WHAT IS FUNCTIONAL NEURO-REHABILITATION? (by Dr Tony Cassis)
Functional neurology, chiropractic neurology or neuro-rehabilitation are often used interchangeably by graduates and students of the American Chiropractic Neurology Board, (DACNB) (www.acnb.org). To be qualified as a DACNB, Chiropractors must attend a minimum of 300 hours of lectures then pass a series of extremely rigorous written and practical examinations.
Functional neurology is NOT medical neurology. In fact, the term ‘neurologist’ in Australia is reserved exclusively for medically trained and certified neurologists, as opposed to in the USA, where those with the DACNB credentials are recognised as specialists within the chiropractic profession. Medical neurologists are particularly interested in what is known as ‘ablative’ pathology – something that can be quantified through scans, blood tests or other medical investigations and given a disease diagnosis – for example stroke, Parkinson’s Disease and motor neuron disease.
Though trained to suspect and recognise these diseases, I will typically assess patients for evidence of nervous system ‘functional disconnection’ which may explain their symptoms or complaint. It is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO NOTE: I will only investigate for evidence of functional disconnection once I am satisfied that no medical, pathological cause for your symptoms exist. In the case of an existing medical diagnosis (such as post-stroke, or MS or Parkinson’s Disease) I will seek to assist you in minimising the effects of your condition activities of daily living (ADL’s), especially with regards to balance and independence. Indeed, if I suspect a disease process, that hasn’t already been thoroughly checked, I will recommend you to a medical specialist before I begin any therapy.
Typically, on your first visit, a detailed history of your symptoms will be undertaken to try and find specific nerve structures or networks that may not be functioning or connecting well. From there, I will conduct a thorough series of both technological and physical examinations to clarify what might be the problem and how I might help you. Typically, I will target nervous system dysfunction with a series of specifically designed home-based neurorehabilitation exercises designed to improve nervous system function and integration. This is possible because, with the right stimulation and exercises, the brain and nervous system can change to work better. The ability to improve your nervous function is known as neuroplasticity. Since neuroplasticity happens best with frequently repetition, in-house procedures plus home-based exercises get the best results.
Depending on the diagnosis, and assuming that patients are diligent with their home-based rehabilitation and management, I expect to begin to see improvement fairly quickly with this program. More chronic and long-standing conditions can take longer but I will continually assess progress to make sure patients are on track.
I look forward to the opportunity to assist you.