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Movement is the very first trigger for the majority of the neuroplasticity which occurs in the brain: when we are in the womb, reflexive (automatic, involuntary) movements begin the whole process of brain development and maturing. These are the initial building blocks upon which all other knowledge and skills will rest upon.
You can imagine this like a Newton’s Cradle: the very first ball to swing out and move is like the initial reflexive movements that we see foetuses and newborn babies making. These are often poorly controlled. However, as the ball swings back, we can imagine this as the process of ‘feeling’ and registering that movement in the brain. This is done via various receptor cells in the body, many in the fascial tissue which surrounds our muscles and bones and monitors (fascia is a highly innervated sensory organ – with more nerve endings than muscles, demonstrating the importance of feedback to the brain – muscles do the moving, whilst fascia does the monitoring). As we feel and register those movements in the brain, so new connections between neurons are made (the process of neuroplasticity).
As more and more of the “movement leading to registering movement” process takes place, so more and more connections are made, eventually leading to maturing of regions and pathways of the brain, and in the body we observe this as better and better control of the movements, as the maturing brain takes over control of the reflexive movements.
As a branch of neuroplasticity therapies, movement-based therapies generally work with the knowledge of this process of maturation of movement; and use movements which stimulate (and mature or sometimes rewire) areas of the brain. It is crucial for overall brain function that movement and control of movement are matured as best as possible to enable optimal functioning of the brain.
Scroll down for examples of movement based therapies.
Examples of Movement-based Therapies
These therapies include:
- INPP (Institute of Neuro-Physiological Psychology)
- RMT (Rhythmic Movement Therapy)
- Brain Gym
Practitioners trained in Functional Neurology also often use movement as a way to help to fulfil one of the purposes of neuroplasticity therapies: To create, restore, improve or maintain brain function and performance.