Preventative care is more important than it has ever been right now. In the midst of everything that is going on with the COVID-19 virus, we can see that preventative care is very important. This is also a good time to talk about preventative care for other issues that you may be having, or not having. This may be hard to grasp when the very definition of preventative care is taking care of yourself before you ever have issues or stopping symptoms before they get worse. A common question that you may have is, “why would I come into the office for ______ when I don’t have ______?” This is a very valid question and we will explore that in this blog post. One theme to keep in mind with this is that we, in the United States, have a mindset of sick care, and not wellness care.
What do I mean by sick care? We as a society are so ingrained that “I need to get help ONLY when something is wrong”, but not take the precaution(s) to avoid something going wrong. This is the same thing for our cars. There is a reason that our cars have inspection dates for oil, transmission, alignment, etc. This is in place to help prevent issues from happening and make sure everything is working properly to allow you to use the vehicle how it is meant to be used. If we are doing this for our vehicles, why are we not doing this for our bodies, which are 10x more intricate than a car? Preventative care is important for a couple of reasons. One of the obvious is to stop issues from arising.
It shouldn’t be the case to seek help when something is going wrong. I know it can be a change of mindset but let’s break it down. Our bodies are constantly working to take in information from our environment and make sense of it. This requires all of our bodies intricate systems to not only work individually but also together. If these systems start to breakdown this is when we see our eye movements, balance system(s), and movement system(s) also start to breakdown as well. When this occurs, we get the typical symptoms of pain, balance issues, brain-fog, concentration, etc. Remember, these are just symptoms of our bodies telling us that systems of the body are starting to breakdown or cannot communicate properly to each other (think the blinking car engine light).
Understanding the terms neuroplasticity and practice makes permanent are important aspects of preventative care. (our patients are very familiar with these terms; please refer to our previous blog series on our website). One of the major reasons that we end up getting sick, injured, or have different symptoms (pain, dizziness, concentration issues, etc) is through these two terms. Neuroplasticity is basically where the brain makes new connections to different brain regions, which allows us to function in our everyday lives easier. Practice makes permanent is an updated version of “practice makes perfect”. We can be doing a certain task but if we are doing it wrong, or not as efficiently, the brain is still learning from it and making changes. This is where the two terms interplay together. Everything that you are doing throughout the day is stimulating the brain, but if your brain cannot handle that stimulus and/or cannot make sense of it, that will lead to doing something wrong over and over (practice makes permanent) and will affect to how the brain interprets that stimulus. (neuroplastic change). Let’s give an example: shooting a free-throw in basketball
- As you are bending down to get into your shooting form you are looking at the rim. If you cannot use proper eye movements this can lead to misjudging where the rim is ( as you are looking at the rim and bending down, your eyes have to look up so you can maintain fixation of the rim)
- After this you start your shooting motion with arms coming up and whole body motion (a lot of moving parts). If you do not have proper awareness of your surroundings or where you are in space, this can lead to not putting the ball in your shooting pocket and the ball coming off your fingers wrong.
- All of this is happening in seconds, but this isn’t even taking into account during a game, the noise from the crowd, lights, players moving around you, and just the overall idea that you may miss the shot.
Stimulation, like in this example, is happening in our world thousands of times throughout the day. How can preventative care help in this situation? Preventative care allows for the 3 systems (eyes, head, and whole body) to function the best that they can, individually and together. In the office we want to make sure that we are allowing for proper eye movements, that the eyes are responding properly when the head is turned, and when we do dynamic movements, we are aware of where our bodies are in space. Preventative care isn’t just for athletes or when we are exercising, but rather for anyone who has a brain (even when it seems like some people we know do not, haha). Again, these 3 systems are always being activated and working together each and every day. It is when they cannot communicate to each other, or when our bodies cannot compensate anymore that we wake up with pain, have instability just by turning the head, trouble concentrating in the later parts of the day, have poor posture, etc. Hopefully you can see that when we have these symptoms, we have likely had issues for a while, and they have led to our brains having bad neuroplasticity and permanent changes.
However, the amazing thing about the brain is that we can alter these plastic changes and create newer and better permanent changes. The best way to do that is through….. you guessed it PREVENTATIVE CARE!!!