Following a stroke and brain injury, we may find that skills that once came naturally to us, now are difficult to achieve. In the process, we may find ourselves both frustrated and discouraged. But there is good news.
We can improve our lives through the benefits of neuroplasticity. One skill and one skill set at a time. In the process, we can create new neural pathways and brain reorganization.
The principles discussed in this article can help the individual to learn or re-learn any skill or skill set.
For individuals who learn through watching and listening I created a video presentation of this article.
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In 1997, unknowingly, I began the process of creating new neural pathways and brain reorganization through repetitive mirrored movements. Mirrored movements through learning, drilling and developing different martial art skills. Many mirrored movements using both my (dominant and non-dominant) arms, hands, elbows, legs, knees, and feet, as well as engaging my core (stomach and lower back) muscles. In the process, of these repetitive mirrored movements I develope muscle memory. I developed an increased range of motion, gross and fine motor skills, as well as balance, agility, and coordination.
In the middle 1990s, little did I know that I was using the yet defined (at least to me) principle of neuroplasticity.
Using the principle of neuroplasticity to create new neural pathways and brain reorganization.
Little did I know that I was, little by little, improving and enhancing my quality of life.
Unknowingly I was benefiting from ongoing and repetitive mirrored movements.
Neuroplasticity — MedicineNet.com
“Neuroplasticity allows the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain to compensate for injury and disease and to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment. Brain reorganization takes place by mechanisms such as “axonal sprouting” in which undamaged axons grow new nerve endings to reconnect neurons whose links were injured or severed. Undamaged axons can also sprout nerve endings and connect with other undamaged nerve cells, forming new neural pathways to accomplish a needed function.”
In my experience, I have used different martial art disciplines over the past 23 years to enhance my ability to use my arms, hands, elbows, legs, knees, and feet.
Learning Skills and Skill Sets
Because I have a difficulty learning sequences of information, I need to do things a “bazillion” times. A”bazillion” repetitions. What this has meant is that I have needed to learn one skill at a time, by doing that skill a “bazillion” times. Once I learn that skill, I need to work on another skill a “bazillion” times. Once I learn both of those skills I combine them into a skill set that I practice a “bazillion” times. I continue to drill that skill set until I have mastered the skill. I then begin to learn other skills (a “bazillion” times) and another skill (a “bazillion” times). I then combine those learned skills into another skill set. Once learned (through another “bazillion” times) I combine both skill sets and drill them together another bazillion times.
Over the past 23 years, I have combined many skills and skill sets that I have combined a bazillion times. The process has taken much time. More time than someone who has not sustained a brain injury, but I am glad that I stuck with the process. Through the process, I have learned a valuable lesson. What I learn along the way is more important than any outcome. What I have also learned is no one can do for me, what I need to do for myself.
As I have been able to combine a series of small successes — skills and skill sets — I have been able to learn how to execute a series of skill sets in different martial art disciplines.
Doing so has increased muscle memory, range of motion as well as both gross motor and fine motor skills.
Increasing my muscle memory, range of motion, as well as my gross and fine motor skills, has not only improved my abilities in martial arts, also in other areas of my life.
Areas such as my hand-eye coordination, dexterity, agility, balance, speed, reaction time, precision. and focus on both my right and my left (dominant and non-dominant) sides of my body.
My Encouragement to You
My encouragement to you my friend would be to start slow, but start. Learn a new skill and then a skill set. In the process, you will gain a series of small successes. By doing so you will improve the quality of your life. By doing so you can move beyond a diagnosis or prognosis. Doing so you will move beyond the confines of the “box” that some people may be telling you can’t be accomplished. Through persistence and tenacity, you will be able to accomplish what you never dreamed possible. Be able to accomplish skills and abilities that may have been lost due to a stroke/brain injury.
Find a way that works for you. Find a way that you enjoy and build a program to increase your capabilities despite your stroke or brain injury.
I have used martial art disciplines to create new neural pathways and brain reorganization. You may like to use another form to create new neural pathways and brain reorganization.
My Encouragement to You is to Have Fun with the Process. What you Enjoy You will Stick with through times of Discouragement.
Below is a video that Bambinette Oppegaard Schreckendgust shared on my Facebook page. With her permission, I am sharing the presentation with you. The video presentation is of Tyler, her son, who is now 12 years old. Tyler experienced a traumatic brain Injury at 25 months old after falling out of a window 3 stories up while at babysitters. Tyler is using dance to create new neural pathways and brain reorganization through repetitive mirrored movements. Tyler is an example and an inspiration. I am proud of you, Tyler. Thank you Bambinette, for sharing this video presentation.
And as you Build upon Your Program Remember
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. The good news is that once we start walking before long we will be able to look back and see how far we have come, because we did not give up.” Craig J. Phillips MRC, BA
Exercise to Learn and Re-Learn Skills
Whatever you are able to do with your dominant side of your body, start doing – mirroring – the same ability with your non-dominant side of your body. Start out slowly, but be persistent in your commitment.
Work on one part (drill) of the skill at a time. As you become comfortable with that particular part of the skill, move onto the next part of the skill. By combining parts of the skill (small successes) you will find that you have learned or re-learned a skill.
As you master that skill, begin working on parts of another skill. Combine those parts (small successes) into learning that skill. As you continue in that process, you will be able to combine each skill into a skill set.
As I have found, by doing so you will be able to learn or relearn skills and skill sets. In the process, you will create new neural pathways and brain reorganization. In the process, you will improve your quality of your life through small successes.
Riddle — Goal Setting
“How do you eat an elephant?”, one man said to the other. The man asked, “Tell me the answer”. He responded, “One bite at a time”.
My encouragement to you my friend — as I need to remember too — start chewing and don’t give up. Consume your “elephant” one skill and one skill set at a time.
By eating your “elephant” one skill and one skill set at a time, your elephant will be consumed. Your “elephant” or goal will be consumed or achieved through small successes.
Below I will explore principles that I believe can empower anyone. Empower anyone to develop new neural pathways and brain reorganization. Principles that have helped me to develop new neural pathways and brain reorganization.
S trategies for Achieving the Goals we Set through Using the Principles of Neuroplasticity
In yesterday’s article Training Camps and Winning in Life, I spoke about the basics that make a successful training camp.
In the article, I shared that by applying the basics — hard work, commitment, determination, drive, discipline, fortitude, persistence, tenacity, and courage — we can make huge gains.
In today’s articles, I would like to explore the meaning of several of the words or concepts that go into making a training camp successful. To gain a greater understanding of the words and concepts, I will do some research; and share what I discover. I will then share my perspective and provide a link to an article that I have written, that speaks to the word or the concept.
Hard work or Work-ethic
“Without hard work, nothing grows but weeds.” Gordon B. Hinckley
Hard work for me means being diligent, to accomplish a task or a goal that is set before me; with focus. Hard work involves sticking with a project or a goal to achieve the desired outcome.
For me, hard work does not mean running a sprint but involves running a marathon; which requires consistent and ongoing effort.
“a willingness to give your time and energy to something that you believe in, or a promise or firm decision to do something” Cambridge Dictionaries online
For me commitment involves loyalty, first to myself; to stick with a goal, regardless…
Commitment communicates to me to remain undeterred from what I set out to accomplish.
Although the way that I set out to accomplish some thing may change, my commitment teaches me that I can find a way that will work for me to be able to accomplish my goal.
“is a positive emotion that involves persevering towards a difficult goal in spite of obstacles. Determination occurs prior to goal attainment and serves to motivate behavior that will help achieve one’s goal.” Wikipedia
Determination helps me to focus on what I want to accomplish, in spite of obstacles and setbacks.
Obstacles become a sign on the road that helps me to realize that adjustments need to be made to accomplish my desired goal (s).
Determination teaches me to not give up in spite of apparent obstacles and setbacks because I know that more will be revealed in time.
“I will prepare and someday my chance will come.” Abraham Lincoln
“There are three major components to motivation: activation, persistence, and intensity. Activation involves the decision to initiate a behavior… Persistence is the continued effort toward a goal even though obstacles may exist… Finally, intensity can be seen in the concentration and vigor that goes into pursuing a goal.” About Education — What is Motivation
Motivation can either be external or internal. Being externally driven will only last until the threat is removed. Being internally motivated or driven, on the other hand; is sustainable because of the individual’s internal desire to achieve the skill, skill set or goal.
Drive encourages me to stick with the process and keep learning from my circumstances, my experiences and my opportunities.
This is the 2nd Part of my article, Defining the Basics of a Successful Training Camp.
In Part 1 I spoke about several of the basic concepts leading to a successful training camp: hard work or work ethic, commitment, determination and drive.
In Part 2 of this article, I will speak to the remaining basic concepts that lead to a successful training camp: discipline, fortitude, persistence, tenacity and courage. As with Part 1 of this article, I will do some research and share what I discover. I will then share my perspective of the word or concept and provide a link to an article that I have written that speaks to the word or concept.
“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” Jim Rohn
For me, discipline means that I keep working on my craft, tweaking and taking away; adding and making the decision to follow through to condition myself to achieving an end.
“Fortitude is the marshal of thought, the armor of the will, and the fort of reason.” Francis Bacon
For me fortitude means that I commit to pursuing my dreams and my destiny, my vision and mission in the face of being minimized, marginalized, dismissed and discounted.
Fortitude means that I remain true to myself, regardless of whether anyone else “gets it” or understand me. Fortitude means that I stay committed to my goals, whatever they may be at the time.
To thine own self be true.
“the quality that allows someone to continue doing something or trying to do something even though it is difficult or opposed by other people” Merriam-Webster
“Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work though difficult problems.” Gever Tulley
For me, persistence is the decision to get up more times than I fall down. Persistence for me means that I don’t give up regardless…Giving up simply is not an option.
Persistence means believing in myself.
“an unwillingness to yield or give up, being dogged, stubbornly, persevering and steadfast” Wiktionary
“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” Albert Einstein
Tenacity keeps me moving toward what I want to accomplish in my life. Tenacity means that I keep looking for ways to win in life. Tenacity means that I do give myself no for an answer.
Tenacity means that I trust the process, a loving God and myself. Tenacity means that I keep moving forward.
“The state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fear, or vicissitudes with self-possession, confidence, and resolution; bravery.” The Free Dictionary
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”
Courage to me means I stay committed to the process, the footwork and the journey. Courage helps me to remember that I do not have to do things perfectly. Courage reminds me that I can pursue excellence, instead of perfection. Courage reminds me that with all learning, there is a learning curve. Courage reminds me to stay committed to my mission and vision.
Courage gives me hope.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure, it is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We were all meant to shine as children do. It is not just in some of us, it is in everyone. And as we let our own light to shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same, as we are liberated from our own fear. Our presence automatically liberates others. Sir, I just want to say thank you. You saved my life.” From the movie, Coach Carter, a quote attributed to Marianne Williamson
Below is a link to a powerpoint presentation that I created and am available to present at coming conferences
I have also created a slideshow presentation of this article. To watch the slideshow presentation, click on this link: Neuroplasticity, Small Successes, and Learning/Relearning Skills and Skill Sets Slideshow Presentation
I have also created a video presentation of this article. To listen to and watch the presentation, please click on this link: Neuroplasticity, Small Successes and Learning / Relearning Skills and Skill Sets Video Presentation
I began my process of using repetitive mirrored movements through different martial art disciplines in October of 1997.
In August 2013 a friend of mine made a video presentation of the progress that I made using the principle of neuroplasticity. Other friends have helped me to make video presentations of my progress in each year since 2013.
Below are links to You Tube presentations of the progress that I have made using repetitive mirrored movements. To watch the progress made using the principle of neuroplasticity over the past 5 years, click on the below links.
For many years I had a dysfunctional relationship hope and then I had a spiritual awakening. Click on the below picture to see what helped me to begin to have a healthy relationship with hope.
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