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Functional Neurology

General overview

Functional neurology is concerned with the function of the nervous system, particularly the brain. The aim of this approach - developed by Prof. Frederick Carrick, an American chiropractor - is to determine whether the health problems presented by a patient are due to functional deficits in the brain or the nervous system.

Functional neurology proposes to help people suffering from brain disorders by exploring areas of the brain that are less efficient. 

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Main objectives of the method
  • To identify the cause, i.e. the origin at the cerebral level, of certain symptoms and then to reinforce cerebral performance and the connection between different cerebral areas, through exercises involving sight, hearing, muscles, vestibular system...

Specificities of the method

First of all, the patient's specific needs are identified, in particular with tests on ocular motricity, balance, strength... allowing us to understand the cerebral origin of the difficulties encountered by the patient (which cerebral zones are affected and how).
This is followed by a report with proposals for help in relation to the patient's objectives. 

The care programme consists of a series of : 
active or passive physical stimulation, simple or complex 
The manipulations are mainly manual. The spine and pelvis are at the centre of diagnosis and therapy.

specific sensory stimuli
These stimuli may include chiropractic adjustments, the use of light and sound stimuli, electrical stimulation (TENS), transcutaneous vibratory stimulation, vestibular and gyroscopic stimuli, cognitive exercises, hypnosis, speech therapy, and respiratory work.
Beyond these stimulations, the programme also includes a structural approach (Biomechanical Mobilization, Chiropractic, Vojta rehabilitation method...).
Spinal manipulation is used to stimulate the nervous system, particularly areas of the brain. 

There are certain devices such as the Gyrostim, which allows the vestibular system to be worked on to improve coordination, gross and fine motor skills, stimulating the brain, joints and muscles at the same time. The Gyrostim resembles a sphere. Inside is a motorized seat in which the patient's limbs are set in motion. It is also able to alleviate dizziness. For example, this technique is used at NASA to train pilots to cope with thrills.

Who is this method for ?

Who is the method aimed at?

  • Patients with brain damage or neurodevelopmental disorders

  • Dyspraxia

  • Dyslexia

  • TED 

  • Motor Development Disorders in Infants and Children

  • Concentration and attention problems

  • Disorders of Motor & Temporal-Spatial Coordination (BMI...)

  • Parkinson's disease

  • Stroke-related neurological sequelae

What parents say about it

"In the weeks following this cure, we saw significant changes in Flavian's behaviour. He began to read spontaneously (it used to be a chore), to sing, his vocabulary became richer and his speech flow became more fluid. He loves going on the trampoline, his jumps and figures are more and more precise. He even applauded at a show, something that was inconceivable before. You could say he feels better about his body; he's blossoming."

Scientific references

This is an attractive approach, presented as scientifically sound. However, it is also subject to criticism, sometimes calling it pseudo-science.

"Functional Neurology: description and validity of a controversial therapeutic approach" Memoir by Anne-Laure Meyer,

Through a critical review of articles obtained via a journal specialised in NF, no conclusive scientific evidence was found about the benefit or effect of NF. Following a critical systematic review of the literature, no evidence was found that spinal manipulation has a clinical effect via an effect on brain activity. This work led to the conclusion that NF, used in a chiropractic context, is probably a pseudoscientific practice.

Low back pain

In 2011, the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) published a study which indicates that "In acute or sub-acute low back pain, chiropractic appears to be effective, with an effectiveness of an order of magnitude comparable to the effectiveness of alternative treatments such as medication, surgery, physiotherapy".

To know more about the topic


Information sites  
Presentation video
Video explaining assessments and the principles of functional neurology 

Any remarks or comments ?

This work is based on a collaborative approach to sharing research and family experience.

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