What is Functional Neurological Disorder (FND)?

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The month of April marks World Functional Neurological Disorder (FND) Awareness Month to shine a light on one of the most common neurological conditions that most people have never heard of. In today’s blog, Claire Sagala, Senior Associate from our Swindon office, explains FND in detail and what’s involved in making a claim.

During World FND Month, people across the globe are joining together to raise awareness through social media campaigns, government lobbying, and events including lighting up buildings to get the message across.

FND is due to a problem with the functioning of the nervous system.  It is thought to be the result of the brain’s inability to send and receive signals properly.  Individuals can experience a broad range of neurological symptoms that include movement, sensory and cognitive difficulties.

What are the symptoms of FND?

There are many symptoms of FND including:

  • Seizures
  • Paralysis
  • Tremors or twitching
  • Weakness in the limbs
  • Walking difficulties
  • Dizziness
  • Hypersensitivity to light, sound, smell, touch or taste
  • Fleeting sensations like their skin is crawling or ‘electric shock’ like feelings

Other symptoms that may be experienced are short term memory difficulties, poor concentration, difficulties with speech, problems with vision, sleep difficulties, headaches or migraines and bladder or bowel problems.

The symptoms can become chronic (long-term) or worsen and FND may co-exist with other more commonly-known neurological diseases or chronic conditions. FND affects the life of not only individuals but also those close to them. It can result in a high level of disability and an impaired quality of life, with sufferers often feeling isolated.

 What are the causes of FND?

The exact causes of FND are unknown. However, the condition may be triggered by a reaction to stress or psychological or physical trauma, such as a car accident.

It is understood that biological, psychological and social factors may contribute towards a person’s vulnerability to developing FND.

How is FND treated?

According to Wendy Phillips, Consultant Neurologist writing in the British Medical Journal, treatment for FND may include:

  • Support – a consultation with a specialist therapist or help and advice from patient groups (e.g. FND Hope, FND Action, FND Dimensions or FND Friends
  • Knowledge – getting a greater understanding of FND from useful online resources such as neurosymptoms.org and www.headinjurysymptoms.org)
  • Neuro physiotherapy – specialist techniques that reduce the focus on the abnormal part of the body
  • Cognitive therapies and/or psychiatric therapies – a psychological or psychiatric opinion may need to be sought. Neuropsychology is often helpful in cases of persistent cognitive deficits
  • Occupational therapy
  • Improving ‘maintaining factors’ – these are things like low mood, poor sleep, side effects of medication (especially opiates), migraine symptoms and other pain syndromes, and adverse social circumstances

In addition, psychotherapy can be particularly helpful in dealing with past emotional trauma such as PTSD, anxiety and stress and can include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Mindfulness, Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) and talking therapies.

There are also specialised treatment programmes for FND sufferers. For example Brain & Mind based in London provide holistic assessment and treatment of functional neurological disorders and The Rosa Burden Centre in Bristol specialises in functional neurological disorders.

Making an FND personal injury claim

At Novum Law, we specialise in assisting people who, as a result of an accident, have gone on to develop symptoms of Mild Traumatic brain injury (mTBI), Post Concussion Syndrome (PCS) and Functional Neurological Disorder (FND).

Cases involving these conditions can be challenging, so it is important to seek advice from specialist solicitors with experience in these types of claims.

Unfortunately, doctors often refer to the symptoms as ‘medically unexplained’. This is an unhelpful reference for patients involved in making personal injury claims because it suggests they may be making up their symptoms.

It is often the case that a Defendant insurance company is not sympathetic to a Claimant presenting with several debilitating symptoms following a (minor) accident.  As a result, it can be difficult to encourage them to agree on funding for much-needed rehabilitation under the Rehabilitation Code or via interim payments, despite the fact that early rehabilitation is likely to provide an individual with the very best chances of recovery.

Sometimes Defendants will make use of covert surveillance evidence to suggest the Claimant is not being honest about their reported symptoms.

At Novum Law, we have substantial experience of FND compensation claims and understand how to respond effectively to objections from Defendants, including the use of surveillance.

We appreciate that the very nature of FND means that Claimants have good and bad days.  We have the expertise to ensure that the right experts, with a specialism in FND, are instructed to comment upon what is often complex and changing symptoms.

Our specialist personal injury teams will leave no stone unturned to secure maximum FND compensation to ensure that individuals are provided with rehabilitation, domestic assistance and childcare support to benefit them and their wider families.

If you are suffering symptoms of Functional Neurological Disorder (FND) due to an accident or injury that wasn’t your fault, contact our specialist solicitors today for a FREE, no-obligation chat. Call 0800 884 0777, email info@novumlaw.com or complete our online enquiry form.


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