Neuromovement, created by Anat Baniel, is a revolutionary, holistic approach to human functioning and health. The Method uses movement in ways that awaken the remarkable capacity of the brain to create new connections and new possibilities. NeuroMovement wakes up the brain to create new connections and new patterns that dramatically improve physical, cognitive, and emotional performance. Children diagnosed with forms of cerebral palsy could benefit from this pioneering therapy.
Neuroplasticity – or brain plasticity – is the ability of the brain to modify its connections or re-wire itself. Without this ability, any brain, not just the human brain, would be unable to develop from infancy through to adulthood or recover from brain injury.
What makes the brain special is that, unlike a computer, it processes sensory and motor signals in parallel. It has many neural pathways that can replicate another’s function so that small errors in development or temporary loss of function through damage can be easily corrected by rerouting signals along a different pathway.
The problem becomes severe when errors in development are large, such as the effects of the Zika virus on brain development in the womb, or as a result of damage from a blow to the head or following a stroke. Yet, even in these examples, given the right conditions the brain can overcome adversity so that some function is recovered.
The brain’s anatomy ensures that certain areas of the brain have certain functions. This is something that is predetermined by your genes. For example, there is an area of the brain that is devoted to movement of the right arm. Damage to this part of the brain will impair movement of the right arm. But since a different part of the brain processes sensation from the arm, you can feel the arm but can’t move it. This “modular” arrangement means that a region of the brain unrelated to sensation or motor function is not able to take on a new role. In other words, neuroplasticity is not synonymous with the brain being infinitely malleable.
We continue to have the ability to learn new activities, skills or languages even into old age. This retained ability requires the brain to have a mechanism available to remember so that knowledge is retained over time for future recall. This is another example of neuroplasticity and is most likely to involve structural and biochemical changes at the level of the synapse.
Reinforcement or repetitive activities will eventually lead the adult brain to remember the new activity. By the same mechanism, the enriched and stimulating environment offered to the damaged brain will eventually lead to recovery. So if the brain is so plastic, why doesn’t everyone who has a stroke recover full function? The answer is that it depends on your age (younger brains have a better chance of recovery), the size of the area damaged and, more importantly, the treatments offered during rehabilitation.