Why coordinated movements?
The nervous system is the electrical network which works throughout the body to coordinate voluntary and involuntary actions. The central nervous system functions to send messages from one part of the body to another and receive feedback. Any malfunction of this system can occur as a result of genetic defect, physical damage due to trauma, infection or simply ageing.
Scientists are well aware that the brain has tremendous ability to change its connections based upon its incoming stimulation. This ‘plasticity’ of the brain underlies its ability to recover lost function.
The nervous system starts its learning process from the day we are born. In order to move, a baby will shuffle, crawl, stand, walk and run. It is the learning of these coordinated movements that helps develop the nervous system, mapping out new pathways as movements become more complex. By continuously repeating these movements, we cement these networks in place and many movement patterns become automatic for us.
With nervous system conditions or injuries, movements and other functions can become impaired and the coordinated firing of the nerve cells becomes altered. By recalibrating the firing of the nerve impulses and helping to develop new neural pathways through movement, the nervous system could begin to re-organise itself, allowing inhibited nerve pathways to be bypassed and new channels to open. Neurons either thrive when connected in circuit with other neurons, or they die when they sit in isolation without stimulation.
Coordinated movement therapy makes the relearning of lost movements and functions far more effective. ‘In a single therapy session, you will generate thousands of highly coordinated movements which can start to rebuild damaged neural pathways and help relearn lost movement patterns’
At the crux of this theory is a device that provides a safe platform for the user to generate these movement patterns. All four limbs move together in a specific pattern. The device dictates how the arms, legs and trunk coordinate together, but the body has to provide the stimulus to move – it is this sequence of coordinated movements that encourages the nervous system into adapting and re-organising.
The device is intentionally versatile. It can accommodate a wide range of users, no matter what their health status, in a safe and comfortable manner, and benefits can be seen from just a handful of sessions, without taking up too much time and energy.
“By improving the coordinated nerve impulse firing, the central nervous system functions re-appear spontaneously or improve. It is also possible to re-learn further nervous system functions, especially when these networks have been damaged, by re-training other subnetworks of the central nervous system to take over the lost functions.” (Prof. Giselher Schalow)
Richard is a retired agricultural farmer with Parkinson’s disease who started his therapy to improve his general balance, make positive changes to his left gait movement and reduce the incidents of freezing and slowness of movement. He also complained of general lower back and feet pain. Having been an active farmer all his life, Richard was frustrated by his decreasing strength and mobility. His initial impression is that of someone who relies greatly upon his wife for getting around, who is softly spoken and lacking in confidence.
Part of Richard’s therapy process involved the relearning of forgotten or unstable functions such as walking, balance and speech. We encouraged him to practise walking by means of a carefully designed gait protocol. Walking in a safe and controlled manner is crucial to keeping the body active and the body’s functions working efficiently.
For 6 weeks Richard did 3 therapy sessions a week. At the end of most sessions Richard would spend some time concentrating on his walking, emphasising the knee lift and even walking backwards. After just 1 week there was a noticeable difference in Richard’s ability to walk unaided – he mentioned feeling that his muscle tone was much looser.
At the end of the 6 weeks we repeated the initial movement tests and were very pleased with the obvious improvement with basic movement skills. Richard was able to stand up and walk with no delay and no significant balance issues. He was able to walk both forwards and backwards with great confidence and much improved posture. General aches and pains had diminished and his wife commented upon how much his general mood had improved.