The theory of body movement in complementary and alternative medicine can be understood within the context of physical or anatomic theories of illness (Silenzio, 2002). These theories may be best understood through application to the treatment of specific conditions. For the purpose of theoretical application, the following paragraphs will examine body movement interventions for treatment of stroke patients and for psychosocial treatment of cancer patients (Arya, Pandian, Verma, and Garg, 2011; Bradt, Shim, and Goodill, 2015).
A common consequence of a stroke is decreased functional movement. Traditional interventions for improving functioning have limited efficacy with motor deficits. They also lack evidentiary support for their effectiveness. Alternatively, body movement interventions rely on neuroplasticity by inducing changes in the structure and function of brain areas. This results in permanent functional recovery gains than are greater than those achieved through traditional rehabilitation methods (Arya, Pandian, Verma, and Garg, 2011).
Body Movement therapies include task-specific training, constraint-induced movement therapy (CIMT) and mental imagery. These therapies strategically target neuromuscular deficits through intentionally triggering skilled motor action. Many of these theories rely on the principals of motor learning to permanently change behavior through practice or repetitive experiences. These experiences result in structural and functional changes in the motor cortex and cerebellum and are indicative of motor recovery. Motor learning recovery is delineated into two categories: true motor recovery and compensatory motor recovery. True motor recovery occurs when neuromuscular communication successful activates the same muscles that were used to produce the identified movement prior to the stroke. Compensatory motor recovery occurs when neuromuscular communication produces the identified movement using alternative muscles post-stroke than it did pre-stroke (Arya, Pandian, Verma, and Garg, 2011).
Movement therapies are also commonly used in psychosocial treatment of cancer patients. After completing invasive medical treatments, movement therapies assist cancer patients with increasing self-acceptance and self-confidence. Research findings also indicate that movement therapies are assist patients with addressing feelings of isolation, depression, anger, fear and distrust. Movement therapies have also been found to increase quality of life and vigor for these patients (Bradt, Shim, and Goodill, 2015).
Arya, K. N., Pandian, S., Verma, R., & Garg, R. (2011). Rehabilitation: Movement therapy induced neural reorganization and motor recovery in stroke: A review. Journal Of Bodywork & Movement Therapies, 15528-537. doi:10.1016/j.jbmt.2011.01.023
Bradt, J., Shim, M., & Goodill, S. W. (2015). Dance/movement therapy for improving
psychological and physical outcomes in cancer patients. Cochrane Database of
Systematic Reviews Reviews. doi:10.1002/14651858.cd007103.pub3
Silenzio, V. M. B. (2002). What Is the Role of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Public Health? American Journal of Public Health, 92(10), 1562–1564.