TED Talk: How a couple used ‘mirror neuron therapy’

TED Talks summary

Roberto D’Angelo and Francesca Fedeli are a tech-savvy couple living in Milan, Italy. He is the Office 365 Lead at Microsoft Italy, driving business and marketing strategy for the software while also working on improving Microsoft’s Public Cloud. She is the head of brand communication and social media at ING Direct Italia. The pair married in 2002 and, in 2011, gave birth to their son, Mario. While he initially seemed healthy, when he was just 10 days old, he was diagnosed as having had a perinatal stroke in the right side of his brain. The stroke left him unable to move the left side of his body.

The D’Angelos have used mirror neuron rehabilitation to help Mario regain movement, with amazing results. Today, Mario is 2-years-old and has greatly improved motion. The pair has also founded FightTheStroke.org, a non-profit to gather and share the experiences of families who’ve been affected by all types of infant and childhood strokes.

RS: Mirror neurons certainly have a daily function in our lives. As ever there is debate about the exact nature of these brain cells which will develop as research continues. On a practical note, a significant number of patients whom I see will describe feeling pain on watching someone else perform a movement or task that they themselves would find challenging, for example lifting a box or bending over in the case of back pain. Indeed, with these patients, as part of the assessment of their neuroimmune system (or is the neuroimmune system testing me?!), to demonstrate a movement can be useful for the patient to understand the task but can evoke an output from their neuromatrix. This can be used therapeutically in a number of ways, and I certainly tap into this ability (that does vary; e.g./ it is thought that those on the autistic spectrum may not have a fully functioning mirror neuron system) with a range of strategies that focus on the dimensions of pain: physical, cognitive & emotional.

Visit our clinic site here: Specialist Pain Physio Clinics, London for chronic pain & injury; or call 07932 689081

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