Patient (56) advocates functional neurology

"I wasn’t myself anymore"

Eighteen months ago, John van Schoonhoven had a job to do at Douwe Egberts in Utrecht. It was a very ordinary working day, until things went terribly wrong while he was dismantling a fan outlet box. The full weight of the 140-pound fan box came falling down onto his back and head. "I remember it as if it was yesterday," says John, who did not lose consciousness but felt his head burning besides all the pain. Douwe Egberts' emergency response officer decided to call an ambulance.


The ambulance drove John to the University Medical Centre in Utrecht, where they immediately took him to have an MRI scan of his neck done. Because the scan showed no abnormalities, John was sent home. "I was given a note saying that I had a concussion and that I was to rest. I also had five stitches in my head.” During his forced rest period, John looked forward to when the stitches would be removed two weeks later. "However, I was disappointed. I started to drop things and struggled to concentrate.” At the urging of his girlfriend, John called the doctor again, who referred him to the emergency department. There, they did a brain scan. 

No brain haemorrhage

The neurologist found no bleeding in the brain and so referred John to the rehabilitation centre. "He did first shine a light in my eyes and asked me to take a few steps." John's assertion that he tired very easily and was hypersensitive to all kinds of stimuli, such as noise, fell on deaf ears. "The message I got was that I had a brain injury and I had to learn to live with it. The rehabilitation centre would be able to help me." At first, John benefited from the treatment he received in the rehabilitation centre. But after a while he realised that rehabilitation is mainly aimed at enabling patients to deal as best as possible with their disability. “Nothing was done about the actual cause, the actual brain injury." 

Small steps

During the eight months that John was treated, he made progress, albeit minimal. “They were very small steps; I managed to raise my energy level to 2.5 to 3 hours. I wanted more, but couldn’t make any headway there." When John was confronted with a waiting list at another rehabilitation centre, his heart sank. Meanwhile, John's girlfriend had heard from a customer in her beauty salon that John should contact the Functional Neurology Centre in Lisse. "I had my doubts about what I could expect, but then I thought every little bit helps."

Giant strides

During his first consultation in Lisse, John immediately noticed that he had to do all sorts of tests that he had never been subjected to before. “The professional specialist said that was probably because many people who practise conventional medicine are very unfamiliar with the field of functional neurology. If there is one thing I know now, it’s that I owe this relatively new discipline within the world of medicine a lot." By his own account, John has made giant steps in just two months. "My brain function has improved considerably. I have noticed, for example, that the communication between my eyes and my brain has been restored. Furthermore, I am not as dizzy and my coordination is slightly better. I am also fitter, can concentrate again, and my energy level has risen to 6 hours. I also work ten hours a week. Even my occupational health doctor said last time that he could tell that I am doing well." 

No more snarling

John's immediate family has also noticed his progress. "My two children, the eldest is 5, had quite a hard time when I was faring so badly. I couldn’t tolerate anything, was short-tempered, snarled a lot and thought everyone should show me some consideration. Now my children and I can do things together again, without me getting exhausted within five minutes. That's so great." 

Embracing functional neurology

John therefore wholeheartedly hopes that the medical world will take functional neurology seriously. "It’s such a shame that they do not accept what is supposedly not scientifically proven. Here at the Functional Neurology Institute they have built up extensive knowledge about the communication between the brain and the rest of the human body. It’s a shame that that knowledge is not used in hospitals, for instance." John points out the many tens of thousands of people who suffer low energy levels as a result of brain damage. “This knowledge could be a tremendous help to them. I hope that many others with similar complaints will also find their way to this practice in Lisse.”   

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