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Sun Apr 10 21:14:20 EST 2005

not unlike standing in a harsh gale, once the terminal velocity was 
reached and the terminal velocity was reached while we were busy doing 
forward rolls. 

Skydiving was definitely radical enough to activate the alternate 
pathways but the panic involved with skydiving is not really comparable 
to the panic involved with virtually drowning. That is, I needed use 
from right my arm and hand to prevent my head from going underwater, 
where as with free-falling, there wasn't any necessity for my hand and 
arm to function.

Over the years, I have written to numerous medical authorities. Some 
have had the professional courtesy to reply and their opinions and 
suggestions are given below.

Dr B A Kakulas - a professor at The Australian Neuromuscular Research 
Institute - was the first to offer a reasonable explanation why the 
fear of drowning made my arm and hand function. The professor explains 
what most likely happened: 'There are many pathways for communication 
between the brain and the muscles through the spinal cord. The area of 
the brain that controls voluntary movement - the pyramidal system - was 
affected in the accident. However, there are alternate pathways 
(extra-pyramidal system) that are capable of conveying the required 
messages for the right arm and hand to function'. All the medical 
authorities that have replied have overwhelmingly agreed with the 
professor as to his explanation about why my right arm functioned. 

Dr P D Thompson - a specialist at the University Department of Clinical 
Neurology in London - has expressed his surprise as to why skydiving 
did not make my arm move, while Dr Kakulas refers to the inability to 
reproduce this experience whilst skydiving of great interest. Even 
taking these opinions into account, both the doctors stated that there 
is, as yet, no way of consciously being able to utilise these alternate 

Michael Hunt - Neuropsychologist at R.P.(R).H - justified my initial 
presumption concerning the hypnosis angle. He told of a group of people 
who had severe memory difficulties and were trying to utilise the 
"alternate connections" to improve their situation. However, they too, 
were unsuccessful.

Dr Robert A Fishman M.D - a professor at the University of California 
in the USA - writes: It is not surprising that some transient motor 
function was possible in a monoplegic limb during an emergency 
situation. He also regrets that he is unable to offer any further 

Professor Istvan Tork - from the University of New South Wales - 
explains that he is not usually an advocate of 'alternate medicine' but 
since modern medicine cannot help, perhaps I could learn meditation. 

The Professor's reasoning behind this was that I may be able to 
concentrate the motor centres in the brainstem in an attempt to 
activate the alternate pathways at will. He gives an example of Indian 
Yogi's performing extraordinary feats to justify his suggestion. I 
completed a meditation course soon after but I couldn't see a realistic 
link between what I was hoping to achieve and what I was learning in 
the course. 

Norman Oliver from the National Institute of Neurological and 
Communicative Disorders and Stroke in the USA, explains that the 
movement I experienced is typical under the circumstances I described 
ie. reflex-like dog paddle while panicking. He also suggests that I 
need to reconnect my brain with the  muscles through the spinal cord. 
He sent some literature that discusses neural regeneration and it looks 
quite encouraging.

Janet Whitta - Senior Clinical Psychologist from the Devonport 
Psychiatric Centre in Tasmania - is an affiliate member of the Board of 
Clinical Neuropsychologists. She writes: A thorough biofeedback session 
for left and right arms, testing the arms reactions under different 
cognitive and postural task conditions may yield some helpful 

She also writes: Electrical skin resistance measurements can be very 
informative and help individuals narrow down which cognitive and 
physical tasks produce beneficial results and which seem to produce 
counterproductive responses. In the process of trying to locate a 
biofeedback specialist who practices locally, one source suggested that 
alternatively, The Feldenkrais Method may be of some help. 

The Feldenkrais method focuses on changing bodily movement patterns, 
thereby promoting the use of the alternate pathways. Since starting 
Feldenkrais, my balance has improved, my weight distribution is more 
even and my gait has become more regular. I walk with less of a limp 
and my arm begins to swing on frequent occasions.

In March, 1991, I wrote to Dr Bernard Brucker Ph.D. - University of 
Miami, Florida. He is a renowned specialist in the field of 
biofeedback. His research involves using the "alternate 
pathways/connections" to regain functional motor movement. 

The Biofeedback Program sent many articles of success stories but my 
Neurologist has pointed out that biofeedback has its place. (I'm very 
sceptical about any "quick fix" solutions to my problems). In mid 1992 
whilst on holiday and travelling though the USA, I went to Miami and 
had the treatment. 

After a few days I realised biofeedback was not going to help my 
problems with a spastic hemiplegia. However, I could see first hand 
"that biofeedback has it's place". Dr Brucker and all of his assistants 
maintained it was helping but I don't think they could bring themselves 
to see past the colour of my money. In retrospect, I don't regret 
trying biofeedback. As I said before, if I didn't try, I would never 

Despite all this, I have accepted my disability and I am quite content 
to remain as I am. As you can probably appreciate, I am willing to try 
all possible avenues of treatment and I am open to any suggestions that 
you may have. 

I can be reached on Email on: david at web.net.au.

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