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Functional Neurological Disorder Physiotherapy Edmonton

Functional Neurological Disorder (FND), or Conversion Disorder, is an intricate condition where patients experience neurological symptoms without a traditional organic disease explanation. Leveraging our in-depth understanding of neuroplasticity and the mind-body connection, we at In Step provide effective, evidence-based treatments to help patients regain their functionality and quality of life.

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Outline of the fundamental assessment - the pivotal step

We understand the complexity of Functional Neurological Disorder (FND) and prioritize a comprehensive assessment to ensure an individualized and effective treatment plan. Here's an overview of our elaborate assessment plan for FND:

  1. Initial Consultation and Case History: The process begins with a detailed conversation to understand the patient's symptoms, onset, progression, and impact on daily life. This discussion also encompasses the patient's medical history, including previous diagnoses, treatments, lifestyle, and psychological factors.
  2. Physical Examination: The physiotherapist will assess the patient's motor and sensory functions, movement patterns, balance, coordination, and gait. This may involve a range of tests tailored to the patient's symptoms and designed to identify their specific challenges.
  3. Cognitive and Emotional Assessment: Since FND involves physical and psychological aspects, we also evaluate cognitive and emotional factors. This could involve standardized tests, self-report measures, and discussions to understand the patient's mental health, coping mechanisms, and potential stressors.
  4. Functional Assessment: To comprehend how FND affects the patient's daily activities, we assess their functional abilities. This includes understanding their capacity to perform self-care, work-related duties, recreational activities, and social interactions.
  5. Goal Setting: Understanding the patient's goals is essential to our assessment. We engage in a detailed discussion to identify their rehabilitation objectives, which might include specific functional tasks they wish to regain or broader goals like returning to work or improving overall well-being.
  6. Multidisciplinary Evaluation (if necessary): Depending upon the case's complexity and deemed beneficial, the patient may be referred to other professionals in our team, such as a neuropsychologist or occupational therapist, for further assessments.

This assessment plan ensures that our treatment approach addresses the physical symptoms of FND and the cognitive, emotional, and social aspects associated with it, thereby enabling comprehensive and holistic care.

Overview of the treatment plan

  1. Treatment Plan Development: Post assessment, the findings are compiled, and a personalized treatment plan is crafted, aligning with the patient’s unique needs and goals.
  2. Education: Understanding the condition is a crucial part of the healing process. Patients are educated about FND, its possible causes, and the role of physiotherapy in managing the condition.
  3. Ongoing Assessment and Progress Tracking: Throughout the treatment, regular assessments will be conducted to track the patient’s progress. This will allow us to make any necessary adjustments to the treatment plan, ensuring it remains effective and relevant to the patient’s evolving needs.
  4. Home Exercise Program: In addition to in-clinic therapy, a home exercise program will be provided. This allows the patient to continue their recovery outside of the clinic, reinforcing the techniques learned during therapy sessions.
  5. Post-Treatment Follow-Up: Even after the completion of the intense therapy program, our clinic continues to provide support and care. Regular follow-ups will be scheduled to ensure sustained progress and promptly address emerging concerns.

Please note that this provides an overview, and each patient’s treatment plan can vary as we tailor our approach to their unique needs and experiences.


Techniques used for Functional Neurological Disorder Physiotherapy Edmonton

The treatment plan will be a blend of various therapeutic techniques which may include

  • Motor Relearning Programs: These aim to restore normal movement patterns by retraining the brain and body to work in harmony. This could involve breaking down complex movements into smaller, manageable parts and gradually reassembling them.
  • Graded Motor Imagery: This innovative technique involves mental visualization of movement, mirror therapy, and laterality recognition exercises. It has been shown to help improve movement and reduce pain without actual physical movement.


  • Physical Exercises: Strength, flexibility, and aerobic exercises are an essential part of the therapy. They help improve overall physical fitness, muscle tone, and endurance, making it easier to perform daily activities.
  • Balance and Gait Training: For individuals experiencing balance issues or difficulties in walking, we provide specialized training to improve stability, coordination, and mobility.
  • Relaxation Techniques and Mindfulness: These help manage stress, anxiety, and other emotional factors that can contribute to FND symptoms. Techniques can include deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, and mindfulness meditation.
  • Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES): FES uses small electrical signals to stimulate the muscles, helping to improve their function. It can be particularly useful for patients experiencing muscle weakness or paralysis.  State-of-the-art devices such as Bioness L300 GO and Bioness H200, designed to provide precise stimulation prompting muscles to contract and assist with movement, are used at In Step to better aid patients in regaining mobility and functionality.
    • The Bioness L300 Go is a small, wearable cuff-like device placed around the patient’s leg to stimulate the nerves, causing muscles to contract and produce movement. It is designed to improve mobility, balance, walking speed, and endurance.
    • The Bioness H200 is a device worn like a glove designed for individuals with hand paralysis caused by neurological conditions. It helps to activate nerves and muscles, aiding in hand movement and function assisting with tasks such as gripping, releasing, and fine motor skills.
  • Cognitive Behavioural Approaches: We incorporate principles from cognitive-behavioural therapy into our approach, aiming to change negative thought patterns that could be affecting the physical symptoms of FND.

Our therapists are constantly updating their knowledge and skills to include emerging techniques in the field of FND physiotherapy.

Benefits of Functional Neurological Disorder Physiotherapy Edmonton

Physiotherapy plays a pivotal role in managing and overcoming Functional Neurological Disorder (FND), and at In Step Physical Therapy, our personalized treatment plans offer numerous benefits:

  1. Improved Motor Function: Our therapeutic interventions aim to enhance motor skills such as balance, coordination, strength, and flexibility. These improvements can make daily tasks easier and promote greater independence.
  2. Better Pain Management: FND can often be accompanied by chronic pain. Our physiotherapy techniques help manage and sometimes reduce this pain, enhancing overall comfort and quality of life.
  3. Enhanced Mental Well-being: Our integrated approach addresses the physical and psychological aspects of FND. Techniques like mindfulness, relaxation exercises, and cognitive-behavioural strategies can help manage stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms often associated with FND.
  4. Increased Self-Efficacy: Educating patients about their condition and involving them in the treatment process fosters a sense of control and confidence in managing FND. This self-efficacy can be critical for long-term management and recovery.
  5. Prevention of Secondary Complications: Regular physiotherapy can help prevent secondary health issues often associated with long-term mobility problems, such as muscle stiffness, joint problems, and cardiovascular disease.
Conditions related to Functional Neurological Disorder treated at In Step

At In Step Physical Therapy, we offer comprehensive care for a range of conditions related to Functional Neurological Disorder (FND) that can benefit from physiotherapy:

  • Functional Movement Disorders: These include a range of symptoms such as tremors, dystonia, gait disorders, and myoclonus, which can disrupt the smooth coordination of muscle movements.
  • Functional Weakness and Paralysis: In these conditions, patients experience loss of voluntary muscle movement without any detectable neurological damage.
  • Non-Epileptic Attack Disorders (NEAD): Often confused with epilepsy, these seizures occur without electrical abnormalities in the brain.
  • Functional Dizziness: This condition involves persistent dizziness and imbalance not associated with vertigo, migraines, or neurological disorders.
  • Functional Sensory Symptoms: These include numbness, tingling, or other abnormal sensations in the absence of identifiable neurological damage.
  • Functional Cognitive Disorder: Here, patients experience cognitive symptoms like memory issues, difficulty concentrating, or problems with organization and planning, which are out of proportion to any identified neurological conditions.
  • Chronic Pain Syndromes: Chronic pain, either localized or widespread, can often be a feature of FND. Conditions like fibromyalgia and non-specific chronic low back pain fall in this category.
  • Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures (PNES): Characterized by seizure-like episodes, PNES is a type of NEAD with psychological triggers.
  • Conversion Disorder: This psychological condition results in physical symptoms that cannot be explained by medical illness or injury.

Each condition can be treated effectively with a tailored physiotherapy approach designed to manage symptoms, enhance function, and improve the overall quality of life.


Research has shown that physical therapy can be an effective treatment method for patients with Functional Neurological Disorders. It can help prevent secondary complications, and in certain cases, it has been shown to expedite the process of remission.

The onset of  Functional Neurological Disorder symptoms usually occurs abruptly during adolescence or early adulthood, often following a stressful life event. Symptoms often appear neurologic, encompassing sensory and motor presentations. Generally, patients present with one symptom at any given time and the severity of symptoms may vary under certain circumstances.

Each session is part of the unique treatment plan created based on the patient’s condition, goals, limitations and medical history. So every session is different from another. A typical session might last from 60mins- 90mins.


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