The Cerebellum Beyond Movement
7th to 8th of October 2017
The eminent speakers were:
Dr Erwin van Wegen
Dr Deirdre Birtles
Dr Andrew Worthington
Farshideh Bondarenko MSCP SRP
Prof Nicholas Holmes
“Farshideh’s lecture was exceptional – gave me loads of ideas to take away into domicillary setting and extra ideas for patients’ “how work” Thank you so much for an outstanding course and for the opportunity to experience your fabulous practice premises and food was exceptional.” ~ Louise
“A really enjoyable and inspiring course to attend. I wish I had found you years ago”~ Lou
“Thank you so much for this wonderful opportunity. It was really important to improve and “open” more and more any critical thinking related with balance, proprioception and cerebellum.” ~ Catarina
“Thoroughly enjoyed the course and gained new insights which I will take back and apply” ~ Anna
“I am really happy that I had attended this course. The information learnt was relevant and I am highly interested to attend the future courses (particularly in FES &/or Vision). Another important aspect of this course was the welcoming feeling that each person has felt. Thanks you!” ~ Claudia
Below is a summary of what was discussed at the course
As we interact with the world around us our senses notify us of changes in the environment. The cerebellum is the part of the brain that uses the information from our sensory organs (like the eyes, ears, nose and mouth) to help guide our movements. Sensors in the skin send signals to the cerebellum to convey the sensation of touch. The inner ear guides the vestibular (balance) system, and sensors in our muscles provide a sense of body position (proprioception).
All of this sensory information is passed along neurons (nerve cells) to the thalamus in the brain. The thalamus then passes the information on to the cerebellum. If we decide to move, the cerebellum uses information from our sensory organs to control how we make that movement, using feedback loops.
During her talk, Farshideh used the example of walking up a slope to explain this idea neatly. When walking up a slope your feet sense the angle of the floor, your eyes may be looking around for a railing to hold on to or you may even see that you are almost reaching the top of the hill. You are constantly taking in new information and, as your surroundings change, your movements need to adapt. This is the role of the cerebellum. It uses the information your sensory organs receive to create a representation of the body and its current situation, in the brain. This allows for you to decide how you will move, driven by motivation and desire, to meet your final goal. As you walk up the slope, you may decide to reach out and grasp that railing, you may want to speed up as you see the summit approach. Moreover, as your feet sense the steepness of the slope increasing you will need to bend your knees and lift your legs higher up.
So how exactly does the cerebellum work to help you do this?…
Farshideh went on to outline the function of the cerebellum and how its internal feedback system works. During movement the cerebellum coordinates with
- The vestibular (inner-ear) system to maintain balance and posture.
- Higher processing areas in the brain for important cognitive functions. Examples of these cognitive functions include memorising and processing instructions, visual-spatial awareness, word finding, expressing yourself and problem solving.
- The auditory processing areas in the brain
- It also plays a role in motor learning, where the accuracy of complex movements is improved thanks to practice and sensory feedback.
The cerebellum clearly plays an important role in regulating our movement. Because of this, damage to the cerebellum will hugely affect a person’s ability to move correctly in response to a stimulus. Damage to the cerebellum can be seen in patients who have suffered strokes, brain tumours or those who were born genetic conditions.
Understanding the inner workings of the cerebellum has helped Farshideh approach physiotherapy regimes for clients who have experienced damage in the area. Treating cerebellum damage is a very complex, multifaceted matter. The range of functions of the cerebellum is very broad, and patients have unique problems, so each patient’s needs must be approached and treated individually.