Paralysis without cause
Doctors cannot find an organic cause in around a third of patients with neurological symptoms. This is stressful for those affected, but it also harbors opportunities. Because a functional disorder of the brain can be treated.
"In the last two years I have gone from being an active, productive member of society to a practically bedridden woman who needs help every day. I used to run five miles every day and loved to garden. Today, the best I can do is walk a few feet with a cane and occasionally sit by the window and look at my half-finished garden," Linda, whose real name is different, tells neurology professor Jon Stone. The perfidious thing about Linda's situation: Doctors repeatedly assured her that she was physically completely he althy - even though she was in a wheelchair during the worst phases of her immobility and had to wear diapers because of incontinence. "Apparently I'm the he althiest 45-year-old on earth because every test they did to me was completely normal," she says. No nerve damage, no muscle disease, no tumor to explain her paralysis.
Linda is not alone in this. It is estimated that no organic cause can be found for a third of the neurological symptoms that patients present with a doctor. The most common are motor complaints such as tremors, difficulty walking or loss of muscle strength in the arms, legs…