Monday, November 2, 2009


On Halloween day (E wore her costume all day), E was scheduled for our first "real" stab at Feldenkrais. By that, I mean several sessions in a short span of time. Our plan was to have two sessions today (about 1 hour each), and then one two days later. It's hard to put into words (or video) the feel of the session, b/c a short clip really doesn't show much or do it justice. But, here goes...

Here are my impressions.

1. Keith is very patient. He talks very softly, and gets Elena to do things--this feat, alone, is amazing. He can command her attention by talking quietly, or not talking at all.

2. In order for E to be receptive to this gentle persuasion, it takes time. A lot of time. Meaning, the first half of the session it was basically playing with E, and getting E used to the idea of "mirroring" without telling her what to do or even that that was the goal. But by being quiet, and letting E lead part of the time, and "taking turns", it got E to be curious, and gave her some autonomy.

3. This autonomy is crucial. Keith is trying to get Elena to realize, on her own, how to move her body in a new way. For example: I spend a lot of my time barking at E to put her heels down; Keith tries to convey that having her heels up is just another way of moving--that nothing is "forbidden"--but that there are other ways of standing, sitting, moving. I think she is receptive to his message (not necessarily to mine).

Does it work? Well, that's hard to say. I'm not sure. I AM sure that we haven't wasted our time doing this, and we'll pursue it when we can. As far as real eye-opening experiences, here are the big things I noticed during our two sessions:

1. E was TIRED. She was really working hard. They did lots of transitions--all kinds of sitting, throwing balls, switching leads, standing up, balancing on balls, kicking, kneeling, etc.

2. For the first time, E had to think what she was doing with parts of her body she never thought about. For instance, she thought about what her arm NOT throwing the ball was doing (normally they move more or less the same way--both arms throw, only if one holds the ball) and got her to change it. That is DEFINITELY new.

3. When she was tired, she let him move her around. Let him touch her back, bottoms of her feet, let him move her legs around in all different motions. I don't think she would have let me do this, but she was tired, trusted Keith, and loose--her spasticity wasn't too problematic for most of the motions, probably b/c of her state of mind (or fatigue).

And, here's the kicker: we played soccer today (one day post-Feldenkrais) and I tried to get her to do a new soccer drill, where instead of just kicking the ball (or running into it, I should say) I had her put one foot on the ball, take it off, put the other foot on the ball, take it off, stand tall, and then kick (with handholds). She's never done that before. Keith spent a long time having her feet moved around, rolled on balls, foam rollers, etc. I didn't film that one: I'll film again and post


4. On our third session, E was quicker to adapt to Keith's "lessons". This time she let him situate her face-up on a table and let him stimulate her feet and move her legs around (more of a classic starting point for older patients). He also made E a mat, with the clandestine goal of having her move different limbs independently (like a "Twister" game). He never showed her what to do, or what the goal was, but by the end of the session she was curious, and willing to identify where her arms and legs were trying to go.

E on the table

E likes Mr. Keith so much she sets up Mr. Zebra so she can treat him

E's "Twister" Mat

Overall, I am very pleased. Not just b/c I see the potential of this method, but because it is so very different from the other things we are doing. I am learning a lot, too. Keith doesn't bargain, or tease, or reward, or insist on movement styles, like I and other therapists do. Don't get me wrong--those things are valuable, and have DEFINITELY paid off. Keith has a very patient approach to movement, and he really makes E think about what she is doing. I'm not sure how much progress we will make, but I'm curious to find out, and E enjoys the time.

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