Neuromuscular re-education is a technique used by rehabilitation therapists to restore normal movement. Together, your nerves and muscles work to produce movements. Nerves send signals between your muscles and your brain about when, where, and how fast to move. It is a complex process. Theorists believe that over time, nerve tracts are reinforced and muscle movement (motor) patterns are learned and stored in your memory. For example, this explains why you remember how to go up steps and automatically know how to adjust your movements for tall or short steps.
Muscle movement patterns are affected when nerves or muscles experience damage or injury. This can result from trauma, medical conditions, and neurological conditions, such as stroke and traumatic brain injury. Neuromuscular re-education is one method used by rehabilitation therapists to facilitate the return of normal movement in persons with neuromuscular impairments.
These techniques require an understanding of the relationship between stabilizing and mobilizing muscles, proper sequencing and optimal biomechanical motion patterns for a variety of daily tasks, occupational activities and sports-specific physical performance.
In these approaches, tasks are broken down into their most simple component single-joint movement patterns. These patterns are perfected with proper alignment, breathing, and muscle stabilization in non-weight bearing postures using manual or mechanical assistance. As the specific single-joint component pattern is mastered, without symptoms, the training becomes more complex and might include one or more of the following advances:
Non-linear motion (circular or diagonal)
Weight bearing postures
Proprioceptive challenges (eyes closed, unstable surfaces, etc…)
Variable speeds and durations
An assortment of techniques, tools and apparatus’ can be used to provide neuromuscular re-education and movement training including: one-to-one instruction, motion and task modeling, tactile cueing, taping and bracing, imagery, audiovisual aids, pressure biofeedback, EMG, balance boards, dumbbells, and other devices.
The end goal with these types of approaches is to move a patient through a process that begins with:
Unconscious movement incompetence (they don’t know what they don’t know), as it relates to efficiency and economy, to
Conscious movement incompetence (they know what they don’t know), to
Conscious movement competence (they learn through practice and repetition – this is the longest phase), and finally,
A state of unconscious movement competence (Mastery). The last phase represents an integrated pattern of task performance that is safe and injury-resistant