Neuroplasticity in practice

Hi All,

Lots of us have been reading about neuroplasticity, in short the ability of the brain to make new neural connections and the ability to restore function by creating new neural pathways.  Norman Doidge mentions in his book The Brain's Way of Healing John Pepper, who found a way of dealing with his PD symptoms. Mr. Pepper found that  using his conscious mind enabled him to perform tasks unaffected people do on autopilot (like walking for example). According to Doidge: "Likely this approach helped because it did not engage the brain areas that processed his existing unconscious programmes – the basal ganglia – which seemed the source of the trouble.In practice this meant consciously performing tasks in slightly different ways than he had originally learned them."

Interesting stuff but perhaps lots f us have examples of how we make this work already. 

I noticed several things. When I pay close attention to my walking, it gets better. But I have to pay attention all the time to roll my feet, lift them, relax the shoulders, swing the left arm, otherwise I sway, trip or walk robotic or awkwardly on my toes. When I am tired, my symptoms amplify, lots have this. Concentration is not enough then, I need an outside cue. I found out that bouncing a tennis ball or just tossing it from left to right make things dramatically better. Its like the attention I need for catching the ball disrupts my tendency to walk on autopilot. I dont know if its makes any sense neurologically but the ball helps, in fact so much that I dont leave house without it.

I have been playing guitar, bass guitar and flutes for 40+ years. One of the first signs that something was off was loss of left hand dexterity: clumsy, slow and tired fingers, making playing impossible. 

I am now trying to relearn all kinds of stuff by mindful attention. I am positive that I can accomplish here something too.

My right hand has always been the very dominant one, nowadays I am using the affected left side as much as possible, and although the left shoulder is weak and trembly I notice some progress.

Another example of a person who made remarkable progress by self training is Dr. David H. Blatt who improved on/learned new athlethic skills. He inspired me to learn juggling.

The LSVT approach is thinking in big,  wide and agressive movements. Often this helps a lot, but when I have to perform delicate small moves, only utter concentration helps. 

In his book you are the placebo, Dr. Joe Dispenza describes a woman with PD who was able to control her PD symptoms by meditation alone.

I am not on official PD drugs yet. I figured I only can measure improvement without any added factors. I am turning on several wheels at the same time allready ( all kinds of exercise, meditation, supplements, UDCA, diet,acupuncture).


Dear Hans55

I also found the book fascinating.

The 2nd chapter is about John Pepper a man in South Africa who is described by Norman Doidge as the man who " walked off his Parkinson's symptoms". 

John will be in the UK and doing 4 talks in September - 

Shaftesbury, Devon 2pm on 17th

Bristol 2pm on the 18th

Richmond upon Thames 7pm on 21st

Ashford, Middlesex 2pm on 22nd

If anyone would like details about the events or would like to attend please email [email protected]

Kind regards