Neurological conditions are diseases of the central and peripheral nervous system: the brain and spinal cord, cranial and peripheral nerves, autonomic nervous system, nerve roots, neuromuscular plate, and muscles.
There are over 600 neurological diseases, including:
- Diseases caused by faulty genes, such as muscular dystrophy or Huntington’s disease.
- Degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.
- Disorders of the blood vessels supply blood to the brain, such as strokes.
- Due to problems in the development of the nervous system, such as spina bifida.
- Due to trauma to the brain or spinal cord.
- Seizure disorders such as epilepsy.
- Brain tumors are caused by cancer.
- Infections such as meningitis.
The prognosis for progressive neurological disorders can vary significantly depending on the specific disorder, although there is usually some degree of severity. In the case of degenerative diseases of the nervous system, such as Alzheimer’s disease, they can become quite serious as they can endanger the patient’s life. It can also happen with diseases caused by faulty genes, although a quick diagnosis can be essential for a more favorable development.
In the case of seizure disorders such as epilepsy, the prognosis is usually better. In a patient with epilepsy, the effects may disappear during treatment, although this may take several years.
Other progressive neurological disorders such as cerebral hemorrhage are also very serious as they can carry the risk of death. In the case of brain tumors, this is defined as a serious disease with a low prognosis, as it can vary from case to case.
What are the causes and symptoms of neurological conditions?
The causes are different depending on the progressive neurological disorder itself. The causes of some neurological conditions are unknown, although hereditary factors may be key, as is the case with some degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Huntington’s.
Trauma or damage to the brain can also result from various diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease, cerebral hemorrhage, or epilepsy.
On the other hand, some disorders arise in the body itself, for example, brain tumors.
The symptoms of neurological conditions will depend on the specific disease. They can cause both an excess and a lack of neuronal activity in any system of the body. Here are some of the symptoms identifiable:
- Loss of strength or numbness in a limb
- Fainting and loss of consciousness
- Memory problems
- Cognitive difficulties
- Speech problems
- Vision problems
- Tremors, spasms, involuntary contractions
Medical tests for progressive neurological disorders can vary depending on the patient’s affectation. There are several tests for assessing the state of the nervous system, which are more useful depending on what you want to test.Tests include:
- Electroencephalogram. It is especially useful for brain tumors or inflammation of the brain or spinal cord.
- Cerebral angiography. Used to detect vascular disorders in the brain. Among other things, it can be an obstruction of the blood vessels or a stroke.
- CT scan. Very effective in detecting epilepsy, brain tumors or cysts, brain damage from trauma, etc.
- Magnetic resonance imaging. Reveals to the doctor the details of organs, tissues, nerves, and bones.
- Lumbar puncture to obtain samples of cerebrospinal fluid.
Rehabilitation after neurological diseases
The goal of occupational therapy for neurological disorders is to restore as much function as possible to help you gain independence and freedom of movement.
Occupational therapists specialize in treating patients with mobility difficulties caused by injury or illness surrounding the nervous system.
Neurotherapy is a non-invasive treatment that analyzes brain activity to determine how it can be changed to improve your function and reduce the effects of neurological conditions. In Neurotherapy, EEG is used to measure brain activity and create brain maps. Physiotherapists and neurologists work closely together to create the best treatment plan for each patient.
Neurotherapy helps identify areas that need work, and occupational therapy helps improve those areas. By participating in occupational therapy after neurological injuries, you can improve your function, perform targeted activities, and gain independence much faster. Professionals work with patients with a wide range of neurological conditions, including but not limited to:
- Rehabilitation after multiple sclerosis. Common symptoms of multiple sclerosis include pain, fatigue, and weakness. Fortunately, occupational therapy can help manage and reduce these symptoms. An occupational therapist will provide you with targeted stretches to relieve muscle spasms and targeted exercises to increase strength and range of motion. You will also work on actions to help with balance and movement and provide information on the correct use of assistive devices.
- Rehabilitation after ALS. Medically speaking, ALS, called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a progressive neurological disease. It usually develops in the arms, legs, and limbs before moving to the central part of the body. Those who develop progressive neurological disorder usually start with walking, as they can often stumble or lose balance. Frequent muscle cramps or weakness in the arms or legs are also common. As ALS progresses throughout the body, it can affect how someone walks, uses limbs, speaks, swallows, and even breathes.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for ALS, but the rehabilitation team’s goal is to help maintain functioning and independence for as long as possible. Specialists are focused on preventing secondary complications (such as injuries associated with falls) by providing information for safety and adaptation when using assistive devices. As the disease progresses, occupational health professionals may recommend adaptive equipment such as canes, walkers, wheelchairs, braces, and other devices.
- Rehabilitation after a stroke. Stroke is the leading cause of disability in adults. Rehabilitation professionals can help reduce the effects of a stroke by improving balance, walking, and introducing assistive devices. Conventional post-stroke rehabilitation treatments include limitation-induced movement therapy, functional electrical stimulation, motor imaging, partial body weight support, and neurotherapy techniques such as biofeedback.
Biofeedback is a type of neurological therapy that helps improve understanding of muscle function and how it can be altered; this is done by attaching electrodes to the skin to measure muscle activity on a screen.
- Rehabilitation after Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that affects nerve cells in the brain. Common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include slurred speech, irregular facial expressions, and tremors.
- Fortunately, occupational therapy can help slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease and relieve symptoms. It also helps in rehabilitation and improving flexibility and strength, addressing several problems that Parkinson’s disease can cause, including abnormal gait, freezing, and dystonia.
Occupational therapists work closely with neurologists to provide you with the best possible treatment. If you suffer from neurological conditions limiting you from the life you want to live, seek help. Find out how professionals can help you best manage your symptoms and help you achieve your physical goals.