Background to physiotherapy and exercises
Physiotherapy is an important part of treatment alongside BoNT injections, medications and possible DBS treatment. As cervical dystonia is, with a few exceptions, chronic, the treatment is almost never curative, but palliative. However, the brain has a capacity for remodelling, and training aims to influence the remodelling process in the right direction, with effects on head control and reduction of excessive tension. In addition, the exercises can contribute to lengthening of the tense short muscles, relaxation, reduction of pain, attenuation of head shaking, corrected posture and improved coping skills.
To affect brain remodelling, the exercises must be repeated frequently. Therefore, a home exercise programme is always part of the physiotherapy treatment. This platform allows you to have a personalised home training programme, which is easily accessible and can also be updated if necessary. However, it does not replace the physiotherapist’s work, but on the contrary requires a physiotherapist to carry out a thorough analysis and select the right exercises for you.
The home exercise programme will also be an opportunity for you to actively influence your situation, to regain control and to find your way back to the joy of movement. This is mentally important, and can give hope, courage and inner strength.
All people benefit physically and mentally from physical activity at their level. For people with dystonia, it is sometimes difficult to find appropriate forms of physical activity that work regardless of the dystonia, and in this case the physiotherapist can provide guidance and advice. The same applies to resting positions in everyday life and trying to find peace in the neck before night sleep sets in.
There are practices/actions, which risk aggravating dystonia, which is why they are discouraged. They are the following:
- Upper body strength training with machines or dumbbells
- Neck-shoulder massage
- Neck manipulations
- Neck collar