form follows function

by thankfeldenkrais

It never gets easier seeing other typical children,
Their fat chubby legs,
Their wide flat plodding feet,
Their symmetry,
Their effortlessness.

And despite my utter love and devotion for Isaac,
I can’t help but still wish that for him.
And if I’m completely honest wish it for myself.

And harder again is the CP ocean we have to swim through,
With its crashing waves,
And rough rip seas pulling us powerfully,
Despite our fighting spirit,
Our willingness to keep kicking against the current.

The whitewash which whips across your face the ideologies,
Instilled in the system,
Of straight knees,
Flat feet,
Long muscles,
Open fingers,
That if shaped,
Will have the desired functional outcome.

And once again,
I learn just how far they miss the mark.

That instead of looking at how typical body structure became the way it is,
They look at the final product,
As a template to mimic,
And yet missing everything else in between.

Missing the fundamental fact that,
It’s not guaranteed,
That the body doesn’t sit outside of neurological development,
As predetermined for anyone,
That it is all learned,
That in fact,
Form follows function,
Form cannot simply generate function,
One needs to understand how to use their body,
Learn how,
And our structural form is a result.

In the sense that a newborn foot,
Does not have an arch,
It is a sausage like bundle,
With toes curling under –
But as the child begins to practice flexing,
Rolling it,
Contacting it along surfaces,
Pushing against objects.
By becoming a present appendage,
From feedback from the nervous system,
As gooey toes explore mouth,
And the rest of the body connects to it,
Imprinting a purpose.
And ultimately,
As the functional repertoire of the foot expands,
Through the developmental stages of movement,
Arriving at prolonged standing,
And walking,
So does the form of the foot take its shape.

Take away however the apprenticeship of the feet,
The apprenticeship of the body whole,
The form of the body will not be as those who had it.
And Cerebral Palsy,
As I see first hand,
Takes those apprenticeships away from being readily available,
And unless we give the opportunity to show them how to recreate it,
As in Feldenkrais,
The form will never be built.

And so when I’m told that Isaac needs,
Straight knees,
And to stretch his hamstring,
I deject.
As I learn that to have a straight knee,
Is actually about his quadriceps,
Which are less inclined to contract to pull the knee into straightening,
Because he hasn’t yet had enough of an apprenticeship squatting to stand,
To strengthen the quad muscles,
To easily play their part.

As most CP candidates Isaac has muscular bias,
As in he favours his hamstrings,
Because he has a function for them,
In his crawling.

His hamstrings do lengthen,
We can get a lot of movement from them,
But not so much while standing,
Because until he uses his quads in function regularly,
He simply wont need straight knees.

For Isaac prolonged standing in a dynamic standing frame,
Will help,
So long as he is activating his quads,
By correcting his stance with mini subtle squats which raise the pelvis,
Each time triggering the quads to contract and thus pull his knees to straighten.

Where as to limit movement or action,
By casting,
Or strapping,
To lock it in a static position,
To superficially change the shape,
Is not the answer.

And yet this is what is common practice,
What they are imparting to us parents,
Doing us,
And more worryingly,
Our CP child,
A grave injustice.

As a mum,
We love,
We listen,
We desperately want what’s best,
And I believe I have found the answer.
As once more Isaac’s actions speak louder than his characteristic CP form.

july form follows function

So I thank Feldenkrais,
As there is always an answer for why,
And a solution for how,
We help Isaac best function,
And in time I trust the form will follow.