Ready for some in-depth reading?
you have to begin where the brain begins - childhood
The experience of movement is an integral and vital part of human development. A baby is born with a few basic reflexes and very little intentional movement. It is through random movements, generated in part through reflexes, in the first few months of life that an infant begins to map her body - both as individual pieces and how those parts move in relation to one another - in her brain. Once a baby begins to move intentionally, there begins a years-long process of exploration and variation through which the child discovers how to roll, sit, crawl, stand, walk, talk, etc. While this developmental process follows a predictable general path among typically developing children, each individual child arrives at his milestones through his own unique experiences and interactions with his surroundings - that is why, for example, human children can learn to speak different languages based on the environment they are raised in. The fact that the developmental process looks similar among children is not inherent in the process itself, rather it is that the basic physical structure of the human body drives the process towards certain outcomes; if the structure were different, the outcome would be different. Think, for example, of a child born without arms who learns to adeptly manipulate objects with her feet - her brain uses the same developmental process of mapping and exploration via movement, yet it results in a different outcome.
All childhood developmental delays are at the root caused by a disruption in this developmental process. The diagnosis merely describes what the disruption is. For a child with spastic cerebral palsy, a brain injury causes the nervous system to over contract the muscles in ways that inhibit movement, greatly limiting the baby’s ability to map his own body through random movement. In a child with down syndrome, the developmental process does occur spontaneously but not to the extent and level of complexity that it could. Children on the autism spectrum will generally hit their gross motor milestones, but many do so in such a way that even in infancy (pre-diagnosis) their movements have reduced differentiation and refinement when compared to those of typically developing peers (Teitelbaum, 1998; Phagava et al, 2008).
Where does Neuromovement® come in?
In NeuroMovement®, practitioners use movement to provide the child’s nervous system with the information and experience that it missed due to disruption in that early developmental process. Where there has been insufficient neural mapping (e.g. in the extensor muscles of the lower back, or the hip sockets and how they relate to the shoulders), the practitioner helps the child map those pieces and relationships in his brain. Where there is a lack of differentiation (e.g. a child with CP always moving her two legs together as if they were one, or a child with ASD who uses his ribcage as one unit with no relative movement between the ribs), the practitioner helps the child learn to move in a more nuanced and refined manner. By supplementing and expanding on a child’s development, practitioner helps that child move along her own developmental path that is unique to her specific structure, experiences, and intentions.
what makes a lesson
During a NeuroMovement® lesson, the practitioner gently leads the child through specific movements which are determined based on the child’s individual developmental needs. The process is neither fully active nor passive, but rather a combination of both. While the practitioner may be physically moving the child’s body, they are always looking to do so in such a way that the child is a part of the movement. The child may participate by either doing certain movements on her own, or by attending to the feelings and sensations in her own body as I provide the movement. The child’s attention and focus to his own experience of movement during the lesson is vital to his brain noticing differences and making new connections.
Each lesson is built around two features: the context and the child’s intention. The context refers to the specific skill or ability that the lesson supports the child in developing. Some examples of contexts are: rolling, sitting, cruising, and running. The intention refers to what the child is trying to accomplish- it is the child’s intention that makes the movements meaningful and aides the learning process. The intention and the context are usually different, as children aren’t necessarily concerned with or motivated by meeting developmental goals. Some examples of intentions during a lesson are: moving closer to a parent, being able to reach a toy, acting out a pretend role (puppy, frog, etc.), and winning a race or game.
what about adults?
As we age, we often become disconnected to our own bodies. Disorganized patterns of movement formed due to injury become habitual, and chronic pain limits our physical activity, which in turn leads to further stiffness, restriction, and pain. We may even adopt ideas about the “correct” way to sit, stand, or walk that encourage us to disassociate from our physical experience in order to meet a perceived ideal. Each of these normal life events erodes the complexity of neural mapping and organization that we developed in childhood. In childhood, new neural connections are being made and integrated all the time. That is what play is - exploration, variation, and discovery that leads to the creation of endless new neural networks. As we age, there is a tendency to dampen the innate desire for play. We settle into habits and routines, we stop seeking out new experiences and ideas, and as our brains prune away the neural connects we no longer use.
The good news? With intervention, the degradation that we associate with "normal" aging is a reversible process.
NeuroMovement® provides a way for you to reconnect to your body, and rediscover your ability to learn and change. The gentle movements during a lesson encourage your brain to remap and reorganize, allowing the development of new patterns of movement that ease pain, increase balance and flexibility, and allow for greater performance in all areas of life.