Neuroplasticity

Your brain’s highest priority is organization, regardless of the state of your desk at this moment. Your brain lives for organizing, and at every instant your brain intake information from your environment and organizing and reorganizing itself in response. To neurologists, this is “neuroplasticity”; you and I know it as “learning”. You may not know it as the single most critical factor in healing from any and all ailments.

Consider this: you broke your foot. In response you wear a cast for the allotted time, go to physical therapy, and do all the exercises you need to at home. You make sure to eat right and rest to allow your body the time and nutrition it needs to heal. There are still two outcomes: you could heal or you could remain injured. How could this be?

When you injured your foot, you did not only injure your foot; you changed the neural pathway that gives your brain information from your foot, too! If you fix your foot, but do not fix the neural pathway, your body will still classify itself as injured. If that is so, it does not matter that your foot functions perfectly because, to you, it will still hurt. Until the altered neurons are restored, you will never be healed. 

That is the power of the nervous system.

Learning and practicing new skills cause the brain to physically change. Nerve cells that are used frequently together measurably stretch closer together. Even when you merely think about an activity or practice you will cause this stretching to occur in measurable amounts.

How could this cause you to remain injured if your foot is healed? It is simple to explain. If you were distressed by the injury, proceeded to dwell on it, and continued to worry about it, you’ve given your brain a ton of practice feeling pain! This is real pain too–you aren’t merely “milking out” your injury; you still feel acute pain.

So, how can you bounce back from this hypothetical foot injury?

You must create new neural pathways which improve or repair the damaged pathways.

If you focused on other, positive aspected of life, and thought optimistically about your foot situation, the pathways of feeling pain in your foot will be weaker, and new pathways of feeling healed will be created.

Dr. Burl Pettibon, D.C. has incorporated this knowledge into his practice with great success. He calls it “prehabilitation,” and it entails precise rehabilitation exercises for the nervous system including visualization. The name comes from recognizing that this needs to be the first area rehabilitated after an injury in order to even allow for healing–and even speed up the process of physical healing.

These techniques are helpful for more than just physical injuries, though. Visualization is a powerful body-mind balancing technique you can use in your daily life to change your brain so you feel better in any and every situation–mentally and physically.

To many, this whole area of study seems to simple to be true. Can your attitude really interfere with your ability to heal? Skeptics must keep in mind that the nervous system has a role and connection with every single body part. It spans the entire system, and is the most clear indicator that the body functions as  whole and is not effectively treated as separate systems. And when you think or feel something, it physically changes in response.

As Dr. Pettibon has seen firsthand, “there is nothing more powerful on the planet than educated enthusiasm.”

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~ by danclaps on March 1, 2013.

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