The Importance of Brain Plasticity for Brachial Plexus Injury Recovery
Making the Impossible Possible with a NeuroMovement® Approach
This week, October 20 – 26, 2013, is Brachial Plexus Injury Awareness Week. To help promote awareness on this topic, I want to share the importance of brain plasticity in getting the breakthrough results that I have seen in working with many children who have had brachial plexus injuries.
What is a brachial plexus injury?
“A brachial plexus injury is an injury to the brachial plexus — the network of nerves that sends signals from your spine to your shoulder, arm and hand.” (Source: MayoClinic.com)
Ongoing brain research demonstrates the enormous capacity of the brain to create new connections and find new solutions, even when brachial plexus injuries result in real and obvious limitations in movement. The challenge is to get the brain to experience and recognize that there is an arm there. And once this is accomplished, the trajectory of recovery is remarkable and often yields results that were previously thought impossible.
When a child has a brachial plexus injury, it is easy to think and feel that something is wrong with her muscles and look to bring about change through manipulation of the joints and the musculature in the affected area(s). Methods that use this approach include range-of-motion and stretching exercises, braces, surgery, and Botox. All these interventions certainly have an impact on the child.
The Brain Controls All Movement
However, when we understand that the brain controls all movement and it first needs to map the arm through a wide range of random and eventually voluntary and highly-varied movements, we realize that the only way to bring about maximum recovery—and oftentimes any real recovery of function at all—is by performing the intervention in such a way that it will provide meaningful and useful information to the brain.
As in other approaches, we, too, touch and move the child, but we do not do so in an attempt to directly bring change to a specific joint or muscle group. With the NeuroMovement® approach of the Anat Baniel Method®, we use movement and touch as a language, as a way to communicate with the brain of the child. We know that the brain is a highly complex, self-organizing system that, over time, forms and creates patterns that control movement. We look to provide the child with experiences (information) that will allow the brain to recognize the existence of the arm and bring about the desired changes spontaneously.
Breakthrough Results with Grace
The story of Grace, a 13-month-old child who suffered a severe brachial plexus injury to her right arm and hand at birth, illustrates these potentials for healing when focusing on the brain.
Fifteen minutes into the first Anat Baniel Method® NeuroMovement® lesson, Grace spontaneously lifted and extended her right arm forward at shoulder height. Later that day, at home, without prompting, she continued to move her right arm, lifting, leaning and supporting herself with it. She also began walking from room to room and standing on her own for the first time.
The video below shows the incredible progress that Grace made.
Grace’s right hand and arm are now an integrated part of her image of self, enabling her to move fully and in ways not previously possible for her.
View this follow-up video: Brachial Plexus Treatment Followup after working with Grace
Breakthrough Results with Devorah
The story of Devorah, an 8-week-old infant who suffered a brachial plexus injury to her left arm at birth, reflects the enormous capacity for healing when focusing on the brain.
During the first few minutes of an Anat Baniel Method® NeuroMovement® lesson, Devorah moved her arm for the first time despite seven prior weeks of physical therapy with no outcome.
After a number of ABM NeuroMovement lessons, Devorah has a fully functioning left arm.
The video below shows Devorah’s amazing progress.
The possibilities for gaining full, or almost full, functioning are available through the NeuroMovement approach of the Anat Baniel Method.
I’ve even had parents who learned about the Nine Essentials, started to apply them with their child, and gotten immediate improvement, just at home! I encourage you to try the Nine Essentials today.
Please join us on social media and share your experiences. I’d love to hear from you.