How Functional Neurology Prevented a Relapse of Symptoms After Another Head Injury
In my blog post titled The Healthcare System is Broken, Not You, I outlined in detail the numerous and sometimes significant symptoms I suffered after what appeared to be a mild concussion in April 2016. I was routinely dismissed as having mental issues at worst and exaggerating my symptoms at best for two long and extremely frustrating years. I also dealt with outright hostility from providers who felt I was faking it.
I made significant improvement after discovering functional neurology in May 2018, suffered a serious relapse of symptoms due to inaction caused by depression and anxiety that winter, and finally got myself on a regular schedule of preventive appointments in May 2019. I was doing great and then – you guessed it – another head injury.
I was just about to take a lunch break from my work-at-home content marketing writing job on Friday, June 7 when my cat seemed to be summoning me to the laundry room where we keep her litter box. Knowing she’s a fussy little princess about such things, I reached down to scoop it out even though it really didn’t need it.
When I went to stand up, I caught the back right side of my head on a sharp corner of a shelf above me. This shelf, as well as the litter box, have been in the same spot for years. I think I was just standing at an awkward angle and a bit rushed to eat lunch and get back to a full to-do list for work, causing me to be less aware of my surroundings.
I immediately envisioned another three years of hellish symptoms, but I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen. For one thing, this injury was not nearly as bad as the bicycle accident in 2016. I also got into the functional neurology clinic within a few days and not two years later like the first time.
New Symptoms and a Revamping of Some Old Ones
The June 2019 injury was to my parietal lobe while the April 2016 one was to my cerebellum. These two areas of the brain have completely different functions. I experienced some symptoms right away that I never had the first time, including severe nausea, loss of appetite, and a more significant headache. Unfortunately, it seemed to increase my balance problems and left arm spasticity. The good news is that I feel pretty close to normal not even two weeks later. I credit that to the functional neurological treatments I have received, some of which I highlight below.
My first impression of GyroStim was that of a high-tech, futuristic machine that astronauts might use. It wasn’t nearly as overwhelming as it looks, though. It’s a rotating chair surrounded by glass that provides visual, vestibular, and sensorimotor stimulation on multiple axis. Some of the functions that GyroStim can help to improve include:
- Eye-hand coordination
- Proprioception (understanding the position and movement of your body)
- Reaction time
- Situational awareness
- Spatial awareness
While I’m moving at a low speed in the GyroStim, the functional neurologist working with me monitors me from a computer screen and asks me to complete specific tasks. It typically starts with pointing a laser at different targets and then adding a cognitive function such as naming as many states as I can. Having to think and complete a physical action at the same time always slows me down, but the goal is to make it come more naturally.
This treatment involves standing in front of a large board with multiple flashing lights and pressing as many as I can of a certain color in the allotted time. The squares are placed strategically in several layers away from the center, some outside of my field of vision. Using this piece of equipment has provided me with the following benefits:
- Eye-hand coordination
- Improved decision-making
- Improved ability to complete gross motor and neurocognitive tasks
- Peripheral awareness
- Situational awareness
- Visual reaction time
A variation on pressing as many blinking red buttons as possible in the allotted time is to include green buttons as well. The instruction is to ignore those, which is a cognitive challenge since we normally associate green with go and red with stop.
Accelerated Recovery Performance (ARP) Neuro Wave Therapy
This therapy has primary helped improve weakness on the entire left side of my body and low back pain. The theory behind it is that injury causes a decline in the body’s ability to receive force. Muscles can tighten and become shorter, so this treatment targets electrical interruptions and areas of pooled blood in the injured area of the body.
The functional neurologist attaches thin cords with a type of small suction cup on them to the area requiring treatment and then turns on the attached unit that transmits the power waves to my body. Treatment with ARP has eliminated my low back pain that recently prevented me from walking more than a few blocks without agony. We are now working on finding the source of my left arm spasticity and getting those muscles to relax.
Note: I have named these three treatment specifically because they are all provided by professionals. I'm not aware of any option for home use and therefore receive no commercial benefit for doing so.
I'm a Believer
These treatments have done for me what I feel surgery or pills could never do, and for that I am grateful. It has also done wonders for my confidence to feel listened to and believed. As for my clumsiness that has now caused two head injuries, all I can do is laugh, carry on, and consider wearing a helmet 24/7.
Other articles in my brain injury series:
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
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© 2019 Lisa Kroulik