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Saponara Brain & Spine Center is your Brain and Spine care specialist offering state of the art functional neurology and chiropractic care in Hilton Head. Whether you’ve had a traumatic brain injury,  injured yourself around the house, or gotten injured on the sports field, we can help ensure that you recover as fully as possible. We work with your entire care team collaboratively to help you get back to living your life.

Brain Injuries

Concussion/Traumatic Brain Injury

Concussion/mTBI is a brain injury that changes the way the brain functions. Most of the time, structural damage does not occur, therefore, imaging of the brain like MRI and CT brain scans are usually normal, but symptoms like headaches, head pressure, confusion, fogginess, dizziness, nausea, delayed responses to questions, and memory-loss typically occur. No two head traumas are exactly the same, and due to the shape of the human skull, there is always a rotational aspect to head traumas that causes the brain to twist and damage the central or inner parts of the brain, leading to the symptoms listed above. Concussions do not always result in loss of consciousness, which is a common mistake when diagnosing.

Hypoxic Brain Injury

Hypoxic brain injury is a condition where reduced oxygen supply damages the brain. Oxygen is one of the major fuel supplies of the brain, and if absent for even a small amount of time, can lead to permanent brain cell death. Many conditions can result in a mild form of hypoxic brain injury, such as severe asthma, anemia, ascent from deep water dives, flying in an unpressurized cabin, and intense exercise at high altitudes. More severe cases of hypoxic brain injury stem from situations such as, drowning, choking, strangulation, pre and postnatal traumatic events, smoke inhalation, drug overdoses, and shock. Symptoms can vary greatly depending on the area of the brain affected.


A stroke occurs when there is a lack of blood flow to an area of the brain, leading to brain cell damage and death. There are two types of stroke. The first is from a blockage of blood flow whereas the second is from bleeding. The area of the brain that receives a lack of blood supply or is damaged by a bleed, will result in dysfunction. Some damage can recover, while some damage will remain permanent without proper treatment. Symptoms can occur rapidly, including the inability to move or feel one side of the face or body, difficulty with speech, and vertigo. This is a medical emergency. Once the patient is in a stable condition, they should consider seeking a functional brain analysis with specific brain therapy to regain function

Vestibular Conditions


Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) is the most common cause of spinning dizziness, which is related to the ear. This kind of spinning dizziness is called vertigo. The ear normally uses small crystals called “otoconia” to determine the direction of gravity, the problem occurs when these crystals become misplaced in an ear canal. This causes the sensation of vertigo (spinning) every time they are disturbed by head motion. This typically will cause symptoms when looking up, rolling over in bed, or bending under things. Other characteristics of BPPV are intense vertigo (room spinning), nausea, but rarely vomiting, it lasts for short duration (minutes), and characteristic eye movements called nystagmus is present.

Peripheral Vertigo

There are a number of other relatively common peripheral causes of vertigo, which include; Meniere’s Disease, Recurrent Vestibulopathy and Vestibular Neuritis, and BPPV. In each of these peripheral causes of vertigo something has affected the vestibular apparatus.

Central Vertigo

Central causes can be related to a problem with the brain itself such a tumor or stroke or are related to outside conditions which affect the brain indirectly like drugs such as alcohol. Other disorders that affect the brain indirectly include heart disease and rhythm abnormalities, which interrupt the supply of oxygen to the brain and can cause dizziness. This is similar to the common experience of feeling lightheaded when standing too quickly.


You might know this as an inner ear infection It happens when a fragile structure deep inside your ear known as a labyrinth gets inflamed. This affects not just your balance and hearing, but you also may have ear pain, pressure, pus or fluid coming from your ear, nausea, and a high fever.

Vestibular Neuritis

A viral infection somewhere else in your body, such as chickenpox or measles, can bring on this disorder that affects the nerve that sends sound and balance information from your inner ear to your brain. The most common symptoms are sudden dizziness with nausea, vomiting, and trouble walking.

Meniere’s Disease

People with this disorder have sudden attacks of vertigo, tinnitus (a ringing, buzzing, or roaring sound in their ears), hearing loss, and a feeling of fullness in the affected ear. This may be caused by too much fluid in the inner ear, thanks to a virus, allergy, or autoimmune reaction. The hearing loss gets worse over time and can be permanent in some cases.

Perilymphatic Fistula (PLF)

This is a tear or defect between your middle ear and fluid-filled inner ear that can make you feel dizzy and may cause some hearing loss. You can be born with PLF, or it can be caused by barotrauma (increased pressure in your ear), a head injury, or heavy lifting.

Vestibular Migraine

If your brain sends the wrong signals to your balance system, that can lead to a severe headache, dizziness, sensitivity to light or sound, hearing loss, and ringing in your ears. Some people also say they get blurred vision.

Mal De Barquement

When you move in a way you never have before, like on a boat, your brain adapts to the feeling. But sometimes, it can get “stuck” in the new motion, and you may feel like you’re rocking or swaying even after you’ve stopped moving. This usually gets better in a few hours, but sometimes symptoms can last for weeks or even years

Neurodegenerative Conditions

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a disorder that damages the nervous system. AD usually starts slowly and gets worse over time. AD accounts for nearly 60-70% of all cases of dementia. The most common early symptom is difficulty in remembering recent events, which is called short-term memory loss. As the disease gets worse, symptoms include effecting language, easily disoriented, mood swings, loss of motivation, not managing self care, and changes in behavior or personality.


Dementia is a disease that results in memory-loss and confusion. Dementia can also slow down mental skills that can affect a person’s normal daily life. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Multiple sclerosis is a disease where the immune system attacks its own healthy tissue. This usually damages the protective covering around the nerve cells in the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves. This damage will decrease the brains ability to communicate with the rest of the body. Some of the common symptoms are tingling, pins and needles or numbness, muscle weakness and spasms, increased reflexes, hard time with moving, poor balance, problems with speech or swallowing, visual problems, low energy, pain, and difficulty going to the bathroom, among many others.

Parkinsons’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease is a disorder of the nervous system that mainly affects the way a person moves and eventually affects a person’s ability to think and interact with others. Commonly Parkinson’s Disease occurs when there is degeneration to an area in the brain that allows you to move when you want to move, and remain still when you want to be still. Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease involve unwanted movements such as tremors, stiffness, slowness of movement and thought, digestion issues, poor balance, as well difficulty walking. As Parkinson’s Disease progresses, thinking and emotional symptoms may arise, with dementia commonly occurring in the advanced stages of the disease.

PSP (Progressive Surpanuclear Palsy)

PSP is a disease that causes death of the brain slowly over time. PSP has been linked with Parkinson’s disease. Common symptoms are loss of balance, falling forward when walking, changes in personality, falls, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, problems with eye movements, memory-loss and problems with vision.

Movement Disorders


Ataxia (meaning “without order” or “lack of order”) is a sign looked for on a neurologic exam that shows movement that is not coordination or gait that looks abnormal. This sign means that there is damage or dysfunction to the areas of the brain that control movement, balance and coordination.

Dystonia/Muscle Spasms

Dystonia means “abnormal tone” that can happen in any body part. It is a movement disorder that results in constant or sporadic muscular spasms, abnormal postures, movements that occur over and over, and twisting. Common forms of dystonia are “writer’s cramp” and “torticollis”. Many causes of dystonia exist, such as, genetics, trauma, infections and certain medications.


Myoclonus is a brief, uncontrolled contraction of a muscle or group of muscles. This jerky movement results from damage to the brain or spinal cord and has been linked to many diseases affecting the nervous system, such as, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and many more.


Tics are a movement disorder that cause sudden movement any where in the body. These movements differ from other movement disorders because the person intentionally moves. Tics are usually voluntary movements performed out of a sense of need to relieve the desire. Examples of tics include eye blinking, throat clearing, toe curling, abdominal tensing, vocal outburst, and many more. Tourette’s syndrome is the most severe form of tic movements.


A tremor is an involuntary, rhythmic movement of one or more body parts. It is the most common movement disorder that can affect multiple body parts. The most commonly affected areas are the hands, head, face, vocal cords, trunk, and legs. A tremor can sometimes be a sign of another neurological disorder. There are many diseases that can cause a person to have a tremor including Parkinson’s disease.

Brain Optimization

Cognitive Performance

Cognitive challenges stem from a person’s level of cognitive function, which is the mental process of understanding knowledge through thoughts, experiences and senses. Cognitive challenges, like forgetfulness, inability to focus, and fogginess are commonly linked to normal aging. If a person can keep their brain working at a high level, it will decrease the probability of developing these cognitive challenges. The key is to limit the factors of life that damage cognitive function, like physical (trauma), chemical, and emotional stress, and increase the brain’s function through specific brain exercises or therapy.

Sports Performance

Sports performance is based on an athlete’s ability to use his/her senses to take in the game around them, interpret what is going on, and execute the appropriate actions to perform highly and place themselves in the best position to win. Control of these functions lies within the brain. The better the brain is working, the better it can take in sensation from the environment, process that sensation accurately, and respond to that sensation with a muscle action. When performing at an elite level, milliseconds matter. All athletes should consider a functional brain analysis to ensure optimum performance.

Developmental Disorders

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

ASD is a group of disorders that can affect the development of the nervous system. Symptoms of this disorder are poor communication and social interaction, delay in mental function, repeat behavior and interests, and problems with the sensory system. Austism and Asperger’s disease are two disorders classified as ASDs. Asperger’s rarely affects language or cognition, which gives it the term “high-functioning”. Those with medium to high-functioning ASD are candidates for treatment at Plasticity Brain Centers.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is a disorder that affects a person’s ability to pay attention. It can also lead to impulsive behavior and increased activity. People with this disorder usually show problems with school performance. The diagnosis of ADHD is given if symptoms occur between the age of 6-12 years, and last for more than 6 months.

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a non-progressve brain injury or malformation at or before birth. CP is a disorder where abnormal development or damage to areas of the brain that control movement, balance, and posture. This is a permanent disorder that appears in early childhood. Symptoms are poor balance and coordination, weak/stiff muscles, tremors, problems with speaking, hearing, swallowing, vision and sensation. CP is the most common movement disorder in children, affecting 2.1 people per 1,000 live births.


Dyslexia is a disorder of language processing that may include reading disorder. People may have problems reading quickly, spelling words, writing words, or trouble pronouncing words. Dyslexia rarely affects intelligence. Causes include both genetic and environmental factors, and has been linked with disorders like ADHD. Sometimes it can be a result of a developmental challenge, or can be acquired from a brain injury. Dyslexia is considered the most common form of learning disabilities, affecting between 3-7% of the population.

We work with all of these issues and more. Are you suffering from neurological or spine problems? Contact us today to see how we can help!

Hilton Head Functional Neurologist Clinic | Saponara Brain & Spine Center