Following emergency care at the time of a head injury, most people see their primary care physicians for follow-up concussion care. The physician might ask about symptoms or perform a short physical examination to determine whether or not the individual is ‘clear’ to return to work, school or sports play. This type of evaluation doesn’t give much attention (if any at all) to brain function; no tests are performed and no measurements are taken to determine what’s really going on, or what might be needed in terms of rehabilitation.
Functional neurology, by contrast, takes an integrative approach to post-concussion care. This means that all aspects of the patient’s health are evaluated fully, including the all important brain-body connection that may be affected by a brain injury. It’s impossible to report something you aren’t able to ‘feel’ to a physician, even though it could result in symptoms that profoundly affect your quality of life in the weeks, months or even years after a head injury. A truly comprehensive evaluation that includes an in-depth neurological exam will reveal any imbalances or dysfunctions—even ones you may not be aware are occurring.
A comprehensive concussion evaluation performed by a functional neurologist doesn’t involve any guesswork. Instead, measures are used that are designed to reveal a precise and complete picture of function. These include such measures as coordination testing, mental status evaluations, motor testing for muscular imbalances, and sensory perception tests. No two brain injuries are the same, so it’s important to gain an accurate and complete understanding of each patient’s condition. This allows for the type of customized care that has proven effective in helping concussion sufferers heal and recover as fully and efficiently as possible.
Functional neurology takes advantage of a variety of therapy techniques to restore brain function. Progress is monitored carefully; objective measurements are used to track progress. One of the advantages of functional neurology is the ability to adjust care in accordance with results. Different types of therapies can be utilized and combined as needed to help ensure progress in strengthening the brain is ongoing.
Sometimes more than ‘standard’ care is needed to help the brain heal after a concussion, and without the right support, symptoms linger or worsen. For some concussion patients, things never go back to the way they were prior to the injury unless they receive proper therapeutic support.
An integrative approach to concussion care is essential because nobody can afford to take chances with brain function. After a concussion, healing and recovery isn’t a given, even with adequate rest for an extended period of time. Functional neurology doesn’t offer ‘quick fixes,’ although it is very possible for real improvements to happen in a relatively short period of time with integrative care.