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  Maureen McHugh, Feldenkrais Practitioner          Cerebral palsy               703-751-2111


Addressing cerebral palsy by patiently cultivating the awareness of sensation


One of the fundamental principles of the Feldenkrais work is that in each case it is a question of an individual. I, as a Feldenkrais Practitioner, am an individual and do things with my own signature. The client I meet is another person, with a history, a personality and many attributes, in the case of cerebral palsy, including physical challenges. Before I address the physical challenges, I must meet the person. I need to make a human connection. To begin with, the person needs to feel comfortable, safe, interested, and that there is some benefit to be gained. When the person is a child or still dependant as an adult, the individuality of the parents also comes into play. All of us need to work together.

The focus on meeting a person is not unique to working with people with CP, but it is especially important because so many children and adults with CP have difficulty speaking. This makes it more difficult for them to express what is important to them. For this reason, they are sometimes said to be also of low intelligence. In fact, the opposite is true. Many people with CP have an unusually high intelligence.

A major part of the Feldenkrais world view is that we look at function. How do you do each thing? For instance, how does a baby roll over? In the photo at right you might notice how many parts of the self are involved: the eyes are looking at the camera, the mouth is alert and relaxed, the back is arched and the chest lifted, the hands and arms are usefully positioned, the feet and legs are part of the action.

All these components of the self need to participate for rolling to occur. When a person cannot roll, then one or more of the parts is not doing what is needed. In our Feldenkrais work gradually, gradually, we create circumstances in which each part can play its appropriate role.