I was so blessed to discover the world of Functional Neurology, also called Chiropractic Neurology, and I think you will be too!
To begin, the conventional neurologists that I had gone to see previously were very limited in the types of testing they could order for further assessment, and only suggested prescription drugs as a solution. Although the prescriptions seemed to temporarily mask some of my symptoms, I encountered more symptoms as side effects that ultimately set me back in my recovery process instead of actually helping me get better.
In addition, since I have multiple, complicated injuries to my brain and also have genetic expressions that interfere with my body’s ability to methylate prescriptions properly, I don’t respond well to medications. This definitely explains why the traditional technique applied by most neurologists of managing symptoms with medication and then adding more meds on top to manage the side effects of the first drugs, just doesn’t help me at all. I have talked with some people who have found a drug that really helps them with the one symptom they have and they get on with their lives, but that just wasn’t me. I have since found that I am in good company with many of my friends who have also suffered TBI, especially those of us with multiple injuries.
Finding well-trained Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologists has been an incredible blessing in my healing journey. Functional Neurologists have access to the most cutting edge technology to measure brain function and diagnose deficiencies. The treatment focuses less on drugs and more on rehabilitating the brain to function properly again. It is finally common knowledge in modern neuroscience that our brains are plastic (malleable or moldable), even as an adult, and that many functions that had been lost through brain injury can be restored with time and effort.
It was incredibly refreshing to hear for the first time that the symptoms that my conventional doctors were totally unfamiliar with: 1.already had scientific names, 2.were very typical of someone who has had multiple head injuries, and here is the best part, 3. were treatable without drugs!
At my very first appointment, I was blown away not only by the fact that these doctors were familiar with the symptoms that I was experiencing, but that they could also explain to me why they were happening and how we can train my brain to fix them. Tests existed that showed me on paper what I had been trying to explain to old fashioned doctors for years.
For example, I was trying to explain that my eyes would wiggle whenever I tried to focus on an object. I said it sheepishly because I knew it sounded weird but then when I told my new functional neurologist, he chimed in and said, “oh those sound like square wave jerks.” “Square wave what?” He took me into a room to do VNG testing (Videonystagmography). Here is how it works - a device was placed on my head that had high tech cameras on my eyes and then the doctor had me do a series of eye tracking tests by having me follow the objects on the screen in front of me. First of all, I could barely make it through the test, it was so exhausting. This already revealed that I had post-concussive vision syndrome. He showed me the results, and sure enough its whole purpose was to track and measure all of my “eye wiggles” and more. This explained so many of my symptoms and along with a detailed examination, gave the doctors the exact data they needed to formulate a vision therapy plan.
This functional neurology practice was also the first to do a QEEG (quantitative EEG) of my brain, which I will go more into detail on another post. Basically it’s a test that measures the electrical activity in the different parts of your brain. It was absolutely crazy to be able to see on paper the dysregulation in my brain in patterns that were consistent with the common after effects of multiple head injuries. Then it went on to describe the symptoms that I was likely experiencing based on the brain map and it was spot on. We also went through more testing, including a neurological evaluation, interactive metronome (measures the ability of my brain to regulate timing), and computerized posturography (balance testing). Test after test revealed deficits in my brain's functioning and helped my doctors put together a plan of action to help me get better.
Although the practice of Functional Neurology has been around for generations, it is growing increasingly popular, as more and more of us with brain challenges and neurological issues get tired of dealing with standard neurologists and other doctors, who have treated us very poorly and done little or nothing to help our debilitating symptoms. Many symptoms that my regular neurologists told me I would have to live with forever and would only get worse with time, have completely disappeared under the rehabilitative care of a Chiropractic Neurologist. Instead of suggesting more drugs to just “manage the symptoms”, the doctors actually created a strategy to help me create new neural pathways in my brain to treat the underlying cause(s) of the symptoms themselves.
Even though Functional Neurologists will often put themselves under the category of Chiropractic, they are much less about realigning your spine and more about rehabilitating your brain and nervous system. The chiropractic label just gives them a category to fall under for insurance purposes as their unique practice becomes more well known and widely accepted. New Functional Neurology clinics are popping up all over North America and people are traveling across the world to go to them. Depending on your insurance coverage and how the clinic bills your services, you may have to pay a lot more for care, but it’s worth every penny when you start to get your life back again. Clinics range from a more elaborate 5, 10, or 15 day intensive program that averages a little over $1000 a day, to offering smaller appointments a couple times a week that vary in price. Some clinics have billed my insurance straight away and some I had to file myself to obtain partial reimbursement.
Now, before you go thinking that every doctor with “Chiropractic Neurologist” behind their name is a Godsend, please use discretion as you search one out. As is the case with any type of medical practitioner, the good the bad and the clueless often practice under the same title and went to the same schools. I have been to amazing Functional Neurologists who did extensive testing and were very meticulous in my treatment, checking my oxygen levels, heart rate, etc during my therapies. On the other hand, I’ve also been to one who was great with genetic research and methylation, but then for therapy, he put me in a room by myself to do a generalized exercise that blew a fuse in my brain, and acted surprised when I couldn’t even stand up or walk afterward. So just like any doctor, when you go to check them out, make sure that they are good listeners and you feel absolutely comfortable in their care. In other words, if they seem more focused on impressing you with all of their knowledge of a “one size fits all care plan” that they invented, than listening to you and researching the perfect plan for your brain’s recovery, find a new one.
Stay away from any medical care practitioner that seems more interested in defending their treatment program and their ego, than helping an individual get better in any way they can. This goes for doctors of every kind, in every field. I have seen MD’s that just wanted to give me drugs to cover up symptoms and I have been to some that very much want to help me fix the actual problem. I have also been to NaturoPaths that just wanted to tell me I had candida and leaky gut and sell me their supplements, and some who actually did legitimate lab testing to help me find what was actually causing my symptoms. Stay clear of Doctors/Technicians that tend to make it seem like you are the reason you aren’t achieving results versus admitting something they tried wasn’t working and changing up their treatment plan to fit your brain’s needs.
Everyone’s brain is different, every injury is unique. There is no one magical treatment that fixes everyone. A good doctor understands that, respects that, and will work with the other care providers on your team to help you achieve the best results possible. Also, it is important to understand that every doctor has their special niche. The ones who are better at administering physical brain training therapies may not be as familiar with the nutrition and methylation side of things and visa versa. That is where a full team of professionals helping you is always the best approach.
Concussion/Traumatic Brain Injury
Acquired Brain Injury
Hypoxic Brain Injury
Alzheimer's and Dementia
Movement Disorders (Ataxia, Dystonia, etc)
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)
Dysautonomia and POTS
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Restless Leg Syndrome
(eventually I will be doing individual posts on each of these to explain them more)
Quantitative EEG (QEEG) or Brain Mapping
Autonomic Function Evaluation
Videonystagmography (VNG) testing
Saccadic Eye Movement Training
Computerized Dynamic Posturography (CDP)
Somatosensory Evoked Potentials (SSEP)
Sensory stimulation therapy (SST)
The author of this post is not a doctor, nor did she recieve any compensation or treatment for writing it. Liz is a TBI survivor that just wants to show others her unbiased opinion on what she has done in her treament so far and bring awareness about what is available to help others like her.