November 12, 2008
Neurologic Physical Therapy
A Neurological Physical Therapist is someone “who specializes in the evaluation
and treatment of individuals with movement problems due to disease or injury of the
nervous system.”1 They treat patients with spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis,
Parkinson’s disease, and cerebral palsy.1
Many people have Neurological diseases, so it is important that Physical
Therapists know how to treat these diseases.2 A neurological disorder that mostly affects
girls is called Rett syndrome. This syndrome regresses children’s’ developmental
milestones in speech, hand skills, and coordination.2 One thing that neurological
therapists may do to help patients overcome Rett syndrome is to help them learn how to
walk and strengthen their leg muscles.2 Another major treatment that helps people with
Rett syndrome is floating in a hot tub, which helps loosen patients’ joints.2
“Spinal muscular atrophy is a term used to describe a varied group of inherited
disorders characterized by weakness and muscle wasting secondary to degeneration of
motor neurons in the spinal cord and brainstem.”3 This disease pretty much weakens the
muscle in the spinal cord and brainstem. Spinal muscular atrophy inhibits someone from
achieving the following milestones: independent sitting, standing, and walking.3
Neurological physical therapists may measure their muscles by using the Manual Muscle
test to test the patients’ strength.3 Physical Therapists may use resistance and moderate
resistance exercise programs to strengthen the patients’ strength and endurance.3
“Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder of the brain that is estimated to
affect around one in every 800 individuals.”4 This disease is a common one. Parkinson’s
disease patients have the following characteristics: a shuffling gait and a decrease in size
of their handwriting.4Physical Therapists can help Parkinson’s patients by doing exercises
that will help them walk without a shuffle. An example of an exercise would be one that
strengthens the leg muscle, using a band.
The two general types of neuromuscular dysfunction are abnormal inhibition of a
muscle and the neurologic type.5 The abnormal inhibition of a muscle can be corrected
and treated with stimulation, or a method called Chapman’s reflexes and GTO/spindle
cell therapy.5 The three most common treatments for the neurologic disorder are:
“treatment of acupuncture points KI 27 and CV 8, treatment of gait reflexes, and
correction of improperly function labyrinthine reflexes.”5 Neurologic physical therapists
may also use the Manual Muscle test to assess the dysfunction.5
While neurologic physical therapists may not be involved in dissections, they
should be familiar with symptoms involved in some neurological dissections. Some
neurological symptoms involved with “aortic dissection are often dramatic and may
completely dominate the clinical picture.”6 These symptoms can be classified into two
different groups.6 “Aortic dissections can obtain neurological symptoms because of
occlusion of supplying vessels or general hypotension.”7 Aortic dissections might be
missed in patients with neurological symptoms but without pain.7
Neurologic physical therapists treat diseases such as Parkinson’s, multiple
sclerosis, and spinal cord and brain injuries. There are many treatments to correct or treat
these diseases. Some treatments are, Manual Muscle testing, stimulation, and correction
of reflexes. All together, researching this topic has been a great experience. I learned all
about neurological diseases and some treatments that physical therapists may use to
correct them. Most of the articles and books I read to write my paper were easy to
understand. The article from PubMed had some terms and ideas that I did not quite
understand, but I learned a lot overall.
1. What is a neurologic physical therapist. 2007. Neurology Section. Available at:
FC6DB4FFDEB5E20A. Accessed November 9, 2008.
2. Nichols DA. Water therapy. Detroit News. 2008 Oct 16: B3. Available at
ProQuest. [Database online]:
COPT=REJTPUcwJklOVD0wJlZFUj0y&clientId=9874. 2008 Nov 9.
3. Han J J., McDonald CM. Diagnosis and clinical management of spinal muscular
atrophy. Pub Med. [Serial online]. 2008; 19: 661-680. Available at: PubMed.
2008 Nov 9.
4. Kapur N. Injured Brains of Medical Minds. New York: Oxford University Press
5. Maffetone P. Complementary Sports Medicine. USA; 1999.
6. Gaul C, Dietrich W, Erbguth F. Neurological symptoms in aortic dissection: a
challenge for neurologists. PubMed. [Serial online]. 2008 May 30: 1-8. Available
at: PubMed. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/sites/entrez?
otool=pasulib 2008 Nov 9.
7. Gaul CD, Dietrich W, Friedrich I, Sirch J, and Erbguth F. Neurological symptoms
in type A aortic dissections. PubMed. [Serial online] 2007: 1- 2. Available at:
otool=pasulib 2008 Nov 9.