What is Neuromuscular Reprogramming?

Karyn Maier

Neuromuscular reprogramming (NMR) is a form of hands-on physical therapy based on the principles of educational kinesiology. Developed by Jocelyn Olivier, this somatic bodywork is the culmination of years of practical and teaching experience in applied kinesiology, massage therapy, Native American and Hawaiian shamanism, and Tui Na, a form of Chinese manipulative physical therapy. By incorporating massage with muscle testing and specific movements, neuromuscular reprogramming endeavors to retrain muscles and joints damaged from repetitive stress or traumatic injury. The goal of restoring mobility is achieved by challenging and reprogramming the portion of the brain that controls movement.

Neuromuscular reprogramming is sometimes used to counteract the emotional impact of physical trauma or injury.
Neuromuscular reprogramming is sometimes used to counteract the emotional impact of physical trauma or injury.

The premise behind neuromuscular reprogramming involves the recognition that tissue and muscle are not the only components of the body affected by injury or trauma. In fact, proponents of this therapy maintain that neurological patterns in the brain are also impacted, which may promote continued pain signaling to nerves. This theory is supported by the fact that localized pain often persists long after the injury has healed. However, through neuromuscular reprogramming, the brain’s motor control center can learn and adopt new patterns.

Neuromuscular reprogramming can be applied to the recovery process of those affected by head trauma.
Neuromuscular reprogramming can be applied to the recovery process of those affected by head trauma.

Many patients reputedly experience positive results more effectively and faster from neuromuscular reprogramming than from traditional physical therapy. In fact, some patients respond to neuromuscular reprogramming when other conventional treatments have failed. For this reason, Ms. Oliver has coined this therapy the "missing link" in rehabilitation work.

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Muscle testing is a major element to neuromuscular reprogramming. It also involves active participation on the part of the patient to invoke the body’s ability to self-correct. Muscle testing integrates both of these aspects. Observing how and to what degree a muscle resists applied pressure allows an assessment of the neurological patterns which govern that muscle to be made. However, sequential testing and retesting of muscles engages the brain to prepare to relinquish neurological patterns that compensate for injury and accept new programming.

In addition to rehabilitation on a physical level, neuromuscular reprogramming is sometimes used to counteract the emotional impact of physical trauma or injury. In addition, since this therapy embraces the fundamentals of educational kinesiology, it is sometimes employed to help patients develop new and healthier mental processes. This can be helpful for those struggling to overcome addictions and irrational fears, for example.

Neuromuscular reprogramming is also used to enhance physical functioning. Athletes, for instance, may seek this form of therapy to help remove emotional and physical barriers that may impair physical performance. It is also used to increase cognitive functioning and facilitate faster learning. In addition, neuromuscular reprogramming has an application in the recovery process for those affected my mild to moderate stroke or head trauma.

Massage therapy plays a key role in neuromuscular reprogramming.
Massage therapy plays a key role in neuromuscular reprogramming.

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