World Brain Day:
Interviewing The Functional Neurologist That Changed My Family Forever
Happy World Brain Day friends! Though this is not a highly celebrated (or even known) calendar date, I wanted to take a minute to highlight how much brain health has impacted my family.
If you’ve read my Messy Masterpiece Bio, you’ve already learned a tidbit or two about my story. If not, I encourage you to go there now before reading any further. What those of you don’t know, is that I am not the only one in my family that has majorly benefited from improved brain health…
A Little Backstory
My daughter suffered from extreme meltdowns and physical aggression for years. After nearly a decade of therapies and specialists, we were left feeling frustrated and defeated. That was, until I started having the neurological symptoms that eventually led me back to Dr. Kurt W. Kuhn.
I say “back” because we had taken my daughter to Dr. Kuhn several years prior, during our initial answers search. However, by the time we met, I was already frustrated with doctors and not in a good mental headspace to hear that “regular chiropractic adjustments and a drastic diet change” was the answer. Little did I know, it was so much more than that.
It took “the fear of God” being instilled in me by symptoms of Chiari and an out-of-whack immune system that made me listen up. I started the program, the diet, and the supplements recommended by Dr. Kuhn. Within weeks, I was seeing improvement.
By the next year, I was a functional medicine believer. I brought my daughter in to be re-evaluated and she was diagnosed with Functional Disconnection Syndrome. Later, I also brought in my son and my husband. As it turns out, all four members of my family had brain related hiccups, and all four members improved within a relatively short period of time.
How It’s Going
It’s been over three years now since the second time we walked into Dr. Kuhn’s office. I recommend him to anybody struggling with headaches, back pain, neurological symptoms, learning disabilities, fogginess…the list goes on and on. Not only is he highly educated, but both him, and his wife Sue (who works at the front desk), work hard to create an office environment that makes you feel more like family, than just a patient.
They have made such a huge impact in my family and I’s lives that I feel selfish keeping this knowledge all to myself. Especially on World Brain Day! My hope is that the following information helps those of you still searching for those seemingly impossible answers. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy this Q & A packed piece, co-authored by Dr. Kuhn himself.
Q: What Is A Chiropractic Neurologist?
A: “Like medicine, the chiropractic profession has a number of specialties. The specialties include radiology, rehabilitation, pediatrics, clinical nutrition, internists, neurology, etc.
Therefore, a chiropractic neurologist is someone who is first a fully trained and licensed chiropractor. Then, they continue with additional level classwork, practicum, and testing within the specialty of neurology. The term Functional Neurologist is sometimes used in place of chiropractic neurologist.”
For information on what it takes to become a chiropractic neurologist, check out the ACNB Candidate Handbook.
Q: What Is the Difference Between Functional Medicine and Conventional Medicine?
A: “The differences are both training and approach. A conventional doctor and functional doctor are both doctors. Both went to either medical or chiropractic school, did their specialty training, etc. The difference is that a functional doctor has done all of that PLUS additional continuing education (and often certification) in the area called functional medicine.
The approach of functional medicine is that it looks at the body in a more “whole-system” related way than conventional medicine. So, while a conventional medical approach would be to treat depression, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, or cancer as separate entities (often by separate specialists), the functional medicine approach might look at these conditions and recognize that they are all caused by the same cause… inflammation. Thus, his approach would also include addressing the underlying cause of inflammation.
A metaphor sometimes used is “a conventional practitioner is rescuing people who are drifting downstream and drowning; while the functional practitioner goes up stream to fix the hole in the bridge where they are falling in.”
A good source for more information on Functional Medicine can be found here: What is Functional Medicine? | IFM.”
Q: What made you pursue becoming a chiropractic neurologist and learning about functional medicine?
A: “Each degree, or certification, represents a patient’s need that I couldn’t solve. If I didn’t know someone to refer them to, rather than say “I can’t help you”, I went out and got the training necessary to help.
Functional medicine, like functional neurology, opened its doors to other professions. Knowledge that changes lives is not contained in one single profession. Smart practitioners are life-long learners. Science shares its secrets. So, the best practitioners make the effort to learn and exchange information that can help others
After completing my board certification in chiropractic neurology, I got my subspecialty certified electrodiagnosis by the ACNB. Then, in neurofeedback through BCIA. Next, I got my Master of Science in Advanced Clinical Practice which focused on lifestyle medicine. My goal was to use nutritional methods, like functional medicine, with other concepts to improve health without using medications.
Each area of training not only allowed me to serve the patient that inspired me to undergo the training, but also help many others in my community. In addition, I am often asked for second opinions on cases from my peers. This extends the reach of how I can help.
This video was taken during one of my daughter’s interactive metronome sessions. Interactive metronome was part 2 of 3 in her treatment plan.
The cues on the screen help her, and Dr. Kuhn, see whether she’s clapping on rhythm or whether the different parts of the brain are in sync.
Q: What Is Functional Disconnection Syndrome?
A: “The term functional disconnection was made popular by Robert Melillo, an instructor for the Carrick Institute, in his text with Gerry Leisman Neurobehavioral Disorders of Childhood and his lay book Disconnected Kids.
The term disfunction indicates a lack of function; whereas dysfunction indicates bad, abnormal, or impaired function. The two prefixes are often used interchangeably. So, the reader must consider the context used as to whether the condition described is truly not functioning, or, if it is an altered function. In either form, the concept is that the nervous system is altered with one side not functioning, or, not functioning as strongly as the other. This alters the person’s ability to function at a high level.
The approach to the two variations matters clinically. A dysfunction can be rehabilitated, as it is an alive pathway. If you think about the scene in the movie Princess Bride, miracle Max uses the term “mostly dead” as a differentiation from “completely dead” in the process of reviving Wesley.
A true disconnection indicates the pathway is dead and an alternate pathway must be found and developed. Chiropractic/functional neurologists use “detours”, or “homologue pathways”, to activate and rehabilitate the areas beyond the broken down or disconnected pathways.”
Q: Why Is Diet So Important?
A: “Diet is critical because it is a part of the semi-open system of our body. We can provide ourselves with healthy inputs or with inputs that will harm us. It is obvious that someone with a peanut allergy shouldn’t ingest peanuts. It is less obvious that someone with depression, arthritis or a heart condition shouldn’t ingest things that raise their inflammation level.
Low inflammation diets like the Wahl protocols, Paleo, Pritikin, Mediterranean, Atkins, Keto, etc. all work to minimize inflammation in the diet. Inflammation is nearly the beginning of every disease. So, when we lower our inflammation by diet, supplements, or lifestyle changes we lower our susceptibility to a loss of health.”
Q: What Can Everyone Do To Improve Brain Health?
A: “First and foremost, avoid physical trauma. Concussions happen more frequently than we recognize and can cause terrible things down the road. So, it’s important to avoid head trauma and see a specialist like a chiropractic/functional neurologist for care. Especially children, whose brains are still developing. Minor bumps can have serious consequences.
I say, “When in doubt, check it out!” Adopt the attitude that you don’t have to be sick to get better. So many of us were raised with the perspective “if you are not dead or dying…” However, by the time you have symptoms, it can be too late. So, get checked regularly and often by your health team.
Second, live a low inflammation lifestyle. This means diet, supplements, and positive life choices. Minimize polluting yourself with foods that are unhealthy. Also, supplement appropriately for your individual genetics, environment, and lifestyle.
Third, recognize that your environment includes people and places. There may be people, and places, you can spend minutes with, but not hours. There may be others that you can spend hours with, but not days, and so on. Make what you feed your head as important as what foods you feed yourself.
The old saying “you are a combination of the thoughts you think, the people you meet, and the books you have read” is true. These days we have to add theater, movies, shows, news, music and social media. Choose what you are feeding your mind and make conscious choices on whether it is good for you or not.
Fourth and finally, “Grow.” There is an old saying that “If you are green, you are growing and if you are ripe, you are rotting.” Most of aging is in our head. So, take care of it physically, chemically, emotionally, and feed it things that inspire you.”
Q: If I Wanted To Find A Chiropractic Neurologist In My Area, What’s The Easiest Way?
A: “The best way to find someone board certified is through the American Chiropractic Neurology Board’s doctor locator page at Doctor Search-ACNB.“
A huge thank you to Dr. Kuhn for taking the time out of his busy schedule to help shed some light on the art of functional medicine!
In my opinion, functional medicine is an incredibly overlooked, and underrated practice. Just think about how many people could be helped if more doctors looked at a problem with a “whole body” approach, instead of just through one lens. What if doctors looked at symptoms, not just clinical numbers? Or, what if the cause of an illness was addressed, not just covered with medications? How about if brain health took a front row seat in healthy living?
Let me tell you what would happen! Because Dr. Kuhn used this approach, my neurological symptoms are now controlled. My daughter is off all ADHD medications and is happier and healthier than ever. In addition, both my son and my husband have also made improvements. One doctor changed an entire family’s health trajectory by simply caring to look at the whole picture. We are forever grateful to him, and others out there like him, looking to make the world a healthier place…one patient at a time. Or in our case…four. Wink!