NeuroKinetic Therapy® is a corrective movement system that uses manual muscle testing to assess and correct movement dysfunctions. This technique developed by David Weinstock is a rehabilitative tool and an assessment technique for low back pain, knee pain, jaw pain (TMJ dysfunction), balance issues, surgical rehab, other injuries, and postural problems.
The Theoretic Basis for NeuroKinetic Therapy
All movement begins and is coordinated by the Motor Control Center (MCC) in the cerebellum. MCC includes both directed movements and reflexes. A large part of motor control is coordination. Various parts of the motor system must be coordinated to act in unison to produce movement. Movement is specifically the coordination of forces throughout a network of continuous tension. Principles of biotensegrity can help to explain how motor control works as an integrated system of managing tension.
The motor control system (MCC) selects strategies, coordinates movement patterns to enact those strategies, sends nerve impulses through the spine, and finally to the muscles that carry them out. Dysfunctional strategies and coordination patterns are stored after misuse, overuse and under use, repetitive stress, postural stress, and especially from traumatic injuries. Misinformation about the level of tension in certain body parts, such as from scars, damaged ligaments, or surgically implanted hardware, can also produce dysfunctional patterns. When a strategy can’t be carried out, when there is a structure or muscle failure, that’s when the MCC can learn. It can learn to select different strategies or to coordinate differently in the absence of conscious re-patterning compensations form. NeuroKinetic Therapy takes advantage of the opportunity of failure to reprogram the MCC. Thus functional movement patterns can be learned and dysfunctional patterns discarded.
Whiplash and Motor Learning
In David Weinstock’s book NeuroKinetic Therapy, an Innovative Approach to Manual Muscle Testing, he uses the example of whiplash to illustrate the Neurokinetic Therapy approach. Injury means dysfunctional patterns are stored in the MCC. In the case of whiplash, the neck extensor muscles become very tight and painful. Often massage and stretching will have little or no effect or only be useful for a short time before the tension returns. David answers, “Why? The MCC has now stored in its memory the fact that the neck flexors are weak and vulnerable. How is it going to keep the head upright? It chooses to keep the neck extensors tight to support the weight of the head. Until the pattern is cleared using the NKT protocol (or something similar), the neck extensors will remain locked.”
NeuroKinetic Therapy and Trauma
Motor control is organized in a hierarchy – with the limbic system at the top. It is because the limbic system is at the top of the hierarchy of motor control that trauma has such a massive impact on posture, movement, and the tone held in muscles and musculoskeletal structures. Emotional traumas thus must not just be considered but prioritized when attempting to reprogram the MCC. As an Integrative Movement Therapist, my focus is on neuromotor reprogramming to create optimal functional movement patterns. Sometimes emotional work is integrated into this goal and can sometimes work as a great adjunct to resolving emotional trauma issues. However, if the goal is to directly address those issues, I would direct a client to other professionals. The deep and fundamental connection between motor control and trauma was developed into a method of emotional rehabilitation called Somatic Experiencing by Doctor Peter Levine. There are trained practitioners of somatic experiencing in the Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge areas.
The Development of NeuroKinetic Therapy
David Weinstock developed this sophisticated bodywork modality in the mid-1980s. He founded the protocols first developed for NeuroKinetic Therapy on Motor Control Theory, outlined in the book The Neural Basis of Motor Control, published by Vernon Brooks. As a modality, NeuroKinetic Therapy continues to evolve. Different practitioners utilize it in different ways based on their previous knowledge and skill set. Furthermore, different protocols are taught at each level — Thus, those with the Level 3 skill set are more capable of treating a full degree of motor control problems. If you are interested in studying NeuroKinetic Therapy yourself, seminars are available throughout the year in locations around the world. The list of seminars is available on the Neurokinetic Therapy website.