Did you know that April is FND awareness month? (www.fndhope.org) sadly, this campaign has long ways to go as the majority of the general public and healthcare providers have no clue what FND is since they’ve likely never even heard of this condition.
So what is FND? It is a neurological condition where an individual experiences altered motor & sensory symptoms or deficits that cannot be explained by another neurological or medical disorder. Symptoms include everything from paralysis, numbness to non-epileptic seizures.
The symptoms of FND can be similar to MS or Parkinson’s disease but without the ability to find a neurological pathology. Disability and impaired quality of life of those with FND are similar to those with other neurological conditions, but with an undetermined prognosis. Some have complete recovery with various physical and psychotherapy interventions, while others experience long term disability.
Unfortunately, FND symptoms can include the experience of chronic pain that can be mild, excruciating, to totally incapacitating. The pain can take an emotional toll on a person, especially when it does not consistently respond to various medications (Mason et al 2023).
Due to lack of awareness, it often takes years to make the diagnosis of FND; years of investigations and seeing MDs, specialists & therapists from neurologists to psychiatrists. Commonly, the interactions with the healthcare system make their condition even worse as patients feel dismissed. They frequently sense accusations that what they are experiencing is all “in their head” or that it is “their fault” or that they are “just faking it”.
The single greatest intervention for FND seems to be time taken to validate patients and educate them on their condition. The next best treatment is physiotherapy to promote physical activities that focus on neuroplasticity in a non-threatening way. The key is to make patients feel more comfortable in their own body.
Physiotherapy involves addressing weakness, tremor, dystonia, gait, balance and restore normal automatic movement patterns; while psychotherapy involves developing insight into why the nervous system has decided to express emotions through the physical body.
I hope that as result of you reading this report, you are now a bit more aware of FND.