Functional Neurology: What Does a Functional Neurologist Do?


Functional Neurology

In its 100+ year history, chiropractic has gone through many changes as new ideas and techniques enter the field.  Today, “chiropractic” is a term that can cover many different approaches to healing the body in holistic and natural ways.  A chiropractor may even specialize in specific types of chiropractic medicine, just as hospital doctors may specialize in certain body systems like neurologists and cardiologists.

One of the newer specialties in chiropractic medicine is functional neurology.  A practitioner of functional neurology has chosen to specialize in neurological disorders – that is, disorders of the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves.  Dr. Bartoe here at the Functional Neurology Chiropractic Center is one such doctor, so we wanted to take a moment to discuss the practice.

Understanding “What is Functional Neurology?” 

Functional neurology differs somewhat from other approaches to neurology.  Generally speaking, a neurologist you might meet at a hospital is likely to look more toward the physical parts of the nervous system than function, and when they do look at function, the goal tends to be more about which drugs or surgery can fix the symptoms.

Functional neurology goes beyond that and looks at how the system is “functioning” and how we can use the brain’s own wiring to correct the issue at it’s core.  A chiropractor sees the body as a holistic system.  The brain isn’t simply a set of “wires” leading to different body parts, it’s an all-body system which is heavily influenced by all manner of experiences and sensory stimulation.  A computer is largely unchanged by how it is used, while the brain can change quite a bit based on the experiences that we have.

This is the understanding that forms the basis of functional neurology.

Doctors who use functional neurology spend years in specialized training to learn the ins and outs of the human neurological system.  They then apply this knowledge to their chiropractic practice to combine body work applications like adjustments and myofascial release with exercises which are custom-tailored to each patient’s brain.

For example, functional neurologists may utilize forms of motion therapy to improve brain function.  When the body is asked to move in strange and unusual ways or under dynamic conditions such as on a balance board, this forces the brain to stretch itself and grow.  As the brain works, it grows and adapts.

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