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Functional Neurology in Hilton Head

Clinical neuroscience is the study of how the brain functions. and the development of applications or methods to treat brain dysfunction.  Functional Neurology applies this knowledge to improve neurological function.

Dr. Saponara has been admitted into the American Board of Functional Neurology, is a Fellow of the American Board of Brain Injury and Rehabilitation, and Board Eligible in Vestibular Rehabilitation.  He  has over 1000 hours of clinical neuroscience, and is Carrick trained. This experience and knowledge allowes him to see first hand the impact functional neurology can make in assessing and treating patients.

Commonly Treated Conditions

  • Post Concussion Syndrome
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Movement Disorders (Tremors, Dystonia)
  • Balance Disorders (Vertigo, Dizziness,Ataxia,Fall Prevention)
  • Attention Deficit Disorders
  • Headaches ( Cluster,Migraine,Vestibular)
  • Brain/Sports Performance Optimization
  • Depression/Anxiety
  • Learning Disabilities

Customized Treatment Plans

Treatment plans are highly individual and specialized with no two patients alike, we gather the information primarily from an extensive neurological exam, from that point we determine what capacity the patient has to pursue any other adjunctive testing.

If the patient is able, we then will get  baseline Saccadometry/VOG/RightEye Assessments, and again proceed accordingly to other baseline testing, as long as the patient can tolerate it, and not become fatigued, at which point we stop and evaluate. The NSI, D2, and other specialized neurological treatment protocols will be assigned based on the patients condition, and what they can and cant tolerate in the treatment/rehabilitative phases. These treatments can include any of the following stimuli, alone are combined, in many forms… visual, auditory, motor, cognitive, sensorial, manipulative, etc.

Functional Neurology Examination & Assessment

Using the results from your neurological exam and in conjunction with cutting edge diagnostic tools, Dr. Saponara is able to localize in on the region of the brain which isn’t functioning optimally, and design a treatment protocol to address the patients condition.


Functional Brain Health/Vision Testing: Your two eyes and brain must all work together to navigate the world. It’s this connection that makes up your functional vision. A standard eye exam, however, only checks your eyes’ physical health and ability to focus on stationary objects — it doesn’t measure critical dynamic vision skills such as eye movement and coordination. Signs that you may have a functional vision problem include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Rereading or skipping lines of print
  • Short attention span
  • Poor reading comprehension
  • Poor coordination or balance
  • Slow completion of work
  • Previous brain trauma (concussions, strokes)
  • Loss of interest in reading
  • Frequent headaches

RightEye Functional Brain Health/Vision EyeQ is a non-invasive test performed at our offices that could diagnose a functional vision issue and set you on a path to improvement.

Sports Vision Testing:  In sports, almost 80% of perceptual input is visual. But even 20/20 vision does not mean athletes are performing at their peak. Objects don’t just sit there. They move. Fast. Regular eye exams may reveal that you can see clearly, but they can’t tell how well you ascertain where a ball is in space, how fast it’s traveling or if it’s changing direction.

That’s why we offer vision testing designed specifically for athletes. Using state-of-the-art eye-tracking technology, we can measure the specific vision skills that affect reflexes and hand-eye coordination, including:

  • Eye movement speed
  • Processing speed
  • Dynamic visual focus
  • Smooth visual pursuit
  • Simple reaction time
  • Choice reaction time
  • Binocular vision skills
  • Visual concentration
  • Contrast sensitivity

RightEye Sports Vision EyeQ measures and analyzes your eye movement, brain processing and reaction time against peers, amateurs and pro athletes. When the report identifies opportunities for improvement, our optometrists will customize a plan for you, built from an online library of 150+ training drills. And in just a few weeks, you could be upping your game.

Reading Assessment:  One in four children has a vision problem that affects learning — a vision problem that is often misinterpreted as disinterest, sleepiness, dyslexia or ADHD. Eyesight (the ability to receive input through the eye) is not the same as vision (the ability to understand what that input is). Recognizing this distinction has monumental implications. Even a child with 20/20 eyesight can have a vision issue at the core of their learning problem.

To complicate matters, vision-related learning problems share the same symptoms as countless learning disability diagnoses, including:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Rereading or skipping lines of print
  • Letter reversals
  • Difficulty recognizing words
  • Short attention span
  • Poor reading comprehension
  • Poor handwriting
  • Slow completion of work
  • Loss of interest in reading

But thanks to RightEye’s Reading Assessment test, we’re able to expose vision and brain health in ways not possible from standard eye tests, gifting you with the opportunity to change your child’s life forever.

Cambridge Brain Sciences

CBS health accurately measures core elements of your cognitive function, including memory, attention, reasoning and verbal abilities, throughout the patients treatment plan.  These tasks are highly engaging and gamified, and have been developed by leading neuroscientists over the last 25+ years, taken over 8 million times, and used in 300+ peer-reviewed studies of cognition.  Objectively measuring cognition is a standard practice at our clinic and a key facet of our patient care.

C3 Logix

Dr. Saponara has found this neurological assessment, designed at the Cleveland Clinic to address concussions and other neuro-degenerative diseases, to be so useful in assessing brain dysfunction that he has incorporated it into his practice.  All patients will receive a free baseline assessment, as well as follow-ups as needed. Learn more»

Vestibular Technologies CAPS™ Machine – Balance Assessment

Using the Vestibular Technologies CAPS™ machine, Dr. Saponara will determine if you are at an increased risk of falling and if any balance problems are triggered by specific positions or activities that would otherwise go undetected.  Posturography aids in determing the patients center of pressure(CoP), among other things. For more info click Learn more»


Another helpful diagnostic tool is the Saccadometer, which is helpful in determining neuro-degenerative conditions by measuring eye movements.  The instrument projects laser images and records how your eyes find and follow them. The saccadometer measures eye speed and latency and relays results to Dr. Saponara in real time.


VisualEyes™ Video Oculography or VOG is the proven technology for testing patients with dizziness and balance disorders. The binocular video goggles were designed for enhanced patient comfort and simplified use.

The continued use of these diagnostic tools allows Dr. Saponara to objectively measure your progress and make any necessary adjustments to enhance and speed you recovery.

Types and Forms of Functional Neurology Treatments

Below is and example of some of the treatments we may perform on a patient. Again, these are not for specific for one condition, and treatment plans are very often combinations of the different treatment protocols mentioned below.

Concussion and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Treatment

The treatment of concussion and traumatic brain injuries are very dependent on the patients condition, mainly what can, and cant be tolerated before fatigue becomes a factor. Specific neurological therapies are used to aid the brain, improve it’s functionality through incorporating neuroplasticity, these appropriate neuroplastic changes allow your brain to accurately, and efficiently determine the appropriate motor, cognitive, or limbic response.

Accurate brain perception of the world surrounding us is the key to achieving optimal health, longevity, and most certainly sports performance. Good brain function enables us to become the most healthy, happy, intelligent , and of course successful human beings possible.

Dynavision D2 Treatments

  • Incorporates Gross Motor Skills
  • Progresses Neuro-Cognitive Abilities
  • Expands Peripheral Awareness
  • Trains Reaction Time
  • Improves Functional Mobility
  • Developer Enhanced Balance


Visual Training For Performance & Rehab

Improves Hand Eye Coordination

Learn more about how football teams utilize Dynavision for concussion management:

Complex Movement Exercises

This type of therapy activates motor regions of the brain. It is specific, and performed on the side which is deficient, or dampens the area which is over-activated. They may include copying movements, mirror therapy, throwing/catching a ball, kicking/stopping a ball, pointing/tracing therapy. While these may seem simple or trivial, in a brain/body that has a functional deficit they are in fact very powerful forms of rehabilitation, as the specific movements have particular areas of the brain which they target.

Balance/Proprioception/Coordination Exercises

We utilize balance boards, balance platforms, and balance balls which increases activation of the cerebellar structures that control posture, head and eye yoked movements, and core stability. This therapy may be combined with other movement patterns such as ball throwing/catching, or complex movements of the extremities to target cortical and cerebellar brain structures.

NSI Treatments

The NSI machine is used to aid treatments using the following:

Saccadic Trainer Function- Useful in therapy for all patients to enhance eye-hand coordination, visual reaction time, central-peripheral integration.

Tactile Feedback- Uses the hand rather than a keyboard or laser pointer so the patient gets “real life” tactile and proprioceptive feedback

Hand Speed Function- Used in the Sports Vision Evaluation of Olympic athletes. Useful in therapy for Sports Vision both to measure and increase visual reaction time and hand speed

“Visual Search” Saccadic Function- Unlike saccadic procedures like the Hart Chart, the SNS Saccade 2 Function simulates real life where the majority of saccades are not to an anticipated fixed point in space, but rather to “unexpected” events in the environment.

Metronome Function- Helps all patients to enhance rhythm and timing and visual-auditory integration

Tachistoscope Functions- Helps to increase speed of both visual and auditory information processing and memory.

Ready to learn more? Contact our Hilton Head office today.

Functional Neurology in Hilton Head | (843) 681-8001