This class is designed to support infants, children and their families living with conditions such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, spina bifida or multiple sclerosis that causes them motor impairment.
The human brain builds a functional architecture of neural networks. The unconnected neurons present in the brain at birth begin to connect with one another. Sensory experiences such as touch/massage cause brain nerve cells to signal one another, and those signals form synapses, or pathways of connection.
We all know of the importance of Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy to strengthen the muscles, improve balance and gain mobility. We use yoga and massage in a similar way, teaching yoga poses that can be modified for the individual’s needs and limitations, and massage to stimulate the central nervous system. We aim to improve neurological and motor development, encouraging muscle co-ordination by creating new brain-to-nerve and nerve-to-brain pathways. These courses concentrate on postural control with trunk stabilisation, static and dynamic balance, and the focused movement control of individual joints. Of course, we’ll be having some fun with some well-known nursery rhymes in Makaton too!
Although this treatment is not typically prescribed for children with motor impairment, evidence shows a positive impact on the quality of life of someone living with such a condition by improving muscle tone and motor development. For instance, performing a pose that opens up the chest assists with the closed posture that can come from wheelchair use, or lack of core stability. Gentle stretches and breathing improves flexibility, which can help in reducing excessively high muscle tone and spasticity, and increases motion range in joints, and improves overall mobility. We also use poses that stretch the spine and help realign it. This kind of stretching of the spine increases spacing between vertebrae, which in turn releases pressure on nerves.
Scope have some information on baby massage supporting motor development here https://www.scope.org.uk/support/families/therapies/baby-massage#1Bb032P7BLlbxjf5.99
See athlete Ryan McGraw’s write up on how yoga has made a difference to his physical and mental wellbeing http://www.cerebralpalsy.org/inspiration/athletes/ryan-mcgraw
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