Friday, August 9, 2013

Use what you love to recover what you love

I've said this before, but it bears repeating:

Recover so you can do what you love and use what you love to recover.

This is the hidden secret of recovery. It’s hidden because it has nothing to do with rehab or rehab science or physiatry or even neurology. It has to do with neuroscience; the neuroscience of the human brain

Here's the rule: Your brain will rewire (not just for stroke but for anything you learn) if you care about what you are rewiring for. Rewiring= learning. In neuroscience learning = "Changing the structure and/or function of neurons"= "brain rewiring."

But unless you care about what you learning you won't learn it.

Take math. How many adults have used an algebraic equation in the last year? Probably about 2%. And 95% of that 2% used algebra because they had to take an algebra course to graduate. Don't get me wrong, math is important. But the math most of us see as important can be done on a dollar stroke calculator. But algebra? You never really learned it because it has no importance to your everyday life. Now consider something like texting or using a new cell phone. We learn it in a matter of days because it’s important.

The same is true for stroke recovery. Many of the "ADLs"  (activities of daily living) that are used to rehab people after stroke are dry and boring. Things like dressing, grooming, bathing etc. are all necessary, but they're not very interesting to the brain.

Here's my suggestion: as much as possible, focus on things that you really care about. If it's important to you it will be important to your brain. The more pertinent is to you, the more brain rewiring can flower.

The following video is a good example of this. It's unusual example because the guy uses what he loves to "stay in the game," not rehab in the traditional sense. Have a look at the video. His right arm is still not working. But his love of music is.

The telling shot is approximately 50 seconds in. That, my friends, is "dense hemiparesis."

 Click the photo for the full story

This entry is dedicated to Mike Chambers 

Thanks for Todd Jasko for the idea!

1 comment:

Rebecca Dutton said...

If an aide pulled down your underpants and made you sit down to pee because your standing balance was too precarious for your sound hand to let go of the grab bar or you repeatedly ate cold food because you had to wait for an aide to cut your food you would not think ADLs are boring. However, your point about doing things you love after a stroke is important. There has to be a reason for bathing and dressing.

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