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Barrett's Forums This discussion is devoted to the latest advances in neuroscience and the clinical phenomena it explains.

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Old 10-05-2009, 06:53 PM   #1
Barrett Dorko
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Default Baniel's Brainstorm

A few weeks ago I heard a story on The Moth Podcast that led to my purchasing a book on Audible.com that I subsequently quoted to my Army captain son while discussing something he wanted to write about torture on his blog. The quote was from a 19th century prison physician and it is as if he’s speaking to the highest political figures in the U.S. – 150 years in the future.

Thus is my life; attendance to the words of remote and perhaps obscure writers, careful attention to the meaning of my own culture’s behavior and regular contemplation concerning its relation to my life. All of this is connected by highly sophisticated technical hardware I never imagined in my youth.

Anat Baniel has written a book, and I want to both review and discuss it here. Of course, she lives in the midst of this same complex and scarcely understandable world and it appears that she shares my passion for what it may mean to her work with humans searching for help, relief, improvement and, perhaps, a new perspective on life. Baniel uses the work of her mentor, Moshe Feldenkrais, to explain how variations in use and attention can have profound effects on thought, action, pain and functioning in general. The movements she describes are easily accomplished but, as she warns,
Quote:
“Don’t let yourself be seduced by their simplicity.”
I’ve said much the same about manual care as I’ve come to practice it.

As I read the book, I also remember saying closely related things and I’ve found that we share a number of resources and references; similar philosophies of care must also follow, and they do.

But Baniel has accomplished something I’ve yet to do, she’s written something for the general public that can be readily understood and applied. This appears easy enough, but there’s nothing simple about it, and I would know.

More soon.
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Old 11-05-2009, 04:27 AM   #2
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Hi Barrett,

I took a look around the Anat Baniel website and watched the video ABM Back/Neck Exercise #1. It looked very much like what you demonstrated in your Cleveland course. I am interested in the discussion you are raising. The website is well laid out, slick and doesn't reveal much information. One of the problems I have is the obvious need to pay to play. I also notice the marketing at a multitude of conditions. Finally the children's anecdotes and autism stories. An ethical and effacious method shouldn't need children, kittens and puppies to sell itself. The neurological principles are sound then there should be no need to sugar coat them to market them.

You used the Feldenkrais movements and explained for the attendees, to listen or not, about the neuroligical basis for the results experienced. You demonstrated and explained the elicitation of ideomotoric movement and what characteristics would result from that movement and why they were present. You promote novel stimuli to the nervous system to change pain. You continue to be available to people and answer questions regarding Simple Contact free of charge. You practically put your self infront of speeding manual therapy trains to get Simple Contact in the mainstream. The only thing you haven't done is exactly what the above has done. I think you have a winner with the Comic Book idea. As usual I hope I am on the right track with this.

On a side note:
I was curious how sensory motor re-organization might help ADD and found a quick search on sensory motor and cognitive mechanisms and re-organization is rich in interesting papers. Space motion sickness: The sensory motor controls and cardiovascular correlation Mentioned in the former article a syndrome: postural deficiency syndrome (PDS)
Trauma impacts on core regulatory sensory motor and cognitive mechanisms revealed: Neurophysiological Rehabilitation and Skills Optimization Strategies as Applied in Autism Related Sensory-Motor Disorders. So I answered my own questions. Sensory-motor re-organization is important. How to get it done is the trick.

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Old 11-05-2009, 01:13 PM   #3
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Karen,

I cannot argue with your assertions though there is one thing I will take issue with briefly.

You say:

Quote:
An ethical and efficacious method shouldn't need children, kittens and puppies to sell itself. The neurological principles are sound then there should be no need to sugar coat them to market them.
I think the operative word here is “should.” You're right, it shouldn’t, but it does. If there’s evidence that my own profession is significantly different than the general public I’d like to see it. This simply has not been my experience. I know that sounds harsh.

As I read it’s clear that Baniel walks a tightrope of sorts between strict scientific knowledge of how her method may work and her intuition regarding human functioning. As one might expect, this is difficult and it leads to critical analysis. As yet, my problems with some of her statements involve opinion and not fact. For instance, she says:

Quote:
The human brain is geared for efficiency, for getting its work done as simply, directly, reliably and quickly as possible.
This claim is very much at odds with what I’ve read. A thread devoted to an alternate idea, Kluge: Manual Care and the Mind, was begun about a year ago. It generated 20 replies and over 1200 views, none of them, I guess, by Baniel or her students.

I’ve more to say about the book itself but this morning I wanted to make it clear that I’ve written the Baniel group twice now and I guess we’ll see if anyone there wants to participate in this discussion. All the excuses for not doing so have been listed several times in other threads. I have also promised to pass out if Anat Baniel herself shows up.

Surely that must motivate somebody.
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Old 11-05-2009, 05:05 PM   #4
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The human brain is geared for efficiency, for getting its work done as simply, directly, reliably and quickly as possible.
I think that is true. We're talking brain, right? not mind.. minds love to spin endless outward construction, see patterns where none exist, all that.

My understanding is that the brain, however, doesn't like to waste energy, is always looking for ways to make pathways more efficient, seeking shortcuts so it can avoid effort, not waste that 20% of all the available oxygen and glucose it already sucks up, just in overseeing metabolic maintenance/business as usual. It prunes itself severely right after birth. It continues to neuroplasticize (find new places to synapse itself together, be more efficient) throughout life. It grows new neurons, but at a slow rate that I don't think makes up for die-off. It takes good care of its neurons so that most of them live an entire human lifespan.

Back in to add a little bit more: As far as I know, this tendency of the brain to become more and more efficient applies in particular to the motor system. Habitual ways of doing things set in, efficiency takes over, the actual movement is assigned to ever "lower" levels of the CNS until you get zombie behaviour. An example of this might be sleep-walking. It's a complex action that takes a baby a long time to learn, but at an older age can be done in one's sleep, no attentional cortex involvement at all. Driving a car while talking on the phone. There are lots of examples.
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Old 11-05-2009, 10:56 PM   #5
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As usual Diane, you've forced me to stop and think about what I just did/said/wrote.

Coincidentally, this stopping to feel stuff is a very large part of Baniel's message and I agree that it is essential for growth. I am simultaneously listening to an Audible.com reading of Proust Was a Neuroscientist and it seems, so far, to be an excellent companion to Baniel's text.

I feel certain she's read it (that's a compliment) and now that she's registered on this site I'm waiting for her to comment on the beginning of this discussion.

In the meantime, I'm going to go lie down.
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Old 12-05-2009, 01:28 PM   #6
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Marketing is necessary, as I contend, and I know it’s easy to find unpalatable, but Baniel’s gentle scholarship is enough to keep me reading. Here’s one basic idea: it is through attention and variation that we are better able to use our bodies and minds with efficiency and comfort, and Baniel makes this point repeatedly through story.

There have been several threads here during the past year about story’s power, necessity and limitation. Look here for an explanation and more links. Personally, I struggle with stories as both a teacher and writer but I cannot deny that they draw me in, true or not.

Fortunately, Baniel also satisfies my need for data and objectivity with hard science. Here’s an example: While writing about the effect a single movement done repeatedly done in the same fashion without alteration in speed, effort or attention may have, she mentions Hebbian plasticity. Google it, and you’ll find that her point is made on a level that should satisfy even the science-minded fans here at Soma Simple, and that’s no small thing.

Much more to come.
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Old 12-05-2009, 03:11 PM   #7
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Quote:
While writing about the effect a single movement done repeatedly done in the same fashion without alteration in speed, effort or attention may have, she mentions Hebbian plasticity. Google it, and you’ll find that her point is made on a level that should satisfy even the science-minded fans here at Soma Simple, and that’s no small thing.
I remember that - neurons that fire together wire together.. something like that.
I'm wanting to read that book myself more.
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Old 13-05-2009, 03:43 AM   #8
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Baniel identifies Nine Essentials for Vitality. If you want to know them all, I’d suggest you get your own book.

The one that struck me immediately was Subtlety. The chapter devoted to it also states Experience the Power of Gentleness. In the notes section at the back of the book she expands upon a mention of Paul Bach-y-Rita, a physician and researcher I communicated with years ago and wrote of specifically in A Sense of Things. In the notes you’ll also find an explanation of the Webner-Fechner law, something I always include in my workshop.

It is the perception – the capture – of subtle alterations in things like use, movement, effort, texture and temperature that often separates the ectodermal perspective from the mesodermal. At least, I think so.

Is this a legitimate way to describe Baniel’s approach?
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Old 13-05-2009, 04:22 AM   #9
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Quote:
It is the perception – the capture – of subtle alterations in things like use, movement, effort, texture and temperature
Yes, I believe this is good language for the experience of her work. It so deliciously engages the nervous system to explore and create new movement pathways. It makes sense to the body.
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Old 13-05-2009, 01:21 PM   #10
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Default Baniel on pain

A major focus of this board is pain; its definition, presence, antecedents, study and management, among a few other things. Pain is what drives a large percentage of our patients into our offices and, ironically, what drives many therapists crazy with frustration and aggravation, both as caregivers and sufferers. As I recall, Feldenkrais himself didn’t speak of pain very much. He passed away in ’84 and the neuroscience associated with its study was in its infancy.

Predictably, Baniel’s book doesn’t have the word “pain” listed in the index and she says very little about it specifically. I see that Ramachandran and Doidge (see Suppose this were true for more about his thinking) are in the bibliography but Melzack and Wall are absent. I may be missing something though.

What Baniel does say is this:

Quote:
Pain in general is one of the most common ways that lack of variation shows up in our life…pain is a request for a change.
Then along with more writing and a story she offers specific movements (complete with pictures) to illustrate what she means by that in palpable terms. I think this is an honest effort and will satisfy many looking for a technique and a philosophical approach they can understand and impart. Personally, this has been my greatest challenge as a teacher and colleague. Mostly, I’ve failed.

Maybe Baniel’s book will push me in the right direction, and, if she reads this thread, she will be drawn toward the models we admire.

Maybe.
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Old 13-05-2009, 09:25 PM   #11
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Default Philosophy and Pain

I wanted to add this to the insight about pain in the book: Philosopher John Searle felt that pain was the result of "plans thwarted and hopes dashed."

It follows that when we choose a new way of doing things that we might very well hit upon the original plan and thus no longer thwart it, if you see what I mean. The disparity between body image and body schema – spoken of in detail in this thread (see post #9) – might be resolved to the brain’s satisfaction with many of the movements Baniel recommends, thus the relief of pain suggested.
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Old 14-05-2009, 02:07 AM   #12
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Default The Power of Waiting

I learned to juggle after reading a book titled Body Learning by Michael Gelb whom I’d met at a Trager workshop. Gelb was an Alexander teacher and Feldenkrais spent some time with Alexander prior to writing his first book, Body and Mature Behavior.

Reading Gelb’s text I learned to wait after dropping the juggling props. I felt the drop fully before retrieving it; I felt what I’d done, and then and only then could I change what I had done and see myself progress toward a new pattern of movement.

Waiting. This is a difficult but valuable thing, especially when trying to alter patterns of use as they inevitably emerge from the brain. Baniel understands this, as did Alexander, Gelb, Feldenkrais and now, Jonah Leher, the author of the book about Proust and neuroscience I linked to post #5. The connections grow right through this article in a recent issue of The New Yorker.

Baniel’s book, Lehrer’s, this site - maybe it will add up one day.
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Old 14-05-2009, 01:39 PM   #13
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Last night I focused entirely on the “notes” section of Baniel’s book which follows the text and precedes the index. Again and again I saw references to Gerald Edelman, a Nobel Prize winning biologist who has contributed substantially to our understanding of how the brain is altered with attentive movement.

In an essay I wrote in ‘92 (Charcot's Lament) and then put in my own book I said:

Quote:
Epigenesis is a form of learning that actually evolves within us as we grow. Edelman calls this process “neuronal group selection” or “neural Darwinism.” It is characterized by a selection of neuronal networks that form in direct response to environmental pressure. What we eventually recognize and understand depends upon what we’ve experienced repetitively and within a certain context.
Baniel restates all of this with story and examples of movement of course, but we’re talking about the same Edelman and the same processes discovered and verified by his lab. I just wrote about them a long time ago, and, clearly, the idea didn’t stick.

I feel I’ve exhausted the ways in which Baniel’s practice coincides with the memes here on Soma Simple. What I’d like to do next is explore the ways in which we might disagree or add new ones to her work.

Who knows? She might even chime in.
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Old 14-05-2009, 02:35 PM   #14
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I had only heard of Edleman before in reference to neural Darwinism. I certainly did not know he had worked on neuroplasticity. It makes sense that they might occupy the same stretch of territory in his own thinking, I suppose. (I have yet to read anything by him.)

About "epignesis" ... Seth Grant has yet to be refuted regarding his work which has uncovered the notion that synaptic plasticity (and the dense protein complexes at the synapses) are drivers of nervous system evolution. Seems to me that novel stimuli and getting in the habit of noticing them, and responding to them physically while noticing them, could only help in the long run to make our personal nervous system stronger and smarter and happier.

1. Blogpost about Seth Grant's work, just after I had heard about it

2. Link to Ginger Campbell's BrainScience Podcast Episode #51, interview with Seth Grant, transcript available.

About the book in question, it sounds like she cracked the code and has written a book destined to become popular about how people can learn to help themselves, to access neuroplasticity effortlessly, to learn to be in a body better and like it more, without having sacrificed her own intellect or abusing anyone else's in the process.
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Old 14-05-2009, 08:01 PM   #15
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Reading through the posts on this thread, I can’t help but notice significant similarities between these ideas and how I was taught (and teach) t’ai chi. The primary difficulty that I had learning the t’ai chi form was knowing how to attend and what to attend to. Unfortunately, the majority of practitioners I meet usually focus on the movements of the teacher without ever feeling how or why they move the way they do. They become carbon copies of the teacher and slaves to the form.

This ends up looking much like what I see being taught in PT clinics and labeled core stabilization or motor control. I have no problems with pursuing better motor control but I question the value of tightly choreographed movements directed by the PT and labeled “motor control”. These exercises also often lack the aspect of waiting that Barrett referred to in post 12, and I can see it strengthen only the PT’s nervous system for controlling and directing others movement.

Diane’s comment:
Quote:
Seems to me that novel stimuli and getting in the habit of noticing them, and responding to them physically while noticing them, could only help in the long run to make our personal nervous system stronger and smarter and happier
is exactly how I try to practice and teach my t’ai chi form. It is also very hard to do and I feel it requires a particular environment for cultivation, as least while starting.

I recently purchased “RAPT Attention and the Focused Life” by Winifred Gallagher after reading a post on Deric Bownd’s Mind blog. I’m through the first 4 chapters and I am generally pleased with the content. Gallagher points out how changes in our culture make it much more challenging to focus of relevant stimuli and make appropriate responses. There is so much information available to us from increasing sources it is easy to become distracted. Combine this with genetic variables on attention and the ability to attend becomes the problem.

Whether teaching the t’ai chi form or performing simple contact, it seems to be more important to create an environment that allows someone to slow down and focus on what they feel as they move. However, with so many possible sensations to attend to, I feel it becomes increasingly important to understand the science behind pain and why particular sensations are more relevant than others. Here then enters the characteristics of correction.

For patients that come to us for painful problems it would seem important for them to learn what cues signal correction of mechanical deformation if that is their primary problem.
Quote:
Pain in general is one of the most common ways that lack of variation shows up in our life…pain is a request for a change
Although I agree with this statement, it seems a little broad and simplistic when applied to some of our chronic pain patients. I feel I have to be careful stating this because complex biomechanical methods also seem to miss the mark on the other end of the spectrum.

For me, Understanding more about the pain neuromatrix and the neuroscience behind why we do what we do simplified my approach and gave it an appropriate focus, this helped me and the patient attend to the relevant information and then make appropriate choices for movement.
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Old 14-05-2009, 08:04 PM   #16
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Mostly, I’ve failed.
This is untrue. Your profession has failed you, Barrett. If you had chosen another route rather than stuck it out in physical therapy, then perhaps you'd be living at a beach house in Malibu and your son would be polishing his Oscar.

Your only failure, if you want to call it that, is your stubbornness in remaining in the field.
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Old 15-05-2009, 01:44 PM   #17
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So, where shall we go from here? I sat down with a cup of coffee this morning and thought about what I might write next but feel no compelling desire to engage the subject of awareness any further right now. In the end, I can say that you should buy this book. The exercises alone make it worth the price and the “notes” section is especially good. As Diane says, Baniel seems to have “cracked the code” and produced a book that will sell, inform and become a permanent part of the self-help culture we live within. This isn’t always actually helpful (see Salon.com about Oprah’s influence today).

I had it in my head that Baniel’s rather vague remarks about pain would generate some illuminating posts but, so far, she’s not chosen to comment and I’m a little tired of speaking to silence. At times I feel like an old man shouting at clouds; a reference to The Simpsons in case you were wondering.

Chris’ post about his understanding of t’ai chi and its relation to Baniel’s method is quite good and I read it several times. “Broad and simplistic” is what he says of Baniel’s comments about pain and I would agree, but I sense that a careful explanation of the subject wasn’t her goal in any case. Still, it remains ours.

As of this writing there have been 16 posts and nearly 500 views of the thread. If it were about my book I’d join in, but maybe that’s just me.
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Old 15-05-2009, 03:07 PM   #18
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I'm desperately trying to restrain myself from speculating about her motives in not indulging us just a little with some comments and reflections on the the topic of her book.

But since she hasn't arrived yet to comment..... could it be that she wants to protect her method from what she may see as "traditional" health care providers? You know she's right if she's concluded that the current health care system has made a complete mess of treating persistently painful conditions. Why would she want to risk having a bunch of "medical" people ruin her method by dissecting it, reducing it to its biological/physiological correlates and then co-opting it into mainstream medical treatments for chronic pain? (As if anyone here is "mainstream medical.")

Or, the more cynical side of me wonders if she wants to keep it somewhat esoteric and avoid the inevitable simplification that Occam's blow torch reveals, which could render her method less complex and more accessible to others who may want to use and teach it in less trademarkable formats.

All we can do is wonder, I guess.
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Old 15-05-2009, 03:30 PM   #19
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John, I think you're probably right. If it were my book, and I had spent years perfecting and carefully writing about items that are verbs, not nouns (i.e. movement), and struggling to write about them in a way that did them justice and provided clarity and left careful trails of breadcrumbs to go explore the science backing the remarks, I'd want to rest, not engage.

Other than the book does not seem to focus on pain, but rather on movement, it sounds like a book I'd like and could probably learn a lot from. I trust Barrett's woo-detector, and it sounds like there isn't any of that.

I am going to buy and read it at some point in time after I move and am settled back down again.
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Old 15-05-2009, 03:54 PM   #20
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So, a question then, Barrett:

Does the book come across as "anti-medical?"
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Old 15-05-2009, 04:19 PM   #21
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No.
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Old 19-05-2009, 12:53 PM   #22
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I thought it would be a good idea to bump this thread back up to the top of the page. I had a brief correspondence with someone from her office. They had apologized for not commenting earlier and indicated they might.

We're ready, and the questions regarding the model used to explain pain remain as before.
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Old 19-05-2009, 05:58 PM   #23
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Smile hello and thank you all

Hello everyone

So sorry to have been silent all this time while you where discussing my book Move Into Life and asking questions about my understanding of pain. I'm thrilled for the opportunity to have this conversation with you, I was just made aware of this thread by my assistant Claire. Neither one of us got the emails for some reason. I will be responding to your questions and comments in a couple of days when I have a moment. Thank you for taking interest in my work and for your patience.

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Old 19-05-2009, 06:04 PM   #24
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Ms Baniel-
Welcome, and I look forward to a good discussion about your book!
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Old 19-05-2009, 06:58 PM   #25
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Anat,

Welcome. Someone with the username "Anat Baniel" registered on 5/11/09. I assumed this meant your were reading but obviously I was mistaken. Perhaps someone on your staff got my original communication. I can send that along if you like.

Jason,

I just missed hitting my head - in case you were worried.
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Old 19-05-2009, 07:23 PM   #26
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Ms Baniel,

Welcome, indeed. This is an exciting opportunity for those of us who have been beating the drum for a fresh look at the relationship between movement and pain.

I look forward to the discussion of your book and your ideas about helping others move better and hurt less.
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Old 19-05-2009, 07:54 PM   #27
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Hi anat baniel,
I'd like to add my welcome also.
I'm looking forward (very much!) to getting to know you better (here) in advance of actually managing to acquire/read your book. (I'm moving soon - purchasing it has to wait for a bit. But I will. And I will enjoy it.)

"Spark" by John Ratey is on a similar topic - curious to learn if you read it, if you have, what you thought.
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Old 19-05-2009, 10:42 PM   #28
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hallo Anat,
I would also like to welcome you. I have seen a few of your videos and as a paediatric physiotherapist, I am very interested.

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Old 20-05-2009, 04:06 PM   #29
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Hello Anat,

I have just started reading your book thanks to the recommendation from Barrett. So far it seems to incorporate many of the tenants of neuroplasticity that is required to make positive changes in movement and pain. Look forward to your responses.

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Old 21-05-2009, 01:42 AM   #30
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Dear Anat,

Congratulations on the birth of your book. A long-term colleague of mine, Jenna S. from Florida, has completed your training. I am so impressed by how your work helps the pediatric population organize their neurology for movement and function, and I appreciate the neuro-logic of it. I'm grateful to see how your work has helped Jenna as well.

Best wishes as your book and your work move forward into life.

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Old 23-05-2009, 06:00 PM   #31
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Default movement and pain-some thoughts

Thanks everyone for being so welcoming! As you may know, I'm not a PT, yet I venture to both work with and provide theoretical explanations about issues that are traditionally dealt with in the medical/PT model. the theoretical and practical applications of my work live in the universe of trying to understand how the brain organizes action and how to bring changes to the ways in which we move, think and feel, and thus change our experience - when needed.

I have been very lucky to have Dr Michael Merzenich take interest in my work, read my book, and become a big supporter and to have had numerous conversations with him on the topic since. Yesterday I had the honor and privilige to give a presentation at his company - Posit Science. As you probably know, Merzenich and his team of scientits research brain plasticity and look for practical applications of the science. It was lots of fun to speak to people who are experts on brain plasticity and to present to them new ways to think about it and organize it for daily and therapeutic use.

The reason I mention all this, aside from my desire to reassure those of you who are skeptical about the validity of my work and claims, is to quickly move the conversation about pain to the conversation about changing brain patterns. In my book I do not discuss pain and it's treatment much, that is not the topic of the book. However the principles mentioned in the book are the same that i would apply to try and help a client rid themselves of pain. When I work with anyone suffering from pain i hold the following assumtions:
1. That is is possible for that person to be pain free
2. That somehow, in some way, how that person is organizing their movements, and thinking necessitates that pain. And that organizations is automatic and unintentional.
3. Through movement with attention and the other nine essentials I can help that person flood their brain with new information (experiences) that the brain will then utilize to create new patterns and possibilities.
4. I can guide the process, based on my knowledge of movement, its organization, and the nine essentials, in such a way that willl speed up the process of discovery and positive change on the client's part.
5. That the brain, any brain, is capable of incredibly fast and profound changes when given the conditions and information that it needs.
6. that through the nine essentials we can be deliberate and systematic about creating a process of change that will eliminate the pain.

I know this is general, but hope it give something of value.


I would like to comment about what someone in the thread wrote about my placing my work with children on the website as a 'cheap' way to try and rope people in, so to speak. i am so sorry that you see it this way. My greatest passion is my work with children and specifically - children with special needs -and I would like for EVERYONE to know what is possible for these children and what is possible for those of us who try to help them. I would like the whole world to know about it so that many of the practices used with these children will change in order to access much more of the brain power of these kids in an effective and intentional way. There is no need to subject these kids to much of the pain that they endure in therapy, and lessen the pain they experience due to their condition - both physical and emotional -and find more ways for them to become empowered and of course have these kids experience successful change and healing. I know that every PT and OT working with kids (and adults) has these goals and I would love for every one to have access to the pracitcal applications of the currently undrestood priciples of brain plasticity iand benefi from the magnificent quantum leap.it offers.

I am going on the road for my book tour next week for 3 weeks. I don't know how much I will be able to be active with this thread. I will ask my colleague, Dr Neil Sharp, to make sure to respond to any comments or questions that might arise.
Best, Anat
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Old 23-05-2009, 06:12 PM   #32
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Default a thought

Wondering how to stay current in my and my colleagues' communication with the Soma/Barrett community, I realized that you could post questions and comments also directly on our blog on Anat Baniel Method website, or perhaps there is a way to create a link between the two? I'm not very knowleagable about his stuff.
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Old 23-05-2009, 06:17 PM   #33
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Mr. Dorko is currently indisposed and says he will respond "once my head stops pounding."

In the meantime, he wants Anat to know how much he appreciates her thoughtful and, admittedly, unexpected posting. She now joins a very small group of authors invited here to participate in a thread that might prove contentious. Population: 1 (unless you count Shacklock, but Barrett thinks he's special case).

Signed,
Chief of trauma, Cuyahoga Falls General Hospital
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Old 24-05-2009, 04:57 AM   #34
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Dear Ms. Baniel,

I would like to apologize to you for expressing my cynicism concerning therapy for children. There is indeed a vacuum when it comes to efficacious treatments in the pediatric neurological community. I hope this is a beginning of shaping the bold future of pain therapy. It would be my greatest wish that you do get your message to the world.

My experience as I near time to enter my chosen profession of massage therapy is disillusionment. The mashing of muscles and everything musculoskeletal has been difficult to reconcile with what I have learned here at SomaSimple. My own physical revulsion to being injured by ill handling of my nervous system makes me want gentle and intelligent based treatment methods. My profession refuses to see the skin as the brain exposed or the door way to the neurological system that it is, and I fear it will be a long time until massage turns away from the popular trigger point, myofascial, joint and muscle play methods that it cherishes so highly. The mention of Feldenkrais movement gets brushed off with "you don't learn that here." If the public is exposed to and learns enough to discern scientific ideas of movement and neural plasticity from musculoskeletal, perhaps they will then demand a change of practice from their manual therapy providers.

Thank you for coming to the thread.
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Old 24-05-2009, 05:16 PM   #35
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Hi anat,
Thanks again for coming to our board to discuss your book.
Quote:
As you may know, I'm not a PT, yet I venture to both work with and provide theoretical explanations about issues that are traditionally dealt with in the medical/PT model.
And so you should, and have written something these issues that we all should be reading. (I don't know when or why something which everyone has the right to do, and to think about and anyone has a right to write a book about, something like movement, became medicalized... )

I would venture to say that PT has yet to elucidate a very good model of movement (for/of/by the whole profession), that isn't crowded with useless, outdated, irrelevant concepts. We are trying on this board, but the sad truth is that not very many in our profession are up to speed on the nervous system itself to get what the fuss is all about. Anyone who DOES get what the fuss is about (i.e., how important the ongoing involvement and oversight and neuroplasticity of the brain is in the whole event of every/any kind of movement production, of every sort), therapist or not, is welcome to be part of this board. I'd say, even though the PT model isn't very up to speed yet, the medical model of movement is still further behind.

Quote:
the theoretical and practical applications of my work live in the universe of trying to understand how the brain organizes action and how to bring changes to the ways in which we move, think and feel, and thus change our experience - when needed.


Quote:
I have been very lucky to have Dr Michael Merzenich take interest in my work, read my book, and become a big supporter and to have had numerous conversations with him on the topic since. Yesterday I had the honor and privilige to give a presentation at his company - Posit Science. As you probably know, Merzenich and his team of scientits research brain plasticity and look for practical applications of the science. It was lots of fun to speak to people who are experts on brain plasticity and to present to them new ways to think about it and organize it for daily and therapeutic use.


Quote:
The reason I mention all this, aside from my desire to reassure those of you who are skeptical about the validity of my work and claims, is to quickly move the conversation about pain to the conversation about changing brain patterns. In my book I do not discuss pain and it's treatment much, that is not the topic of the book. However the principles mentioned in the book are the same that i would apply to try and help a client rid themselves of pain. ....

I know this is general, but hope it give something of value.
It is. The only way to move out of pain is to move out of pain.

If we sound on this board like we are focused on pain, it's because so much of our profession doesn't yet have enough information about pain in order to understand how to ignore it properly.

Now, to your assumptions:
Quote:
When I work with anyone suffering from pain i hold the following assumtions:
1. That is is possible for that person to be pain free
For ordinary mechanically affect-able pain, yes, I agree. For neuropathic pain, or pain resulting from disease process, not so much.

Quote:
2. That somehow, in some way, how that person is organizing their movements, and thinking necessitates that pain. And that organizations is automatic and unintentional.
We could quibble over some of this, but on the whole I accept it - again, for ordinary mechanical pain.

Quote:
3. Through movement with attention and the other nine essentials I can help that person flood their brain with new information (experiences) that the brain will then utilize to create new patterns and possibilities.
Would you care to list your "9 essentials" here?

Quote:
4. I can guide the process, based on my knowledge of movement, its organization, and the nine essentials, in such a way that willl speed up the process of discovery and positive change on the client's part.
I'm sure you can.

Quote:
5. That the brain, any brain, is capable of incredibly fast and profound changes when given the conditions and information that it needs.
Processing speed of about 270 mph should be enough to get the job done. It takes about 3 days for receptors to be replaced, and after that, signalling should be a lot more "normal."

Quote:
6. that through the nine essentials we can be deliberate and systematic about creating a process of change that will eliminate the pain.
Again, would love to see these.


Quote:
My greatest passion is my work with children and specifically - children with special needs -and I would like for EVERYONE to know what is possible for these children and what is possible for those of us who try to help them. I would like the whole world to know about it so that many of the practices used with these children will change in order to access much more of the brain power of these kids in an effective and intentional way. There is no need to subject these kids to much of the pain that they endure in therapy, and lessen the pain they experience due to their condition - both physical and emotional -and find more ways for them to become empowered and of course have these kids experience successful change and healing. I know that every PT and OT working with kids (and adults) has these goals and I would love for every one to have access to the pracitcal applications of the currently undrestood priciples of brain plasticity iand benefi from the magnificent quantum leap.it offers.
I sense how passionate you are. It's wonderful.
I am willing to accept use of the term "magnificent quantum leap" as having been a metaphoric statement. It's a bit of an unfortunate choice of metaphor, here, however, in that part of what we do here at SomaSimple is deconstruct pseudoscience, a lot of which does not see such terms AS metaphor, but instead adopts them as explanation, as a way of avoiding having to do actual science. (I'm not saying you are like they are - I'm sure you were using the term only as metaphor, unlike pseudoscience proponents.)

Quote:
I am going on the road for my book tour next week for 3 weeks. I don't know how much I will be able to be active with this thread. I will ask my colleague, Dr Neil Sharp, to make sure to respond to any comments or questions that might arise.
Best, Anat
I wish you every success.

Quote:
Wondering how to stay current in my and my colleagues' communication with the Soma/Barrett community, I realized that you could post questions and comments also directly on our blog on Anat Baniel Method website, or perhaps there is a way to create a link between the two? I'm not very knowleagable about his stuff.
Anat
A link to your website would be a good idea.
Here is the website: http://www.anatbanielmethod.com/

Here is the blog: http://anatbanielmethod.wordpress.com/

Here is "Michael Merzenich in conversation with Anat Baniel" on youtube:
[YT]BHxMjkuumEE[/YT]
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“If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you, but if you really make them think, they'll hate you." ~Don Marquis

"In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists" ~Roland Barth

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Old 25-05-2009, 01:38 PM   #36
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Anat,

As Diane makes clear (to me anyway), if there’s a flaw in your logic it is in the absence of a current understanding of pain’s origins. Connecting these to movement can often be a challenge and is not always possible. I can’t help but wonder what Michael Merzenich understands about this and would love to hear. Perhaps Neil Sharp can help us.

I also wonder about your method’s relation to ideomotion (described in this interview and elsewhere here and here). I recall Feldenkrais suggesting that we manually “take over” the work of the muscles we find are already trying to do something. (For those who don’t know, he was describing his handling, also known as functional integration) Are you doing that as well? Can you see its relation to Simple Contact?

There is a difference between giving the brain an opportunity to learn something new and allowing it to reveal what it already knows. I tend to focus on the latter and wonder if you only focus on the former.
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Old 25-05-2009, 05:29 PM   #37
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Quote:
There is a difference between giving the brain an opportunity to learn something new and allowing it to reveal what it already knows.
This is the crux of the matter, in my view. The pervasive lack of respect for the nervous system runs very deep in medicine, rehabilitation and even training/exercise programs. We often don't seem to appreciate what is already there and waiting to be expressed. We don't seem to fully acknowledge the propensity of human beings to layer on defenses that serve to repress their nature, individuality and instincts.

PTs tend to take a circuitous route around this repressed movement in a variety of coercive and frankly ignorant ways that, if they're lucky, will come back to resolving movement.

Often, they are not so fortunate.

So I think it's very important, Anat, that you address this question. Diane's clarification of the origins of pain provides a well-supported, fundamental physiological distinction that, without your acceptance as a premise for any subsequent discussion, may prevent constructive discourse of your ideas and method.

Could it be that what is being "newly learned" is actually a process of un-learning defenses that produce a mal-adaptive nervous system state?

I'm trying to avoid being too curt, as I am as astonished as anyone else here that you're willing to come and discuss your book with us. But, our time with you is limited, so I'd like to cut to the chase and gain a deeper understanding of your ideas in a timely way.

Thank you again for your indulgence.
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Old 26-05-2009, 12:48 AM   #38
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John,

I agree that this is an extremely important and potentially divisive issue. Divisive in the sense that the use of ideomotion, indeed, even the knowledge that it exists, may be too much for anyone already satisfied with what they're doing. Once a therapist invests a certain amount of time using their hands in a manner that becomes second nature they typically have a great deal of difficulty changing that. For some reason, this was never the case with me. I think it's because I'm a juggler. No kidding.

As it happens, I was once quite friendly with Bruce Holmes, now a singer/songwriter and formerly a novelist. Bruce and I connected back in the 80s and met a few times. He had been one of the few to complete Feldenkrais' only complete training here in the states prior to his passing. He told me, "This is what Moshe was doing" and I presume he would know. You'll see his lessons based on Feldenkrais' work are available on his web site, linked above. I'd recommend them.
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Old 28-05-2009, 03:20 AM   #39
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I was looking for something light to take on the plane tomorrow to Calgary to read, and found a tiny little book with only 100 pages. It's called The Mindful Brain, and I see it's by Gerald Edleman and Vernon Mountcastle. It's light but won't be "light", if you get my meaning.

I'm sure I bought it in a Vernon Mouncastle moment - I bought up several by him, after becoming entranced by Buszaki, and Buszaki's refernces to his work. I haven't read this one yet, but that will change soon.

I decided to tell this little story on this thread, because of the earlier discussion re: Edelman.
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"Rene Descartes was very very smart, but as it turned out, he was wrong." ~Lorimer Moseley

“Comment is free, but the facts are sacred.” ~Charles Prestwich Scott, nephew of founder and editor (1872-1929) of The Guardian , in a 1921 Centenary editorial

“If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you, but if you really make them think, they'll hate you." ~Don Marquis

"In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists" ~Roland Barth

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Old 28-05-2009, 07:09 PM   #40
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Default Anat's 9 Essentials

Each of Nine Essentials, when applied, immediately begins waking up the brain and upgrading it to create new connections and patterns that open up for us new solutions and possibilities. We become creative, freer in mind, body and spirit, and we are infused with vitality and energy. The Essentials are easy to grasp, and at times counter intuitive.

The first Essential is Movement with Attention: Movement is life, movement is necessary for all of life’s processes. Movement organizes the brain, it is the language of the brain. However, movement alone is not enough. Attention to the movement and to what we feel and think while we move is what gets the brain to grow and create the new and the better for us. Brain research confirms this. There are infinite opportunities to move with attention every moment of every day. And we have the opportunity to introduce movement with attention to our exercise regimes if we want to improve how we move and be vital. It is important to note that thought and emotion are also movement, and adding attention to those movements helps us become creative and energizes us.
The second Essential is Turning On the Learning Switch: I have observed working with people that their brains are either ‘on’ or ‘off’ in regards to learning. And the more we turn the learning switch on, the more vital and energized we become. Brain research now shows on a bio-chemical level that we can train our brains to be learning brains. Most adults coast on what they have learned way back as children and their brain is mostly doing over and over again the same old repertoire. Expect to learn, look to become a learner, go beyond your comfort zone in every aspect of your life. It needn’t be extreme; on the contrary, small challenges work a whole lot better.
The third Essential is Subtlety. I love this essential, it is so simple, yet so powerful. It simply means reduce the force with which you do whatever it is that you do – physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. When you do a Yoga pose, or play golf and experience a limitation, rather than try harder do the exact opposite – reduce the force with which you do the movement, and then reduce it some more and you’ll be amazed. If you are in an argument with your child, spouse, friend, or co worker, reduce the intensity of your communication and you’ll be surprised with the transformations that begin to happen. When you reduce the force, your brain can perceive finer differences, and finer subtleties and that creates new information it can work with and the new is created. You become more intelligent and a better problem solver.
The fourth Essential is Variation: You can think of variation as intentional ‘mistakes’. Rather than trying to do things the ‘right way’, do them in a variety of ways, be wrong on purpose – you will flood your brain with valuable information, wake it up to become the inventor and problem solver you would like it to be, rather than running the same cycles over and over again. With it you will become more alive and vibrant.
The fifth Essential is Slow: Slow gets the brains attention. Fast we can only do what we already know. Anytime you want to improve, invent, and get past limitation - SLOW DOWN! That is the brilliant’s person way. Rushing through actions, unless you are already exquisite at what you do, you confine yourself to your current level of performance. Slow allows for the brain to notice what it is feeling and doing so it can adjust, invent and change. And getting better at what you do is exhilarating!
The Sixth Essential is Enthusiasm: People usually think of enthusiasm as a reaction to something great that is happening outside of us. And that can certainly be the case. However, Enthusiasm is an intentional action that infuses everything with energy. Whatever you do or feel that you would want more of, any ‘small’ change – when you bring Enthusiasm to it tells the brain that what is going on is important and it deepens the connections. This accelerates desired changes and learning and gets the miracles coming faster and faster. Think how dull and lacking of vitality it is when someone is ho hum about life. When only the ‘big’ things are deemed deserving of our enthusiasm.
The seventh Essential is Flexible Goals: Goals are important. They help give our lives purpose and direction. But people, too often, get very rigid about the path to achieving their goals, and the necessity to get to the goal as quickly as possible, no matter the unintended consequences. Often, even when the goal is accomplished, it can cost us our health, wellbeing, joy and vitality. When we approach our goals in a flexible way, we let everything in us and around us feed the brain with information, we allow for the unexpected and the miraculous. We are free to modify our goals, and that immense richness of information to the brain makes it much more likely that we will succeed at achieving our goal and at the same time be vital and energized.
The eighth Essential is Imagination and Dreams: Albert Einstein said that imagination is the preview to life’s upcoming attractions, and he also said that imagination is more important than knowledge. Our dreams/visions guide us from our futures. Imagination and dreams are the ultimate manifestation of the creative powers of the human brain. When we practice imagination and dreaming we elevate ourselves up from the compulsive and automatic into a world of limitless possibilities. We tap into an endless resource of energy and vitality.
The Ninth Essential is Awareness: The successful human life is like an arch that goes up till we die. From childhood to adulthood the healthy brain is moving in one direction – from the simple and incomplete to the fuller and more complex. There is a word in Hebrew, Shichlul, which means ‘improvement through increased refinement and complexity’. It also means ‘crowning beauty’. Awareness is a unique human quality that is required for self knowledge, for true knowledge of the world around us and is required for the more and more refined and complex differentiation of our brain. The brain that keeps differentiating and growing more refined and complex patterns and connections is a brain that can lead us to live a life of ‘crowning beauty’ full of wisdom and vitality.
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Old 28-05-2009, 10:11 PM   #41
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Hi Clairish, welcome to somasimple and thank you for posting these.
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Old 05-06-2009, 05:08 PM   #42
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Just wanted to let you know that I will be attending Anat's workshop tomorrow in New York city. I am excited to get a first hand experience of the work she is doing. I will report back to the group how it goes. If anyone has anything specific you would like me to ask her let me know.

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Old 05-06-2009, 06:54 PM   #43
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Looking forward to hearing your report, Chad. Ask her to stop by and say a few words in response to the issues raised in this thread.
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Old 10-06-2009, 04:34 PM   #44
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Default Anat Baniel Workshop

Just wanted to let everyone know what the workshop that I attended Saturday was like. I have never attended any type of workshop like this previously, but from what I have read about Feldenkrais and have seen in various videos it seems to be very much in line with his way of teaching movement. She emphasized the importance of the nervous system in everything that we do and how we move. She spoke of the work of Michael Merzenich on neuroplasticity and even hinted that they may team up in the future to do a study on her method and neuroplasticity.

The qualities of movement that she focused on that they should be slow, minimize effort, focus attention and awareness on the movement, and allowing your abdominals to be relaxed. This was a focus of Barrett's course that I attended as well and have followed since. As a therapist who used to use that stabilizer blood pressure cuff to monitor transverse abdominal contraction I realize how that goes against natural movement. She explained how the abdominals need to relax in order for the lumbar extensors to work and allow the spine and pelvis to tilt and extend. It amazes me how are bodies get so grooved in patterns of movement that we loose so much freedom to move in many ways. This would especially hold true to those with persistant pain.

One anectotal story she spoke of was her father who had a leg fracture and was casted for several weeks, she had him do exercises on the unaffected side and imagine the movements on the uninvolved side. When the cast was removed he had no atrophy! She said that there was research that showed muscle atrophy occurs immediately after injury and last for 2-3 days after then stops. The remaining changes that occur are in the central nervous system, Does anyone know of such research??
She also mocked traditional PT a little. About how you would usually rehab a knee surgery with an ankle weight and move the leg mindlessly up and down, or how a therapist will move an extremity ect. ect. I guess unfortunately in many cases she is probably right.

Overall the type of movement strategies she incorporates I would she as very helpful in patient with persistant pain. Her focus on how the brain gets stuck in patterns of movement that are efficient but do not bring variety. While performing the movements myself I can imagine alot of neural mobilization sliding and gliding occuring along with novel input to the brain to help downreagulate the nervous system overall. This combination along with pain neurophysiology education and light tactile input such as simple contact and dermoneuromodulation sould be a great way to help patients with pain.

I know that is not everything but those are my initial thoughts so far.

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Old 10-06-2009, 08:23 PM   #45
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Nice report Chad. I took Barrett's advise, and listened to Holmes webcast on this. I agree, thought it was very active with gentle active ROM stuff. I also had increased ROM doing Holmes experiment on the webcast. Just goes to show a lot of our ROM restrictions are due to nerves restrictions, me thinks?
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Old 10-06-2009, 08:36 PM   #46
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Quote:
Just goes to show a lot of our ROM restrictions are due to nerves restrictions, me thinks?
Me thinks too.

Quote:
Nice report Chad.
Definitely.
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“If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you, but if you really make them think, they'll hate you." ~Don Marquis

"In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists" ~Roland Barth

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Old 10-06-2009, 09:35 PM   #47
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Quote:
Just goes to show a lot of our ROM restrictions are due to nerves restrictions, me thinks?
Pre-cisely! Think too much about the way most PTs manage restricted movement - coercion, pushing, pulling, poking and nagging - and it gets kinda depressing.

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Old 20-06-2009, 01:19 AM   #48
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I just finally got into this thread as I've been a bit behind in indulging my mind. I feel more inspired to continue my own investigations along this patient handling path. thanks.
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Old 27-06-2009, 04:38 AM   #49
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Default about attention, but not pain

In response to the thread re: the work of Feldenkrais and Anat Baniel. I respected Moshe Feldenkrais and his work for many years before I became a PT when I was working in the somatotherapies. A few years ago I was introduced to a DVD of Anat Baniel working and have always been interested and full of questionsabout what I saw.
I am very pleased that this discussion has reached this forum, and is being given serious attention.

Given the opening that this discussion has created, I decided to post here an email I wrote to the pediatric listserve regarding a discussion of ideopathic toe walking. A little far from pain and neurology, but pertinent to the discussion of attention and movement. The emails that led to my reply are not included.


"If the toe walking is ideopathic, I have been able to address it by requiring that the child walk next to me. I regulate my walk with theirs so that this slows them to a normal gait for them, and the toe walking ceases. None of them has complained about the pace. I have also been able to address it by requiring that they pay attention to where they are putting their feet, on squares placed on the floor, etc.
Another technique I use is to have the child run faster, slower, go sideways, backwards, etc. This also has worked. Pushing a heavy chair, or a heavy shopping cart may also bring them to a normal gait.

Depending on the child's other difficulties of organization, there is more or less carry over. I can teach other people how to do what I am doing. If they also demand attention to the task from the child, they can reproduce my results. In my experience, some idiopathic toe walking is due to inappropriately increased levels of arousal. It may also be due to the child's attention being on the destination rather than on themselves as they are walking, running, etc. I work with children ages 2 - 5, all with a range visual deficits. The children I am referring to are also independent ambulators. Perhaps because they are so young and have more flexibility and more choices, if the child has decreased range of dorsiflexion up to 10 degrees, for some children these approaches have worked anyway.

Another technique I use is to hold the child's hand. I can eventually work until all I have to do is touch the end of their little finger, and then graduate to no touch at all. When I use this approach, I use myself and my own body and movement to exaggerate the experience of walking and organization that I want them to feel. I do not need to say anything. They receive the information through my touch. I do not use pressure, I just touch their hand.

If children use inefficient compensations, they may be less able to keep up with peers. I have found that if I can help them discover a way to adjust their physical organization, by bringing their attention to themselves, they can experience another choice. At worst, this experience will be registered in their body for future reference at a time when they wish to use it, when they can better control other aspects of their behavior.

Because I work with children with visual deficits, some of them have received orientation and mobility training. This also requires their attention to their own movement, and can help the process of reaching a normal gait.

There are many reasons children use idiopathic toe walking. I usually discover why by working with them and searching for what helps them.

Addendum.
Re: 10 fold increase in idiopathic toe walking in the past 30 years. Our culture has become increasingly faster. People, parents and children are encouraged not to feel where they actually are and are literally forced to move faster than may be their normal pace. Schools are forced into this attitude also. Body and spatial awareness has been cast aside in favor of reaching a goal, notably in computer games and maybe even with the Wii (?). I wonder if increased watching of television, videos, and other activities in which we identify with the movement we see, without identifying with the movement we do, may be a contributing factor.

I feel at risk describing how I work and think. It is not taught in PT schools! This way is more effective and more interesting for me and the child, I do not claim more. This way we participate together in their process.

I am new at sharing my ideas about how I work and think, and welcome any responses. I do not mean to interrupt the Anat Baniel thread. I feel that it is relevant to my thinking, so I included this here.
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Old 27-06-2009, 04:56 AM   #50
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colinaliz,
Quote:
I feel at risk describing how I work and think. It is not taught in PT schools! This way is more effective and more interesting for me and the child, I do not claim more. This way we participate together in their process.

I am new at sharing my ideas about how I work and think, and welcome any responses. I do not mean to interrupt the Anat Baniel thread. I feel that it is relevant to my thinking, so I included this here.
Please feel free to be brave and post.
This sort of post is actually quite useful, and is not intellectually offensive in the slightest.
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"Rene Descartes was very very smart, but as it turned out, he was wrong." ~Lorimer Moseley

“Comment is free, but the facts are sacred.” ~Charles Prestwich Scott, nephew of founder and editor (1872-1929) of The Guardian , in a 1921 Centenary editorial

“If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you, but if you really make them think, they'll hate you." ~Don Marquis

"In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists" ~Roland Barth

"Doubt is not a pleasant mental state, but certainty is a ridiculous one."~Voltaire
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