A non-pharmaceutical approach for increasing lifestyle and physical performance by improving brain function through exercise, stimulation, and nutrition.
WHAT IS FUNCTIONAL NEUROLOGY?
Functional neurology uses clinical neuroscience to help explain how the brain responds to and controls our everyday lives, from physical performance to overall moods and thoughts. Many times the state of the brain is overlooked in the health problems people face when in reality it might be the source of all their struggles to begin with. If the brain is not functioning optimally it’s a gamble for how the rest of the body is going to respond or what kind of effect it will have on who we are as people.
NEUROLOGY AND YOU
When it comes to applying functional neurology in a physical performance sense, we basically use the simple concept that every muscle is connected to a certain part of the brain. The more we use certain patterns, the more those connections grow strong while others grow weak. These weak centers may be preventing us from performing at optimal levels, so the rehab we prescribe helps to strengthen these connections. While physical rehab trains the body from the muscle to the brain, functional neurology trains the body from the brain to the muscle. Since the brain is a web of connecting pathways, we take advantage of this and apply other forms of “brain stimuli” to help increase the flow of information to the connecting muscle-brain pathways that we’re trying to strengthen. How our bodies move is directly related to what our brain picks up on the environment around us, and many times these input systems aren’t very strong simply because we don't spend time exercising them. Improving the input regions, such as our eyes and balance centers, can help individuals perform movements with more speed, strength, and accuracy.
On a larger scale, functional neurology helps to explain how diet and lifestyle can play a role in mood, personality, and general feelings experienced throughout the day. For example, there is a large connection between stress, attention, anxiety, and depression. This is because they all take place in relatively the same parts of the brain, or have connections between the same communicating regions. Rehab for these patients is specific to the functions of those brain regions, which shift towards more thought provoking exercises such as puzzles or math that target the front of the brain, whereas muscle patterns target the sides of the brain. At the same time, diet needs to be strongly considered because if the brain isn’t receiving the appropriate nutrients the rehab will not be as efficient.
As the brain is a very sensitive organ, functional neurology requires consideration of all systems in the body. Where lifestyle might not be an issue, nutrition might be, and vice versa. It all comes down to what the brain is picking up from what you are exposing it to and what kind of information is being sent back out to the body. However, if the brain undergoes excessive trauma/ stress and is not used properly, it will become weak just like unused or damaged muscle groups. With the brains unlimited ability to adapt and grow, people of all ages can greatly benefit from its rehab approaches and potentially experience improvement in multiple areas of life.