Motor Learning

 “… in order for us to truly create and contribute to the world, we have to be able to connect countless dots, to cross-pollinate ideas from a wealth of disciplines, to combine and recombine these pieces and build new castles.” - Maria Popova

Structuring Treatment Interventions Using Some Neuroplasticity Principles

“Making mistakes simply means you are learning faster”
- Weston H Agor

  1. Specificity - Target deficits by targeting the appropriate balance system:

    • Vestibular system using foam
    • Somatosensory system using textured targets
    • Visual system using visual cues such as lines, spots, light etc. on the wall mat.

    Target specific aspects of gait mechanics such as heel strike, loading response, or increasing terminal limb position. Increasing plantarflexion force during push off facilitates forward progression and with foot clearance during swing.

  2. Repetition - Repeated performance of a newly learned (or relearned) behavior is required to induce lasting neural changes.
    Repetition with multisensory feedback for trunk and step position leads to faster learning, increased participant problem solving and retention of gait mechanics without increasing reliance of the visual system.

  3. Timing - When therapy is administered.
    Therapy that targets neural restructuring should work anytime. However, there are windows of time when treatment is particularly effective.  It is important to remember that in the same way new and positive patterns can be learned, so can inappropriate adaptive patterns when sensory input is damaged. Teaching appropriate patterns as early as possible minimizes the risk of developing compensatory adaptive patterns.

  4. Intensity - Dosage; total time of practice; amount of effort/work/force requirements.
    With the embedded tape measure you can objectively monitor the effort/work requirements with progressions of exercises. Feedback allows qualified healthcare providers to set up programs that challenge clients beyond self-selected levels of perceived capability.

  5. Difficulty/Complexity - Manipulation of environment to provide progressively challenging circumstances for specific tasks.
    Easily progress exercises with step position and types of feedback and using different textures and foam.  Task complexity, feedback designs, feedback variables, and modalities can be manipulated to optimally challenge the learner.  Providing sufficient challenge is a main factor for accelerating motor learning.

  6. Saliency - Emotional engagement/positive reinforcement.
    Learning may be enhanced when the movement is purposeful and specific to the behavior being trained.
    The quantity and type of feedback allow users to correct their errors. Feedback helps facilitate the engagement of individuals to become cognitively aware of movements that were previously automatic and unconscious.