system is a very elaborate system that controls various activities of the body. It includes the central nervous system, which is your brain and spinal cord, and your peripheral nervous system, which is all of your sensory organs and the nerves that connect them to your brain.
Your nervous system is like the electrical wiring of your body: it’s responsible for the signals that go back and forth between your brain and other parts of your body. These signals coordinate and regulate your voluntary movements (like moving your hand to pick up an object) and your involuntary movements (like digestion or breathing).
Problems with the nervous system can cause a lot of health issues, from headaches and seizures to stroke or diseases that affect memory or movement like Alzheimer’s or Parkinsons.
Traditional neurology focuses on diagnosing a neurological disease, and then using drugs or surgery to try to manage the disease. This approach can have some shortcomings, though:
First, what most people have is not a true pathology (disease), but rather a dysfunction or imbalance in their body’s functions. Conventional medicine only looks for diseases, not functional disorders, so it can end up using medications to control the symptoms of these disorders without actually addressing what is causing the problem in the first place.
Second, traditional medicine often has a “textbook” or cookie-cutter approach to health: Symptom A and B mean you have Condition C, so your treatment is Drug E and Surgery F. But you are an individual, not an equation in a textbook, and symptom A and B for you may mean something different than they do for another person.
Finally, there are a lot of conditions out there that, once diagnosed, have no conventional medical treatment, or at least none that are very effective.
HERE'S WHAT MAKES FUNCTIONAL NEUROLOGY DIFFERENT:
- Functional neurology takes a holistic approach, so it looks for the imbalances and disorders in the way the body functions, instead of just automatically equating certain symptoms with a pathology or disease.
- Functional neurology works to restore the body’s proper neurological functioning without drugs or surgery.
- People are seen as individuals in functional neurology, so there is no cookie-cutter approach. Your child’s ADHD may have a completely different treatment plan than that of your neighbor’s child.
- For all of these reasons, functional neurologists often work very successfully with individuals who may not have any options, or very limited options, offered to them by conventional neurology.
The basic concepts of functional neurology were developed by, Professor Frederick Carrick, of the Carrick Institute for Professional Studies in Florida.
His groundbreaking work shows that neurons (nerve cells) and the nervous system are responsible for regulating and coordinating our expression and experiences.
There are certain things our neurons need to be healthy: they need the proper exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, they need nutrients like glucose, and they need the stimulation and activation necessary for them to do their jobs.
Functional neurology looks at how well our neurons are getting the fuel and stimulation necessary for their health and proper functioning, and seeks to restore balance if there is any lack or dysfunction.
Functional neurologists can use a variety of tests for this, from simple physical exams to measuring characteristics of eye movements, but the tests are non-invasive, so they are safe and appropriate for a wide range of patients. A functional neurologist will use these tests to judge the reaction of different parts of the nervous system to see which areas may have a lack or imbalance. The same tests can be used later to judge how effective the treatment was.