Achieving Freedom Through Movement
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» Neurologic Conditions & Movement Disorders : Functional Neurological Disorders

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What is Functional Neurological / Movement Disorder? 

According to the Functional Neurological Disorder Hope website, a Functional Neurological Disorder (FND) is a problem with the functioning of the nervous system and how the brain and body send and receive signals. Physical and/or psychological risk factors can cause functional symptoms that include a variety of physical, sensory and cognitive symptoms but are not yet explained by a recognized disease.

Functional Neurological Disorders are considered to be multifactorial, which means many different risk factors can contribute to the development of the disorder. The symptoms are real and can cause impairment in quality of life that is similar to, and in some aspects worse, than other neurological conditions. FND occupies a grey area between psychiatry and neurology that historically has failed to gain the interest of researchers and clinicians. The prevalence and potential reversibility of functional illness have piqued new research interests and new scientific findings are influencing how patients are diagnosed, treated, and creating an overall change in attitude toward Functional Neurological Disorders. 

  • The most common misconception is that FND patients are in control of some or all of their symptoms, but we now know that the patient does not consciously produce functional symptoms.
  • Functional Neurological Disorder symptoms are often described as appearing suddenly and progressing rapidly. Symptoms typically wax and wane, including complete remissions and sudden recurrences. It is common for other illness or physical injury to trigger functional symptoms or for patients to develop functional overlay with concurrent illnesses. The co-occurrence of functional symptoms should not impede the care and treatment of the underlying illness. 
  • The most important first step toward a successful treatment for Functional Neurological Disorder comes from clear and effective communication in a mutually respectful environment. The clinician’s ability to explain the diagnosis and educate the patient is of critical importance to the subsequent likelihood of successful treatment. Evidence is now emerging for the utility of multidisciplinary treatment, especially specific physical therapist care (for motor symptoms) and psychotherapy (for attacks or seizures). 

What Types of Treatment Do You Provide for People with Functional Neurological / Movement Disorder? 

A highly individualized physical therapist care program, in combination with psychotherapy, has been shown to have the most successful outcomes for people with FND / FMD. Your physical therapist will evaluate your strength, flexibility, balance, gait, and other motor symptoms at your initial evaluation and work with you to create an individualized program to address any limitations or impairments you are currently experiencing. 

  • Aerobic Exercise: Aerobic exercise has been shown to not only improve cardiovascular function, but also reduces overall stress levels, combats depression and anxiety, and helps to boost brain power. If you’re a seasoned athlete or a first-timer, your physical therapist will work with you calculate your individual moderate & high-intensity zones, monitor your heart rate during exercise, and create a program that you can perform in the gym or at home. 
  • Strength Training: Your physical therapist will evaluate the strength in your legs, arms, and core then work with you to create an individualized strengthening program that targets muscles or muscle groups where there might be weakness to keep you functioning at your most optimal level. 
  • Flexibility Training: The key to maintaining mobility is a balance between strength & flexibility. Flexibility training helps to maintain & improve range of motion to decrease pain levels and prevent future injury. Your physical therapist will evaluate any issues you may have with flexibility and create a program tailored to your specific needs. 
  • Balance Training: At your first visit, your physical therapist will evaluate several components of your balance system to prepare an individualized program to improve your ability to maintain your balance in a number of environments and reduce your overall risk for falls. 
  • Gait Training: At your first visit, your physical therapist will perform a gait analysis and prepare an individualized program to improve your walking speed, pattern, and efficiency. 
  • Sensory Retraining: People with FND/FMD at times have difficulties with the processes by which their brains process & synthesize incoming sensory information from within the body & within the environment. Your physical therapist will evaluate your sensory systems, as well as their integration, to create an individualized program for practice during the PT session as well as at home.  

Please call (773) 665-9950 for more information or schedule an onsite or virtual appointment.

 Helpful Links for People with FND/FMD 

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