The brain and its many parts control all of our movement, balance, body awareness, and ability to physically perform our daily tasks. There are a large variety of injuries and diseases that affect the central nervous system and a person’s ability to function. Physical therapy plays a large role in helping people to regain their ability to move and function, and maximizing their capabilities when the brain has been affected. Each individual person will present very differently, therefore treatment programs are individually tailored to a person’s impairments and personal goals. Treatment frequently involves identifying affected activities, breaking the movement necessary to complete an activity down to it’s basic components, and retraining the neuromuscular system or learning new ways to accomplish functional activities. A major goal in physical therapy treatment is preventing/reducing the risk of falls. Secondary complications that arise from a fall (fractures, concussion, fear) can significantly complicate the primary impairments from an injury to the brain. Listed below is a sample of some of the diseases and conditions a person might be referred to physical therapy for.
Parkinson’s Disease: Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder caused by a lack of dopamine in the brain. Symptoms include tremors (shaking), rigidity, difficulty walking/shuffling gait, impaired balance, and difficulty initiating or continuing movement.
Multiple Sclerosis: Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. Episodes may last for a variable amount of time with periods of little to no symptoms (remissions). Symptoms can occur anywhere in the body and may include double or blurred vision, tingling or numbness in the arms/legs, dizziness, and difficulty walking which can be exacerbated by stress or an increase in body temperature.
Stroke (CVA): (CVA) is caused by an interruption of blood flow in the brain due to a hemorrhage or blockage. The affected area of the brain is unable to function, which may cause an inability to move the arms and/or legs on one side of the body, difficulty speaking, visual disturbances, etc.
Gait and Balance Difficulty: Difficulty walking/impaired balance may be caused by multiple factors including muscle weakness/imbalance, inflexibility, inner ear disorders, or vision problems.