hadley clinic

What is NeuroMechanicsPT?

In the NeuroMechanicsPT treatment philosophy, most types of musculoskeletal pain are viewed as a dysfunction of the neuromuscular system. Neuromuscular impairment is often the root cause of biomechanical stress, inflexibility, weakness, and joint degeneration.

In 1898, Charles Sherrington published his initial findings on stretch reflexes. A muscle stretch reflex is triggered when a muscle’s spindle fibers are stretched, activating a sensory neuron. The sensory neuron activates spinal motoneurons which cause the muscle to reflexively contract.

In 1957, J.C. Eccles and colleagues reported that the stretch of one muscle not only causes reflex activation of that muscle, but other muscles are activated as well. Eccles thus defined two types of stretch reflexes. A homonymous stretch reflex occurs when the stretch of a muscle causes that muscle to contract. A heteronymous stretch reflex occurs when the stretch of a muscle causes a different muscle to contract.

During the past 60 years, heteronymous stretch reflexes have been investigated extensively by neurophysiologists. Through surface EMG recordings in human subjects, dozens of heteronymous reflex patterns have been identified. It is thought that the heteronymous stretch reflexes allow the central nervous system to monitor and reflexively control gait and other complex human movements.

Heteronymous reflexes depend on normal elasticity of muscle and fascia. When myofascial structures become tight and inelastic, the heteronymous reflexes become impaired, muscles that control movement and stability become inhibited, and biomechanics become dysfunctional. The result is usually a painful condition that has both a biomechanical cause and a neurological cause.

The NeuroMechanicsPT treatment approach takes into consideration the impact of heteronymous stretch reflex patterns on normal and abnormal movement. Using information from published patterns and patterns identified through clinical practice, we are able to restore strength to muscles by identifying other muscles that control them through heteronymous reflexes. By doing so, we can get to the source of the problem, without focusing only on the symptoms.

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