Contributed by our Summer 2019 Student Intern, Nicholas Weston
At Innova Brain, we harness the brain’s power of neuroplasticity to restore function and reduce pain. The brain with its neurological network can be optimized with the proper type and amount of stimulation. Our doctors identify the areas that contain weak functional connections, and target these regions with specific therapies. Today we'll provide an overview of one very effective, targeted therapy known as complex movements. In this exercise, the doctor assists the patient in moving an arm and a leg in a sideways figure 8 pattern, like the infinity symbol (∞), but in counter phase (opposite directions).
Complex movements are performed to specifically activate the intermediate zone of the cerebellum. The cerebellum, located at the very back and bottom of our brain, is a critical part of our nervous system. It hangs directly off the brainstem and one of its functions is coordinating all the movements of the body. Anytime you walk, run, jump, or use your limbs, the cerebellum is helping to coordinate these movements. Moving your arm or leg in a complex pattern (such as when dancing or playing tennis) gives your cerebellum more activity than moving in a singular plane, such as pedaling on a stationary bike at the gym. This is also true for active vs. passive motion, in other words, performing the movement yourself (active motion) is harder than the doctor assisting you (passive motion). Try to move your arm and leg in an opposite circle pattern at the same time -- it isn’t easy! This is a much more complicated version of the “patting your head and rubbing your stomach” game we all tried as kids.
Complex movements challenge our cerebral cortex and cerebellums by requesting that they perform a task they haven’t done before. As you initially try to execute these movements, it will be difficult because your brain is trying to learn a new pattern. As the cerebellum learns to coordinate the movement patterns more effectively, you will have successfully hardwired a new pattern. This results in increased brain function and improved symptomology!
Complex movements are utilized in the treatment of a multitude of conditions, especially with balance and coordination problems. These non-invasive exercises are used frequently at Innova Brain because the cerebellum is the basis for many nervous system functions. Damage can occur to the cerebellum in cases of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) or concussions. If you have suffered a head injury, your cerebellum may not be functioning at its maximal level. We also see cerebellum dysfunction in patients that have certain types of movement disorders, vertigo, and other neurological conditions. Some children have underdeveloped cerebellums and experience poor coordination which is often mistaken for just clumsiness. There are many tests to confirm an under functioning cerebellum and our doctors here will employ state of the art diagnostics to determine if you are a candidate for rehabilitation.
If you have experienced long standing balance or coordination issues, has your cerebellum been checked? Or perhaps you’ve noticed some recent dizziness. Let’s test the cerebellum. Call today to schedule a complimentary consultation with the doctors at Innova Brain.
Darch TH, Cermiara NL, Gilchrist ID, App R. Non-Invasive Stimulation of the Cerebellum in Health and Disease. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in Neuropsychiatry. 2018