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Sun Apr 10 21:15:26 EST 2005

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 pathways. 

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 

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 suggestions.

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.

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 information.

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. In mid 1992 
whilst on holiday and travelling though the USA, I went to Miami and had the 

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 know.

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 

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

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