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Surface EMG BiofeedbackThe Power of “a-ha” Moments

One of the great challenges when working with children and adults with cerebral palsy is teaching volitional muscle control.

Cerebral palsy is caused by a brain injury that happened before, during or shortly after birth. The injury happened to an immature and developing brain. One of the most common issues in cerebral palsy, is difficulty with movement control/specific muscle control.

Because the injury happened before the child learned movement control, they do not have what I like to call “experience” with control of specific muscles. This type of movement control was not wired into their brains before the injury happened.

We all have muscles in our bodies that we do not know how to control, meaning activate and relax, because we simply have never practiced that. It is not that the muscles are not controllable; it is that we do not know how to do that. It has never been wired into our brains.

Let us think closer about that and experiment on ourselves. Are you able to wiggle your ears? Some people are, but most are not. If I ask you to wiggle your ears, chances are that you cannot do that. How can you learn to do that then? You would have to be able to control some specific muscles that are sitting behind and below your ears.

Even if I showed you what ear wiggles look like, chances are that you would still not be able to do that.

When we ask a child with cerebral palsy to activate and relax specific muscles, for example their dorsiflexors to lift their foot up, it may be just as difficult as it is for you to wiggle your ears. We can show what it looks like: “look, I am lifting my toes up”, but just like it did not teach you to wiggle your ears by someone showing you what it looked like, the child may still not be able to lift their toes up. It has never been wired into their brain how to activate and relax those muscles.

This is where surface EMG Biofeedback comes in as an amazing tool in my therapy tool box.

You can host a workshop to learn how to use EMG Biofeedback in your practice. All you have to do is contact Pia:

Listen to this podcast and learn more about this type of intervention:

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