Children and adolescents with functional neurological disorder (FND) present with physical impairment and mental health comorbidities. Specialist physiotherapy programs for treating FND have been developed over the last two decades. This article reports outcome data from three cohorts of children treated with a multidisciplinary rehabilitation intervention – the Mind-Body Program – in which a psychologically informed physiotherapy intervention, known as the wellness approach to physiotherapy, was a key component.
For three cohorts of children (n = 57, n = 60 and n = 25, respectively) treated in the Mind-Body Program, data about functional impairment and mental health concerns were collected at presentation and at follow-up (4 years, 12 months and 18 months, respectively).
Outcome data show that FND symptoms resolved in 54/57 (95%), 51/60 (85%) and 22/25 (88%) of children in the three cohorts, and that 31/57 (61%), 32/60 (53%) and 13/25 (52%) of children returned to full health and to full-time school attendance. Changes in Global Assessment of Function (GAF) were significant (t(54) = 21.60, P < 0.001; t(55) = 9.92, P < 0.001; t(24) = 6.51, P < 0.001). Outcomes were less favourable for children with chronic FND symptoms at presentation; those whose comorbid mental health disorders or other (comorbid) functional somatic symptoms did not resolve; and those who subsequently developed chronic mental health problems.
Implementation of a multidisciplinary rehabilitation intervention – with psychologically informed physiotherapy as one of the key treatment components – resulted in resolution of FND symptoms and return to health and well-being in the large majority of patients.

© 2020 Paediatrics and Child Health Division (The Royal Australasian College of Physicians).

References

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