Physiotherapy for Functional Neurological Disorder (FND)

What is Functional Neurological Disorder?

Functional Neurological Disorders (FND) are the most common cause of neurological disability. FND is a collection of symptoms that cannot be explained by any disease process or damage to the brain and nerves. Imagine your body is a computer. The hardware (in this case the brain and nerves) are working properly, but there is a glitch in the software which impacts how the brain and body send and receive signals.

What are the Symptoms of FND?

FND effects everyone differently. Some of the symptoms people with FND may experience are;

  • Different people experience different symptoms with their FND.
  • seizures (dissociative episodes)
  • paralysis
  • tremors (shaking)
  • walking disorders,
  • dystonia (abnormal posturing),
  • dysphagia (difficulty swallowing).

What Causes FND?

The exact cause of FND is unknown. There are however various factors that make people more vulnerable to FND. Some of these are;

  • Stressful life events
  • Pain or injury
  • Childhood abuse or neglect
  • Another neurological condition

Some people with FND may have none of these risk factors

Who can support me with my FND

After receiving an FND diagnosis, you should have a good team of medical and allied health professionals around you to assist to give you the best possible treatment. Depending on your symptoms these may include:

  • Physiotherapists
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Speech Pathologists
  • Nurses
  • Clinical Psychologists
  • Neurologists

Physiotherapy and FND

At SCNR we have experience providing physiotherapy for people with Functional Neurological Disorder. Physiotherapists offer education, movement retaining and self-management strategies for people with FND. Research has shown improvements in motor symptoms (such as weakness) of functional neurological disorder in people who work closely with physiotherapists. Physiotherapists may help to both understand these symptoms and help manage symptoms in the long term. Another important aspect of physiotherapy care is helping individuals understand pacing and gradual return to activity to help implement increased activity in daily life. Both short-term and long-term successful outcomes have been documented in the management of people with FND with movement disorders. At SCNR we aim to work closely with you and your wide team to support you with your FND diagnosis. We can also recommend other providers.

Questions about our service? Check out our frequently asked questions here

If you have a diagnosis of FND and want to learn more, or would like to make an appointment, please call (07) 5448 115 or email

Neve Cavanagh (APAM)

Espay AJ, Aybek S, Carson A, et al. Current Concepts in Diagnosis and Treatment of Functional Neurological Disorders. JAMA Neurol. 2018;75(9):1132-1141.

Nielsen G, Stone J, Matthews A, et alPhysiotherapy for functional motor disorders: a consensus recommendationJournal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry 2015;86:1113-1119.

Functional Neurological Disorder