Sometimes with chronic pain & CRPS you become clumsy. You drop things, trip over and move awkward. Being clumsy may be new, before getting unwell you could have been very coordinated sporty and moved fluidly. Research shows that when you have CRPS, or Chronic Pain your body image is different from how it was before you got ill. Change in body image impacts fine movement, which leads to clumsiness.
So what is Body Image?
Body image is the perception you have of your physical self.
Redeveloping your body image is a critical element of your recovery.
We include improving your body image because body image, is essential for day to day self-use.
Without proper body image, you will have difficulty doing day to day activities, walking, driving, working, sport.
So does everyone need it?
Having the right body image and body awareness is a vital skill
Your body image and recognition supports your conscious day to day experience and allows you to be able to carry out skilled, coordinated body activity.
To interact with the environment, you need to use your body.
Every thought, emotion, every intention, every movement, is a product of your brain and nervous systems physical state.
These experiences are patterns of brain activity which scientists often refer to as maps.
Through your whole life, you gather information about your body and creating your sense of your body image.
Learning began from very early in your development as a baby.
Over time, as you interacted with your surrounding environment, as you undertook different activities, as you progressed into adult life, you gathered a lot of information.
Does Body Image development vary from person to person?
Everybody has a slightly different way to develop this capability.
Plus, everyone is born with a slightly different natural talent.
Everyone has natural skills that make them who they are.
Some people are naturally more gifted dancers, who move in tune with having rhythm, some are early talkers or early walkers or readers or listeners.
If you take time to watch a group of children playing, young children at pre-school, you would notice differences.
Some youngsters would be more naturally physically capable.
Some seem to be more coordinated, with better and earlier developed eye-hand control, than others.
Some would love to climb and tumble and jump, and others would be less physically able.
Differences are entirely natural, because, for various reasons, different people have different skills.
We all have the skill to sense and feel our body, but this doesn’t come so naturally to some people, who may need some training.
If you went and watched the same group inside a classroom, you would notice other differences.
Some children would be writing their letters earlier, making more specific shapes.
Some would be sounding words out younger and beginning to read.
Difficulties with reading and translating the forms on a page into sounds are not unusual.
Dyslexia, is a learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling.
Developmental coordination disorder (DCD), also known as Dyspraxia, is a condition affecting physical coordination.
DCD causes a child to perform less well than expected in daily activities for his or her age, and appear to be clumsy.
These characteristics don’t disappear.
But with appropriate skill training and dedication, someone with dyslexia can learn to read and spell and someone with DCD can learn to move less clumsily.
We are all somewhere, on some spectrum, in our ability
So apart from having different traits, how do the capabilities arise?
Babies have to learn how to accurately discriminate among their body parts.
Babies and children develop an ability to differentiate and to gain an understanding of the nature of their body, and this occurs in different ways.
They have to develop knowledge of body parts.
This means being able to accurately know they have different body parts.
They have to learn they have a trunk, head, legs, arms, fingers, toes and to be able to locate the nearest parts of their body and furthest away parts.
After this comes the knowledge, of what they can do with the body parts.
To know which portions can be bent, straightened, gripped, opened, pushed through, pulled with and where they move.
As a baby and young child, you developed this capability.
You had to learn how to recognise parts of a given action.
You learned how your body has an actual potential for performing.
First, you learned to make crude attempts at bending straightening, controlling all limbs.
Then you became more expert at managing one arm and another then all four limbs together doing different things.
Think of a baby learning to feed, know where their mouth is, how to reach and pick up food, that’s all learned.
Children learn how to make the different parts of their body, move efficiently and this involves body awareness.
Body Awareness refers to the ability to organise and reorganise your body parts for a particular movement and action, then make the actual performance of a movement task
Alongside all of these, is the development of spatial awareness, which is part of a perceptual-motor development and included within body image.
So what is Spatial Awareness?
Spatial awareness means that you know how much space your body occupies and its relation to external objects.
You develop this through a variety of movement activities.
With practice and experience, children progress from their world of locating everything in external space relative to themselves to the development of an objective frame of reference.
In practice, this means learning to be able to know how far apart different objects are and directions. Children need to learn in front, behind, side to side, north, south, left, and right.
An activity such as driving a car involves a lot of spatial awareness because there are lots of objects, some moving, some still.
As a driver, you need to know where everything is relative to everything else.
As an adult, your spatial awareness is usually adequate.
But, ability varies from person to person.
For example take the activity of reading a road map while travelling through unfamiliar territory.
Many people become uncertain of whether they’re moving north south east or west.
And decisions regarding which way to turn sometimes seem to necessitate placing oneself on the map to project a mental image of direction options.
This part of awareness also has a relationship with laterality, which is an internal awareness of the various dimensions of your body with regard to their location and direction.
Many people rely on an external tech GPS system because their own internal human software GPS has poor programming.
In other words, you need know your left from your right, so you know which direction is turning left and which direction is turning right to complete the task of turning a circle right or looking left.
Some adults have a lot of difficulties knowing left from right; others find this easy.
In the context of aiding recovery from injury, trauma and chronic pain this is important.
Everyone who has an injury starts with different skills and capability
The concept of laterality as being necessary is basic.
So it’s difficult to believe that we need to learn this ability in childhood.
Some people never grew this ability to high skill.
After you have an injury you can sometimes lose the ability to know your left from your right.
Another aspect of body awareness and movement is directionality.
This is the external projection of laterality it gives dimensions to objects in space.
People who have difficulties with directionality will often encounter problems in discriminating between various letters of the alphabet.
If you have weak directionality, you write and see words upside down and feel confused when it comes to reading.
Direction awareness is a developmental process and relies on both maturation and experience,
Sometimes people with chronic pain have lost their skill to know the dimensions and position of objects in space and their body relation to them.
What about brains and maps and nervous system?
If someone has a stroke or brain injury, it’s different from developing chronic pain.
But sometimes people with chronic pain can present with what seems to be a problem that people have after a brain injury.
After a brain injury people often have an inability to tell their left from right.
There are many reasons people with pain could develop this.
One possible explanation may be what is termed ‘fear avoidance’.
People with CRPS and chronic pain often find that movement seems to trigger pain.
Even when you’ve learned the best pain science education, it’s still difficult to convince yourself to move when it hurts.
Deep inside all of us, we have a subconscious protective system.
This system is running all the time and signals us to stop what we are doing when it perceives we are in danger.
You don’t do this consciously; it’s subconscious.
When you have a feeling of fear, of worry, of being under threat and danger, then your whole self is highly aroused.
You develop sensitivity to the slightest shift, any change.
Your sensitisation can amplify your feeling of pain.
The outcome can be that you tend to avoid moving, sometimes you may freeze, stop movement altogether.
Freezing and not moving is a protective response.
Unfortunately, staying still doesn’t help you heal & recover.
Unfortunately any lack or reduction of motor activity and cutting back on using our habits has a knock on effect onto our neural maps.
When we don’t move this leads to the brain and nervous system forgetting what to do, and how to do it.
You lose the neural map of the activity; you blank it.
It’s like the way you can mislay your keys or your phone, and you can’t remember where you put it.
Then when you find the keys, you remember what you were doing, and why the keys ended up where you found them.
Can maps be relearned?
Answer: YES !!!!
Research studies have shown that people with chronic pain can regain their ability to differentiate left and right and perform movement activity.
Of course what we term normal, is relative to an individuals natural capability prior to the incident that initiated their path to their current place of chronic pain.
Research on body image and neural maps has been ongoing for decades.
There is plenty of evidence that reprogramming either recreates old maps or makes new ones.
If you’ve had pain for more than 12 weeks, we refer to it as chronic pain.
Conditions such as #CRPS #IBS #BackPain #TMJ #Fibromyalgia include the symptom of chronic pain.
It’s reasonable to assume that because everyone with chronic pain will have adapted movement, they will have alterations in body image and neural maps.
Fortunately, body image, body awareness, special awareness and directionality can improve with a good precision fit reprograming, adapted to fit you and your state.
You can make changes and improve your system.
You are not stuck with poor maps; you can re-engineer your brain & nervous software to have different ones and new ones.
Plus you can do this no matter what age you are.
Anyone can learn to do this.
The main requirement, is an interest in learning and a commitment to helping yourself.
Re-engineering human systems is my specialism
That’s programs of thinking, words, feeling and movement.
There are plenty of evidence supported approaches that can help you improve, especially if you have a painful disease.
You want a solution to your problem, and I get you that change.
You are unique, so you need a protocol that not only caters to your preferences but gives you the highest possible chance of achieving what you want.
Your situation needs help so you get a quality recovery.
But it’s more than that.
Life isn’t about getting over health problems.
Life is for living to your full wealthy potential.
You want a rapid return to your work
A platform to live a full enriched life.
If you have #chronicpain or #CRPS and would like to improve your body image, and your ability to be able to carry out skilled, coordinated body activity, then please get in touch.
Improving body image is just one thing you can learn to do.
It’s also one part of a much bigger protocol which includes psychological, biomedical, social and life purpose activities.
Mainly my clients are in the UK, in London & the home counties and globally via web technology, zoom, skype, facebook and more.
All my contact details are on my contact page
Jill Wigmore-Welsh MPH HCPC
When we work together it involves a series of phases. Starting with intake, assessment, goal setting, and progressing through rehabilitation & personal development stages. The process is over when the development goal(s) is achieved, or when we decide it should stop. The typical duration an engagement lasts is between three to 12 months. Jill WW