There is an interdependent relationship at play that should be honored when working with our clients: hardware/software. Hardware is our structure. Trauma, injuries, and surgeries all alter that structure. The body then heals those parts with connective tissue. Our body’s software is the nervous system responding to the interaction of the structure with the environment. Hardware issues also alter software. Dynamic Neuromuscular Assessment™ explores the relationship of the body’s software interacting with the hardware. Hardware issues may require medical intervention that would need to be followed up with software integration.
Software hierarchy has many competing components. I use the word competing because the interdependence of various systems are competing for the available bandwidth and resources the brain has to cope with and respond to the environment.
Let’s explore some of the components of our software and how they can affect our hardware:
Emotions and psychological considerations are often an element that keeps people from healing. Sometimes it is a forgotten emotional trauma tape that is still running unconsciously. Other times there is a perceived benefit from remaining in pain or being injured. Finding the root cause of the emotional disturbance, whether an event or the perception of the event, would be a primary consideration. In a survival-based nervous system, the threat of emotionally charged perception, perpetuates the arousal state and an up-regulated sympathetic nervous system.
The squeezing and soaking action of coiling and uncoiling activates the abdominal viscera. If the organs are impeded in some way, then the autonomic nervous system will put the brakes on movement.
Structure implies a hardware issue. Receptor response due to hardware issues will put the brakes on movement. The conscious and unconscious somatosensory afferent inputs trump motor control.
Conscious motor control has many options for interacting with compensation and replacing maladaptive compensation with a beneficial coping strategy. DNA™ assessment strategies can address periosteum, joints, ligaments, tendons, retinaculum, muscles, fascia, and scars.
Periosteum wraps the bones, giving support for leverage of the structure to act on. In a tensegrity structure, the periosteum is the boundary for the inner bag. The bones act as compression struts so that the outer bag can leverage action. If the bones didn’t have the support of the muscles, the skeletal system would collapse.
Joints provide the movement fulcrum for the muscles to act on the bones. The position sense of the joint capsule informs neuromuscular sequencing.
Ligaments act as neuromuscular switches. The afferent signals inform the cerebellum which muscles to activate during movement.
Tendons transition muscle to attachment sites. The mechanoreceptors afferent signal inform the motor control center the load on the tendon.
Retinaculum wraps around tendons to provide mechanical support. The retinaculum supports the tendons so that as load is put into the tissues, the tendon stays in place. When the retinaculum rolls toward the joint, the mechanic support is reduced. Imagine socks rolling down the leg off the calf, retinaculum will bunch up. Active connective tissue strategies can unbunch and restore retinaculum width.
Muscles are for work production. They act on connective tissue to animate the structure. Without the support of muscles, the skeleton would collapse. The mechanoreceptors afferent signals inform length and speed of position change. The position sense of the muscles is an important contribution to conscious motor control and motor learning.
Fascia and skin complete the interpretation of position sense. Kinesthetic sense is the interpretation of conscious and unconscious somatosensory inputs. Those inputs are collated and prioritized.
Scars are a local disturbance that can create global confusion. Scars hold the emotional component of trauma as well as tissue memory. The mechanoreceptors in the tissue have become disrupted and need to have their afferent input reset.
Understanding the interdependence between our hardware and software informs the entry point while assessing and interacting with our patients/clients.