Functional Neurology and Movement

There is a growing emphasis being placed on movement patterns from coaches, trainers, physical therapists, and chiropractors.  The question is, why do we care about movement patterns?

  1. Needed for optimal athletic performance
  2. Injury prevention
  3. Shows recovery from injury
  4. Brain health

Many people would have guessed the first 3.  When movement patterns are appropriate we can assume the muscles are coordinating together.  This is needed for activity to be performed at the highest level.  If your muscles are not contracting and relaxing in sync with each other; this can decrease speed, power, accuracy, and lead to injury.  This is commonly seen when individuals suffer ankle injuries or hamstring strains with no physical trauma.  The body should coordinate these patterns appropriately, but when it doesn’t this is where the issues begin.  Patterns are reflexive and become ingrained as a result of repeated actions.  This is why it can be hard to change, if the patterns are not identified and corrected in the right order.

Brain PicFunctional Neurology, Movement, and Brain Health

Many people work on strength, conditioning, and balance training specific to the extremity or muscle they want to improve.  While our muscles must coordinate and work together to have appropriate movement, what controls these?  Now lets take a look at the brain and its impact on movement.  Our brain is responsible for all motor output and sensory input.  It is within the brain stem and cerebellum where muscle tone, sensitivity, and control are developed and maintained.  This is one of many reasons why those with neurodegenerative diseases, concussion, strokes, and head injuries have impaired coordination and movement abilities.  We look at movement patterns in every patient from simple range of motion exercises to complex movements.  We care about symmetry between both sides of the body.  We compare upper to lower extremity, and proximal to distal.  These all correspond to slightly different areas within the cortex and cerebellum.

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