Cognitive Impairment and Complex Chronic Illness

Complex chronic illness can lead to problems with cognitive function due to the impact on the body and brain. The underlying disease processes, such as inflammation or autoimmune dysfunction, can directly affect brain function and lead to cognitive impairment. The chronic pain and fatigue associated with these illnesses can contribute to difficulties with concentration, memory, and mental processing. Furthermore, the medications commonly used to manage complex chronic diseases can also have cognitive side effects, further exacerbating the cognitive problems experienced by individuals with these conditions.

Our clinic specializes in treating co-existing chronic illnesses, and we often see that the complex nature of chronic disease can profoundly impact cognitive function. As with all the conditions we treat at Restoration Healthcare, we take a whole person approach to helping people address problems with cognitive function. This means using diagnostic tools, laboratory testing, and medical history to establish the underlying cause and develop a complete spectrum care plan for the mind, body, and whole being.

What is Brain Fog?

One of the most common forms of cognitive impairment for people with chronic illness is brain fog. It’s a generic term to describe a feeling of malaise related to decision-making, reasoning, focusing, and engaging in daily life. A feeling of mental confusion, difficulty processing information, and a general sense of mental fatigue often characterizes it. It can also manifest as forgetfulness, difficulty finding words, and a decreased ability to focus.

Various factors, including stress, lack of sleep, hormonal changes, and certain medical conditions, can cause brain fog. When a person is ill from a chronic illness, they are likely experiencing any of these factors as a symptom of their condition. This is why we address the underlying cause of brain fog to find the reason and restore the body, brain, and, ultimately, cognitive and bodily functions.

Causes of Brain Fog and Cognitive Issues

Various conditions and related symptoms can cause cognitive dysfunction and brain fog. It’s a vicious cycle. For instance, sleep deprivation from pain can impair cognitive function and lead to difficulty concentrating and remembering information. Additionally, chronic stress can also contribute to cognitive dysfunction and brain fog. The constant release of stress hormones can negatively impact the brain, affecting memory, attention, and overall cognitive performance.

Another potential cause is autoimmune conditions, such as autoimmune thyroid disorders like Hashimoto’s, which can disrupt the balance of hormones in the body and result in cognitive impairment. Brain inflammation associated with long COVID, systemic lupus, and Epstein Barr can cause problems with cognition. Other causes include:

  • Neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis
  • Chronic stress and anxiety
  • Certain medications, such as sedatives, antihistamines, and antidepressants, can have cognitive side effects leading to brain fog.
  • Sleep deprivation and poor sleep quality
  • Hormonal imbalances from menopause or thyroid disorders
  • Nutritional deficiencies, particularly in vitamins B12 and D
  • Chronic inflammation associated with conditions like autoimmune diseases
  • Environmental toxins, such as heavy metals and mold exposure
  • Chronic pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia or migraines

How Does Integrative Medicine Treat Cognitive Problems?

When a person is affected by a complex chronic illness, changes to brain function bring on overwhelming feelings of confusion, anxiety, and lack of clarity. Some medications prescribed to treat the respective conditions can also cause brain fog. Patients may be left with no viable solutions or resolution. We do things differently at Restoration Healthcare.

By combining conventional medicine with evidence-based complementary therapies, integrative medicine aims to address the underlying causes of these symptoms and promote overall brain health. Our physicians use many diagnostic tools, including neurological observation and Creyos brain health assessment service, which measures core elements of cognitive function, including memory, attention, reasoning, and verbal abilities. You complete this test at home on your tablet or computer to evaluate cognitive function and brain health. We frequently compare a patient’s data through a course of treatment to identify changes and improvements.

Our team also examines eye tracking and ocular function using a RightEye Brain Health EyeQ Diagnostic, an advanced visual tracking technology that may reveal an issue the human eye cannot. RightEye helps our physicians identify functional vision and brain health issues. As eye movement stimulates various brain regions, it monitors reactions to visuals displayed onscreen and provides insight into a person’s cognitive function.

Treatment options may include IV Therapy, nutritional interventions, functional neurology, stress management techniques, cognitive exercises, chiropractic spinal alignment, osteopathic manipulation, and targeted dietary and herbal supplements.

By understanding the intricate connections between the nervous and other bodily systems, our physicians identify and treat dysfunctions that may be causing various neurological conditions. We draw from a multidisciplinary toolbox, including osteopathic medicine, chiropractic care, acupuncture, mind-body techniques, and nutrition. Other therapies may include IV Therapy, nutritional interventions, functional neurology, stress management techniques, cognitive exercises, and targeted dietary and herbal supplements. This integrative approach allows for a comprehensive evaluation and treatment of each patient’s unique neurological challenges related to their chronic illness.

Chiropractic Osteopathic Manual Therapies for Cognitive Health

Cognitive NeurologyChiropractic adjustments and osteopathic manipulation have potential benefits in treating cognitive dysfunction related to chronic illness. Through spinal adjustments and manual therapies from osteopathic doctors, each aims to improve the nervous system’s function, which can positively impact cognitive function when a person is chronically ill.

Research shows that spinal adjustments performed by chiropractors and manual therapies from osteopathic doctors can help improve blood flow to the brain, enhancing oxygen and nutrient delivery to brain cells. This increased blood flow can improve cognitive function and mental clarity in patients with chronic illnesses. Additionally, these therapies reduce inflammation in the body, including the brain, which can further support brain health and function. These therapies also help reduce stress and promote relaxation, enhancing daily life and allowing for more significant healing.

Improving Neural Plasticity and Reducing Inflammation

Osteopathic manipulation and chiropractic techniques have been shown to improve neural plasticity and positively impact the nervous system by reducing restrictions in the spine and other joints. When there are restrictions or misalignments in the spine, it can lead to compression or irritation of the nerves. The nervous system can function optimally by correcting these restrictions through manual adjustments, allowing for improved neural plasticity.

Additionally, these therapies can help to improve blood flow and circulation to the brain. Proper blood flow is essential for delivering oxygen and nutrients to the brain, which is crucial for neural plasticity. Enhancing blood flow through manual techniques, osteopathic manipulation, and chiropractic can support the brain’s ability to adapt and change.

Studies show neurophysiological changes following spinal manipulation include:

  1. Neural plastic changes,
  2. Alterations in motor neuron excitability,
  3. Increase in cortical drive.

Neural plasticity in adults refers to the brain’s ability to change and adapt throughout life. It is the process by which the brain reorganizes itself in response to new experiences, learning, and environmental changes. This phenomenon was once believed to only occur during childhood, but research has shown that the adult brain can also rewire itself.

One of the main mechanisms of neural plasticity in adults is called synaptic plasticity. This refers to the ability of the connections between neurons, known as synapses, to strengthen or weaken in response to activity. When we learn something new or repeat a specific behavior, the synapses involved in that process become more efficient, making it easier for the brain to perform that task in the future.

Another form of neural plasticity in adults is called structural plasticity. This involves the creation of new connections between neurons or the pruning of existing ones. It allows the brain to adapt to environmental changes or compensate for damage. For example, if one brain area is injured, other regions may take over its functions by forming new connections.

As mentioned, we treat more than symptoms. For cognitive health, we look at the relationship between the brain and the rest of the body. Our physicians explore how a person’s brain function impacts our overall health and well-being and how the body affects brain health.

The approach at Restoration Healthcare includes a comprehensive approach, including detailed assessments, targeted therapies, and patient education to optimize brain function. By taking a holistic approach, integrative medicine seeks to improve cognitive function and reduce brain fog, ultimately enhancing the quality of life for individuals with chronic illnesses.


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How Does your Clinic Help Treat Brain Fog?

Our clinic treats more than just brain fog when you have a complex chronic illness. We look at the underlying causes of your condition and how this affects the entire body, brain, and nervous system. We often see inflammation and damaged pathways in patients with tough-to-treat conditions. Stress, anxiety, and lack of sleep from pain, injury, or illness only worsen this. Amazing things happen when we restore the body’s nutrient and hormone levels, support healing with IV Therapy and improve blood flow to the brain, muscles, organs, and nerves.

How do You Treat Cognitive Dysfunction for Autoimmune Diseases?

Autoimmune diseases can cause cognitive problems due to the immune system mistakenly attacking healthy cells in the brain, causing difficulties with memory, attention, and problem-solving. This can lead to inflammation and damage to the brain tissue, disrupting normal brain function. Additionally, autoantibodies (immune proteins) are produced in autoimmune diseases that mistakenly attack brain cells. Autoimmune diseases can trigger the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which are molecules that regulate immune responses. These cytokines are detrimental because they promote inflammation and oxidative stress, damaging neurons and impairing cognitive processes.

We understand the underlying mechanisms of autoimmune diseases and have developed effective integrative treatments and interventions to improve cognitive outcomes in individuals with autoimmune diseases.

Do you Treat Cognitive Problems from Long COVID?

Yes, we treat Long COVID and all of its possible lingering maladies. Long COVID is similar to other conditions we treat, such as Epstein Barr, chronic fatigue, lupus, and other complex chronic illnesses. Our physicians have experience addressing how Long COVID affects the brain and all body systems. We specialize in developing personalized health plans using multidisciplinary functional and integrative medicine methods.

Hear About a New Level of Care and Compassion from Arabella

After being passed around from doctor-to-doctor and multiple emergency room visits, no one knew what was causing Arabella’s nerve, joint and muscle pain, extreme fatigue and inability to walk. Was it multiple sclerosis? Was it Lyme Disease? What it something else? A friend’s recommendation led her to Restoration Healthcare, who confirmed it was Lyme Disease.

She describes the experience as being engaging with high standards of care from people who actually care about their patients. The clinic explored every aspect of Arabella’s health including nutritional status, hormone balance, immunity and even the emotional toll she and her family experienced prior to coming to Restoration Healthcare. “It’s a different level of compassion,” she says.

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