Whole Person Recovery

Posted by Jeanne Barrett on May 2, 2009 in Uncategorized

As noted previously in my posts, recovery is not a linear experience.  Habits of accommodating to each new stage of recovery need to be relinquished so that a new condition of self can inform the entire means of response in movement.  Change is continuous, and progress is not always obvious, as an injury implies necessarily protective responses until those responses are no longer necessary.

My injured knee seems to have turned a corner toward increased functional response this week.  Partially, this was due to having less fear about moving, and more confidence in my skills in direction from an Alexander perspective.  Another large influence has been simply using the knee and my entire self with more ease without the leg brace.  Strength in overall response benefits the injured area far more than focussing solely upon the area of discomfort.

In light of a whole person response, my skilled and expert Gyrokinesis/Gyrotonic instructor, Lindsey, came to assist me with my PT exercises today.  Although my Physical Therapist, Heather, is excellent, Lindsey adds the dimension of knowing how I moved previous to injury, and of seeing the entire elastic thinking self for any activity, due to her Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis training. (Both approaches very Alexander Technique compatible!)

Lindsey gave me ways of thinking through my PT routine that included my entire response.  She also gave me very refined and subtle exercises that directed my injured leg to “learn” from my non-injured leg.  This is very consistent with current neuroscience information about the motor and pre-motor areas of the brain, and with how the brain manages overall co-ordination.

A major challenge of serious injury is resulting inactivity.  Not only does inactivity have emotional/psychological consequences (witness the despair and depression that I have experienced), but the brain takes inactive areas “off-line”.  If there is no stimulation to a muscle group for any period of time, the area in the brain that directs that muscle group shrinks.  With respect for pain, it is important to stimulate an entire elastic muscle response  as soon as is possible after an injury, so that whole person function can resume with balance of tone.

Because Lindsey knows my work as an Alexander Teacher (she has had lessons, and i have worked with her in Gyrotonic for many years), she could direct me in a whole person manner.  The exercises and procedures that she taught me renewed my sense of an overall dynamic response in a way that both energized and calmed me.  I could proceed from non-doing to doing without doing too much.  Increased activity did not result in interference with the primary control (head-neck-back relationship), nor did it increase anxiety about possible pain.

Activating the entire self on all levels is key to a thorough recovery.  If we take Alexander principles into dynamic activity, we can renew a sense of being functional and present in ourselves.  The brain response improves, muscles, tendons, ligaments get a new message of functionality, and the nerves have new connections for continued mobility.  Plus, emotional calm resumes from an overall balance in tone of the self.

Without the Alexander Technique and the guidance of intelligent experts such as Lindsey and Heather, I would not likely be doing as well as I am.  The despair and depression that I have experienced on this journey are diminished by the dynamic participation that I can currently experience.

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