Disclaimer: as with the rest of my blog: Likely not true to medical science, just to tell my experience with. Read this post, to be closer to science.
Last week I was walking behind a guy and his daughter who I guessed to be about four years old and got me thinking. This girl’s entire life to date is spent learning to interact with her world. How to crawl, walk, and talk, but with one enormous advantage in that her young brain is many many times more ‘plastic’ than someone my age. Over the same span of time, I’ve had to pretty much do all the same, along with being back to work full-time not having 24/7 to repetitively focus learning all of this back. Not the same at all as back when I was just a wee lad.
One great blog I follow, Stronger After Stroke had a recent related post I found fascinating that goes over much of what I’m alluding to. These words probably in other ways have been told to me before, in someway sounding too obvious at the time. Still the following sentences blew me away as it’s the first time I stopped to really think I’ve been re-learning from scratch. No wonder stroke recovery takes so very long, being so difficult!
Learning a movement is fun. Relearning a movement is fraught with frustration.
There is no potential to relearn a movement in the same way it was originally learned. For stroke survivors, the part of the brain that was used their entire lives to control particular movements is dead.
My other take away from Peter’s (post & book) being that there are really only two ways this re-learning takes place, fun or out of survival. Play like a child or live like a caveman. If the caveman had a stroke, he still had to hunt or gather, or die. Looking back, my biggest and really only gains have come from one of these (well, okay not so much the survival part).