Neurological physiotherapy is a specialist type of therapy that aims to improve function in people that have a neurological condition or have had an accident or illness that has affected the brain or spinal cord. This encompasses a wide range of symptoms, and conditions, which we are going to cover in this blog.
What Is Neurological Physiotherapy?
A neurological physiotherapist is a qualified therapist that will assess and then prescribe therapy for people that have conditions or are in recovery from an illness that affects the nervous system, brain, or spinal cord. Quite often, most of the symptoms these people experience are related to movement. When the brain or spinal cord is damaged, the ‘messages’ that are normally sent when we want to walk, for example, are disrupted.
Sometimes issues with movement can be very complex and affect the entire body, or for some people, it could be a single hand that isn’t quite functioning as it was before. Neurological physiotherapy aims to restore as much function as possible or prevent further loss of normal movement in people with degenerative conditions, such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
Neurological therapy will often combine the use of hands-on therapy, exercises, and in many settings, the use of robotic technology, some people may also be provided wearables, such as a splint.
One of the key aspects of neurological physiotherapy is the repetition of exercises. Practising these movements may be done one to one with a therapist, at home, or in group classes. It’s the repetition that is key to how neuro therapy works – just as the brain can lose the connections that send messages, telling our bodies what they need to do, these connections can be rebuilt. This phenomenon is called neuroplasticity and is the process that works when you hear of people learning to walk again after a devastating accident or illness. The brain is an amazing thing!
Now, in some people, creating these repetitive movements can be difficult if they currently have very limited function. For example, if a person is unable to stand, they won’t be able to stand and practice leg movements. This is where the really high-tech side of neurological physiotherapy comes in.
There has been a lot of advancement in the last decade of robotic technology and therapist now have a range of equipment they can prescribe to patients to help them regain movement and independence.
Rehabilitative technology is available for the upper limbs, lower limbs, and the entire body. The technology usually works by assisting people with movement or standing. For example, if a person can’t move their arm very much, robotic tech can gently assist them to move their arm, and therefore able to carry out the repetitive exercises that are so important to recovery. Then there are larger pieces of equipment that can help people stand, taking their body weight and moving their feet to help a person practice walking movements when this wouldn’t have been possible for them to do so on their own.
What Are The Benefits?
The big obvious benefit of neurological physiotherapy is the return of normal function to a person. For some people, this could be learning to use their hands again, for others it could be learning how to walk again. Most patients have movement goals in mind when they come to see a neurological therapist.
Restoring movement to what it was, or as close as possible, after a person has had an accident or illness is key for some people regaining their independence, or at least some independence. Independence is directly linked to wellbeing – everyone wants to be able to care for themselves and live an independent life.
There are other benefits of this type of therapy too – it can help prevent muscle wastage and weakness in people that are in recovery and can also help people that have long-term conditions from deteriorating as fast. There are some illnesses, such as Parkinson’s that are not curable, but where it has been demonstrated that the right types of therapy can help slow down illness progression and keep people functioning as close to normal, for as long as possible.
Neurological therapy can also have a positive effect on a person’s overall feeling of wellbeing and happiness. Yes, therapy can be tough sometimes and requires a lot of work from the patient, but overall, activity is designed to boost patient morale and encourage them to carry on. A positive mindset is important during any type of therapy.
Who Can Benefit From Neurological Physiotherapy?
Neurological physiotherapy can benefit anybody that has had an accident or illness that has affected the brain or spinal cord. Spinal cord and brain injuries are often seen in people that have had car accidents or people that have fallen from height. The brain and spinal cord can also be damaged by illness though, or events like a stroke. People recovering from strokes are the people you are most likely to see in neurological therapy clinics like ours.
People with long-term degenerative conditions can also greatly benefit from neurological physiotherapy. Some of the conditions we can help people manage include Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy, Parkinson’s Disease and Motor Neurone Disease.
Therapy can also benefit people that have neurological symptoms as a result of another illness. People with diabetes, for example, may experience a condition called foot drop where the foot doesn’t function as normal. Neurological therapy can be used to try and treat this symptom.
Could You Benefit From Neurological Physiotherapy?
If any of the conditions or symptoms mentioned here sound familiar to you, and you would like to learn more about neurological physiotherapy, please get in touch.
At our state-of-the-art clinic, we offer a wide range of neurological physiotherapy, carried out by qualified, experienced therapists. You can view our range of services here.