Congratulations, Jimmy Choi! You’re our hero!
Congratulations, Jimmy Choi! You’re our hero!
Virtually every week, from a variety of social media sites, I read of a few suggestions for therapy or treatments to help with Parkinson’s. Some are clearly bogus aimed at pushing a product or a program. Others are worthy of more investigation to see if their claims can be collaborated. Some can be dismissed as not relevant to me personally while others seem to be just common sense.
Recently, I came across one strategy that was particularly alluring. I was drawn to it in almost a primordial manner. Let me briefly highlight what the article in the Underground Health Reporter purported.
The authors suggested that when brain development or motor function is impaired, your nerve impulses become jumbled. When your nerve impulses are disorganized, so are your motor impulses and sensory impulses, endangering your overall health. They say that the “cross-crawl” technique is one of the easiest ways to activate your brain development and nervous system to give it the proper motor and sensory stimuli it needs to take control of your bodily functions—thereby preventing or rehabilitating health problems. The cross-pattern movement builds the bridge between the right and left hemispheres of the brain, allowing for electrical impulses and information to pass freely between the two.
These patterns are stored in the brain and are responsible for governing our nervous system, spinal muscles and coordination, and programming our bodily systems to work together as a team (no mention of that slacker dopamine on our PD team!). They go on to suggest that all of our bodily systems depend on cross-crawl integration, even cerebral activities, such as learning language, reading, hand-to-eye coordination and communication.
We’re encouraged to look to babies.
Until a baby learns to crawl she moves in a homolateral pattern. This means that the right hemisphere of the brain controls the right side of the body and the left hemisphere of the brain controls the left side of the body.If we failed to mature past this pattern of movement, our gait would be awkward and uncoordinated, with the right hand and right leg jutting forward at the same time. brain development
However, as soon as a baby begins to crawl, she activates the contra-lateral pattern of movement that is essential to her brain development and nervous system. She learns to reach out with her right arm as her left knee juts forward, and move her left arm forward as she picks up her right knee. We continue to learn this cross-crawl movement as we advance to walking, running and swimming.
The cross-pattern movement builds the bridge between the right and left hemispheres of the brain, allowing for electrical impulses and information to pass freely between the two.
They continue by pointing out some signs that your cross-pattern movements could use some sharpening including:
Lack of coordination and balance
Exhibiting learning disabilities, such as dyslexia
Saying things backwards
The suggestion is that you can reprogram your nervous system and strengthen the connection between the right and left sides of your brain using cross-crawl exercises They conclude with brief instructions on how to practise this exercise:
Stand with your spine erect and arms at your sides.
On an inhale, raise your right arm up. At the same time you raise your right arm, lift your left leg, bending at the knee.
On an exhale, lower both the right arm and left leg.
On an inhale, raise your left arm up. At the same time, lift your right leg, bending at the knee.
On an exhale, lower both the left arm and right leg.
Full range of motion, not speed, is the most important component of this exercise. The higher you lift your arms and legs, the more you are energizing the brain development becomes, encouraging it to store new, more effective patterns of movement.
Use the breath to help you slow down the movements. Slower movements require more precise control, which delivers greater benefits, faster. Experts recommend 200 to 500 repetitions a day, but it is important to stop at the first sign of fatigue.
I don’t know about you but I can see that this might be helpful. I think I get it. I even tried to practise the exercise as described above (but 200 to 500 repetitions a day! Can’t see that happening!). If we want to make positive strides forward in brain conditioning and motor functioning, we’ve got to think and act like babies. Yes, babies. Perhaps not quite the cute and cuddly kind but babies all the same. Really. Big. Babies.
Post-script. I’m up to 4 repetitions today. Wwwaaaaaaaaaaa !!! 😦
Banana seat. Extension handlebars. Fat white walls. I was the coolest kid in my neighbourhood (at least I thought so).
Flash forward to University days. A one-speed clunker. Storage basket. Cruised across that city everywhere on my bike, ponytail blowing in the breeze. Cool.
Then a series of cars. Kids, and more cars. Two-wheel life was wedged out of my life until Parkinson’s came calling. “Exercise is so important” I was told at every turn. “Get outside – take a ride”. Yet would my balance problems permit me to return to my cycling days? Enter the adult tricycle – two wheels up-front, one in the back. A low rider that had me about a foot off the ground, sitting comfortably and garnering lots of attention wherever i rode! That was uber-cool.
Yet, after a series of too-close-for-comfort encounters with vehicles, and an improved balance from my new PD medications, I decided to part company with the trike. We’d visited Amsterdam around the same time and I was inspired by the way bikes are so integral to life in the city. I loved the cruiser-style bicycles that everyone seems to use to get around. That’s what I’d get – an Amsterdam special!
Well, I’m yet to make this acquisition but I feel like it’s immanent. Though my attention has been distracted by other objects of vehicular lust (have you seen those 3-wheeled Can-Am Spyder bikes? What about a Vespa scooter?), I remain committed to the Amsterdam bike. The exercise that is so important for someone with PD, as well as the slower pace of riding a bike, appeals. If I could only find one with a banana seat.