How to get Another Chance at Brain Development: An Introduction to Rhythmic Movement Training

Rhythmic Movement Training. What exactly is it? 

The name lends itself to several first assumptions…Is it gymnastics? Is it dancing? Is it drumming?! 

I can gladly say, no! It’s none of these things! If it were I wouldn’t have gravitated to practising it as enthusiastically as I do! 

Rhythmic Movement Training (RMT) is actually a therapeutic method which generates and encourages brain development and connection through very small, subtle and precise movements.

So, where does Rhythmic Movement Training come from?

RMT’s origins are fascinating and begin in the beautiful Scandinavian country of Sweden. Kerstin Linde was a therapist and Swedish photographer who began observing the patterns of infant movement through her photographic work in the 1970s. She observed a consistent pattern in the types of movements an infant engaged in at different developmental stages, particularly in the first few months after birth. From her observations, she compiled a program of the movements which she began to replicate therapeutically.   

Linde’s work caught the attention of Harald Blomberg, a Swedish psychiatrist who was affected by childhood polio. Blomberg began working with Linde using her developed movements and experienced profound improvement in his co-ordination and stability. When he then introduced his psychiatric patients to the movements, he again found good results from them. It was Blomberg who then extended the observational nature of the movements to study the role of movement and its effect on the developing brain. 

RMT as a therapeutic method was born when Blomberg met Australian teacher and kinesiologist, Moira Dempsey. When Dempsey saw and experienced the movements, she realised the movements could be introduced to her work with children and especially impacting for those with learning difficulties. As a result, she further developed the method to take into account the educational impacts the movements had on learning difficulties. Additionally, Dempsey’s work also looked deeply at the role of movement in developing a mature stress response and how this can be impacted by RMT. 

How does RMT develop the brain? 

Movement develops the brain.

From the moment of conception, cells are moving, dividing and migrating. A foetus is moving and writhing. A baby is sucking and grasping. Throughout pregnancy and for the first 12 months of life, an infant engages in a spontaneous movement sequence. The movements of this sequence all serve a purpose and are an important piece of the complete brain development puzzle.

A completely developed brain has:

  • a mature sensory system,
  • integrated its infant or primitive reflexes
  • a mature regulated response to stress
  • the ability to control and regulate movement; and
  • the ability to access its pre-frontal cortex and higher brain centres

When an infant’s spontaneous movement sequence is interrupted, development is also interrupted in all of these areas.

RMT works to put this movement sequence back into the body and brain. To finish it off, so to speak, or to complete any of the development puzzle pieces that haven’t yet been put in place.  

RMT movements are designed to simulate or replicate the spontaneous movements an infant would typically engage in after birth. Providing the brain with movement that mimics the input the brain would usually receive, enables the brain to experience the movement component of infant development again. In effect, the developmental sequence is replayed. 

During this second experience, “gaps” of movement that was not experienced or maybe not experienced for long enough may be filled in to some extent.

You read that right, a ‘second experience.’ Second chance. 

RMT provides a second chance at brain development and a chance to improve on the development that has already occurred. The brain is plastic and constantly capable of change, it’s never too late to have a go at further development.

The simplicity of Rhythmic Movement Training

RMT movements are small, smooth and rhythmical, rocking type movements. They may be done on a body-size patch of floor, table or bed and can be done by any age from infancy to elderly. 

They require no skills or co-ordination to begin and may even begin passively with the client lying while the movements are done to them. Over time, clients become more active in the movements and rhythm. Co-ordination and precision in the movements appear as the brain develops and becomes able to co-ordinate the movement.

While the movements are small and seemingly understated, the powerful effect they have on the brain can be felt and seen quickly!

It’s never too late. For the sake of a few minutes a week, RMT is one of the simplest tools around when it comes to optimising brain development.

If you feel a second chance to work on development is too good to be true, then give us a call! We’d love to hear your story and chat to you about how RMT could help improve your or your child’s challenges.