The Perspective From My Pilates Teacher Rachel Of Teaching Someone With Brain Injury With No Prior Experience In The Field

When Rachel first started teaching me she felt confident in the challenge that she would be able to improve my co-ordination and movement in space and time. Rachel is a professional dancer as well as being a qualified dance and pilates teacher and having always TAUGHT dancers I was the first person she has trained without a dance background let alone a neurological disability.

During the first session she quickly understood what a challenge it was going to be. At this stage Rachel was seven months pregnant,which made it nearly impossible for her to demonstrate all the exercises.This made learning more of a challenge as I learn best visually,therefore I had to try to understand how to do exercises through verbal communication this made progress very slow. As the sessions passed Rachel realised that in my case it was more important to make me move without pain, as I have pre-existing shoulder and back injuries,than to focus on perfect form and stability. We found making the exercises more challenging for example by putting a ball under my pelvis to decrease stability, which actually had a greater impact in helping me to understand and feel which muscles I needed/need to use.

As Rachel went on maternity leave there had been small improvements but she felt quite disheartened as she couldn’t see much progress. Over Rachel’s maternity leave me and my multi disciplinary team decided that it would be more beneficial to do two sessions a week when she returned. Since she has returned and we have been doing two sessions a week this combined with Rachel now being able to demonstrate and train with me,since we have been doing two sessions a week we have noticed a greater improvement in my ability to perform the exercises as well as introducing yoga inspired flows and ballet into our sessions.

Through our hard work we have learnt that the key elements to training with a neurological disorder are using a variety of equipment for feedback,visual aids,tactile cues and challenging the body with harder exercises to increase the understanding of the muscles that need to be used. The equipment we use includes tennis balls in the hands,thera bands,toning circle,roller and a soft ball. Through resistance and a decrease in stability these all help to understand where my body is in space therefore helping me to co-ordinate my body better.

I’m really enjoying Pilates now and would recommend it to everyoneas it has been so beneficial for me at strengthening my core. Where my core is stronger now it has ment I’m a lot more stable doing every day tasks as well as in the gym where I have noticed the biggest difference especially when weight training. Pilates has also improved my back a little so causes me less pain.

“What started being my biggest teaching challenge has turned into my most rewarding. Seeing Hannah achieve exercises w thought impossible makes me feel so proud.” Quote by Rachel Pilates Teacher

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