Neuromuscular reeducation is a general term that refers to techniques that attempt to retrain the neuromuscular system to function properly. The basis of this idea is that the formation of certain patterns of communication between muscles and nerves allow people to perform simple everyday acts such as climbing stairs. These normal patterns of movement can be disrupted by injuries or may be impaired in people with certain medical conditions. The general aim is either to re-establish normal patterns of movement in injured people or to create normal patterns of movement in disabled people, by practicing a variety of exercises.
People with specific injuries or challenges often seek out these techniques. This may include people who have experienced fractures or muscle tears or people with conditions like arthritis or cerebral palsy. Healthy people who want to improve their overall balance, strength, or flexibility, such as professional dancers or athletes, may also seek out certain forms of these therapies.
At its most basic, neuromuscular reeducation is very similar to types of physical therapy and may involve many of the same techniques to promote healing. This can include one-legged standing exercises with specific vibration, to improve balance, strengthening exercises that target a specific area of the body, or stretching routines to increase both flexibility and range of motion in an injured limb. Therapeutic massage may also be a part of these therapies.
Some practitioners believe that an important part of injury healing is the removal of fibrous adhesions, which are thought to arise within injured areas of muscles or connective tissue and involve the overgrowth of fibrous tissue over the site of injury. These areas are the body’s way of protecting the tissue from further injury, but they are thought to result in impaired range of motion, decreased flexibility, and eventually the weakening of nearby muscle. A popular form of neuromuscular reeducation that focuses on the release of these fibrous adhesions is myofascial release.
Neuromuscular reeducation exercises can help you achieve a variety of goals, which include improving balance, coordination, posture and proprioception. Proprioception is your sense of the relative position of different body parts. Injuries, repetitive use, poor posture and unhealthy biomechanics can make your movement patters become inefficient. The broad goal of neuromuscular reeducation exercises involves restoring a natural mind-body connection by coordinating your mental perception with physical behavior.
Neuromuscular reeducation exercises can help improve persistent poor posture, which can contribute to repetitive strain injuries. Individuals with poor circulation and emotional stress may also benefit from neuromuscular reeducation exercises.
Neuromuscular reeducation exercises include a variety of functional strengthening, stretching, balancing and coordination activities. Practitioners that administer these exercises encourage patients to focus on joint positioning and movement. The key to many neuromuscular reeducation exercises is maintaining balance while performing specified movements. For example, pelvic tilt exercises introduce you to proper pelvis positioning, and then may encourage you to maintain the tilt while moving your legs. Unilateral balancing exercises help you establish a proper pelvic tilt while balancing on one foot. A variety of stretching and bending movements on an exercise ball also have neuromuscular applications. Exercises while creating specific vibration can cause innervation of the cerebellum and be beneficial in neuromuscular re-education.
Once the nerve-muscle connection is corrected and the muscles are strong and balanced, the doctor will determine the optimum frequency to wear your weights to properly maintain the correction you will have diligently worked to achieve. This may be as little as one 10-20 minute session all week. This is tailored to your specific lifestyle and needs so if you have questions, please speak with the doctor.