Neurological physiotherapy is a specialised category of physiotherapy and are experts in creating neuroplasticity (which is the ability of the brain and spinal cord to remodel and develop new pathways) and retraining the brain. All graduate physiotherapy schools teach basic neurological rehabilitation and then therapists can choose to specialise in the area of neurological physiotherapy after graduation.
Dystonia is a complex individual neurological condition which can respond extremely well to a multidisciplinary approach (several health professionals working together to assist you to achieve your goals of therapy). Anyone living with dystonia needs to have regular access to a neurological physiotherapist, as their input can positively influence your quality of life. Dystonia management is an area of neurological physiotherapy that is expanding however you may have never heard of a neuro physio and your doctor or neurologist may have not mentioned this to you.
A neuro physio will perform a detailed assessment of your presentation and will prescribe you with a personalised rehabilitation exercise program to retrain your muscles. This will focus on strengthening the antagonistic muscle groups (the muscles that perform the opposite contraction to the dystonic muscles). You will also receive valuable education and guidance with;
- Strengthening other weakened muscle groups
- Posture management
- Home and work environment set up
- Tricks to assist with management of tremors and ticks
- General exercise, fitness and well being
- Referral onto other health professionals to provide a holistic approach
Do not worry if you have not yet seen a neurological physiotherapist as their input can be valuable at any time;
- Newly diagnosed; To start correcting the muscle imbalance straight away to prevent further complications. This is the definitely the best time to seek a neuro physio.
- Pre Botox; To be able to assess the full impact of the dystonia pre injection and to then teach the correct exercises to optimize the effects of the botox.
- Post Botox; To be able to fully benefit from the window of opportunity that botox allows you to retrain your muscles.
- Maintenance; There is still no cure for dystonia and regular 6-12 month reviews can greatly assist with the proactive management of the condition and improve quality of life.
Neurological physio’s work in both the public and private health care sector, your neurologist may be able to pass on details of a preferred therapist that they work with. If your neurologist or doctor can not recommend a therapist then you can search the Australian Physiotherapy Association website for a neurological physiotherapist in your area.
It is so important that you source a neurological physio to fully optimize the management of your dystonia, it can have a life changing effect.
Written by Gilly Davy
Senior Neurological Physiotherapist from Connect Neuro Physiotherapy