Back in 2018 I heard about a chiropractor in town who was helping a friend with MS move more and experience less pain. Because I’d already spent a ton of time, energy and money on countless therapies, drugs and products (click here if you dont believe me) I wasn’t interested in getting my hopes up again or wasting more cash.
But since I ultimately love a good back crack I went to Dr. Deb Morrone at Frederick Chiropractic Wellness Center to see what she was up to. Turns out it was a little bit chiropractic, a smidge of voodoo, and a shit ton of, “What the hell did she just do to me”?
She literally poked me, tapped me, stuck me with a sharp stick, used a tuning fork, had me look at crossed and parallel lines while asking me to move certain body parts all while manually testing my muscles.
And yet I walked out of there feeling better and more importantly, the results she created, stuck!
The technique she used, Neurokinetic Therapy, is a corrective movement system that reprograms the brain’s Motor Control Center (MCC).
Unlike farm animals that walk shortly after birth because they are born with brains coded in instinct, we humans must map out our own brains. That’s why we need a year of practice and preperation before we even begin to walk, talk and eat solid foods. It takes, on average, twelve months of countless daily mistakes before our MCC chooses the most efficient and effective way to walk three feet, say “mama” or eat a Cheerio without thinking (or choking).
We spend our entire lives training our brain to work efficiently without thinking everytime we learn a new skill: Playing sports, Learning an instrument; Driving a car; Doing the latest dance moves at the 8th Grade Formal in front of the cool kids without looking like an ass, then 40 years later, performing the latest dance moves at your daughter’s wedding in front of a bunch of 20-year-olds without looking like an old fart. You get the idea.
A healthy human brain can figure anything out. If you are born without hands, yet practice enough, it will figure out the most efficient way to use a knife and fork and text message with your toes.
The bad news about our adaptable brain is how quickly it modifies movement patterns once we suffer from anything as a result of injury, illness, or trauma. It turns out, any newly created compensatory movement patterns are held in our MCC forever. These new, less efficient patterns lead to pain, decreased range of motion (ROM), weakness, and fatigue which then morphs into cardiovascular issues, diabetes, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, etc.
Think of it this way. If the bridge in town closes for repairs, instead of your normal, 10 minute down drive down main street, you will need to take a 20 minute longer, winding, back road to arrive to work on time. But once construction is completed, you immediately go back to your normal driving route and all is well again.
If, however, your MCC was driving the car, it would continue taking the detour. Forever. This would cost you more gas, waste more of your time, and result in more wear and tear on your car.
How did neurological detours affect my body, specifically? It started with foot drop. To avoid tripping over a foot that wouldn’t flex properly, my brain created it’s first detour called the Steppage Gait. That involved excessive knee and hip bending to lift my foot higher. When that stopped working or my spasticity increased (who knows) I moved on to a Circumduction Gait which required a stiff, straight leg to swing out to the side in a semi-circle to avoid tripping over my foot. Which of course led to more detours because I wasnt properly using my muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints as they were designed to be used.
Then I took more alternative routes with every AFO, cane, and walking stick I tried. And don’t forget the bypasses I’ve taken from the stress of watching my body break dowm: Walking with a clenched jaw while holding my breath, hunch over staring down at the ground instead of out upon the horizon.
Even though I had found relief and improvement from a myriad of things over the years (Yoga; Anat Baniel Method; Feldenkrais; Hand Therapy; Myofascial Massage; and different AFOs), NOTHING stuck. I had no carryover what-so-ever. It was maddening.
That’s what I had been experiencing for six years until I began employing Neurokinetic Therapy. During our sessions, Dr. Deb corrected my movement by:
- Identifying weak muscles via muscle testing.
- Once a muscle “failed” my MCC was open to new learning.
- She then activated the proper muscle that I should be using so that my MCC would recognize it once again.
- This in turn reprogramed my brain to the older, more efficient patterns it once used.
- To completely restore balance, specific exercises would be assigned to “burn” the new functional pattern into my MCC once again.
Arm Changes: Honestly the first year focused on decreasing neural glide pain and connective tissue tightness, increasing ROM but with a maximum assist by her. Translation: I couldn’t move my arm. But when she moved it for me (max assist) it hurt like a hell. Now she can move my arm in any direction, painfree and the last 6 months or so have resulted an abilty to move my arm more, on my own.
Especially at night. Usually the end of the day meant a completely spastic arm bent at a 90 degree angle. Now at day’s end, my arm hangs limp and when in bed, I can move actually my hand and fingers, slightly on my own.
Leg Changes: Even though I still limp into her clinic on a screwed up leg, I used that limb significantly more than my arm. Because of that my lower body was and is stronger and more functional than my upper body.
Ultimately the last 18 months have resulted in:
- The releasing of muscles doing work they weren’t designed to do.
- Activation of the muscles I should be using (hamstrings, quads, hip flexors and calves) which has increased my ROM & strength.
- Increased connective tissue fluidity which has given my peripheal nerves more space to function properly and without restriction.
For 12 – 15 months I was experiencing small, weekly changes that stuck and slowly built upon one another. I can actually feel my brain searching for older gait patterns it stored years ago. Sometimes this involves trial and error in real time while walking. Other times an old, pre-2012 MCC pattern will literally show up out of nowhere and stick around.
So even though it took months of Dr Deb activating my hamstrings, suddenly one day, BAM! My knee stopped hyperextending, locking and collapsing inward! I could do a warrior pose without propping a chair against my knee. Descend steps with less fear of my knee giving out. Walk outside with less knee locking in general.
This decrease in fear also changed my gait. A confident walker, looks out, not down at the ground when moving from Point A to Point B. Sometimes I can even turn my head when walking or look down at my phone for a quick second.
Full disclosure #1: My leg improvements don’t occur 100% of the time. They’re happening:
- 75% of the time during a 10-minute stroll while walking on a flat, even surface (asphalt) with a cane.
- 50% of the time during a 10-minute stroll while walking on a flat, even surface (asphalt) without a cane.
- 0% of the time during a 1-minute stroll while walking on an uneven surface (grass) with a cane or while holding onto someone’s arm.
Full Disclosure #2: Are my improvements entirely due to Neurokinetic Therapy alone? Or are they due to a combination of Neurokinetic Therapy along with…
- Bi-Annual Ocrevus Infusions?
- Losing 25 lbs since the beginning of the year?
- Taking Rick Simpson Oil at night a few times a week to decrease spasticity and sleep like a baby?
- Using Frequency Specific Microcurrents throughout the week?
I have no idea. I do know that with the exception of 1 person, all of my friends who have tried Neurokinetic Tx have improved in some way, shape or form: My bad back is better. My pain has significantly decreased or is gone. My muscles work differently. I’m moving in ways that I haven’t moved in years. My brain fog lifts and my anxiety decreases after seeing her.
Full Disclosure #3: This takes time, energy, money and in my case having the right insurance that happens to be accepted by this particular chiropractic clinic.
Full Disclosure #4: I’ve recently found a Massage Therapist / Personal Trainer that’s an advanced Neurokinetic Practitioner who I will blog about soon. Her insights have been amazingly helpful after only a few weeks of working with her.
If you’ve had success with Neurokinetic Therapy or are a practitioner yourself, let me know. I’d love to hear about your experience.
Featured Image: Unsplash / Camilo Jimenez