BioTensegrity meeting in Rome
How does BioTensegrity knowledge benefit a child with Cerebral Palsy? Part 1

BioTensegrity and Cerebral Palsy

This is the video of my presentation “Using BioTensegrity framework in interpretation of multiarticular distortions in Cerebral Palsy” made at the 2nd B.I.G. (BioTensegrity Interest Group) meeting in Rome on Oct 9th, 2010.

I hope it will be informative and will help you to improve your ‘inner game’ as an ABR practitioner and facilitate a better understanding of your kids.


Warning! My presentation was scheduled at 9.20 a.m. and the entire session that day started at 8.50 a.m. – I wasn’t late! I came in on 8.48 a.m. By my standards – that’s heroics…

Mind it I was up until 4.30 a.m. putting some final touches on my PowerPoint...

Therefore, I started my talk being a bit like a steam engine – taking some time to warm up and get into the groove. I warmed up enough to be a decent presenter 5-7 minutes into the talk – so please give me a slack on that :-)

I must admit that talking in front of professional audience still has some stress component for me. (Not the stress= force/area that we talk about in ABR – but bad old psychological stress…)

It’s not about being “nervous” or ‘not sure of myself’ – it’s more about the burden of responsibility – ‘whether I’ll find the right avenue of presentation to do justice to the significance and elegance of the stuff I am talking about’.

Finding the resonating wavelength and using the proper illustrations, conceptual framing and wording – that’s my key area to improve in.

You see, let’s admit it – even in the diverse field of bodyworkers and fascia community – I am quite an oddball. ABR is so different from the avenues where most of the other people practice and do research that I still need a number of bridges to convert the  ABR perspective into the formats that can resonate.

One can look at it from two directions.

First, let’s face it – I do not belong to the “mathematicians” community and not because I had chosen otherwise but simply due to the fact I do not have enough talent for that. Brilliant mathematicians are the ones with extremely developed abstract thinking and the ability to juggle extremely long logical chains without ever needing to touch base with anything tangible. I need a healthy dose of tangible and can’t operate without it. You see, abstract thinking capacity is a trait – it’s trainable to a certain extent – but it’s like with being athletically gifted: if you have these traits – you still need to train and develop them, but if you don’t – you shouldn’t expect professional leagues…

That’s the  mathematical hierarchy – the ‘pure’ ones are the elite – they do not need so-called ‘tangible reality’ to operate. ‘Applied math’ that services theoretical sciences like physics – is one level below. And mathematical modeling of real life processes – that’s even lower in this ranking of pure “abstract thinking brain power”. Well, obviously I do not even talk about those who do ‘calculations’ and ‘number-crunching’ – these people have very little to do with mathematics as a science and thinking framework – they just use some tools.

But now – if we look at the medical community or for that sake anyone who has to do something with treatments and therapies; studied anatomy, physiology etc. – these individuals represent the exact opposite: extreme concrete thinking.

They pride themselves on remembering exact anatomical nomenclature or debating the specific angle between the fibers that is supposed to ensure different labeling of certain tissues even when these  tissues are similar in everything else,  have the same origin and can actually morph into one another under certain conditions… I find it bizarre – but that’s what the ‘normal’ definition of medical professionalism is. The moment one tries making one single step up into the unifying abstraction – the audience is lost and the presenter is castigated as an ‘amateur’ forever.

For this crowd –my abstract thinking tendencies and the ability to skip what I consider unimportant details – is completely out of sync.

I remember in the 90s when I just started teaching courses in manual therapy to the doctors who came for postgraduate learning at my father’s Department of Physical rehabilitation – I tried starting with what I considered the right things: talking about the geometrical models that underlie so-called ‘functional anatomy’ to the MDs who came to learn ‘how to treat back pain more efficiently’. I was idealistic and genuinely guided by what I thought was in their best interest – I was trying to explain that ‘functional anatomy’ was simply a model that deserves improvement and if they were to learn more advanced interpretation framework – just by applying most basic ideas of topology and non-Euclidian geometry to biomechanics – they’d benefit immensely both in the understanding of musculoskeletal system and in their ability to treat back pain etc.

I had them completely perplexed and paralyzed – on the one hand, they were able to see that I was able to find places where they had pains and discomforts themselves with surprising precision; on the other hand, – they could not connect the two at all. Mind it that I was 24-25 at a time, thin as a stick and looking boyish and they were experienced men in their 40s,  mostly practicing surgeons who wanted to acquire manual therapy skills to improve their own earning potential...

Eventually I saved the course by shifting to the “10 best manual moves you need to know to help a person with a low back pain” frame – and I ended up having a bunch of happy students who periodically came back to me with thanks for quite a few years after.

The chasm is huge – I became aware of it back then and made countless steps in the direction of trying to build the bridge across it.

At the same time for the last 10 years – since I moved out of Russia – I did not have so many opportunities to communicate to potential allies in the medical community.

It was only during the last year that we started going to conferences together with Mark, listening to the way the presentations were made, talking to the others privately, doing a bit of networking and so on.

I had a feeling that with the fascia community I’ll be finally able to ‘connect’ meaningfully – but still one never knows…

You see, there are two ways of looking at where I am with ABR perspective.

On the one hand, I do not belong anywhere – neither to ‘mathematicians’ nor to the ‘laboratory scientists’ nor to the ‘clinicians’ – ending up with no friends and natural allies being an alien for all of them… In Russian we call it : ‘Having one’s bum fall in between two chairs’…

On the other hand, if we get back to the example of proverbial ‘forest and the trees’ – I am in a pretty good position: there are people with immense brain power who’ll never even approach the ‘primitive 3D reality’ let alone accumulate thousands of hours of hands-on assessments and data collection; on the other hand, there are ‘concrete’ individuals of the medical world who dig so much into the individual trees that seeing the forest is completely out of their scope.

Well, basically that’s what ABR perspective is – seeing a forest and finding new paths in it.

That’s why when I stumbled upon the fact that BioTensegrity was relatively well-established in the fascia community and experienced a growing interest – I was extremely happy: finally being able to find a ‘tribe’ that I have a lot in common with.

Of course, so far most of the practitioners who show interest in BioTensegrity consider it more as a ‘brain gym’ – the development of their spatial imagery toolkit rather than the tangible tool to analyze everyday situations of real people’s bodies and musculoskeletal systems – but nonetheless: these individuals have self-elected themselves to step away from primitivism of ‘functional anatomy’ – so we can potentially join forces and become allies.

That’s why this presentation at the BioTensegrity meeting in front of a couple of dozen of most advanced and enthusiastic proponents of these new tendencies – was a big deal for me.

Before doing it I was second-guessing myself a lot– whether my particular angle and perspective of presentation would strike the cord and tune into the wavelength.

I am happy to say: ‘Yes!’ – especially on the last day of the meeting we had free-flowing discussion and concepts and clarifications that I’ve been pondering upon for the last 15 years at least – were in demand. My fellow participants listened to my perspective, and most often accepted and embraced it. Actually quite a few people were outright thankful – mentioning that I finally made clear the things that were bugging them for a long time.

That’s incredibly encouraging – because obviously any system of thought is doomed to extinction if it only suits one person and cannot benefit the other like-minded intelligent individuals.  

I have the impression that this B.I.G. Meeting in Rome really helped in making this giant step towards crossing the chasm between the conventional school of thought and ABR perspective.

I think it is good for all of us – in multiple ways.

The more accepted ABR is – the better peace of mind you’d have that you’d ‘bet on the right horse’ :-) 

On the other hand, my own exposure to informative new concepts and productive conversations will eventually flow on through the improvements of ABR as such.

But that is a subject of another post –  I’ve got quite a number of questions that converge onto the same point: “What’s in it, in this BioTensegrity, for my son/daughter? How can we benefit from these new developments?”

I am happy to answer this question – but that requires some space… So it will be one of the next posts.

Meanwhile – please watch the video – and please give me some slack for the early morning performance, OK? 

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