What is Neurological Physical Therapy
Updated: Apr 23
Well, as the name presents itself, neurological physical therapy (PT) is the movement treatment of the those who have injuries or diseases within the nervous system. The nervous system is made up of the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. The central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord, while the peripheral nervous system consists of the nerve branches that extend to all parts of the body. You can see how this can affect pain in any area of your body. Some sources say we have over 7 trillion nerve endings in our body—that’s 37 miles worth!
Neurological physical therapists (PTs) can help treat a wide range of injuries or diseases, like a spinal cord injury, a brain injury, a stroke, Parkinson’s disease (PD), or even multiple sclerosis (MS). The goal is help maintain the pain associated with the dysfunction, as it is not common that the pain or problem will go away completely. This is because the nerves may be permanently damaged. The biological process of nerve regeneration is quite complex, so let’s focus more on what the PTs do!
As always, the patient will first be comprehensively evaluated by the PT to get a better
understanding of where the pain originates from. Often times there is not one origination of
the pain, since nerves are all over our body. For example, patients with MS or PD are very likely to be treated and prescribed exercises differently, since these conditions do not affect the everyone the same—they’re most likely experiencing dissimilar pain. Once an evaluation is done, the PT prescribes the exercise to their patients and a timeline will be kept of the patient’s progression, regression, or any helpful notes from their weekly visits. Normally these vulnerable patients will attend PT 2-3 times a week, or maybe even 4 days a week. This can depend on the financial ability and insurance availability mostly.
The treatments provided by neurological PTs can differ from most physical therapy, sometimes the patient might need help with gait and balance, whereas another patient might need assistance with core stabilization. Whatever it may be, these PTs are happy to help. According to a few sources, neuro PTs are one of the highest paid specialties within PT. That makes sense because in order to pursue this career, it also required to complete further
certification outside of the PT doctoral degree!