Improving your function and independence is the heart-and-soul of neurological rehabilitation. During neuro rehab, you will either re-learn old functional tasks or learn new tasks. Some tasks include independently transferring to/from the bathroom, going up/down the stairs to get to your bedroom, walking endurance while grocery shopping, preventing falls, returning to work, or returning to sports activity. The goal of neurological rehab is to help you achieve your highest level of function and improve your quality of life.
Do I Need Neurological Rehab?
Injuries, infections, and degenerative diseases can impair the nervous system. Patients can either have a “formal” neurological diagnosis, post-op neurosurgery, or have general neurological impairments without a diagnosis. Common formal diagnosis can include traumatic brain injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Guillain-Barre syndrome, transverse myelitis, spinal cord injury, and peripheral neuropathy. Neurological rehab also consists of post-concussion and vestibular rehabilitation which can assist athletes reduce symptoms and return to sport.
Neurological rehab is appropriate for any age and functional level, for primary wheelchair users to higher level athletes. If you are looking to improve function, reduce symptoms, and improve your well-being, neuro rehab may be a fit for you.
Why Physical Therapy For Neurological Rehab?
Your neurological rehabilitation can consist of a combination of physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. Physical therapy is a vital component for managing neurological impairments both early on and throughout your lifetime. Physical therapy specifically works towards improving strength, flexibility, tone, and balance with focus towards improving the quality and level of assist of a person’s functional ability – including sitting, standing, transfers, and gait.
Neurological rehabilitation helps to facilitate neuroplasticity in the brain as the nervous system controls the rest of the body. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections, pruning existing neural synapses, deleting certain connections that no longer are necessary or useful, and strengthening existing necessary connections. Neuroplasticity allows the body to compensate and “heal” from an injury and disease. Neurological rehabilitation target muscles your specific condition and will also address other systems including balance, vision, vestibular, proprioception (i.e. your internal sense of awareness), and cardiovascular.
What Happens During Neurological Physical Therapy?
Your physical therapist will go through a detailed evaluation in order to pinpoint your specific impairments that are impacting your function. Physical therapists are the specialists behind the musculoskeletal system as well as functional and neurological rehabilitation. After that initial evaluation, your therapist will make a plan of care that will include frequency and duration of treatment. Your plan will be based on your impairments and goals and will also include a home exercise program. During your treatment session, your PT will utilize a variety of different treatment techniques to help you achieve your goals.
- Balance Retraining: Balance and postural control are usually the #1 limitation behind not being as independent. Balance impairments can become very complex although generally consists of the visual, vestibular (i.e. inner ear), and somatosensory (i.e. touch sensation) systems. Balance retraining can consist of static, dynamic, reactionary, anticipatory, and higher level balance.
- Movement analysis: One of the big differences of neurological rehabilitation vs standard other PT includes skilled movement analysis and focus towards function. Mobility includes sitting, standing, transfers, gait, stairs, running, and sports.
- Custom exercises: Flexibility and range of motion (ROM) can be limited due to many reasons including prolonged time in certain positions (sitting in a chair or bed), changes in tone, muscle or nerve tightness, different joint mobility. You will receive a progression of exercises to help develop muscle tone and flexibility.
Safety is our number one concern. As we begin to improve someone’s mobility where they may be performing “new” tasks or performing tasks with less level of assist, it will be equally as important to provide safety tips and education for home.
Does Physical Therapy Help With Prevention?
Neurological rehabilitation is important for prevention and treatment of previous and current limitations/pain. After an acute onset of neurological impairment, continuation of therapy is vital in the outpatient setting.
It is important to start your neurological rehabilitation as early as possible! Neurological conditions can often lead to asymmetry which can result in further impairment, dysfunction, and/or pain. We recommend for you to being rehab during the first signs of changes in your nervous system/brain/balance or when newly diagnosed to assist with neuroplasticity. Contact us today to learn how we can help you improve your function and well-being.