Optimising, refining and improving upon human performance
is no different to taking the kink out of the garden
hose and then polishing it on the inside, to
achieve maximum effect with minimal effort.
In recent years, concussion has become an area of great focus in the sporting world. The potential for ongoing issues to occur, as a result of a blow to the head, is very real.
I have been involved in the treatment of neurological and cognitive deficits from head injuries, for over 25 years. In the early days of my career, I experienced a great deal of frustration, because I knew my clients were capable of far greater progress, than the contemporary therapy ever allowed them to achieve. My realisations, about the area of performance underpinning everything we do, has provided a very clear understanding about where the breakdown in performance is actually occurring in these injuries, and has resulted in the development of the Visual Perceptual Therapy, which allows a level of treatment of these injuries that I never imagined was possible all those years ago.
Concussion is defined as: a temporary unconsciousness or confusion, and other symptoms, caused by a blow on the head. However, the reality is that there is actually no way of knowing whether or not the symptoms of a head injury are temporary or are going to progress into the future. This alone, is enough of a reason to ensure such injuries are treated effectively and, that a method is used to ensure the person is functioning at their optimal level, prior returning to their sport. One of the main reasons I advocate for effective treatment, is that subsequent head injuries often compound the impact of previous injuries, and do so exponentially, even when the person is seen to have made a ‘full recovery’ from any previous injuries.
which is a fundamental requirement, in order to determine what level a person is performing at, what level of engagement they are ready for, and how such factors are showing up in their presentation, actions, behaviour and performance. We all know that a car can look really great but painting, polishing and putting on new tyres is not going to make sure it is operating at its fullest potential. Understanding human function allows us to also understand the translation of skills, abilities and processes into outcomes and, when we understand this at the level it is arising from, better outcomes are attained faster.
Over the years, I have worked with many people have received treatments, which ultimately taught them how to compensate for diminished performance. The consequence is never great and the long term consequences can be quite devastating. I continue to find that such things just do not happen, when we are addressing the point of impact of these injuries, rather than the symptoms.
Treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury
Concussion is a traumatic brain injury. It is an injury caused by a blow to the head, either by something connecting with the head or the head connecting with something. It causes the brain to be thrown around inside the skull, which is not only another hard surface, but a very rough surface as well. The brain is bruised and various sheering forces, along with the rough inside surface of the skull result. It is possible to suffer some rather catastrophic damage from relatively minor forces.
Terms such as: memory, judgment and reasoning, motor planning, problem solving and decision making, comprehension, etc are only ever outcomes of deeper and more subtle processes within our perceptual performance. Consequently, when we try to work out how we do these things, we come up empty, unless we have stepped down into a deeper understanding of our functional performance.
My understanding of visual perceptual performance gave me a revelatory understanding of where these capacities arise from. Ultimately, it becomes a matter that we can only say, these things that we readily observe in this world are appearances only and, that they can only be utilised as functional indicators of a breakdown within visual perceptual performance. Attempting to treat deficits in these appearances is a symptomatic intervention only and really has no validity at all. It’s also a rather a harsh thing to do to people and puts all the responsibility onto them, to do something that most clinicians do not understand themselves.
In order to understand where those observable capacities arise from, I’m going to use memory function as an example. Memory is something we all talk about and seem to have a first-hand experience of; however, the contemporary perspective cannot explain how it works. We certainly have a lot of ideas about memory and we can also put someone under a functional MRI and see what areas of the brain light up, but how it works is still a mystery to most.
My understanding of visual perceptual performance did some rather interesting things to my understanding of memory. Because I had this deeper and more subtle level of performance, from which I could work with my clients, I began to see the chains of functionality, arising from perceptual performance and manifesting as these appearances in the world. I realised ‘memory deficits’ were only ever an appearance a failure to account for and integrate sensory information. Memory deficits do not respond well to contemporary interventions; you either get it back on your own or you do not. However, working at this new level of performance, I could correct memory deficits in a few moments and that was a radical departure from the historic failures and frustrations I had experienced.
I most certainly do ask my clients about their memory performance, however, I do so because it tells me something about the client’s visual perceptual performance. It tells me whether or not they are aware of all sensory information available to them, and whether or not a client is integrating this. In every other way, memory has no other use, other than to tell me that there is a problem with the integration of sensory information.
Issues such as these show up very quickly in a Visual Perceptual Evaluation, and only a low level of sensory loading is required to trigger them. Observers are often astounded at the level at which such issues are manifesting, and it becomes obvious how the client’s demonstrated level of performance, here, translates into everyday situations. Ultimately, nothing within a functional evaluation is ever contrived, and it tends to be rather blatant in what is being revealed.
As I watch, as more technology is employed, supposedly to treat neurological and cognitive deficits, I cannot help but be concerned. Addressing these issues, from a superficial perspective whilst bypassing functionality, is bound to overlook cause and attempt to address such issues symptomatically. I have seen the consequences of such practices so many, many times, and typically find the client has learned to compensate for deficits within the subtle levels of their performance, and that their overall performance remains diminished as a consequence. Often the practitioner was never aware of the consequences of what they are doing but I am also aware that such practices tend to continue in the absence of something better.
There is also another issue that impacts here, that needs to be considered. Having worked extensively with children who struggle in school, it is apparent that around children, that around 50% of kids in school struggle because of a visual perceptual deficit. While some children do find their way out of these deficits, most do not and will grow up to become adults who continue to experience some degree of struggle with the performance of everyday tasks. This means that adult populations tend to continue to demonstrate numbers of people who already have an underlying neurological and cognitive issue. A head injury on top of this can be truly devastating and, interestingly, neuropsychological tests are developed without this demographic ever being recognised and accounted for. Consequently, we may well score within the ‘average’ range on such tests, with an underlying neurological cognitive based disorder going unrecognised.
Visual Perceptual Performance
Stepping into the world of visual perceptual performance marks the advent of a whole new understanding of human performance. Suddenly we can see what was not apparent to us before; our contemporary worldview emerges from or is the consequence of, what is happening at a deeper and more profound place. For this reason, I often refer to visual perceptual performance as the quantum realm of functional performance. Certainly, working with people from this realm provides us with a far deeper understanding of what any one person is conveying to us by way of their demeanour, presentation, actions, behaviour and performance; very much the same as looking at a cell through a microscope.
This new understanding allows us to, not just correct neurological cognitive based disorders in some truly amazing ways, but it also allows us to refine and optimise the performance of those who do not struggle. We can do this by continuing to improve upon a person’s capacity, to process and integrate ever increasing amounts of sensory information and, by ensuring a client’s baseline performance is functional in the first instance, the client’s capacity to respond in the moment is enhanced. Our natural capacity to perform tasks arises, meaning the next most natural action happens, with ease and simplicity and without thinking or hesitation. I love hearing stories from my clients, in which they tell me of an experience they had that has left them shaking their head, wondering how on earth they managed to perform such a feat.
Most of my professional life has been spent working with clients on improving their performance because they had a visual perceptual deficit. Working with clients via the Visual Perceptual Programs represents the new generation in addressing neurological and cognitive based performance. Just as scanning technology allowed us to look more deeply into the physicality of our world; visual perceptual performance allows us to look deeper into our functional performance and find answers that are revolutionising the way we do things.
Natoya Rose is an Occupational Therapist and developer of the clinically based programs, used to refine visual perceptual performance
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