Competitive, Co-operative

November 22, 2017

When I saw Leonid Blyum the other weekend, he talked to me about his latest thoughts on the understanding of his therapy work. Although the essence of ABR Therapy remains the same as it was when I started, it has evolved over the years both in further understanding the nature of how severe disability impacts upon the physical human body and in the techniques used to address deficiencies resulting from the disability. For me, my time with ABR therapy has been an education and a learning curve.

Some years ago I wrote a blog post entitled, ‘The Four Elements’ in which I talked about our bodies as possessing a core pneumatic structure, surrounded by an hydraulic skeletal structure, upon which is attached our muscular structure. The terms pneumatic and hydraulic are applied conceptually and however much they describe the essence of the body they are not quantities that can be measured, but qualities, which is something material science finds very difficult to embrace and living in a time when material science is so dominant it is difficult to be taken seriously unless you fall in line with the scientists.

That is not to say that ABR Therapy is not scientific, it most certainly is. Everything we do has a strong theoretical basis. Just as in all science, we start with theories that are tested in practice. We do not always know how the body will respond to certain inputs and some approaches are purely experimental, but by and large we target a specific area over a period of time with predictable results.

The difficulty with portraying to people the therapy work is that, in talking in concepts, it is easy to make it sound all a bit wishy washy and fanciful which doesn’t give Advanced Bio-Mechanical Rehabilitation the credibility it deserves. However, focusing on the balance between the competitive and co-operative elements seems to bring a more tangible portrayal.

Our skeletal muscles work in a ‘agonistic – antagonistic’ system. This is the age old understanding of the muscular skeletal system and generally speaking models of how the body works go no further than this. Such a system is competitive and any weaknesses in the system, providing they are not too great, will be compensated for by this competitive nature.

This model of the body, however, is very limited and excludes so much that must surely be of importance. Firstly there is the volumetric aspect, that inner volume and intrinsic capacity that I have previously talked much about, which when depleted gives rise to compressional weakness. The model incorporates the longitudinal aspect of the skeletal muscles, but not the radial aspect of the smooth muscle tissue. There is no account taken of the joint capsules. No account of all the attachments of the flesh to the bones. The skin, with its associated fat layer, the largest organ of the body, is totally omitted from the model. All of these structural aspects, that are included in the ABR model, are co-operative. They all contribute to the overall structure and function of the body in a co-operative manner. Without these co-operative structures it is impossible for the muscles to function in any meaningful manner. Without inner volume, which is made up largely of smooth muscle tissue, we have no foundation for our muscular skeletal system. Without good hydraulic pressure in the joint capsules our joints are weak and painful limiting our movement. Without attachments of the flesh to the bones there can be no divisions between the segments of the body and without that outer covering of skin and fat we have no way of interacting with the friction world.

In a spinal injury, as well as loss of muscles from the nerve damage, we recognise the catastrophic collapse of the core structures of the body, encompassing a loss in all these co-operative elements. With the loss of the muscles we have nothing to work upon. They are paralysed due to nerve damage in the spinal cord and addressing that damage we have to put in the miracle category. The scientists are fond of working on miracle cures, but despite many years research, have not yet made any significant progress in repairing the spinal cord. However, none of the co-operative elements rely upon that central nervous connection to the brain and so do not share that same barrier to recovery as the skeletal muscles.

Through ABR Therapy we address all these co-operative elements using smart tools which utilize the properties of modern polymers to deliver mechanical stimulation which can bring life back to dormant structures. By bringing to life and strengthening these co-operative elements we can bring form back to the body which in turn brings a return of feeling and even muscular function. My spinal cord was very badly damaged and I have to accept that my muscles may never be as strong as they once were, but by focusing on the co-operative elements we are proving that there is enormous scope for recovery from spinal injury.

One comment

  1. Thank you Steve for letting me hear your blog. It supports my independence and helps our understanding of ABR. In that way the work you do with Leonid Blum is accessible to more people.

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