Over the course of the past 18 years, I have engaged in a program of repetitive mirrored movement to create new neural pathways and brain reorganization. I have done so through different martial art disciplines. My interest has been to enhance my ongoing recovery process as an individual living with the impact of a brain injury.
“Never quit believing that you can develop in life. Never give up. Don’t deny the inward spirit that provides the drive to accomplish great things in life.” Jon Huntsman, Sr.
In today’s article, I would like to share some events that I began to notice 8-9 months ago. I noticed that I occasionally had some shooting pain. Like a small lightning bolt that radiated from the upper middle part of my back toward my left scapula. In my concern, I made an appointment with my primary care physician. After meeting with my Dr., he gave me several exercises to do as part of my workouts.
Over time I started to notice that I was having some pain in my left shoulder when moving my shoulder through certain “range of motions”. Although I experienced this discomfort, I thought that the pain would go away with time. A little over a month ago I set up an appointment to see my primary care physician to speak with him about the shoulder discomfort with a certain range of motion activities.
During my appointment with him, he examined my shoulder and declared that I would probably have to undergo rotator cuff surgery. He ordered x-rays and an MRI. The x-rays showed no dysfunction in my shoulder. The MRI was scheduled and about 10 days ago I underwent the MRI. The results from the MRI showed that I had a small tear and a partial tear in my left rotator cuff.
In 2009, during a 10-month black belt cycle to test for my black belt I sustained 2 meniscus tears in my right knee. After meeting with my Dr. at the time, I began physical therapy. Although several surgeons wanted to operate on my knee, I decided to rehab my knee. I walked the pool, forwards and backward, stretched, light weights and rode the stationary bike with no resistance over an 8-9 month period.
After the 8-9 month period rehabbing my knee, I was able to start back using repetitive mirrored movements through full Muay Thai knees and full Muay Thai kicks.
After my Dr.’s initial examination of my left shoulder, I began to research rotator cuff tears, my options and asked many people to pray for me. Thank you for all of your prayers. Those prayers have helped me tremendously. In speaking with one friend, he suggested that I make an appointment with a physical therapist. Coincidentally, this physical therapist had helped me with my knee in 2009.
After setting up an appointment with the physical therapist, I met with him. After doing an evaluation of my left shoulder he determined that surgery was not warranted. I have been in the process of doing the exercises that he gave me and I will begin physical therapy as appointments are scheduled.
In the past 3 -4 months I have modified my workouts to limit engaging my shoulders so as to allow my shoulder to heal. Although I am not engaging my shoulders in my workouts, I have not stopped using the principle of neuroplasticity. Instead of engaging my hands, elbows, and shoulders in my workouts, I have focused on using my core, hips, knees, and legs.
Repetitive Mirrored Movements
During the past 4-5 months, I have worked on my movement and agility through engaging both my right and my left knees and legs. I have done so through Muay Thai knees, Muay Thai kicks, front kicks, side kicks, oblique kicks. I have done so to increase my ability to transition kicks from my right leg to my left leg and my from my left leg to my right leg once I plant each foot.
Last Several Weeks
Several weeks ago I began noticing squiggly movements in my right knee, reminiscent of the meniscus tears in 2009. In response, I have re-engaged in rehabbing my right knee. I have done so through hamstring stretches, leg extensions (lightweight, high repetitions) and riding the stationary bike with minimal resistance when paddling.
My Continued Journey
Earlier this month I had my 60th birthday. I am having a blast with my training and believe I am in the best shape of my life.
I plan on working diligently to rehab both my shoulder and my knee. With time, I will continue to empower my ongoing recovery process by using the principles of neuroplasticity and repetitive mirrored movements.
Last month, April 2017, I created a Powerpoint presentation. To view the Powerpoint presentation, you may click on the below link.
Since writing this article in May 2017 I have had a full recovery of my shoulder. I did not have surgery on my shoulder. Over the past year and a half, I have followed the instruction and guidance of my physical therapist. Doing so has strengthened the muscles around the rotator cuffs – my supraspinatus, subscapularis, and the infraspinatus — which had partial tears.
I have regained a full range of motion in my left shoulder and am able to execute drills using principles of Kali, Wing Chun, Western Boxing and Muay Thai elbows and strikes with an equal range of motion using both my right and left shoulders/arms.
Update: January 21, 2019
Today is January 21, 2019 and I have come a long way in my process of strengthening my rotator cuff. Infraspinatus, Supraspinatus and Subscapularis. In the process, my range of motion has increased as well as the strengthening of my left shoulder.
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