Neuroscience based treatment, training & mentoring for dystonia
“I first suffered from Dystonia in January 2013 when I overnight developed fairly severe tremor causing my head to turn to the left. It took some time for this to be diagnosed, and eventually treated with Botox injections at 3 month intervals. I have had regular physiotherapy sessions with Richmond Stace since just after that time, who has also provided guidance in mindfulness. The physiotherapy has prevented my frame from becoming distorted and been key in maintaining mobility and the mindfulness is particularly helpful in getting good quality sleep and dealing with pain without medication. I live a fairly normal life without any significant constraints – I keep up an exercise regime and enjoy regular cycling.” RH – London
The programme addresses the entire picture of your dystonia. This means that we consider your story, the way in which the condition emerges in you and how you are approaching the condition and your life before designing a way onwards for you.
The practices outlined below are informed by an understanding of dystonia: how it develops, the habits that build, the effects within the body, the impact upon the person and the range of factors that influence movement in the person’s life.
Specific sensorimotor training improves your body sense and consequential movement patterns (that rely upon a normal or precise body sense). This is a range of sensory exercises and movement that you practice to develop the necessary precision. The movement that I make now has an influence upon subsequent movements together with prior experiences of that movement. If I want to improve my movement skill, I have to practice similar to learning a musical instrument or a language.
Nourishing (simple) movements help to improve the health and mobility of the muscles and joints that have been impacted upon by the involuntary and unwanted movements. Where the muscles have been over-working, the build up of chemicals adds to the soreness and pain beyond the effects of tension and torsion. This requires easy movements together with practices that reduce tension in the body and locally.
General exercise and activities each day require some planning in as much as we should be active but need to know how best to go about it. We establish the baseline, and devise a way of being active and building tolerance for physical activity and exercise. This includes work related activities as well as home-life and social engagements.
Mindfulness practice (see blog here) is a very useful way of developing one’s focus, attention and to reduce emotional hijacking. Commonly dystonia is affected by where your attention lies: more attention on the dystonia results in an increase in the symptoms. Learning about this and how to establish greater control is a key skill. Emotional hijacking is when our emotions take us over as opposed to being in control oneself. Emotional state has a significant influence upon our movements, and hence a high emotion state will typically affect dystonia, increasing the spasms and movements. Mindfulness helps us to create calm and insight so that we can focus on making the best decisions as well as benefit from the physiological effects of the calmness (parasympathetic activity: rest and digest functions)
The skills of being well are known practices that we choose to implement and integrate into our daily lives to build wellness for a happy and healthy life. These include resilience, outlook, attention (see above), acts of kindness, positive emotions, meeting our basic needs (move, sleep, eat), gratitude, and exercise.
In sum, we address the altered sensorimotor function together with the influences upon the dystonia. This is a whole person approach by necessity, based on the latest thinking in the science of movement and conscious experience, similar to the Pain Coach Programme for chronic pain. The sessions and programme are designed to get the best of you, as you receive coaching, treatment and training to live a meaningful life.