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Definition and levels of analysis

Neurofacilitation Approaches

Motor Hierarchy Theories of Motor Control Task-Based Approaches

Map of Essential Concepts

Reflex Theory Complex Systems Theory

Theories of Motor control

Definition and levels of analysis Reflex theory Hierarchical theory Complex systems theory Neurofacilitation Approaches Motor Re-learning, Task-Based Rehabilitation Motor Hierarch


The discipline of Motor Control is the study of human movement and the systems that control it under normal and pathological conditions. Levels of analysis (study)

Environmental result of the movement (Outcome) Movement pattern Neuromotor processes underlying movement

Reflex Theory

Reflex Theory (Charles Sherrington, early 1900s)

Complex behavior (movement) is controlled by a series of chained reflexes (e.g. Frog)

Hierarchical Theory

Hierarchical Theory

(Hughlings Jackson 1930s)

Movement is controlled by a system consisting of 3 levels with a rigid top down organization Higher centers control lower centers via inhibition Disinhibition Release phenomenon

Complex Systems Theory


Movement emerges spontaneously from the interaction of the individual, the task, and the performance environment





Factors within the Individual, Task, and Environment



Sensorimotor Psychosocial Cognitive Stage of Motor Learning

Task Taxonomy of tasks Discrete/ continuous Attentional demands

Environment Physical Socioeconomic Cultural

Factors within the Individual, Task, and Environment











Neurofacilitation Approaches


Developed during the 1950-1960s in parallel with increasing knowledge of anatomy and physiology of the nervous system Bobath (NDT); Brunnstrom; Kabat, Knott & Voss (PNF); Ayers (Sensory Integration Therapy) developed the Neurofacilitation Approaches that replaced the muscle re-education approach used to treat the effects of Polio during the 1940-1950s Neurofacilitation approaches were designed to treat the movement effects of stroke (UMN lesion) by attempting to affect the CNS directly through the manipulation of sensory input

Neurofacilitation Approaches



Normal movement

Results from a chain of reflexes organized hierarchically within the CNS (Control of movement is top down cortex controls brainstem and spinal cord) Characterized by the emergence of behavior organized at sequentially higher levels of the nervous system Driven by sensory input

Normal development

Neurofacilitation Approaches



Abnormal movement

Caused by disruption of normal reflex mechanisms Cortical lesions cause the release of abnormal reflexes organized at lower levels of the central nervous system Release of abnormal reflexes constrains the patients ability to move normally Abnormal movement is the direct result of lesion not secondary or compensatory actions**

Neurofacilitation Approaches



Abnormal movement

In both children and adults, movement is dominated by primitive reflexes In children, cortical lesions interrupt normal corticalization thus motor control is dominated by primitive reflexes organized at lower levels of the CNS (primitive reflexes are never constrained) In adults, with acquired motor cortical lesions, damage to the higher levels of the CNS release lower levels and movement is dominated by primitive reflexes (primitive reflexes are constrained then released)

Neurofacilitation Approaches



Recovery of function

Requires that higher centers once again control lower centers Recapitulates normal development, therefore, intervention should proceed along a developmental sequence Functional skills will automatically return once abnormal movement is inhibited** Repetition of normal movement patterns will automatically transfer to functional tasks**

Neurofacilitation Approaches


Clinical Implications

Examination should identify abnormal reflexes controlling movement Intervention should modify abnormal reflexes Intervention modifies the CNS through sensory input

Neurofacilitation Approaches


Current changes to Neurofacilitation Approaches

Increased emphasis on directly training functional tasks as opposed to normal movement Decreased emphasis on inhibiting abnormal reflexes Increased consideration of motor learning principles (stages of motor learning, feedback, practice schedules, etc)

Motor Re-learning Task-Based Rehabilitation



Normal movement Performer + Task + Environment Abnormal movement results from impairment in one or more of the systems controlling movement Abnormal movement pattern is the performers best solution to the task given the systems remaining after damage not just the result of the lesion itself**

Motor Re-learning Task-Based Rehabilitation



Recovery of function

Recovery is produced by plastic reorganization of undamaged control centers (neural plasticity) Recovery is best produced by practice of purposeful, goaloriented tasks that are meaningful to pts goals (task specificity)

Clinical Implications

Motor Hierarchy

MC system consists of 3 levels

Highest level: association cortex, sensory, and motor areas


Concern: select movement goal and strategy

Middle level: BG, Cb, and brainstem motor centers

Concern: specifying spatial, temporal, and force parameters of the motor plan

Lowest level: LMNs, motor plant, FB about sensory consequences of the movement

Concern: producing the movement pattern and supplying sensory FB

Click to Animate

The End