Lights On

A challenge of having cerebral palsy seems to be physical multi-tasking. We have found this to be a challenge through our workout sessions. When Bernard provides one movement, I have the ability to pick it up with little trouble. If he adds in another movement, causing me to coordinate two movements at one time, things get trickier. With the introduction of three different things going on, we become closer to the frazzle point. The brain injury of cerebral palsy appears to make signals from brain to muscle operate more slowly. My signals aren’t getting through as quickly as they otherwise would. So, many of my movement patterns may take extra concentration in accomplishing. The physical movements not coming as naturally with the impact of my disability. Like many things however, the challenges of movement can be improved upon. Part of the challenge Bernard seems to enjoy taking on has been opening those pathways from brain to muscle. Almost oiling them up, so the signal has an ability to move through more quickly. The job isn’t simply done with the training of Bernard. Without the chiropractic adjustments from Dr. McCracken, the achievement of improving the amount of lights turned on inside the brain wouldn’t seem as likely. The alignment of my body appears a major contributor to opening the pathways for the brain to muscle signal.

As training with Bernard began, we worked on getting down basic movements. He wanted to understand my capabilities and refine technique. So, we worked on movements limiting the requirement of multiple brain signals. The idea would be turning on a limited number of lights inside the brain. Some examples would be performing the bird-dog with one limb moving at a time. The leg moving out and back, followed by one arm moving out and back. We would work with cables in executing a single pulling movement, then turn around and attempt a single pushing exercise. These exercises were done without extra stimuli to think about. The concentration all being focused on one movement. The lunge would seem a good example of working on a single movement. However, even the lunge required more muscle coordination than a basic cable pull or press. After executing all of these movements productively, we had a place to begin from. The following step was adding one more element to the exercise. When it came to the bird-dog, we moved to raising one leg with its opposite arm. The movement required more thought and coordination of movement to accomplish. When it came to the lunge, we added weight to carry in each arm. The weight added a second element to the movement, leaving me to move with more focus. These additions of complexity turned more lights on in my brain.

Attempting to make an exercise more complex has been a focus. It seems an important way to challenge the disability. The complexity within each movement has been something new for me while working with Bernard. He has taken ideas from physical and occupational therapeutic points of view into our sessions. Having each of my limbs often work independently of the other. The techniques feel as though it adds a level of thought processing to the movement. When things become more technical, we are required to think about the movements we are making. As this happens over time, the more complex movements have become easier. My body has learned to think and react more efficiently. Which has been improving symptomology of my disability. The additions of movements haven’t been easy to become familiar. The first time lifting something with one arm and balancing with the other felt awkward. It came in two forms, with a dumbbell press, holding one dumbbell extended into the air, while pressing with the other. It also came in the form of a single arm shoulder press, where Bernard had me press with one arm and balance a lacrosse ball in the other. The lacrosse ball rested in my open palm, to the best of my ability. The two exercises in their form found me having trouble with the thought pattern required. But, over time, the new sensation became understandable and I got the hang of different lights in my brain functioning.

With the progression of turning on more lights in my brain. Over time, Bernard has continued to add more elements. The process has been exciting from my perspective, as adding multiple layers has provided the sense of accomplishment. When the journey of activating the brain in a multitude of ways began, three different things going on was dicey. One movement was solid, two was challenging, and three became shaky. After much practice with concentration, Bernard wanted to try turning things up a bit. We decided to setup in one of the yoga rooms at the gym. With this particular exercise carrying the most dynamics taken on to this point. We wanted to get it on video, showing the challenge Bernard had created. The exercise would include a couple different things. When Bernard created the course, it looked challenging. He wanted me to walk in a line along the floor. The stepping points would be an uncomfortable distance apart. The distance bringing in the challenge of balance. With each step, Bernard wanted me tossing a ball to him, then catching the ball being tossed back. Undenounced to me, that wouldn’t be everything involved with the exercise.

The instructions from Bernard sounded exciting. The most thrilling part would be throwing and receiving the ball. Playing catch with any form of ball has always been fun, but seems to become rarer with age. Catching any ball has always felt like something positive to work on. Cerebral palsy causing coordination to be more challenging, receiving something flying toward me requires the use of many aspects hampered by the disability. Then, adding in the variable of the feet being stretched apart, causing unstable balance while attempting the catch, makes for a good exercise. Those would be many lights turned on inside my brain. Most of the lights correlating directly to placing pressure on my disability. Bringing into the movement a multitude of moving parts and being required to time them all together. However, the number of lights being activated didn’t stop with the functionality of the exercise. Bernard was testing me in further ways that weren’t apparent to me until after we had executed the movement. He noticed that while engaged in the movement, I was chewing gum. Yet, another thing to keep track of while stepping and playing catch. In adding to everything going on, Bernard continuously engaged me in conversation, having me think about the things being said. It was all meant to engage my brain from different angles. The designed exercise turned out to be a fun challenge, including good feelings of satisfying accomplishment.

The improvements that have been made didn’t occur to me until after the exercise was complete. I was so engaged in excitement with the challenge without understanding everything being worked. The most challenging part was maintaining balance when taking large steps. My balance being complicated by the demand of throwing and catching the ball. Even with the balance challenge it was evident things have been getting better. The exercise and description from Bernard of all that went into it left me feeling progress. We have worked abilities into cerebral palsy that weren’t there before we began. The journey has taken time. Improving from the base of combining just two activities into an exercise. Just over one year later we ran an exercise with multiple layers. Another main factor in making the progress work has been Dr. McCracken. Without the chiropractic adjustments to free my body, along with helping thought patterns, I’m sure we wouldn’t be to our level of complexity. The body seems to flourish most when symmetry is maintained as much as can be done. The adjustments help the muscles grow in the most productive direction to help long-term strength and health. The feeling of continued improvement with cerebral palsy feels indescribable. My hope becomes improvement always continues and I’m so thankful for everyone who helps me move forward.

 

 


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