Relatively new field

Functional neurology

Functional neurology is a medical discipline that aims to improve or restore brain functions (for example after brain trauma), in order to improve one’s quality of life. Although functional neurology has been a mature discipline in the United States for several decades now, functional neurology is still in its infancy in Western Europe. 

Functional neurology revolves around brain plasticity. Contrary to what scientists have long thought, rather than being static, the brain changes during the course of our life and is able to adapt. Functional neurology uses this fact to optimise lost connections between brain cells. 

The power of functional neurology

For convenience sake, let’s compare the brain and all its brain cells to a road network. If the road between city A and city B is blocked by an accident at city C, city B can still be reached by not driving via city C, but rather via city D. That is exactly what functional neurology is all about. When connections between brain cells are damaged or disrupted, new connections are established between those cells. As a result of this 'diversion' someone might no longer experience balance disorders, have less trouble concentrating or be relieved of unbearable headaches.       

Zooming in on the brain

Part of the central nervous system is located in our head. That part is also referred to as the brain. The brain, which weighs less than 1.5 kilos, actually controls everything we do as human beings, from pouring a glass of water to falling in love; from reading a book to keeping our balance. All kinds of vital bodily functions, such as breathing and heart rate, are regulated in the brain. The body’s motor skills, such as the movement of the arms and legs, are also coordinated in the brain. Furthermore, all kinds of mental processes, such as thinking and feeling, take place in the brain. And while the brain itself doesn't feel pain, it does register the pain we feel elsewhere in the body. 

The brain is estimated to consist of one hundred billion nerve cells, also known as neurons. The nerve cells communicate with each other by exchanging electrical signals. Various causes, such as a concussion or an autoimmune disease, can damage connections between brain cells. As a medical discipline, functional neurology is aimed at restoring or optimising those connections. Doing and repeating specific neurological training plays a key role in this respect. 

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