Feldenkrais Method® and Neurological Concerns
International Journal on Disability and Human Development, Volume 16, 2017 (first published 2016)
Lavinia Teixeira-Machado, Fernanda M. de Araújo, Mayara A. Menezes, Fabiane A. Cunha, Thainá Menezes, Clecia da S. Ferreira, Josimari M. DeSantana
University Hospital of the Federal University of Sergipe (UFS) in Aracaju, Sergipe, Brazil.
The second most common age-related chronic neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s disease is Parkinson’s disease (PD). ... The focus of this study was to improve the functional capabilities of the participants with PD. ... The PD participants were randomized into two groups: Feldenkrais and control. The Feldenkrais group underwent 50 sessions of an exercise program based on the Feldenkrais method. ... The Feldenkrais group presented significantly better in functional tests (p<0.05) when compared to the control group. ... Results of the BBS demonstrated significantly higher scores in the Feldenkrais group after treatment (p=0.004) when compared to the control group (p=0.01).
Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine · April 2015
Lavinia Teixeira-Machado, PT, PhD; Fernanda M. Araújo, PT, MSc; Fabiane A. Cunha, PT; Mayara Menezes, PT; Thainá Menezes, PT; Josimari Melo DeSantana, PT, PhD University Hospital of the Federal University of Sergipe (UFS) in Aracaju, Sergipe, Brazil.
(Similar to article above with a focus on Quality of Life outcomes)
The study intended to assess changes in QoL and depression in older adults with PD through use of Feldenkrais method-based exercise. . . . Intervention in PD is traditionally focused on pharmacological and surgical therapies, but auxiliary therapies can act in support of and assist in the effective realization of the gains from these interventions. . . When the Feldenkrais exercises are combined with pharmacological therapy, treatment is more effective than that which is focused on only pharmacological therapy. The social function scale in the PDQL covers activities such as hobbies, reading, use of transportation, and leisure. these activities are linked to motor skills. ... In summary, exercises based on the Feldenkrais method improved QoL and reduced self-reported depression in PD patients, resulting in an improvement in mental state in the currently studied population. Intervention is required
Use of Awareness Through Movement Improves Balance and Balance Confidence in People with Multiple Sclerosis: A Randomized Controlled Study
Journal of Neurologic Physical Therapy: 2001
Stephens, James PT, PhD; DuShuttle, Dominique MS, PT; Hatcher, Carla MS, PT; Shmunes, Jenifer MS, PT; Slaninka, Christine MS, PT
This study examined the effectiveness of a structured, group motor learning process, Awareness Through Movement (ATM), on balance, balance confidence, and self-efficacy. Twelve people with multiple sclerosis were randomly assigned to either ATM or control groups. The ATM group participated in 8 classes, 2 to 4 hours each while the control group participated in educational sessions, over 10 weeks. Six outcome measures were used: the Basic Balance Master modified Clinical Test of Sensory Interaction in Balance (mCTSIB) and Limits of Stability tests; the Activities-specific Balance Confidence Scale; a number of prospective falls; Equiscale; and the Multiple Sclerosis Self-Efficacy Scale. The ATM group exhibited significantly improved mCTSIB scores indicating an average center of pressure position closer to theoretical center, had significantly fewer abnormal mCTSIB tests, and demonstrated improved balance confidence compared to controls. There was a trend toward improvement in all other measures in the ATM group compared to controls. These results suggest that this type of motor learning intervention can be effective in improving a variety of physical and psychological parameters related to balance and postural control.
Cerebral Palsy Source - Treatment and Therapy
The Feldenkrais method relies on the nervous system's ability to change and learn. Through "teaching" the nervous system, the Feldenkrais method can redirect a body's nervous growth. The Feldenkrais method can help people with cerebral palsy do such basic things as move and lie more comfortably. The method can also aid people with cerebral palsy in pain cessation or avoidance.
The Feldenkrais method for cerebral palsy is based on redirecting misdirected patterns of physical and psychological behavior. By varying therapy sessions, the Feldenkrais method can change and modify certain habitual inclinations such as sensory and motor functions. In people with cerebral palsy this therapy can particularly be of help in overcoming movement problems. By retraining the body and mind to move in certain and varying patterns, the Feldenkrais method can help a person with cerebral palsy make progress.
(in German - Google can translate)
HelgaBost, Dipl.Feldenkrais pedagogue, St. Wendel / FRG
The Feldenkrais Method ® offers humans a possibility at any time to resume the process of organic learning of his life as it spontaneously happens in small children up to 4-5 years, in a sensually researching way to discover themselves and their environment in a safe, quiet atmosphere, curious, alert, open for everything new. ... The statistical evaluation of the surveys and interviews at the beginning and at the end psychological tests showed that the participants made a clear statement for themselves positive change in experience and behavior. Your general Feeling had improved, as well as the way she was with her Disease passed: they showed less brooding behavior and could confidently and openly looking ahead and also towards the environment. Mental and psychosomatic complaints diminished,
Neurology Care, 2011
The University of North Carolina, involving 20 people with MS, found no improvement in many MS symptoms or overall level of function. Feldenkrais did reduce stress and anxiety in this study. Some research in people without MS has suggested that Feldenkrais can lead to increased neck flexibility.
SenseAbility, Thursday, December 1, 2016
Beth Rubenstein, GCFP
The Feldenkrais Method explores how the brain and our nervous system can change. Multiple Sclerosis is a disease that affects the brain and the nervous system. Here’s why I find the Feldenkrais Method to be beneficial to those with Multiple Sclerosis:
Since we know that MS can affect any part of the nervous system that is covered with myelin (the “insulation” covering nerves), any approach to increase function must involve the whole person. That makes the Feldenkrais Method a good match; not only because it
connects one part of the body to others, but because it involves little to no stress, energy use, pain, or sweat. It can
lower an over-heated body temperature by relaxing the “fight or flight” system.
... The combination of awareness and flexibility is very powerful in combating the effects of this disease. Using muscles to move rather than to support will improve range of motion and aid in increasing energy. Initiating motion from the large muscles closer to the center of our bodies will allow for a more proportional distribution of movement, thus allowing energy and strength conservation, two major concerns for MS patients.
Stroke Network, July 2012
Our brains are changing all the time. It’s called brain plasticity. The idea that almost all recovery happens within the first year after stroke is an old idea. What does happen is that “habits” form. How we sit, how we walk, how we form our words, are strongly engrained in our nervous system and brain. As functions of the brain move away from the damaged area of the brain, FM is used to break these habits that were formed early on after the stroke.
Barbara Natali stated, “Prior to Feldenkrais, I was unable to roll over in my bed. Through my work with Carrie, I was able to
roll over and get out of bed.” When I met Barbara several years ago, she was in a wheelchair. She now walks without even
the use of a cane. She credits the Feldenkrais Method combined with intense physical therapy for this improvement.
Although the Feldenkrais Method was designed for those who want to improve the ability to move parts of their
body freely, stroke survivors who have lost flexibility or suffer pain or discomfort when walking, turning, lifting,
or just moving about, should give the Feldenkrais Method a try.
Stroke Network, September 2008
The basic idea of Feldenkrais is to move smarter not stronger. It is not an exercise program but rather a way to explore how we move. Pupils are taught to become aware of their movements and to become aware of how they use their bodies, thus discovering possible areas of stress. Once we become awareness of our habitual neuromuscular patterns and body tightness we can begin to develop new ways of moving more efficiently and with increased comfort.
Movement can create chronic pain when we move in ways, which do not consider how our bodies are made. ... The goal
of Feldenkrais is to take the individual from merely functioning, to functioning well, free of pain and restriction of
movement. Some of the conditions treated with Feldenkrais are arthritis, back problems, cerebral palsy, depression,
headache, migraine, neuromuscular disorders, over-contracted muscles, repetitive strain injury, stress, and stroke.
Christine, who is a member of Stroke net and a practitioner of Feldenkrais states,” I find that my movement overall, both
stroke and non-stroke related have improved. Like everything else it takes time and is not a miracle cure.”
Topics in Stroke Rehabilitation
Osa Jackson-Wyatt , PhD, FT Published online: 16 Aug 2016
The older person with a stroke requires adapted therapeutic interventions to take into account normal age-related changes. The Feldenkrais® Method presents a model for learning to promote adaptability that addresses key functional changes seen with normal aging. Clinical examples related to specific functional tasks are discussed to highlight major treatment modifications and neuromuscular, psychological, emotional, and sensory considerations.
Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine (formerly Complementary Health Practice Review), vol. 10, 3: pp. 203-210
Glenna Batson, PT, MA, Judith E. Deutsch, PhD, PT
The Feldenkrais Method is a complementary approach to motor learning that purports to induce change in chronic motor behaviors. This preliminary study describes the effects of a Feldenkrais program on balance and quality of life in individuals with chronic neurological deficits following stroke. Two male (48 and 53 years old) and 2 female participants (61 and 62 years old), 1 to 2.5 years poststroke, participated as a group in a 6-week Feldenkrais program. ... Findings suggest that gains in functional mobility are possible for individuals with chronic stroke using Feldenkrais movement therapy in a group setting.
PM&R - The Journal of Injury, Function and Recovery, September 2009
Jason Siefferman, MD (Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY); Edward J. Li, BS; Preeti Raghavan, MD.
Objective: To demonstrate the effect of Feldenkrais scapular manipulation on performance of a reach-to-target task. ... We examined smoothness of reach trajectory and upper extremity muscle activation patterns by surface electromyography while subjects performed a reach-to-target task before and after manipulation of the scapula. ... Conclusions: Feldenkrais scapular manipulation may be effective in reducing spastic synergies and facilitating upper extremity performance post-stroke. Further study is needed to clarify the relationship between activation of scapular stabilizers and upper extremity spasticity.
Flexible brains, resilient souls: Traumatic brain injury and the Feldenkrais Method™: An existential phenomenological study
Michigan School of Professional Psychology, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2011.
Murphy, Laura Jane C.
This study examined how adults with traumatic brain injury experience the Feldenkrais Method. A qualitative existential
phenomenological model was used with 10 adults with mild, moderate or severe traumatic brain injury and who had participated
in Feldenkrais for at least five sessions post-injury. Three textural themes emerged from the interviews: (a) The Expansion and
Focusing of Awareness, (b) Discovering a Pathway to Recovery, and, (c) Engendering a Positive Attitude. This study sought to
understand the inner world of research participants by filtering their data through the universal structures of relationship to self
and other, bodyhood, temporality, spaciality and materiality. The results of this study contribute to the literature, finding the study
group regained awareness, improved functional abilities and developed positive attitudes towards recovery through
the practice of Feldenkrais. Participants with traumatic brain injury reported experiencing a felt-sense of comfort and peace
and functional gains as a result of practicing Feldenkrais Method rehabilitation.
Extract from 'The Brain's Way of Healing' by Norman Doidge, Chapter 5
MD Scribe Books, London. 2015
Available on the website: Bodymindcentre.com.au by Armidale Physio Plus, Armidale, New South Wales, Australia
From this chapter, Norman Doidge writes:
"As early as 1949, Feldenkrais wrote that the brain could form new neural paths to do so. In 1981 he wrote, "The mind gradually develops and begins to program the functioning of the brain. My way of looking at the mind and body involves a subtle method of rewiring' the structure of the entire human being to be functionally well integrated, which means being able to do what the individual wants. Each individual has the choice to wire himself in a special way." When we have experience, he wrote, "the neural substrate [the neuronal connections in the brain] organizes itself." Feldenkrais often said, as his student David Zemach-Bersin points out, that when there is a neurological injury, plenty of brain matter usually remains to take over the damaged functions. Moshe Feldenkrais was one of the first neuroplasticians."
SenseAbility Issue 66, Thursday, April 30, 2015
Amber Adams, GCFP
Parents are often surprised and confused to hear that the Feldenkrais Method®—a system of movement education—can be helpful for children with autism. If their child doesn’t have visible motor skill delays, they can’t see why improving their movement is necessary, nor why it would impact a condition that is primarily social and behavioral. Although Feldenkrais® practitioners could never claim to “cure” autism, we are able to help with many of the symptoms of autism that contribute to family, academic, and social stress. Three ways the Feldenkrais Method can help those with autism:
Sensory processing challenges
Meltdowns, tantrums, and emotional overwhelm
SenseAbility Issue 66, Thursday, April 30, 2015
Karen Toth, GCFP
I have been teaching the Feldenkrais Method® of somatic education since February 2007. ... Since then, I have worked with a number of children on the autism spectrum, as well as those with other neurological concerns. After eight years of working with children on the spectrum, it is still amazing to hear the parent’s stories of transformation. Though each child who comes through my door is different, my intention with each is the same: to increase the child’s awareness of his or her self in a gentle, purposeful manner. During a lesson, I will have them slow down, be more cognizant, and move more fluidly through their joints. Depending on the age of the child, I make the lesson about improving their skills around a sport that they like, a video game they play, or something else they love to do. This somatic education is a gentle way of telling the child, “You are perfect the way you are,” and “let’s see where we can improve the way you do what you like!”
Available from Research Gate, September 2014
Stjepan Jelica, Polytechnic Ružička, Department for physiotherapy,Vukovar, Croatia
The complexity of motor behavior is reflected in the fact that the mere realization of movements is just the ultimate manifestation of the complex process of hierarchical and parallel control of the nervous system. Physical therapists are primarily trained to treat deficits and they often start from what the patient can not do. Their actions are often directed toward repair and correction. Moshe Feldenkrais believes that to overcome the sensorimotor problem instead of correcting the deficit should be to create conditions in which a person is successful and consequently, overcoming motor difficulties. Feldenkrais Method is a form of somatic learning in which the brain learns from the body. Moshe Feldenkrais emphasizes the close bond of mental action and movement and through unbreakable bond over one affects the other. This paper presents the certain experiences of working with children from Vukovar, ages 5 to 8 years with multiple congenital sensorimotor impairments and joint efforts to return these people their human nature and dignity.
From light and sound to electricity and motion, these non-invasive techniques featured in The Brain's Way of Healing, by Dr. Norman Doidge, M.D., provide promising insight into our brain's ability to rebound and heal from disease and injury.
Featured on: The Nature of Things with David Suzuki, on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), February 2017
Includes a short video of Moshe Feldenkrais working with a young girl.
Feldenkrais Method (Functional Integration) What is it? Feldenkrais functional integration lessons involve private sessions tailored to each person’s needs. Gentle non-invasive touch is usually performed with the student laying on a table. It’s a hands-on form of tactile, kinesthetic communication. While a massage therapist works with muscle and a chiropractor works with bones, these touch therapists work with the nervous system. Sessions happen with a therapist, but the Feldenkrais Method can be taught in groups. Who is it for? Cerebral palsy, stroke, multiple sclerosis, children born missing parts of the brain. Why do scientists think it works? The method is based on the fact that neural pathways to and from the brain are spread throughout the body. Feldenkrais believed that increasing our awareness of movement is key to refining our brain maps for movement. Many people with strokes or cerebral palsy develop spastic limbs that can't move, making it difficult for them to develop mental maps to control fine movement. When a person is relaxed, touch and simple movements make it easier for the brain to create the mental maps needed to start moving properly. In essence, it’s using the body to talk to the brain through soft touch.
New Zealand Spinal Trust, October, 2008
Cindy Allison, MA (Psychology), FELDENKRAIS® practitioner, MNZFG
This booklet is intended as a brief introduction to the Feldenkrais Method and it’s relevance to recovering sensory motor function in SCI. Other benefits, such as reduction in pain and spasm, are mentioned and a brief introduction to the sensory motor system is included. It is not intended to cover all the benefits people have experienced through the Method. For many with pain and disability, the Feldenkrais Method has been life changing.
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