Neurological physiotherapy involves the treatment of people with movement and function disorders that have originated from problems within the body’s nervous and neuromuscular system. These conditions often manifest themselves as muscle weakness, poor balance and coordination, uncontrolled muscle spasm and tremors, loss of function and decreased sensation. Neurological Physiotherapy is able to kick-start the message pathways that your brain is struggling to use, to make new pathways through repetitive actions and exercises. Many of the patients who undergo Neurological Physiotherapy can improve symptoms such as, difficulties with loss of balance, loss of hand and arm, or leg and foot function, walking, spasticity and pain. It is a process that centrally involves the disabled person in making plans and setting goals that are important and relevant to their own particular circumstances.
By focusing on all aspects of a person's functional independence and well-being, Neurorehabilitation offers a series of therapies from the medications, physiotherapy, and speech and swallow therapy, psychological therapies, occupational therapies, teaching or re-training patients on mobility skills, communication processes, and other aspects of that person's daily routine. Neurorehabilitation also provides focuses on nutrition, psychological, and creative parts of a person's recovery.
Many neuro-rehabilitation programs, whether offered by hospitals or at private, specialized clinics, have a wide variety of specialists in many different fields to provide the most well rounded treatment of patients. These treatments, over a period of time, and often over the lifetime of a person, allow that individual and that person's family to live the most normal, independent life possible.
COMMON CONDITIONS TREATED IN NEUROLOGICAL PHYSIOTHERAPY
Each of the conditions managed with neurological physiotherapy differs in how they affect the nervous system. However, the impairments of the diagnoses are similar. Physicians recommend neurological physiotherapy for patients suffering from poor balance and coordination, gait issues, vision changes, and those who cannot walk and struggle with self-care/daily living activities.
- Microcephaly: Microcephaly is a rare neurological condition which results in an infant's head to be smaller than other children the same age and gender; this can occur in the womb or after birth but is a result of the brain growing abnormally. It can be a congenital condition (present from birth) or it can occur later in infancy. It often causes learning disabilities and neurological conditions.
- Post-polio syndrome. (PPS, poliomyelitis sequelae) is a group of latent symptoms of poliomyelitis (polio), occurring at about a 25 to 40% rate (latest data greater than 80%). It is a viral infection of the nervous system after the initial infection. Symptoms typically occur 15 to 30 years after an initial acute paralytic attack. Symptoms include decreasing muscular function or acute weakness with pain and fatigue. The same symptoms may also occur years after a non-paralytic polio (NPP) infection.
- Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS) is a rapid-onset muscle weakness caused by the immune system damaging the peripheral nervous system. The initial symptoms are typically changes in sensation or pain often in the back along with muscle weakness, beginning in the feet and hands, often spreading to the arms and upper body, with both sides being involved.
- Stroke— Blood flow to the brain is restricted during a stroke, causing the death of brain cells. Symptoms manifest from the damaged portion of the brain.
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): Brain dysfunction resulting from a bump, blow, or sudden jolt to the head.
- Parkinson’s disease: A neurodegenerative disorder of primarily the dopamine neurons in the brain. The disease affects movement, sleep, and cognition.
- Alzheimer’s disease: A neurodegenerative disease-causing brain cells to degenerate. The loss of brain cells leads to dementia, which is a decline in memory, thinking, and behavioral skills.
- Spinal Cord Injuries: The spine connects a complex system of nerves to the brain. When a spinal cord injury occurs, force to the vertebrae, ligaments or discs of the spinal column impede nerves from communicating with the body. Those with a spinal cord injury lose function below the site of injury. They can experience weakness, loss of strength and sensation, impaired breathing, and loss of bowel or bladder control.
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS): In MS, the body’s immune system damages the nerves of the central nervous system. The immune system degrades myelin (the protective covering of the nerves). The symptoms vary depending on which nerves are compromised.
- Cerebral Palsy: A disorder characterized by motor disability (i.e. the ability to move and maintain balance and posture) in childhood. People with cerebral palsy cannot control their muscles due to abnormal brain development.
- Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease (CMT): CMT is an inherited disorder of the nervous system which causes a progressive loss of muscle tissue from the damage to peripheral nerves. It is also called heredity motor and sensory neuropathy.
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS): A neurodegenerative disease affecting motor neurons. As motor neurons die off, voluntary movement is lost.
- Chronic Pain: Back pain and chronic pain conditions can be primary or secondary to other neurological disorders. The effect on quality of life is a huge reason why patients begin neurological physiotherapy for their chronic pain.
Neurological rehabilitation physical therapy works to stimulate the nervous system through therapeutic activities and exercises, helping you to learn new ways to move. Treatment plans are unique to your condition or injury, focusing on improving cardiovascular function, strength, movement, balance and overall coordination. Physiotherapists help you optimize functionality in your current condition, as well as advice on ways to modify work and home spaces for safe, efficient and independent living.
Benefits may include:
Muscle movement training is used to strengthen muscles weakened by your condition or injury. Physiotherapists may focus on increasing muscle control and range of motion, as well as managing or decreasing spasticity (when muscles continuously contract).
Gait training or re-training helps you develop easy and effective strategies for walking independently, on different surfaces and for a variety of activities. In some cases, mobility aids are incorporated to help with balance, posture and ease of movement. Physiotherapy treatments may involve teaching proper techniques for using these aids.
Balance training works to improve your steadiness and confidence in walking and regular activities. When balance is improved, falls and related injuries are less likely to occur.