“It’s All Connected”: Treating Software vs. Hardware

In physical therapy and medicine in general there is often a big focus on treating the ‘hardware’ of the body.

How healthy is the joint? Are there signs of degeneration? Have the joint spaces narrowed? What about other musculoskeletal structures? Are all muscle and ligament fibers intact?

Of course, these are important questions to ask. But what about the ‘software’? And what is the difference between the two?

Joints, bones, muscles, and ligaments are considered the ‘hardware’, and your nervous system is the ‘software’ that connects all the ‘hardware’ pieces and allows these isolated parts to function as one unit. This is one aspect practitioners are referring to when they say “everything is connected”.

Everyday, your brain spends about 80% of its time processing information it receives from sensory receptors. Think of these receptors like sensors that are located all over the body that collect specialized information from the internal (inside the body) and external (outside the body) environment and send it to the brain via the spinal cord.

So, how can we use this information to begin to look at the body as a whole unit, rather than as isolated segments?

This receipt and processing of information is a crucial step in creating appropriate movement patterns, because the information sent out to the body by the brain to dictate movement is based on the information sent up from the body and processed by the brain. In a nutshell:

Garbage in = Garbage out.

Here’s where the problems lies: sometimes these receptors get confused – especially following injury.

Following trauma, they become hypersensitive to the environment and may be signals to the brain at a higher rate than usual. The brain then receives abhorrent information to process, and the brain gets confused, which eventually leads to inefficient movement patterns, compensations and imbalances that may eventually manifest as ‘unprovoked’ pain somewhere in the body.

Cleaning up this sensory information being sent to the central nervous system is a big part of what I do every day.

Sound input = Sound output.

Creating lasting positive change in the body boils down to viewing the body as one functional unit, and treating the source of the problem, not the symptoms.

See how we can help by doing things differently with this ideology at the forefront of our therapeutic approach, and book online or call today!

Lucia Yoon, PT