Neurological Disorders

neurological disorder physical therapist

Nerve Injuries, Neuralgia & Neuropathy

Nerve injuries, including neuralgia and neuropathy can present with a wide variety of symptoms in different parts of the body. The important aspect to investigate is why did these symptoms start? Typically symptoms occur from abnormal pressure or irritation to a nerve or group of nerves. For example, during an accident a nerve was overstretched in the neck from whiplash. This now sends tingling and numbness sensations to the outside arm and shoulder.

Peripheral nerve injuries can occur from accidents, constriction, surgical procedures, disease and repetitive actions. Common nerve injuries include carpal tunnel syndrome, whiplash, brachial-plexus syndrome, tarsal tunnel syndrome and surgical procedures. Nerves take a significant amount of time to regenerate and grow back together, depending on the severity of the nerve injury.

Neuralgia refers to pain caused by nerves. There are a variety of different causes for this pain from abnormal pressure, disease and even medication toxicity. Neuralgia often refers to non-specific pain that can occur in the arms or legs. Symptoms can vary from tingling, numbness, to even burning or sharp pains.

Neuropathy refers to a disease state of nerves. This typically occurs in people who suffer from diabetes as this damages the nerves, especially in the feet. In addition, circulation issues can cause neuropathy to occur in the feet, legs or hands. Various factors, which contribute to poor circulation, can often be improved. This in turn improves the neuropathy to varying degrees. Neuropathy can be especially problematic as the lack of sensation in the feet, can lead to cuts or injuries without the person knowing. Since circulation is usually compromised, the chances for infection become high.

How Therapy Helps

Physical and occupational therapy are very good treatment options for people with nerve injuries, neuralgia and neuropathy. A thorough evaluation is done of nerve function including strength, sensation, coordination of movement, range of motion, dexterity and more. The body depends on feedback to heal properly and therefore, improving strength, range of motion, coordination and balance, nerves can heal better, muscles can function properly and pain can be reduced.

There are many different pain management strategies that our therapists can train you on and modalities that can help soothe symptoms quickly. In addition, any long-term adaptations to work, function and lifestyle can be done with bracing or assistive devices.

Stroke (CVA)

A stroke is referred to as a Cerebrovascular Accident and is the sudden death of brain cells due to lack of oxygen. This occurs when the blood flow to a particular portion of the brain is restricted from a clot or bleed. Depending on where the stroke occurred in the brain, how extensive the damage was and the duration, dictate the severity of the symptoms and recovery.

Common symptoms of stroke are a slurring of speech, facial droop, weakness or loss of function in one side of the body, either in the arm, legs or both. Immediate emergency medical attention is needed if these symptoms begin. Stroke can affect cognitive function, speech, the ability to swallow, walking, balance, strength and function.

After medical management, rehabilitation is needed to assist the person in regaining as much function as possible. The brain and nervous system is very plastic in it’s ability to adapt for the damaged area. Many people are able to regain most function in their affected limbs, speech and enjoy life with modifications.

How Therapy Helps

Physical therapy is a vital part of the recovery of a person who has suffered a stroke. A thorough evaluation is done in various stages of the rehabilitation process to determine progression in strength, transfers, walking, balance, range of motion and safety. Our physical therapists approach the care of each person as an individual adapting the best rehabilitative process to each case. A great deal is done to ensure the safety of the person with normal transfers from sit to stand, getting in / out of a car, stairs and uneven terrains. In addition, the strengthening and exercising of muscles provides positive feedback to the nervous system to accelerate adaptation and function.

Occupational therapists work very closely in the process to improve upper extremity and hand function. Learning to write, improving dexterity, movement of the elbow and shoulder are crucial components to functional use of the arm. In addition, occupational therapists assist in cognitive improvements, and especially adaptations to daily activities such as dressing, caring for oneself, cooking and work activities. Many of these skills we take for granted have to be re-learned.

Speech therapists work with muscle deficits of speech, swallowing and facial expressions. In addition, cognitive challenges can help increase the functioning of the brain to problem solve many of life’s daily activities.

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