APEX Brain Centers

Functional Neurology 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Holistic Brain Health

Functional neurology is a specialized field of healthcare that focuses on the assessment, quantification, and rehabilitation of the human nervous system. By utilizing sensory, motor, cognitive, and metabolic-based therapies, functional neurology aims to promote neuroplasticity, neurological integrity, and functional brain optimization. This holistic approach to brain health can help individuals tackle a variety of neurological issues and improve their overall well-being.

As practitioners of functional neurology, we understand that the brain is continuously adapting to its environment. This concept, known as neuroplasticity, means that our nervous system can be rewired and reshaped through experiences such as sensory stimulation, motor activities, cognitive tasks, and emotional events. In our practice, we strive to harness this potential to promote optimal brain and body health and enhance cognitive functions.

Taking a comprehensive and individualized approach, we examine all aspects of a client’s condition – from their history and symptoms to their current concerns and goals – in order to develop a tailored treatment plan. In doing so, we strive to address the root cause of their neurological issues while fostering a connection between functional neurology and overall wellness.

Key Takeaways

  • Functional neurology focuses on improving neuroplasticity, neurological integrity, and functional optimization through sensory and cognitive-based therapies.
  • Neuroplasticity allows the nervous system to adapt and change, and functional neurology strives to harness this potential for optimal brain health.
  • A comprehensive and individualized approach is taken to address the root cause of neurological issues and promote overall wellness.

Understanding Functional Neurology

Concepts and Principles

In the world of functional neurology, we focus on addressing the root causes of neurological disorders by evaluating the function of the nervous system as a whole, rather than just focusing on specific symptoms. This holistic approach allows us to explore the intricate connections within the brain and optimize its performance, leading to improved cognitive and physical function and mental health.

One key principle of functional neurology is the concept of neuroplasticity, which refers to the ability of the nervous system to adapt, learn, and rewire itself based on experiences and stimuli. By harnessing the power of neuroplasticity, we can develop personalized treatment plans that target specific areas of the brain to create lasting, positive changes.

Role in Modern Medicine

Functional neurology plays a significant role in modern medicine, as it addresses some of the most common yet under-recognized neurological conditions, such as functional neurological disorder (FND) or functional movement disorders. It complements traditional neurology by offering a more patient-centered, collaborative approach to care. By exploring the underlying causes of neurological disorders, we can offer more targeted and effective treatments to help patients achieve optimal brain health.

This multidisciplinary approach combines various therapies and lifestyle modifications, such as exercise, nutrition, and cognitive training, to improve the overall well-being of the nervous system, including mental health and cognitive function. By incorporating these individualized treatment plans, functional neurology helps patients achieve a better quality of life and reduced symptoms, leading to a profound impact on their brain health and overall wellness.

Brain Health and Functional Neurology

Cognitive Function Enhancement

In the field of functional neurology, our primary focus is on improving brain health and optimizing cognitive function. Cognitive functions, like memory, executive function, attention, and impulse control are crucial for our everyday lives. We achieve cognitive enhancement by identifying and addressing imbalances in the central nervous system, such as irregularities in neurotransmitters or irregular brain function patterns.

Understanding the complexities of the central nervous system is essential for developing personalized treatment approaches. Through our work, we aim to empower our clients and help them overcome symptoms related to cognitive decline, improve their memory, and boost overall brain health.

Mental Health Management

Our holistic approach to brain health also incorporates strategies to support mental health management. Much of mental health relies on proper neurotransmitter levels and the smooth functioning of the central nervous system. By addressing these components, we can help alleviate common mental health symptoms and support emotional well-being for more effective outcomes between patients and their mental health specialists.

We recognize that every individual has unique needs, and our goal is to develop customized programs to address the specific symptoms and imbalances encountered. A healthy brain environment is crucial for maintaining emotional equilibrium and improving general mental health.

Through functional neurology, we strive to support enhanced cognitive function and improved mental health, aiming to make a positive impact on the quality of life for our clients. Our work combines cutting-edge techniques and a deep understanding of the brain’s inner workings to help our clients progress toward optimal brain health.

Download Our 10 Tips for a Better Brain eBook

Through state-of-the-art brain mapping, objective neurological testing, intensive research-based brain training, and nutritional intervention, we are able to assess and train the brain to perform at peak condition. Take the firsts step today!
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Functional Neurology Treatments and Approaches

Functional neurology focuses on identifying and treating the root causes of various neurological conditions, enhancing nerve connections and brain networking, and promoting overall brain health. In this section, we will discuss several treatments and approaches in functional neurology, including chiropractic neurology, vestibular rehabilitation, and sensory stimulation.

Chiropractic Neurology

Chiropractic neurology is one of the first forms of functional neurology created that deals with the assessment and treatment of neurological disorders through non-pharmacologic methods. As experts in this field, we use specialized techniques to stimulate neuronal migration (development), synaptogenesis, and neuroplasticity, thus promoting better connections between nerve cells and the networks they comprise.

We assess the patient’s balance, motor, eye movement, postural and proprioception skills, and more to tailor a personalized treatment plan focusing on specific spinal and extremity adjustments and other supportive modalities. By fostering these neural adjustments, we can enhance nerve connections and promote overall brain health.

Vestibular Rehabilitation

Vestibular rehabilitation is another crucial aspect of functional neurology. This therapeutic approach specifically targets balance disorders resulting from issues within the vestibular system and its related systems. We, at APEX Brain Centers, utilize individualized assessment and customized vestibular exercises to improve the patient’s overall balance and stability.

Through rehabilitation, we focus on optimizing neural plasticity, facilitating neuronal migration, and encouraging new synapse formation. This process allows the brain to adapt and reorganize itself, ultimately promoting optimal brain function and recovery from vestibular disorders. Corrections in these systems and functions allow for improvements in cognitive and mental health for many.

Sensory Stimulation

Sensory stimulation plays a vital role in functional neurology as it targets and stimulates specific sensory pathways to enhance brain function. We use various methods to activate the patient’s nervous system, ranging from light, vibration, electrical and sound therapies to custom proprioceptive and balance exercises. These approaches help create ideal environments for neuroplasticity and overall brain health.

Given the individualized nature of sensory stimulation, we carefully assess our patients to determine the most beneficial techniques for their specific needs. In doing so, we can effectively optimize the connectivity between nerve cells and thus promote enhanced physical and cognitive function and overall mental well-being.

By utilizing chiropractic neurology, vestibular rehabilitation, and sensory stimulation, we at APEX Brain Centers provide comprehensive and effective functional neurology treatments to our patients. Our goal is to help individuals achieve optimal brain health and unlock their full potential through these personalized and holistic approaches.

Neurological Conditions and Functional Neurology

Functional neurology is a comprehensive approach to understanding and treating various neurological conditions. Here, we discuss how functional neurology can help manage chronic pain and migraines, address neurodegenerative diseases, and treat neuropsychiatric disorders.

Managing Chronic Pain and Migraines

Chronic pain and migraines can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life. Our holistic approach to functional neurology focuses on identifying the root causes of these symptoms and implementing tailored treatments. This may involve techniques such as stimulating neurons with non-invasive methods, brainstem neuromodulation, vestibular rehabilitation for vertigo and dizziness, and addressing neck pain through targeted exercises. Our goal is to not only manage pain but also reduce the frequency and severity of migraines.

Addressing Neurodegenerative Diseases

Neurodegenerative diseases like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease can be devastating for those affected, as well as their families. We believe in taking a proactive approach to addressing these conditions by focusing on the human nervous system and identifying the best methods for promoting optimal brain health. This may include:

  • Implementing lifestyle changes to reduce stress and improve overall well-being
  • Using innovative therapies like vestibular rehabilitation for balance and coordination issues; which are related to cognitive impairment
  • Monitoring cognitive function and tailoring treatment plans accordingly

Our extensive education with the Carrick Institute and other entities ensures that we incorporate the latest research-backed techniques in our approach to addressing neurodegenerative diseases.

Treating Neuropsychiatric Disorders

Neuropsychiatric disorders, such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, OCD, autism, and insomnia, can have a significant impact on an individual’s daily functioning. We take an evidence-based approach to diagnosis and treatment, utilizing thorough assessments to identify any underlying factors contributing to these disorders. Our tailored treatment plans may involve:

  • Non-invasive brain stimulation for improved neuronal function
  • Neurofeedback and associated therapies
  • Cognitive and behavioral therapies targeting specific symptoms
  • Customized activities and exercises to promote healthy brain function

We strive to help our patients achieve lasting improvements in their mental health through functional neurology, working together with their mental health providers to enhance cognitive function and overall well-being.

Exploring the Connection Between Functional Neurology and Wellness

Functional neurology is a multidisciplinary approach to brain health that aims to optimize neurological function, taking into consideration aspects like nutrition, physical activity, and childhood development. In this section, we’ll delve into the impact of functional neurology on overall wellness and its connection to brain health.

The Role of Nutrition and Physical Activity

A healthy lifestyle, which includes proper nutrition and regular exercise, plays a vital role in maintaining optimal brain function. We know that good dietary habits can nourish the cerebellum and cerebrum, the two main functional areas of the brain that control movement and cognition respectively.

A balanced diet facilitates the production of essential brain chemicals, supports neuron growth, and protects the brain from oxidative stress. Physical activity, on the other hand, can improve blood flow to the brain, increase neuroplasticity, and stimulate the release of molecules that promote brain health. As functional neurologists, we understand the importance of incorporating these principles into our intervention plans to improve overall health and cognitive function.

Childhood Development and Neurology

Early childhood development is crucial for establishing a solid foundation for brain health and function. Research in the field of neuroscience has shown that the brain undergoes significant development and growth during the first few years of life. This period sets the stage for how the brain will mature in the years to come.

Childhood experiences, such as playtime and learning activities, contribute to the development of essential cognitive, emotional, and social skills. These experiences help to shape the neural pathways that are crucial for brain function throughout life. As functional neurologists, we recognize the importance of addressing any developmental concerns early on to optimize a child’s neurological health and promote their cognitive growth.

By understanding the interconnectedness of functional neurology with lifestyle factors and childhood development, we at APEX Brain Centers strive to provide comprehensive care that focuses on enhancing brain health. Our approach emphasizes the importance of holistic interventions and recognizes that each individual’s path to optimal neurological function is unique.

Functional Neurology in Practice

Functional neurology is an emerging field within chiropractic care and other health disciplines, combining traditional medical and rehabilitative approaches with functional medicine and neuroscience. It offers a holistic approach to brain health and has shown potential in treating and managing a range of neurological conditions. Our team at APEX Brain Centers is dedicated to providing the highest quality care in functional neurology, utilizing advanced imaging through electroencephalography to develop personalized treatment plans for our patients.

Success Stories and Limitations

We have witnessed many success stories over the past 20+ years involving chiropractic neurologists working alongside professionals from fields such as psychiatry, optometry, and psychology that address various neurological dysfunctions, metabolic distress, cognitive and behavioral disorders, and chronic pain issues. Integrating various modalities has helped many of our patients achieve improved brain health and enjoy a higher quality of life.

However, it is crucial to acknowledge the limitations of functional neurology, as with any health discipline. Some patients may require a more traditional approach to managing their neurological conditions; while others may find relief with a combination of treatments. Our goal is to provide evidence-based, personalized care and to avoid making exaggerated or false claims about functional neurology’s effectiveness.

Finding a Functional Neurologist

When it comes to brain health, it is essential to find a trusted and experienced functional neurologist who understands the complexities of various neurological conditions. A great functional neurologist should be well-versed in the latest advances in diagnostics and therapy and comfortable collaborating with other healthcare professionals when necessary.

At APEX Brain Centers, we take pride in our comprehensive approach to functional neurology, prioritizing patient-centered care and integrating the latest innovations in diagnostics and treatment. Our team of skilled professionals is dedicated to providing optimal brain health solutions to enhance cognitive function and overall well-being.

In summary, functional neurology is an exciting and evolving field with a rich history and the potential to transform brain health and improve the lives of many patients living with neurological conditions. It is crucial to work with a trusted functional neurologist who understands your unique needs, ensuring the best possible care to support your journey toward improved brain health.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between functional neurology and traditional neurology?

Functional neurology and traditional neurology both aim to address neurological issues, but they take different approaches. Traditional neurology focuses on identifying and treating specific diseases and disorders, often through a structural and/or chemical approach; whereas functional neurology is a more holistic approach that evaluates and addresses the overall function of the brain and nervous system. We at APEX Brain Centers believe that functional neurology can help individuals achieve optimal brain health and function.

How can functional neurology help with cognitive function?

Functional neurology targets the enhancement of cognitive functions like memory, attention, processing speed, and executive function. We use evidence-based, non-invasive techniques such as brain training exercises, nutritional interventions, and lifestyle modifications to help our clients improve their cognitive abilities and optimize their brain health.

What role does functional neurology play in mental health?

The connection between mental health and brain function is well established. We believe that addressing neurological imbalances and optimizing brain function can have a significant positive impact on mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, and stress. By using functional neurology principles, we focus on supporting and strengthening the brain’s natural ability to regulate mood, cope with stress, and build resilience.

How does functional neurology contribute to overall brain health?

Functional neurology aims to support the optimal function of the brain and nervous system by addressing neurological imbalances, enhancing cognitive abilities, and promoting overall brain health. APEX Brain Centers’ approach involves personalized assessments, targeted interventions, and ongoing support with the goal of facilitating lasting positive change in our clients’ brain health and cognitive performance.

What are the key principles of a holistic approach to brain health?

A holistic approach to brain health encompasses various aspects of a person’s life, including their environment, lifestyle, and emotional well-being. At APEX Brain Centers, our team incorporates evidence-based practices from multiple disciplines, including cognitive neuroscience, nutrition, and exercise physiology, to address every aspect of an individual’s brain health. Our approach focuses on optimizing the brain’s function while fostering overall physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

What are some common conditions treated by functional neurology?

Functional neurology can be beneficial for individuals experiencing various neurological and neuropsychiatric conditions, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) and acquired brain injuries like stroke, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), cognitive impairment, learning disabilities, movement disorders, and more. At APEX Brain Centers, our team works with clients to design targeted interventions and personalized treatment plans that empower them to take control of their brain health and achieve optimal cognitive function.

Dr. Michael S. Trayford is a Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist and Neurofeedback Specialist with over 20 years of experience in the practice of advanced functional neurology. He is one of the most highly sought-after brain rehabilitation specialists because of the life-changing outcomes his patients consistently experience. After over a decade in private practice and working alongside other pioneers in the field, Dr. Trayford developed his multimodal intensive brain training and rehabilitation program built around the science of Neuroplasticity – the ability of the brain to learn and grow dependent upon the stimulation it receives from its environment. He later founded APEX Brain Centers to combine his ground-breaking rehabilitation approach with a unique patient and caretaker-centered care model. Under Dr. Trayford’s leadership, APEX Brain Centers has successfully treated thousands of patients and earned the reputation of a world-renowned brain training and rehabilitation practice. Since its inception, Dr. Trayford has been a leader of the Brain Training revolution treating patients worldwide. In addition, he is a published journal contributor and international lecturer. His experience with various patients of all ages and neurological conditions has given him a unique perspective on brain health and human performance. He is also well-versed in collaborating with other health care professionals, making him an invaluable asset to any care team. Dr. Trayford was awarded the Functional Neurologist of the Year distinction by the International Association of Functional Neurology and Rehabilitation, where he is a proud member and conference lecturer. Currently, he serves on the Advisory Council for the Dementia Society of America and the Board of Directors for the International Society for Neuroregulation and Research. He is also a servant leader who has dedicated his adult life to serving multiple communities through Rotary International and other notable causes. When he’s not treating patients, Dr. Trayford usually reads or researches anything related to the brain, human performance, and leadership. He also loves spending time outdoors with his wife Denise, their two daughters, and dogs in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina. https://www.linkedin.com/in/drmichaeltrayford/

Leave a Comment

Find Out if Brain Rehabilitation Can Help


Get your questions answered and understand treatment options by one of our board-certified physicians with extensive functional neurology experience.

Consultations are free, 15-minute phone calls, scheduled Monday through Friday.

Recent Blog Posts

Overcoming Stroke: A Guide to Treatment and Recovery Strategies

At APEX Brain Centers, we recognize the urgency and complexity surrounding treating strokes. ...

Stroke: A Comprehensive Guide to Causes, Symptoms, and Recovery Pathways

At APEX Brain Centers, we understand that a stroke represents a critical event ...

Navigating Cognitive Decline: A Guide to Understanding and Management

Navigating the complex world of cognitive decline can be a challenging experience for ...

Unlocking the Mystery of Cognitive Decline: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Cognitive decline is a prevalent concern as individuals age, affecting memory, reasoning, attention, ...

Understanding Cognitive Decline: A Comprehensive Guide

Understanding cognitive decline is essential in helping individuals cope with changes as they ...

From Science to Success: Breakthrough in Low-Level Laser Therapy Revolution

We understand that each individual's journey to brain health is unique at APEX ...
Overcoming Stroke: A Guide to Treatment and Recovery Strategies

Overcoming Stroke: A Guide to Treatment and Recovery Strategies

At APEX Brain Centers, we recognize the urgency and complexity surrounding treating strokes. When a stroke occurs, every ...
Stroke: A Comprehensive Guide to Causes, Symptoms, and Recovery Pathways

Stroke: A Comprehensive Guide to Causes, Symptoms, and Recovery Pathways

At APEX Brain Centers, we understand that a stroke represents a critical event affecting the brain's blood supply ...
Navigating Cognitive Decline: A Guide to Understanding and Management

Navigating Cognitive Decline: A Guide to Understanding and Management

Navigating the complex world of cognitive decline can be a challenging experience for individuals and their families. As ...
See if APEX Can Help

Schedule a free, confidential consultation with one of our board-certified physicians.