Neurophysiotherapy - in our expert opinion
Like most professional titles, physiotherapists come in many shapes and sizes. Michelle has worked as a neurophysiotherapist virtually her whole career, but still wouldn’t put money on her family and friends knowing what she actually does!
Before we look at the role of an expert neurophysiotherapist and what value they can add to a clinical negligence or personal injury case, let’s look at the basics of the specialism as this will help you tease out when you might need to call upon our services.
What we do
Neurophysiotherapists help restore movement and function when someone is affected by a neurological injury, illness or disability.
This could be an acquired brain injury from an accident, an illness such as multiple sclerosis or motor neurone disease, or as a result of complications from another health issue.
When meeting an individual, neurophysio’s will assess a wide variety of parameters such as muscle strength, range of movement (in joints such as hips, knees, and shoulders) and they will also look at aspects such as balance, coordination, pain, sensation, gait, and the ability to move from A to B and perform everyday tasks.
Why this is important
The information gleaned from these assessments is crucial to knowing the severity of the impairment and how well the individual will carry out daily activities and fulfill their responsibilities. It helps paint a picture of what the future might look like for that person based on their current physical status and established knowledge around prognosis and outcomes.
Another important aspect of the role is around potential safety and risks to the individual.
In conjunction with other professionals such as occupational therapists and neuropsychologists, neurophysio’s make judgments regarding the risks of the individual attempting certain tasks - with or without supervision or hands-on assistance from another person. This might be a simple as the act of standing up or as complex as driving.
The evidence-based opinion of the neurophysio, alongside colleagues, is crucial when making decisions on how much help the individual needs now and in the future.
Gadgets and gizmos
Many people with impaired physical function benefit from the help of equipment or aids when carrying out everyday tasks. These could be aids to move from place to place, to walk, to hold a body-part in a corrective position, or something that helps when doing therapy exercises.
Neurophysio’s will recommend the right bit of kit to improve safety, to maximise recovery and to help the individual be as independent as possible.
How do I find the right expert neurophysiotherapist?
Based on what the assessment should involve, make sure any potential expert has extensive experience with each aspect e.g. balance, spasticity, gait analysis, orthotics/splints, equipment, and informing prognosis.
Their career history should demonstrate many years working in the fields of brain injury and/or spinal cord injury, with an emphasis on using evidence-based, objective measures through an overall approach that is functional and will give you real, practical information about the individual on a day-to-day basis.
The expert should be up-to-date on current products, equipment and best practice, and should have experience of working in the independent sector, as well as the NHS.
What does an expert need from me?
When you have found the expert to help your case, they will need instruction as early as possible in the process of the claim.
Provide the expert with clear questions that you wish to be addressed in the neurophysiotherapy assessment, such as the potential to work or drive, or level of care needs in the future.
Give all necessary information in advance to provide the context of the individual’s current life and their, or their family’s hopes for the future.
What the right expert neurophysiotherapist will provide in return
After assessment of the individual, the expert will provide a clear report that is unambiguous, cohesive and thorough, whilst avoiding unnecessary jargon.
A good report will give:
a review of previous interventions - the appropriacy and success of these
a description of the level of functional independence including how they move from A to B and move around their environment
a prognosis for physical recovery
an outline of what support is required from a carer and/or equipment, and the costs of these
recommendations of any future physiotherapy interventions.
In summary, the value of using a neurophysiotherapist is fundamental to building a compelling clinical negligence or personal injury case – the information and expert opinion on care requirements, expected outcomes and potential costs plays a significant role in achieving the best outcome for your client.