General Info



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General Information

Article provided by Ann Vivian, PT, NCS
Board Certified Neurological Clinical Specialist

Neurologic physical therapy involves the assessment and treatment of patients with physical or developmental disorders affecting the neuromuscular system. The neuromuscular system refers to the nerves and muscles of the body. Patients or clients with the following diagnoses may benefit from a physical therapist trained in neuromuscular rehabilitation:

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- Amputation

- Brain Tumors

- Cerebral Palsy

- Deconditioning or weakness due to prolonged bed rest and/or illness

- Multiple Sclerosis

- Muscular Dystrophy

- Myasthenia Gravis

- Neuromuscular Disease such as Guillain Barre and Polymyositis

- Neuropathies

- Parkinson's Disease

- Post-Polio Syndrome

- Progressive Supranuclear Palsy

- Spinal Cord Injury

- Stroke

- Traumatic Brain Injury, Closed Head Injury

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Treatment is coordinated with the medical team which involves a physician who may also be referred to as a physiatrist, and may include other health care professionals such as occupational, physical and/or speech therapists, nurses, social workers and psychologists. The team provides each patient with an individualized course of treament depending on his or her needs. Physical therapists have been extensively trained in facilitation of normal movement patterns for all types of movements including reaching, lifting, crawling, walking and moving from a sitting to standing position.

Physical therapy for neuromuscular disorders may include functional training for the following:

- Balance

- Bed Mobility

- Caregiver and Patient Education

- Coordination

- Strengthening

- Walking

- Wheelchair Mobility

Techniques used range from hands-on guidance and facilitation of more normal movement and teaching someone how to do a task such as standing up from a chair or maneuver a wheelchair to specific exercises for strengthening the muscles needed to stand and walk without assistance.

Physical therapists attend continuing education courses throughout their careers and may pursue certification or specialization in various areas or techniques. A therapist with neurological expertise typically practices in an inpatient or outpatient hospital setting, but may also be located in an outpatient clinic or private facility. If insurance benefits have run out and a patient would like continued therapy, a physical therapist may be able to refer the individual to a physical therapist who provides private pay therapy in the home or private clinic. There are also community-based exercise programs for the disabled that may be appropriate for some individuals after therapy has been completed. These are located at community colleges and city recreation departments.

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