“She will dance at her wedding”: Healing the girl born without part of her brain”
The following is annotated excerpt from the full article published on Salon.com on Sunday, March 1, 2015
See how a parent’s nightmare turned into hope by Dr Moshe Feldenkrais’ intervention, continued support and the innovative approach he pioneered, the Feldenkrais Method®, when medical science had no hope or answers.
“A Girl Missing Part of Her Brain”
“Feldenkrais’s approach can radically change the life even of people who were born missing huge parts of the brain, by facilitating differentiation in the remaining brain areas. Elizabeth, whom I (refers to N Doidge, MD, author) interviewed, was born missing a third of her cerebellum, a part of the brain that helps to coordinate and control the timing of movement, thought, balance, and attention. Without the cerebellum, a person has difficulty controlling all these mental functions. The cerebellum, which means “little brain” in Latin, is about the size of a peach and is tucked under the cerebral hemispheres, toward the back of the brain. Although it occupies only about 10 percent of the brain’s volume, it contains almost 80 percent of the brain’s neurons. The technical name for Elizabeth’s condition is cerebellar hypoplasia, and there was no treatment known to change the course of the illness.”
The case of Elizabeth clearly points out that even a severely damaged brain is plastic, in other words, with proper stimulus, it can grow, learn and regain function, through a method of somatic education, as it was pioneered by dr Moshe Feldenkrais and is known and practiced by Feldenkrais (R) practitioners and eloquently accounted for in Norman Doige’s new book, The Brain’s Way of Healing.
“When she was in the womb, her mother felt there might be a problem, because Elizabeth hardly moved. When Elizabeth was born, she didn’t move her eyes. They flickered and were not properly aligned, gazing in different directions. At one month, they rarely tracked objects. Her parents were terrified she might not see normally. As she developed, it was clear she had a problem with her muscle tonus. At times she was very floppy, meaning she had too little or no muscle tension, but at other times she had too much tension and was “spastic,” making no exploratory, voluntary movements. She received conventional physiotherapy and occupational therapy, but the treatments were painful for her.