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What is Functional Neurological Disorder?

A medical condition in which there is a problem with the functioning of the nervous system and how the brain and body sends and/or receives signals. FND can encompass a wide variety of neurological symptoms, such as limb weakness or seizures.

What are the sign and symptoms?

  • Motor dysfunction – functional limb weakness, functional movement disorder, functional speech symptoms
  • Sensory dysfunction – functional sensory disturbance including altered sensation
  • Episodes of alerted awareness – dissociative seizures, blackouts and gains

What causes Functional Neurological disorder?

The exact cause of FND is unknown, although research is starting to provide suggestions as to how and why it develops. Many different predisposing factors can make the patient more susceptible to FND such as having another neurological condition, chronic pain, fatigue or stress. However, some people with FND have none of these risk factors.

Affected populations:

The exact prevalence of FND is unknown. however, research suggests FND is the second most common reason for a neurological outpatient list after headache/migraine. This means FND is as common as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease.

How is FND diagnosed?

FND is diagnosed on the basis of positive physical signs and usually requires a neurologist or GP familiar with neurological diagnosis. Some examples of these signs are:

  • Hoover’s test is for functional leg weakness
  • The tremor entrainment test for functional tremor
  • Dissociative (non-epileptic) seizures

How is FND treated?

  • Physical therapy – an Accredited Exercise Physiologist and a Physiotherapist can assist with limb weakness, gait problems and movement disorder. The focus is on re-training gait patterns and building functional strength.
  • Psychological therapies – cognitive behavioural therapy is generally the first line of treatment for patients with seizures or attacks as part of their FND.
  • Occupational therapy – can assist patients in finding adaptations and regaining confidence in their ability to carry out activities of daily living.
  • Speech therapy – for patients with speech symptoms as part of FND.

To make an appointment with a Physiotherapist or Exercise Physiologist please contact the clinic on 9763 9233.

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