The rebound exercise has been helping improve CP. We have been working with it for about six months to this point. The exercise involves working with a trampoline and a ten-pound exercise ball. It involves playing catch with myself by throwing the exercise ball against the trampoline and catching its rebound. The movement requires a variety of coordinated movement patterns. Bernard talks about turning on all the lights of my body. The idea revolves around getting multiple muscles to function simultaneously. When multiple things are going on at one time, not only are muscles doing different things, but the brain becomes called upon to process multiple activities. The rebound action calls on many different muscle groups from arms and hands, to shoulders, core, and legs. Everything in the body working together for the coordinated movement to take place. The rebound often provides a good sense of accomplishment. Cerebral palsy seems to hamper many things being called upon during the exercise. Catching anything being thrown my way has always be challenging. Getting my hands ready to catch has sometimes felt confusing. The ability to have my hands in the correct place to receive can often be elusive. The size of the exercise ball helps make it easier to be in position to catch, but the weight can make it challenging at times.
While growing up the challenge of catching was always fun to work with. Playing catch with a baseball was exciting. There was something about hanging out in the sun and throwing the ball around. The trouble was often in reacting to the baseball flying in my direction. Understanding the speed of the ball and placing my mitt in the correct place to receive the ball was tough. It was a coordinated movement with many moving parts. The kind of coordinated movement cerebral palsy caused grief to master. Catching the baseball wasn’t the only sporting challenge, a basketball was also tough to catch. The basketball could be passed to me at different speeds and different trajectories. The basketball would also bounce off the basket following a missed shot at different angles. Which meant jumping and catching a basketball simultaneously was difficult as well. Everything in ball sports required coordination that didn’t come naturally to my body. It was frustrating at times when a rebound would slip through my fingers, or I would miss a basketball pass, with the ball hitting my body. Sometimes just knocking it down with my hands became self-protection. Concern often found my emotions, especially with a baseball flying my way, if I would be able to react in time and properly to make the catch. The worry revolved around getting hit and subsequently hurt with a baseball or a basketball.
The comforting information learned at an early age was how practice made things easier. The more often a baseball or basketball flew my way, the easier it became to react. While playing as a kid, balls were being thrown my way often, which kept my reaction time elevated. With getting older, the neighborhood games of baseball or basketball subside. The rarity of those games can make it challenging to work on reaction time. The rebounding exercise has brought some of that reaction time work back into my life. The exercise began by throwing the ten-pound exercise ball at a trampoline. The trampoline was placed at an angle, propped up against a post. I was standing about ten feet back from the trampoline. My job was to lift the exercise ball over my head and throw it against the trampoline, catching the ball as it rebounded back in my direction. There were a couple challenges with the process of catching. The first would be my reaction time. After tossing the ball with effort against the trampoline, there wasn’t much time to become prepared to catch the ball flying back. The second challenge would be the weight of the ball. At ten-pounds, catching the exercise ball in my hand would seem no easy task. However, when shown how the movement would be performed, it did appear an exciting challenge.
Bernard was the first to give the rebound exercise a test run. He wanted to make sure it was something that would work for me, it also showed me the movement. The first time I stepped in for the movement, the exercise did cause some shock. The ten-pound exercise ball bounced off the trampoline quicker than expected. Even with the exercise ball traveling back to me with some pace, I was able to make the catch. The challenge became catching the ball solidly in my hands. At times, the ball would go through my hand and be caught with my forearms collapsing together. The catch in the forearms was more of a cradle catch, seemingly occurring when my hand lost the strength to secure the ball. The exercise ball could also fall into the cradle catch because my hands weren’t quite ready to make the catch. My reaction time with the hands wasn’t fast enough to be prepared. Many things were taking place during the rebound exercise to help CP. Not only were we working on reaction time, wrist and hand strength, but also core strength to balance my throw along with providing a stable base to make the catch. Bernard refers to the process as turning all my lights on. There are many moving parts for my brain to practice coordinating together. The exercise seems to become substantially more challenging as we get above ten repetitions. My body and brain start feeling fatigued, I start cradling the catch, and my upper body bends forward. As we move above ten repetition the ability to focus better comes into play and improvement has the ability to occur.
The rebound exercise was performed by throwing the exercise ball forward for many weeks. As my form remained in tacked above the ten-repetition mark, we would move to twenty throws per set. The coordination required for the rebound movement pattern was improving. It was becoming possible to catch the exercise ball with my hands as repetitions increased. With throwing the ball from a square body position, as related to the target became productive, Bernard wanted to add another element to the exercise. It was time to throw the exercise ball across my body toward the trampoline. So, I stood perpendicular to the trampoline for the next progression of the rebound. This challenge involved lifting the exercise ball up and apart, above the shoulder opposite the trampoline, and throwing the ball across my body from high to lower. The exercise ball would again rebound off the trampoline and be caught from the side. After repetition from one side, I would turn around, making the same movement from the other side of my body. It was a transverse movement, with the weight being rotated across my body. Instead of my stability be worked back to front, it was being worked from one side of the body to the other. The challenge was another one of interest.
It seems cerebral palsy wants to compact my body. The disability causes my arms and legs to want to remain bent instead of extended. Moving the exercise ball over my shoulder on one side worked against the tendencies. Bernard wanted me to really reach and stretch my arms with the ten-pound ball in my hands. The move also increased the pressure on the core to remain stable and increased the length of my throwing motion. There are many moving parts to the exercise, all directly challenging CP. Movements like the cross-body rebound can be difficult at times. Like any kind of gym work, discouragement can bubble up as the repetitions mount. This movement leaves me frustrated with my arms. They can’t provide the extension we are looking for at this point. My arms may not reach full extension to the preferred degree, but maybe that isn’t what it’s all about. With any challenge in our lives, improvement seems the ultimate goal. Bernard will continue coming up with creative ways to improve my CP, I’ll continue giving my best effort toward them, and sharing them with you. Hopefully they help conjure up new ideas for you.