Functional Neurology

What Is Functional Neurology?

Functional neurology is a treatment discipline for various neurological disorders. Functional neurologists may have subspecialties, but in general, they treat brain injury patients, degenerative disorders (such as dementia), movement disorders, vestibular challenges (i.e. balance and dizziness issues), or any other neurological disease or disorder of unknown origin (typically something that traditional doctors have not been able to diagnose and treat successfully).

Functional neurology does not include surgery or pharmaceutical solutions, but may employ some combination of chiropractic manipulation, various therapies, and recommended lifestyle changes.

Functional Neurology uses neurological based rehabilitation strategies aimed to manipulate the cells and connections of specific areas of the nervous system.  Activation of the brain influences multiple neurotransmitter systems and promotes not only new connections within the brain and spinal cord, but also leads to the creation of new neurons and blood vessels in the brain and spinal cord.  A health care specialty focused on the assessment, quantification, and rehabilitation of the human nervous system, utilizing sensory and cognitive based therapies, to promote neuroplasticity, integrity, and functional optimization.

Functional neurology is based on neuroplasticity theories. It is now known that  the brain and nervous system are able to change, and can be malleable, as a response to certain stimuli.  The brain can be shaped by cognitive, sensory, motor, or emotional experiences.  The development of synapses (new connections) in the nervous system will depend on the stimuli that the synapses receive. Neurons that receive a lot of stimuli will be the ones that that strengthen, and the ones that do not receive stimuli will become weak and eventually diminish.  It is now known that  it is possible to create new neurons where there is damage in the nervous system.

The Role of Functional Neurology

Functional neurology looks at and assesses subtle changes of the nervous system before they become more significant problems.

The practice of functional neurology is adopted by various modalities of practice, including chiropractic, psychology, occupational therapy and even by some conventional western medical practitioners. However, functional neurology is more frequently practiced by chiropractors.

The practice of functional neurology is essentially applying neuroscience research from laboratory studies, and exploring how it can be practically applied in patient care. By supporting the nervous system through optimal fuel and stimulation, the nervous system will be protected, and it will thrive.

It is the goal to treat nervous system conditions without medication or, as an adjunct to treatment with medication.

The Functional Neurology Exam

At the start of the examination, your doctors will take your vital signs - heart rate, oxygenation, blood pressure and temperature.  These stats can help to identify underlying Dysautonomia, which is a condition in which the autonomic nervous system (ANS) does not work properly.  Your doctor will also review your medical history with you in order to gain an understanding of the potential neurological condition.
The next phase of the examination deals with identifying the regions of the brain or nervous system that have dysfunction or have been injured.  You may be asked to perform tasks such as touching your finger to your nose, walking in a straight line, reciting the alphabet while skipping every other letter, or even following a target with your eyes as it moves.  While these tasks seem basic, your performance of each one provides important clues to your neurologic health puzzle.  Your doctor will then perform a thorough structural exam to identify any muscular imbalances and areas of pain, focusing on the specific areas of complaint.
To conclude the exam, your doctor will review the results of your physical examination and diagnostic testing.  Additional laboratory testing may be recommended in order to provide the doctor with more precise information.  The combination of your results and medical history provide the basis for a customized treatment plan that is tailored to your unique condition(s).
We use cutting-edge diagnostic techniques and technologies to measure postural control, reaction times, motor accuracy and neurological endurance, all in a concerted effort to identify the areas of the brain and central nervous system that are being affected.  The initial diagnostic testing results serve as benchmarks against which therapy results are measured.
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    Dr. Jeri LaVigne


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Atlanta, GA 30328


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