"The brain likes to think in mirror images. Now maybe it looks for his brain he’s moving two hands. That has an effect on the way Anton feels."
Paying attention to a paralyzed part of the body
Anton suffered a brain stroke 1,5 years ago and from that moment the right side of his body is paralyzed. Now he talks in short sentences, is being able to walk relatively well and can handle his daily life at home. After the formal rehabilitation he got the advise to have physiotherapy. Two times a week Bart Derkx meets Anton for a treatment, also at home. Derkx: "Treatment at home gives me the opportunity to have contact with the partner who takes care for him at home. But his house is also the most familiar place for him. That’s makes it easier for his damaged brain to learn again all kind of activities." During his treatment Derkx pays attention to the paralyzed arm.
He takes this arm in his hands and starts to move the arm in harmonic circles. Both men close their eyes. Derkx: "We know this arm and this hand never will move again. That’s why usually physiotherapists won’t invest in this paralyzed part. They try to strengthen the remaining healthy part of the body. I have another opinion. I want his mind to remember this arm and this hand so that these parts don’t get absent. Therefore I move his arm interactively. I believe Anton is definitely not passive during this treatment." According to Derkx these motions will stimulate the brain to follow the lines of the motions. It gives Anton the feeling he is complete. Later on Derkx takes both hands off Anton en moves these hands together to create an illusion for the brain. Derkx: "The brain likes to think in mirror images. Now maybe it looks for his brain he’s moving two hands. That has an effect on the way Anton feels. This paralyzed arm and hand still belong to his body." Anton’s wife Ellen feels attracted to this holistic vision and suggests that this might let him walk more balanced. She’s right. Dressing and undressing can be done standing upright now, without falling down. It looks like Anton isn’t afraid to fall anymore. Besides he comes down the stairs every morning on his own. Anton himself sometimes seems to feel a vague tingle in his dead arm. "I like pain!", he says. During this half an hour treatment the atmosphere is meditative and concentrated. Derkx and Anton seem to synchronize their breath. There is a physical and a spiritual interaction between the two men.
Afterwards Anton is tired having moved his paralyzed arm. He needs a rest. But after a nap this once sportive man will keep himself moving. Walking up the stairs in his house and cycling on an adapted bike with his wife. That gives him the true feeling of freedom he was used to.