||  Home   ||  Site Map   ||  Appointments   ||  Patient Support

Developmental Movement Therapy and Brain Health

Those who know me, know I am passionate about this. I found this essay online.

See also: Main page on Developmental Movement | Brain Health Resources | The Path to Cure

Resources I currently recommend: Active Healing, Inc. | NW Neurodevelopmental Training Center |also a site in England: JABADEO


By Emily Beard Johnson, BA, CD, Asst. Assoc. of ECE, Neurological Reorganization Practitioner  [original article]

Most people are unfamiliar with the discipline of neurological reorganization, or, if they have heard of it, mention of the brain and brain changes seem so abstract that they immediately glaze over. But, nearly everyone knows an individual with behavioral, emotional, academic, or motor issues and, if you dig a little deeper, you learn that this individual missed a crucial developmental task, experienced some form of chronic stress, or suffered either minimal or traumatic brain injury. Neurological reorganization draws the connections between the concerns a person has and the underlying neurological processes that should support healthy behavioral, emotional, academic, and motor function. It examines a broad spectrum of neurological soft signs and, through knowledge of neurological growth and organization, assesses deficits in an individual's central nervous system. Then, those stages of neurological growth and organization are replicated through movement, reflex, and sensory experience to address behavioral, emotional, academic, and motor issues stemming from the deficits. It is a radically simple, non-invasive approach to well-being, confirmed by cutting-edge neuro-imaging.

The brain controls nearly every function in the human body, so establishing healthy neurology is imperative. Some of the most common issues neurological reorganization successfully addresses include attention deficit disorder; attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; anxiety; depression; post-traumatic stress disorder; autism spectrum disorders; obsessive compulsive disorder; limbic rage; bipolar disorder; reactive attachment disorder; oppositional defiance disorder; schizophrenia; dyslexia and other learning disabilities; auditory processing issues; dementia; cerebral palsy; issues stemming from stroke, motor vehicle accidents, or other traumatic brain injury; Tourette's; coma; birth trauma; pervasive developmental delay; and the issues stemming from fetal alcohol exposure. Neurological reorganization gets to the root of these issues and literally changes the brain so that the problem and its symptoms are generally eliminated.

Although the brain develops until age six to eight, pre-verbal levels of the central nervous system are formed from conception to fourteen months. These foundational levels lay the pathways for advanced skills and are innate. They cannot be willed. You cannot speak to them with language or logic; they must occur automatically. If given the opportunity, every infant from any cultural or social background completes the same set of developmental tasks to establish healthy neurology. The completion of the developmental sequence that occurs in the first year of life serves as the basis that carries us through the rest of life and facilitates the acquisition of advanced human skills, such as reading, writing, walking, talking, logical thinking, and conducting interpersonal relationships.

More specifically, for a normally developing infant, movement triggers a whole body reflex, which stimulates a specific part of the central nervous system, triggering new movement and laying the foundation for more complex neurological function. It is an ever-widening cycle of movement > reflex > function > new movement > new reflex > new function giving the individual greater and greater capacity until she acquires all of the neurological attributes of a healthy human.

One mother commented, "But my child doesn't need to tummy crawl to get into Harvard." Actually, he does: it is vital to understand the link between developmental activities and acquired function. Chronological age does not in itself trigger new function; all of it is put in place by an individual's completion of developmental activities. For instance, before a child can walk, he must first crawl on his tummy and creep on hands and knees. Amongst the many emotional, behavioral, and academic consequences of crawling and creeping, the child also gains the postural and structural reflexes necessary to cortically propel his body through space in an upright manner; that is, to walk. Of course, we can interfere with this process by confining the child in an ExerSaucer and urging him to immediately become upright. While the child does begin to walk, he also skips the critical, underlying developmental tasks, so will have a misaligned gait, with issues such as poor posture, pigeon toes, ankles that roll inward, or toes that point outward. This analogy extends to all emotional, behavioral, and academic skills. Individuals who do not complete the developmental sequence exhibit neurological deficiencies that impact their ability to acquire the skills necessary to fulfill their potential.

Neurological dysfunction is commonly caused by incompletion of the developmental sequence in the first year of life, but can occur at any time in one's life and for a wide variety of reasons, ranging from a motor vehicle accident to stroke to chronic stress. When someone experiences these kinds of traumas, they often have lapses in function and, while they tend to re-acquire cortical skills, they continue to struggle with more basic behavioral, emotional, academic, and motor function. For instance, a stroke victim often re-gains some ability to walk, but his gait is awkward, or he can speak, but his speech is slurred. Reflex triggering movement triggering function explains this situation. Most people engage in cortical patterns daily, the most common of which is walking upright. These patterns trigger engrams, pathways from one place to another in the central nervous system, and allow cortical function, such as speech, to return. However, the foundational-levels of the brain are responsible for clear speech and smooth gait and, as most people do not spontaneously engage in foundation-level activities, the functions related to these parts of the central nervous system remain impaired. Neurological reorganization provides a means to replicate normal development from the foundation onward so that the stroke victim speaks clearly and walks smoothly. This principle also applies to emotional, academic, and behavioral deficits as all function relies on a healthy foundation and, if that is absent, problems will result.

The process by which neurological reorganization addresses problems in the foundation levels of the central nervous system includes examining neurological soft signs and assigning specific developmental activities. Using a profile of normal neurological development, a client is evaluated based on her ability to execute tasks associated with seven levels of central nervous system activity. These tasks provide an accurate measure of the functionality of the brain and highlight deficits. Once absent or impaired neurology is identified, a program of developmental activities geared to the client's specific issues is assigned. These are the exact activities that are used to establish healthy brain function the first time around. Starting at the most basic level at which dysfunction is identified, the client replicates the developmental sequence and, in so doing, triggers the cycle of movement > reflex > function until healthy neurology is in place. Because all of our work is based on normal neurological development and is reliant on movement, reflex, and sensory experience, the program is safe for everyone. Clients range from infants to seniors.

Humans have used the developmental sequence to acquire functional neurology throughout the course of history. However, it took several decades to identify the profile of normal neurological development and establish the discipline of neurological reorganization. Scientific research validating the plasticity of the human brain, its ability to change throughout one’s entire life, the critical importance of the first year of life, and the role motor-sensory input plays in establishing functional neurology is released almost daily. Advances in neuroimagining confirm what neurological reorganization has known for decades. Northwest Neurodevelopmental Training Center has assisted clients, educated families, and supported professionals, working at the forefront of neurological reorganization since 1970.

Millions of people struggle with behavioral, emotional, academic, and motor issues for which they have not found a lasting solution or one that eliminates the symptoms of the dysfunction. Neurological reorganization allows these individuals to finally live without the symptoms of neurological dysfunction and experience the fullest, happiest life possible.