sum of their missing parts

by thankfeldenkrais

Having the privilege of a practitioner,
Forever striving to understand movement more clearly,
What limits us,
What prohibits with undue effort,
And what helps us flow,
Presents me with the opportunity to wear an AFO (Ankle Foot Orthotic).

With curiosity our ally,
A rare insight into how Isaac is experiencing movement while wearing his,
Is an opportunity not to pass up,
And one that makes complete sense in fulfilling,
Despite initially balking at its absurdity,
As my usual open-mindedness momentarily aligned with a hidden conservative disposition,
Aghast at why I’d ever do such a thing.

But it is simple –
To feel it for ourselves,
If they are in fact help or hindrance.

Once strapped in I immediately experienced the limitations,
How foreign my own leg suddenly became to me,
The way it forced my body to stiffen,
Locking my hips,
My back,
Completely preventing the coming forward with the knee to chest in crawling,
Therefore restricting so much of what the crawl action is developing,
Its benefits to movement progression.

And with Isaac still spending the majority of his time on the floor,
It was a real eye opener,
As to just how ineffective it is to wear AFO’s while moving around the ground.

Not only ineffective for the present action he tries his best to accomplish,
But incredibly counter-productive to helping him move beyond his current repertoire,
By enforcing a sense of rigidity,
A locking,
A stiffness,
We’ve been working so hard to break with the Feldenkrais Method.

We do see that there is a place for Isaac’s AFO’s at this stage,
In standing and walking practice,
For he is yet to bring his lower leg into his body image,
Therefore the flat platform sole,
The weight they provide,
For now can offer support whilst on his feet.

But beyond that,
Any contemplation of transition from floor,
And movement around the floor,
Can be forgotten.
For now we know first hand,
Just how hard,
Virtually impossible it is made for him.

And it has me wondering,
Just how many specialists or prescribers of these plastic boots,
Have actually ever experienced wearing them themselves?

The answer I can confidently assume,
Is very few,
If any.
And once more I am shaken by just how little understanding there is in the mainstream,
For what our CP children really benefit from,
As apposed to what is simply followed as set protocol,
Void of education beyond how to strap them on your child.

I certainly don’t have all the answers,
And our practitioner regularly echos the same.

But to ask the question,
Is the first step in the right direction.

For if the whole point is to have Isaac move more effectively,
With less spasm,
Less stiffness,
Have more options,
And feel connected to his body as a whole –

Then we must continue to pose the questions,
Like what are wearing AFO’s doing to all our body in movement?

So that we can continue to learn,
And help shape the future of our CP children,
Who with fragments of themselves compromised,
Are still capable of becoming so very much more than,
Simply the sum of their missing parts.