Functional Neurology Method: A Promising Approach for Brain Injury Rehabilitation

In times of war and turmoil, the stories of extraordinary individuals take on special significance. Among them is Kateryna Chizhayeva, a native of Kyiv now residing in New Orleans. When Katya arrived in Ukraine in August 2022, she joined the NGO "Community Self-Help," where her contributions transcended mere volunteerism. Not only did she become a key author and coordinator of an English-language informational bulletin, but she also provided invaluable training and practical sessions on acupuncture for volunteers aiding internally displaced persons. Katya, a trained acupuncture physician, brought with her from the USA innovative and effective methods of health restoration, including needle therapy and functional neurology. She already practices needle therapy at the "Forest Glade" veterans' hospital and aims to develop the method of functional neurology, which is effective in treating people with contusions.

Positive Experience of Implementing Acupuncture Therapy

While in Ukraine, Kateryna Chizhayeva implemented acupuncture therapy, conducting both group and individual sessions. At the Kyiv State Hospital for War Veterans "Forest Glade," where Katya practiced, the majority of clients were frontline veterans who had encountered physical and emotional traumas of war, including concussions, traumatic brain injuries, and accompanying symptoms such as insomnia, headaches, stuttering, loss of speech, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and others. Drawing from her own experience and noting positive reactions to her procedures, ranging from relaxation to improved sleep, pain reduction, enhanced mood, and emotional well-being, Kateryna observed that acupuncture served as a truly effective complement to primary rehabilitation and mental health care. "In the United States, for instance, the system offers acupuncture to veterans for many similar conditions; it's cost-effective, has no negative side effects, and is well-received by veterans," she remarked.

Functional Neurology Method: A Promising Approach for Brain Injury Rehabilitation

Functional neurology is an advanced field of neurobiology grounded in empirical evidence, focusing on brain rehabilitation therapy. Dr. Carrick and his university, as part of the Harvard University board, have made significant contributions to numerous ongoing studies in this field over the past 40 years. Functional neurology, as an effective method for treating concussions and other head injuries, provides a proactive approach to health care, including the prevention of many negative consequences and certain neurological disorders. At present, functional neurology in Ukraine requires development, primarily to benefit our military personnel who sustain mild and severe brain injuries during combat operations, which can lead to the loss of certain functional abilities. Based on the principles of neuroplasticity, the functional neurology methodology aims to treat concussions and other head injuries. This method also offers many useful resources for civilian therapy in various neurologic manifestations. Functional neurology harnesses the brain's natural ability to adapt and restructure. Treatment may include neurological exercises, sensory stimulation, and other activities that challenge the brain in specific ways to stimulate the development of new neuronal connections and improve function.

Kateryna intends to collaborate with physiotherapist Dmytro from the Kyiv State Hospital for War Veterans "Forest Glade" to conduct a course for Ukrainian physiotherapists and neurologists, teaching them the functional neurology method aimed at treating concussions. To ensure accessibility of this method for Ukrainian specialists, educational materials are currently being recorded at a local clinic in Atlanta. These materials are substantial blocks of information that local specialists will gradually pass on to Kateryna. Subsequently, this material will be processed and adapted into Ukrainian. This method is reliable and effective, although not swift. Upon completion of processing the materials, it is tentatively planned that Dmytro and Katya will jointly teach people this method in Kyiv, starting with specialists from the "Forest Glade" and then expanding the courses to a wider audience, incorporating both live and online educational events. As a continuation of this project, Kateryna's future plans include organizing training for physiotherapists in Finland at the Functional Neurology Clinic in Helsinki, where this method is successfully employed. She already has an agreement to provide practical skills training for Ukrainian professionals. Dr. Mark Ellis, Dr. Campbell, Dr. Chideneus, and other practicing experts have been gracious enough to offer the opportunity to undergo practical training in Finland. This will be a unique opportunity to acquire knowledge and experience from leading experts who apply this method, with subsequent implementation of the acquired skills in Ukraine.

Fundraising for Project Implementation

In New Orleans, where Katya Chyzhayeva resides, she is actively involved in fundraising to aid Ukraine from the United States of America. Katya currently has ambitious plans for the development of effective and accessible rehabilitation and treatment methods for both military personnel and civilians in Ukraine, including acupuncture and functional neurology methods. In addition to volunteering herself at Lisova Polyana, she is also actively collecting donations to fund scholarships for local acupuncturists willing to work there with soldiers two to five times a week. This ongoing effort helps soldiers with sleep adjustment, neuralgia, neuropathy, nervous system calming, impingement, various pain syndromes, and more. Currently, Katya Chyzhayeva is directing her efforts towards organizing training for Ukrainian therapists (neurologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists) to acquire the skills, theory, and practice of functional neurology. This will expand the possibilities of providing effective assistance to military and civilian individuals with various neurological issues. Detailed information about the method can be found on the website To raise funds for the implementation of this project, Katya is organizing a play in New Orleans with a local theater troupe about Ukraine and the war in Ukraine. The premiere of the play will be in March 2024, and the proceeds from ticket sales will go towards projects implementing acupuncture and functional neurology methods in the treatment and rehabilitation of defenders and civilians affected by the war.

Support this fundraising initiative for a worthy cause and join the fundraising efforts through the link below:

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