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
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,
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
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
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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