Retraining arm movement is often a neglected part of the rehabilitation journey, and yet it contributes heavily to our ability to live independently. The arm forms a strong part of how the body finds its balance and is used to sense touch – if this is not addressed the body’s usual systems are even more impaired. In some cases, the arm may not be able to achieve enough recovery for function, but working on releasing tone and minimising contracture are important goals to maintain the health of the arm.
Arm movement is a complex motor pattern, and requires not only control of the posture of the trunk but also at the shoulder girdle, elbow, wrist and hand to produce the desired movement. This level of fine motor control depends on the integration of many neurological sub-systems, and also the availability of muscle activity and joint range.
In some cases it is not because the arm moves too little, but that it moves too much involuntarily and that it can start to interfere with walking and sitting. This is known as an associated reaction and can be treated with the right neurological skills and therapy.
Neurological physiotherapists are physiotherapists with additional training and expertise in treating problems related to the brain, spinal cord, inner ear and nerves. With our understanding of how the whole system works, we can determine the most appropriate treatment and the right intensive therapy, task difficulty and dosage to help you achieve the next goal.