What Is Neuro Physiotherapy?

Neuro Physiotherapy is a specialism for treating neurological conditions or to put it another way conditions of the nervous system. This can include structural, biochemical or electrical abnormalities in the brain, spinal cord or nerves, caused by trauma, strokes, Brain Injuries or degenerative conditions.

Now whist it is true that most recovery takes place within weeks or months following a Stroke or Brain Injury, we have plenty of examples of clients achieving good results even years later.  Although brain cells that have died never work again, the cells that remain can form new links with each other. There is also evidence that when nerves in the brain have been damaged, other brain cells can take over their job.  Physiotherapy is aimed at guiding this process, which is called neuroplasticity.

Physiotherapy works differently for each individual and lots of things can affect how well it works, such as:

  • Where your nervous system is damaged,
  • How much your nervous system is damaged,
  • What other medical problems you have,
  • What medication you are on,
  • General fitness and activity levels before your neurological problem,
  • Diet,
  • Family and carer support,
  • Cognition and motivation.

As such it is important to set realistic goals and continue to work hard. Its important to say that, we have never seen a client that we couldn’t help in some way, age is simply not a limiting factor to your recovery and neither is the time following a neurological event.

Everyone’s goals are different. For some, it may be just ‘fine tuning’ a balance problem so they can get back to a much-loved activity such as ballroom dancing.  For others, months of hard work could mean enabling someone to sit independently when before they needed support. Or it could be as simple as helping a client choose the right aid or adaption to make dressing easier. Whatever your individual goals, physiotherapy can help. Contact Us if you require any advice or treatment.

Secondary problems in Stroke and Brain Injury also occur frequently and need attention.

The main ones are:

  • 1. Muscle Weakness – following thorough assessment, a Physiotherapist can tailor a programme for you which strengthens certain groups of muscles, allowing you to move more freely.
  • 2. Muscle Shortening – similarly, you can be given a programme to lengthen short structures which also allows you to move better. Muscle weakeness and shortening often happen together and need careful assesment.
  • 3. Joint Stiffness – this may require some local treatment and/or splinting which can be done by most Physiotherapists.
  • 4. Balance and posture – many people with neurological difficulties become more flexed as the body tries to compensate for the lack of sensory information coming into their bodies. In Stroke, this tends to be because the client has limited feeling on one side. Once your body becomes flexed, it is hard to maintain normal balance. Physiotherapy aims to normalise posture and alignment, so that your body can make the best sense of the sensory information coming in.
  • 5. Spasticity – this is excessive amounts of muscle tone and stiffness which can be very difficult to live with. If it isn’t treated it can eventually cause your arm and leg to be held in strange positions. For example, your arm may stay close to your body and your hand may curl up into a fist. There are many ways to treat this problem and there is no magic formula – the physiotherapist will help you decided the best course of action. Very often this involves tackling weakness, shortening, balance and posture all at the same time. Injections of Botulinum Toxin (botox) or two other drugs called Baclofen (brand name Lioresal) and Tizanidine (Zanaflex) are also used to help relieve stiffness.

Physiotherapy in neurological diseases such as  Multiple Sclerosis. and Parkinsons Disease is perhaps not based so much in an attitude of recovery, but more in maintaining independence and quality of life for as long as possible. However, we still assess in the same way and often find secondary problems, (like those above) which when tackled, can lead to good improvements in function.

Many treatments are available and it’s important to remain hopeful about your recovery and maintenance of function.

For further advice or information please do not hesitate to contact us