Neurological rehabilitation – how does physiotherapy help?
Physiotherapy literally means therapy for the physique, the body. Even though the most common use of the term refers to rehabilitation of musculoskeletal conditions, physiotherapy has its roots in a much wider meaning of the term. Not only is our body made of joints, bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments but in order to help our musculoskeletal system functioning, our cardiovascular, respiratory and neurological systems have to work at their best too.
Physiotherapy has specialist branches in all these fields. Its neurological one is particularly developed and addresses the many functional limitations that neurological conditions can have on the body. The central nervous system is the orchestrator of all our movements and actions and when its integrity becomes impaired our functions, voluntary and non, get affected.
Progressive neurological conditions
Neurological conditions can have an acute onset or be of progressive/degenerative nature. A stroke for instance, is an acute condition that causes severe damage to the affected brain areas. A stroke is most commonly caused by the bleeding of a blood vessel (hemorrhagic) or the lack of blood supply (ischemic) to an area of the brain. As a result, the body function associated with that particular area will be compromised. This can affect not only movement but also speech and thought processes.
Examples of progressive/degenerative conditions of the central nervous systems are Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis. In a very different way, they both affect and impair movements as a result of damage caused to other structures involved in the transmission of nervous signals. In Parkinson’s disease, dopamine is the neurotransmitter that the body begins to lack due to the degeneration of the pathways that carry it. Whereas in multiple sclerosis, the damage affects the myeline, the envelop that covers the axons of the nerves, responsible for the transmission of the signal (called action potential) that ultimately will make a muscle contract and produce the desired movement.
How can physiotherapy help?
Even though these neurological conditions lead to permanent effects on the body, physiotherapy represents an important step in order to slow down their progression and maximise the recovery of the impaired areas.
The main targets of neurological rehabilitation are:
– muscle and joint control during fine movements
– general strengthening and conditioning
– gait training
Neurological rehabilitation treatment combines exercise and manual therapy to provide patients with the necessary skills to carry out daily tasks such as looking after themselves, going shopping, using kitchen tools and generally improve their independency.
This process is long and results can be hard to notice but there is good evidence in research showing that the central nervous system has potential for adaptation and temporary stabilisation of the symptoms even in chronic long term conditions.
If you are seeking advice or would like to find out more about neurological rehabilitation and physiotherapy call us on 02077356813. Our team of experts will be able to help you.
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