Functional Neurology: My first appointment

When I began going to Functional Neurology, I had spent a year recovering from my first concussion, and was still limited in my daily life.

Even after 3 months of vision therapy, my eyes still couldn’t track properly. I could barely read. I had short term memory issues. If I wanted to remember anything, I had to write it down. Right away. Otherwise it was gone. I also got overwhelmed easily. Because my eyes had to work overtime, I was easily overstimulated by sight and sound.

Enter Functional Neurology and Dr Z.

In January of 2012 I had my first appointment. During that time, he mostly took in my patient history and then performed simple neurological tests to see how my balance, cognitive abilities, memory, nose, eyes, and vestibular system were working.

With balance, he used a special scale with a foam pad on top. Inside the scale were sensors that could track my center of balance. My balance was tested with my head in different positions such as straight forward, facing up, down and to the sides both with and without the foam pad. With the foam pad, this allowed us to see how my brain performed with more input from my feet. All of this data fed into a computer program that traced my movement on to a screen and created a map of my movements.

Concerning memory issues, I was able to describe the memory problems that I had, then Dr Z had me remember different combinations of objects and number to see if I could repeat them back.

For cognitive issues, I remember being asked to skip count, name as many objects as I could starting with the same letter, and spell EARTH backwards.

He also had me close my eyes and smell different scents to see if I could recognize them.

Dr Z did several exercises for my eyes. He used a simple red and white striped strip of fabric and moved it slowly in front of my face to see how my eyes tracked when perceiving movement. He also had me focus on his thumbs at different locations, and watched as my eyes moved between them.

And then came the big, bad goggles! These special goggles, called video-electronystagmography goggles have special cameras that tracked my eye movements. The ones I used were fairly basic, providing a direct feed to a laptop screen, while I moved my eyes as directed.

The last test that I remember doing involved wearing the goggles while sitting cross-legged on a revolving chair and being spun in alternate directions. This tested the responsiveness of my vestibulo-ocular reflex.

While some of these tests have been replaced by more advanced technologies, the principles remain the same: test neurological functions, create baselines, and then develop exercises to improve those functions by taking advantage of nerve plasticity!