The Nervous System Optimizes Itself

If you’re a PT/OT/ATC/personal trainer, my guess is that you’ve come across a moment at least once where you put a blame on your clients for a lack of progress because they haven’t been doing their “homework” consistently and it’s their fault.

As a Feldenkrais practitioner, we practice on the premise that the nervous system is always doing its best to optimize our functions, thus our job is only to create a condition for learning to take place.  Once we create such a condition and provide what’s possible, we simply let their nervous system take care of itself.  

I’ve come from athletic training background and outpatient PT clinic, and most clients had high level of functions and were cognitively intact.  Then I moved to a home health PT setting where most clients were elderly and many have cognitive deficits.  I could not rely on them to remember what I taught.  No matter how many times I give them the same verbal cues/visual cues, they are very unlikely to show a carryover to a next session.  Some of them cannot even comprehend verbal instructions.  Yet, sometimes I noticed changes in their gait and other movement patterns.  Those changes were spontaneous and subconscious as apparently they didn’t remember anything from previous sessions.  After I have observed these changes in many people, I’ve come to understand the meaning of the premise that the nervous system is always doing its best to optimize our functions.  It really is.  

When you see your clients making the same “mistake” again or not making a progress, you may ask yourself what if their nervous system is optimizing their functions by doing what it’s doing because it’s serving them well, or maybe it’s not ready to accept what you present??  I’ve come to realize that our nervous system is truly smarter than we are.  I find this very fascinating.  What do you think??