Published in

BMJ Publishing Group, BMJ, p. o64, 2022

DOI: 10.1136/bmj.o64



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Diagnosis and management of functional neurological disorder

Journal article published in 2022 by Selma Aybek, David L. Perez ORCID
This paper is made freely available by the publisher.
This paper is made freely available by the publisher.

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Abstract Functional neurological disorder (FND), previously regarded as a diagnosis of exclusion, is now a rule-in diagnosis with available treatments. This represents a major step toward destigmatizing the disorder, which was often doubted and deemed untreatable. FND is prevalent, generally affecting young and middle aged adults, and can cause severe disability in some individuals. An early diagnosis, with subsequent access to evidence based rehabilitative and/or psychological treatments, can promote recovery—albeit not all patients respond to currently available treatments. This review presents the latest advances in the use of validated rule-in examination signs to guide diagnosis, and the range of therapeutic approaches available to care for patients with FND. The article focuses on the two most frequently identified subtypes of FND: motor (weakness and/or movement disorders) and seizure type symptoms. Twenty two studies on motor and 27 studies on seizure type symptoms report high specificities of clinical signs (64-100%), and individual signs are reviewed. Rehabilitative interventions (physical and occupational therapy) are treatments of choice for functional motor symptoms, while psychotherapy is an emerging evidence based treatment across FND subtypes. The literature to date highlights heterogeneity in responses to treatment, underscoring that more research is needed to individualize treatments and develop novel interventions.