Functional neurology is a concept based on the premise that the brain has the ability to make new connections, prune old and unused ones and strengthen those connections we use most. This is called neuroplasticity. When we break down what our brains do for us, it is as simple as this…the #1 job of our brains is to know where we are in space so we can appropriately respond to our environment. For instance, I can reach over a pick up and pen without knocking it off of the table only because I know where I am in space first. We know where we are in space by 3 very important inputs: our vision, vestibular and proprioceptive pathways.
Vision is quite clear. Vestibular is a fancy word for the balance centers of the inner ear (cochlear = hearing, vestibular = balance). Proprioception is an umbrella term including light touch, vibration, joint position sense, muscle spindle tone, etc. that sends information to the brain about where the body and head are in space. Another term often used is somatosensory (essentially body sense). So again…vision, vestibular and proprioception.
When one or more of these inputs are off and sending aberrant information to the brain about where you are in space, the brain has to expend an exorbitant amount of energy just to figure out how to navigate throughout your world. Unfortunately, this doesn’t lend much energy to higher cortical functions like the ability to organize, plan and stay on task, consolidate memory or even the ability to regulate your emotions. Often times patients will seek care when an obvious mechanism of injury occurs and they start to feel “not quite right,” develop brain fog or focus and concentration issues. But there are those who think what is occurring, because there hasn’t been a known injury, is a natural part of the aging process. It is not.
If you are experiencing symptoms that are less than ideal, please call for a 5-10 minute consult to see if a full functional neurological evaluation is appropriate. We will be looking at vision, vestibular function and proprioceptive pathways to assess how to increase function and improve quality of life through neuroplastic changes.