Saturday, September 23, 2006

Missing? Or just cognitive "hemi-neglect"?

It seems most everyone in the orthopaedic branch of my profession is overly focused on mesoderm of one kind or another as if it had control of its own behavior, ignoring the nervous system as simple background noise. I thought this attitude was chiro driven, a memeplex to which PT had fallen prey, but I don't think so anymore - I think it's just naivité/simplistic thinking all round, like drawings of five year old children conforming to a predictable style. Ortho PT bases itself on what it has learned from its roots, the century-ago thinking of army gym trainers, masseuses, and orthopaedic doctors. (Who knows where chiro got its memes from?)

When the nervous system is considered at all in orthopaedic thinking, it seems to me it's only ever in terms of its output, and then only into muscles, that which can be "controlled" through acts of strengthening or will, i.e., "neuromuscular." There is rarely any work done or books written about the other side of the coin, sensory input, or what can happen to actual sensory fibres of nerves, physically, except for Shacklock and Butler. No one ever considers skin, how innervated it is, how sympathetically driven it is, how kinesthetically sensitive all the various levels of brain function are, how completely obedient the various levels of output (including pain output, motor output) are to miniscule amounts of sensory input, how the brain immediately engages with it, interprets it, expresses new output as a result. An understanding of sensory input into an intact NS from another nervous system could make our lives as PTs/professional human primate social groomers way easier and less cumbersome, and abolish a whole lot of excessive trappings/techniques/treatments. Something huge is missing!

My concern is about a significant perspective which is simply lacking in this whole mesodermally mad cognitive world we work in. The ortho part of the profession seems to only recognize half a picture, like the world certain stroke patients live in, those who ignore half the food on their plate because they can't perceive it, just aren't aware it exists. Most PTs have either wittingly or unwittingly decided to accept this state of affairs as normal! Sometimes I despair. That's all.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Human Organism is a Verb, Not a Noun

The title for this entry is based on Michael Shermer's comment in this Salon.com piece that "science is a verb, not a noun." Thank you for that idea, Michael Shermer. I am going to borrow it for other applications - I hope that's all right with you.

I went to see the BodyWorlds exhibit Sunday morning and was, as I expected, blown away. Certainly there were throngs of people, more than I've seen all in one place at Scienceworld in a long time, more than one would ever see at a science exhibit probably, in Vancouver at least.. the crowds tend to gather for music festivals instead. But here were people, hundreds of human primates all patiently lined up, thoughtfully gazing, murmering to each other in hushed tones, closely examining the most spectacular array of carefully prepared, formerly live human bodies the public has ever seen.

I went to see nerves.

There they were, well preserved and displayed on most of the specimens, flowing downward and inwardly spiralled around the limbs, around and through equally spiralled muscular parts.

The Gunther von Hagen preparations were dynamically displayed. Through the audio device I listened to how von Hagan had decided to place the specimens into lifelike poses after an exhibition in Japan, where people had complained that the standard anatomical positions used made the plastinates look too stiff, "like ghosts."

Regardless of how they came to be in these athletic looking poses, the bodies look amazing. The nerves are clearly visible, especially their relationships at knee and elbow in flexed poses, and through windows strategically cut out of the body wall to permit a view in to the plexuses.

On the body wall the nerves are surprisingly large. I've always thought I could palpate them, but wasn't quite sure until I saw how thick they are, and how they angle downward and obliquely out over the wall, under the skin, in 90Âș angles to the fibres of the latissimus muscle over which many of them pass.

According to the audio program, there are 45 miles of nerves in the human body, running everything. As the peripheral nervous system reaches the lower parts of the extremities the nerves become more numerous, carefully tucked up into hands and feet.

This is an opportunity to see how our human physicality is constructed, while simultaneously beginning or continuing the process of meditating upon the end of personal existance. This exhibit facilitates both. I'm so glad I live in a time when it exists, and under circumstances in which it's possible to see it, contemplate it. Take full advantage of this opportunity. It's a beautiful thing, to be in a human body, being. Doing.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Expert mind

I am currently reading/absorbing this article from Deric Bownd's blog, originally published in Scientific American, Expert mind, which discusses what is involved in a mature mastery of a given skill set of any kind. A chess master named Capablanca, who won 168 matches in a row while on tour in 1909, said, ""I see only one move ahead,.. but it is always the correct one."

When treating a nervous system, when treating "pain", this is all that is necessary. The nervous system is smart enough to unlearn the pain is has been outputting, providing the pain isn't pathological, merely persistent. One can be an "expert" at anything, including human primate social grooming.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Mindblog: Deric Bownds

I was recently sent a link to this fine site whose author is Deric Bownds.

I'm luxuriously lapping up all his archives these days, which is enough to keep a thinking person busy for weeks. He seems to be interested in providing thoughtful high quality information about the brain, mind, and consciousness from many sources, plus creating a continuous and seamless stream of his own writing and essays. One of my favorites so far is The Beast Within, an overview complete with images of all the layers of brain we have accumulated throughout our evolutionary development, how they function in all of us.

Also linked in his blog is a google video (about an hour long) featuring Alan Wallace, discussing how science might want to get around soon to concerning itself with first person phenomena such as introspection and contemplation.

There is an online book available, called Biology of Mind, for all who deal with people and/or with peoples' nervous systems for a living. I've linked him into the index as well. Enjoy.