Lessons Learned in Outpatient Physical Therapy for Motor Functional Neurological Disorder

J Neurol Phys Ther. 2022 Aug 16. doi: 10.1097/NPT.0000000000000415. Online ahead of print.


Background and purpose: Motor functional neurological disorder is a prevalent and costly condition at the intersection of neurology and psychiatry that is diagnosed using positive "rule-in" signs. Physical therapy is a first-line treatment and consensus recommendations exist to guide clinical care. Nonetheless, optimal outpatient treatment of adults with functional motor symptoms requires an expanded physical therapy tool kit to effectively guide care.

Summary of key points: In this article, lessons learned from a physical therapist practicing in a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary outpatient functional neurological disorder clinic are highlighted. In doing so, we discuss how use of the biopsychosocial model and neuroscience constructs can inform physical therapy interventions. The importance of team-based care and the delivery of physical therapy through video telehealth services are also outlined.

Recommendations for clinical practice: Use of the biopsychosocial formulation to triage clinical challenges and guide longitudinal care, coupled with application of neuroscience to aid intervention selection, allows for patient-centered physical therapy treatment across the spectrum of functional motor symptoms.Video Abstract available for more insights from the authors (see the Video, Supplemental Digital Content 1, available at: http://links.lww.com/JNPT/A400).