Using Dance to Rewire a Cerebral Palsy Brain

by | Dec 8, 2009 | Brain Plasticity News, NEWS | 2 comments

Transforming Dance © Andrea Mohin/The New York Times/ReduxThe NY Times recently reported a fascinating story about Gregg Mozgala, a 31-year-old actor with cerebral palsy, whose body movements were transformed after working with a choreographer for the past eight months. When he began, he walked “like ‘a human velociraptor,’ as he put it: up on his toes, lower extremities turned in, seesawing from side to side to maintain balance.”

From the article:

They began doing intensive one-on-one sessions they call body work, Ms. Rogoff using her knowledge of the body and dance-training techniques to help Mr. Mozgala “find” individual bones, muscles and tendons that he had had no command of before. They started at the top and worked down — sternum, sacrum, knees — with Mr. Mozgala’s body and brain opening paths of communication that had not existed. “There’s a lot of howling, screaming, crying, sweating,” Ms. Rogoff said. But “we often have these huge eureka moments.”

The other day, for instance, it was brain, meet lower-leg tendon.

“I said today, ‘I can feel my Achilles,’ ” Mr. Mozgala said. “You have to realize, I have never felt my Achilles before.”

This is an exciting development for anyone with a neurological impairment, not just those with cerebral palsy. The changes were able to occur due to the neuroplastic quality of the brain – the ability to rewire and transform itself from moment to moment. Previously the neuronal circuitry was thought to be fixed; hardwired from birth. But in the last twenty years or so scientists discovered that the brain’s wiring is malleable and constantly changing.

“This isn’t a cure,” Mr. Mozgala said. “I’m always going to have cerebral palsy.”

But now he doesn’t feel so enslaved by it.

“Everybody told me there was nothing I could do,” he said. “That’s just what you hear, from the time you’re 5 to adulthood. Tamar gave me an option.”

Whether the methods they have used can translate to others remains to be seen. But Dr. Paget said their progress held a message for anyone with a neurological impairment.

“It’s not over,” he said. “There’s always a chance to change. You should not — you dare not — give up.”

read the full story

Here is another good article on the story from Overcoming Cerebral Palsy

  • Earthwalker

    Earthwalker is the username that PT founder Julie Genser created for her online interactions so many years ago when first creating Planet Thrive.

    Julie's (Earthwalker's) life was derailed over twenty years ago when she had a very large organic mercury exposure after she naively used a mouth thermometer to measure the temperature of just-boiled milk while making her very first pizza at home. The mercury instantly expanded into a gas form and exploded out the back of the thermometer right into her face. Unaware that mercury was the third most neurotoxic element on Earth, Julie had no idea she had just received a very high dose of a poisonous substance.

    A series of subsequent toxic exposures over the next few years -- to smoke from two fires (including 9/11), toxic mold, lyme disease, and chemical injuries -- caused catastrophic damage to her health. While figuring out how to survive day-to-day, and often minute-to-minute, she created Planet Thrive to help others avoid some of the misdiagnoses and struggles she had experienced.

    She has clawed her way over many health mountains to get to where she is today. She is excited to bring the latest iteration of Planet Thrive to the chronic illness community.

    In 2019, Julie published her very first cookbook e-book called Low Lectin Lunches (+ Dinners, Too!) after discovering how a low lectin, gluten free diet was helping manage her chronic fascia/muscle pain.


  1. Ruth

    This is an amazing story….this topic of brain plasticity
    keeps getting more interesting all the time! Thanks for posting this. I love seeing hopeful, true-life stories like this one. Perhaps someone would be interested in doing a video piece of brain retraining results in someone with MCS some day?

  2. Margie

    This is such an exciting and incredible story. I only wish more individuals affected with cerebral palsy recognized the benefits of brain plasticity. In my own profession, I help parents recognize the signs of cerebral palsy.

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