In this episode, sports physical therapist specialist, Dr. Alli Gokeler, talks about motor learning for ACL rehabilitation.

Today, Alli tells us about the process of motor learning, how patient autonomy is advantageous to rehabilitation, and how to motivate patients. How does Alli measure motor learning outcomes? Alli elaborates on his on-field rehabilitation model, and the importance of incorporating cognition in ACL injury rehabilitation.

Alli talks about RTS from a motor learning perspective, how to continue motor learning on the field, and he gives his younger self some advice, all on today’s episode of The Healthy, Wealthy & Smart Podcast.


Key Takeaways

  • Alli defines motor learning:
  1. “In order to acquire motor learning, you need to practice. If you don’t practice, you can’t learn something.”
  2. “The learning process itself cannot be measured directly. It’s only something you can measure indirectly.”
  3. “What motor learning should result in is: it should lead to relatively permanent improvement of motor skills.”
  • “Be careful how you interpret this process. Quite a few clinicians have a tendency to provide feedback because they intuitively try to correct a patient.”
  • “Be a little bit patient with your patient, because learning takes time. Don’t interrupt the learning process too soon.”
  • “Motor learning, as well as learning a language or math, is a non-linear process.”
  • “One of the strong drivers of learning is intrinsic motivation.”
  • “We provide our patients with a significant amount of autonomy, which means the patient gets a certain level of control over the exercises.”

“Providing autonomy during rehab enhances learning.”

  • “Around 70% of people prefer to receive feedback after a good performance of an exercise. What happens in most clinical situations, with all good intentions, we typically give corrective feedback, which typically means you didn’t do something according to the standards of the therapist. This may affect their motivation.”
  • “If you look at the brain activity of someone that is instructed to do something, or the brain activity of a person who has some control over what they’re going to do, you have completely different brain patterns. When you give them some control, they are much more engaged, and this is a prerequisite in order to learn something.”
  • “If you want to be certain that learning has taken place, you need to measure, otherwise you can’t be sure that the patient has learnt something.”
  • “If you’re good at something, it’s not challenging anymore. If it’s too difficult, then it’s overreaching.”
  • “One-on-one training is not what’s needed for a football player. They are team athletes.”
  • Alli’s on-field rehabilitation model:
  1. Neurocognition: Reaction time, decision-making, selective attention, inhibition and working memory.
  2. Motor component: Strength, range of motion endurance, and speed.
  3. Sensory: Visual, auditory, and environmental factors.
  • “We need cognition during our motor control, and if we only work on pre-planned activities, we miss something from the on-field situation.”
  • “An ACL injury isn’t just a peripheral injury, but it’s also a neurophysiological lesion, and that needs to be considered in rehab.”
  • “With colleagues that work with paediatric patients, some of the motor learning principles that they use could be very beneficial for us working with orthopaedic, sports-related injuries.”


Suggested Keywords

Motor Learning, RTS, PDCA, ACL, Rehabilitation, Neurocognition, Therapy, Physiotherapy, PT, Training, Injuries, Sport, Wellness, Health, Recovery, Injury-Prevention,


More about Dr. Gokeler

Alli GokelerDr. Alli Gokeler has 28 years of experience as a sports physical therapist specialist.

In 1990, Alli graduated with a degree in Physical Therapy from the Rijkshogeschool Groningen. Following his graduation, he worked in both the US and Germany as a physical therapist. In 2003, he earned his Sports Physical Therapy Degree from the Utrecht University of Applied Science. In 2005, he started a PhD project at the University Medical Center Groningen, Center for Rehabilitation.

He is a researcher-clinician and a clinician-researcher with a passion for multidisciplinary injury prevention. He has over 40 peer-reviewed publications, and he regularly gives lectures worldwide. In his free time, he loves to do mountain biking.


To learn more, follow Alli at:

Facebook:       Motor Learning Institute

Instagram:       @motorlearninginstitute

Twitter:            @Motor_Learning

YouTube:        Motor Learning Institute




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Read the Full Transcript Here: 

Speaker 1 (00:07):

Welcome to the healthy, wealthy, and smart podcast. Each week we interview the best and brightest in physical therapy, wellness, and entrepreneurship. We give you cutting edge information. You need to live your best life. Healthy, wealthy, and smart. The information in this podcast is for entertainment purposes only and should not be used as personalized medical advice. And now here’s your host, Dr. Karen Litzy. Hey everybody.

Speaker 2 (00:37):

Welcome back to the podcast. I am your host, Karen Litzy and today’s episode is brought to you by net health. So net health is hosting a three-part mini webinars series on Tuesday, March 9th, entitled from purpose to profits. How to elevate your practice in an uncertain economy after 2020. I think you’re going to want to sign up for this. So you’re going to hear from a panel of guests that have over 50 years of combined experience working in the PT industry sign up will begin tomorrow, which is Tuesday the 23rd, February 23rd for this mini webinars series. So head over to net to sign up once again, that’s net forward slash L I T Z Y. So check it out and sign up now. Oh, and it’s free. Okay. So this whole month we’ve been talking about ACL injury and rehab. So today’s episode is with Dr. [inaudible].

Speaker 2 (01:41):

He has 28 years of experience as a sports physical therapist specialist. In 1990, he graduated with a degree in physical therapy from I’m not even going to pretend to try and pronounce this. So you can just go onto the podcast website to find out where he went to school. Cause I’m not even going to attempt it following his graduation. He worked in both the us and Germany as a physical therapist in 2003 here in does sports physical therapy degree from you trick university of applied science in 2005, he started a PhD project at the university university medical center, grown again, center for rehabilitation. He is a researcher, clinician, and a clinician researcher with a passion for multidisciplinary injury prevention. He has over 40 peer reviewed publications and he regularly gives lectures worldwide in his free time. He loves to mountain bike and you can check out more from him and his

Speaker 2 (02:46):

Okay. So today we talk about just that we talk about motor learning. So the process of motor learning, how patient autonomy is advantageous to rehab, how to motivate, how to measure low motor learning outcomes on field rehab models and the importance of cognition and ACL rehab. And we talk about Allie’s brand new model for Mona motor learning, which will be out hopefully in a month or so. So a big thanks to Allie. And of course, thank you all for listening to this month on ACL injury and rehab. Hey, Alli, welcome back to the podcast. I am happy to have you on once again.

Speaker 3 (03:31):

Thank you for inviting me. Yeah. It’s been awhile pleasure to be here today.

Speaker 2 (03:34):

Yes. And so, as people, if you’ve been listening to the podcast, you know, that this month has been all about ACL injury and rehab. And so what better person to have on the new to talk about kind of the rehab process after an ACL injury and your specialty, which sort of motor motor learning. So the first thing I want to ask you is can you define motor learning?

Speaker 3 (04:02):

Yeah, that’s it, that’s a very good question. And I I’ve taken three, I think important aspects of motor learning that I think are relevant for clinicians that listen to this podcast. The first one is in order to acquire motor learning, you need to practice. If you don’t practice, you can’t learn something and that may be pretty straight forward, but I still think it’s important. The second one, and that’s a little bit of a vague one, but the learning process itself cannot be measured directly. It’s only been some been something that you can measure indirectly. And I I’ll touch back on that a little bit later. What I mean by that? And the third point is what model learning should result in is that it should lead to relatively permanent improvement of motor skills. And last year I gave the example of writing how to ride a bicycle for this year.

Speaker 3 (05:03):

I thought, Hey, maybe skiing is a good example. And so if you’ve taking ski lessons as a teenager and you became quite proficient in skiing, it could be for many different reasons for job or any other reason that you haven’t been going to the Rocky mountains, but at the age of, let’s say 35, you have some time again, and you have some financial resources and you’d, Hey, let’s spend the week again in Vermont or the Rockies and maybe a little bit of rusty at the beginning, but perhaps after a day or two, you get the hang of it again. So this is I think a great example of what motor learning means. It means that you acquire something and it sustains over time. Now that needs to be distinguished from performance. And this is, I think one of my key messages that I would like to point out to clinicians when you work with your patient in the clinic and you have your patient doing an exercise.

Speaker 3 (06:11):

And this relates to my second point is that motor learning is not directly observable. What you see in the here and now is performance. Now I get, I can give you two examples. So let’s say you have a patient after an ACL injury six weeks post-op and you want to have your patient work on balance, not patient number one comes in and stands on one leg. And actually what you’re seeing, you’re very happy, very stable not any excessive movements is able to maintain balance for 30 seconds. Okay. You’re you might be happy with that. Now, your second patient comes in from the same surgeon, also six weeks post-op and when you have this patient perform the same exercise, you see that a patient sometimes needs to take the hands of the hips or needs to hold onto something, or puts the other foot down to maintain balance.

Speaker 3 (07:16):

And from these two examples, you may draw the conclusion that the first patient has better motor skills and has better learning potential. And the second one has poor motor skills and is not such demonstrating good learning potential. We don’t know. We only, we only know that performance in patient one is better for sure. Performance in patient B is not as good for sure, but that doesn’t mean that the dis says anything about the learning potential. In fact, it may be that the learning potential in patient one is, or has already been reached because this is at the max of his abilities, various for the second patient with poor performance, there may be a large learning potential. So that that’s that’s I think very important. And what you need to consider as a clinician is be careful how you interpret this process, because what I know from my early days, and also when I teach courses, is that quite a few clinicians have a tendency to provide feedback because they would intuitive to literally try to correct patient too, because you see that it’s not able to maintain balance.

Speaker 3 (08:40):

So we need to say something. So we will usually do that in with feedback. And we typically do this with corrective feedback. And my second take home message would be, be a little bit patient with your patient because learning takes time. So maybe unless you feel that there is an unsafe situation, but if that’s not the case, let the patient practice and re evaluate in the week or in two weeks time. But don’t interrupt the learning process too soon. Because when I go back to the skiing example, remember when you haven’t been skiing for for like 15 years or when you started to ski, it, it, it was probably something like this first day, quite difficult. Second day, still difficult. You might even get frustrated third day, no improvement. However, on the fourth day snow not being able to ski ski lift is closed.

Speaker 3 (09:55):

And on the fifth day means there was no one day without any skiing lessons on the fifth. There you go out again, Hey, and all of a sudden you feel like, Hey, I I’m, I’m better than I was on day three, although you haven’t practiced in the day in between. So this is what I mean, learning is not only happening as you practice, but there’s also some processing afterwards going on in your brain that helps to acquire those motor skills now. And if you interrupt that process like vote by providing a lot of corrective feedback you may actually, although with all good intentions, I don’t want to disqualify that, but maybe it’s better to leave the process happening and evolve and then provide feedback later on.

Speaker 2 (10:50):

Yeah. It kind of reminds me of have you ever heard the term helicopter parent? So it’s the parent that’s always hovering over the child, making the decisions, not allowing them any autonomy for themselves. And so it reminds me of that helicopter therapist who’s on top like, Oh, I see that if you use the example of balance, Oh, I see that you struggled a lot with your balance. Why don’t you try and do this? Well, why don’t you do this, try this, try this, try this. And, and in that as the therapist, are you taking away the autonomy for the patient and what kind of, how can that affect the outcomes for that patient?

Speaker 3 (11:31):

Yeah, that’s an excellent point. Karen C motor learning, as well as learning a language or learning math is a nonlinear process, which means how you learn how to ride a bicycle was probably different from how I learned it. So, but what we typically do as clinicians, we have this, this, this clinical guidebook in our, in our mind map that we think based on our experience or based on our beliefs, how we need to guide our patients from simple skills to more advanced skills from single task skills to do a test skill, whatever. However, we don’t know how this patient is actively engaged in this process, actually, by example, that you were provided the, the patient is directed by the, by the parent or, or the child is directed by the parent and is actually a passenger. Now, I think one of the strong drivers of learning is intrinsic motivation.

Speaker 3 (12:41):

So what role do you give your patient if you direct them, where to go, what to do, and also you give them corrective feedback are these all strong drivers for self-organized learning? I’m putting a question Mark behind it. So people need to think about them for themselves. I can tell you what we do in, in, in our clinical situation. And that’s based also on our research we provide our patients or in ACL injury prevention, we provide a significant amount of autonomy, which means an athlete or a patient gets a certain level, not complete control, but a certain level of control over the exercises. So they can choose, for example, out of 10 exercises, they can pick three exercises that they would like to do on that particular day, in an order they would like to do. And we know from a substantial body of research that providing autonomy during during rehab enhances enhances learning.

Speaker 3 (13:59):

And I can tell you this from a research point, but it can also give you a brief insight from a recent survey that we’ve done among patients that completed their rehab. And we sent them an open questionnaire about their experience in in the entire process of rehabilitation. And one thing that two things that really stood out were a positive environment, a positive environment with relatedness of the therapist towards the patient, and not as a patient, but as a person that’s quite important. So it’s not a ne it’s not an ACL patient. No, it’s, it’s, it’s a person with an ACL injury. That’s quite, quite, quite an important distinction. And the second thing that stood out was and you, you touched on that before is the autonomy some self-control over the rehabilitation process. And this was a qualitative study that we did my PhD student while surveilling ran the study.

Speaker 3 (15:10):

So it’s not something that I’m just saying as a scientist, but this is also what we get back from our patients. And when we ask them so going back to the clinical situation this is what we apply also by providing our patient with the opportunity, instead of me always providing the feedback I’m asking them, or I’m giving them the opportunity please let me know when you want me to give you feedback. That is a great example of of autonomy, the thing, easy question. Yeah. And, and, you know, what’s, what’s, what’s what’s quite important to understand is if w if we think how humans preferably like to receive feedback if we, if we, if we ask a healthy population and the same applies to to an injured population, it turns out that around 70% of the power of the people prefer to receive feedback after a good performance of an exercise, what happens in most clinical situations with all good intentions? I really don’t want to question that, but we typically give corrective feedback, which typically means you didn’t do something according to the standards of the therapist. That means that maybe seven out of the 10 people that you provide feedback to may not really like this, and this may affect their motivation. This may affect their learning potential because they like to receive feedback when something went well, they, they conversely they already know when something didn’t go well and they don’t need us to rub it in or to remind them they already know.

Speaker 2 (17:15):

So you, you touched on a word that I was just going to ask you about, and that is motivation. So why is motivation key in motor learning?

Speaker 3 (17:28):

If you look for example, at the brain activity of a person that is instructed to do something, or you look at the brain activity of a person who has some control over what they’re going to do, you have completely different brain patterns. And I can tell you that the second one, the second example, when you give them some, and when they can choose, they are much more engaged, and this is a prerequisite in order to learn something.

Speaker 2 (17:59):

Yeah. And, and I think we can probably all look back on our own personal experiences of learning, whether that be academic learning, or learning a physical task. I think we all like to have a little bit of control over that versus just have stuff thrown at us without our IM without our input or without our thoughts on it. So I think that makes perfect sense. And now, so we spoke about how motor learning is, non-linear why motivation and autonomy is so important. Now let’s talk about, we’ve got this patient with who had an ACL repair and they want to get back to sport. They, they are, they are ready mentally. So we’ll put that to one side. They’re ready mentally. So let’s talk about the return to sport from a motor learning perspective.

Speaker 3 (19:02):

In my opinion, return to sports is we first need to define what we mean. And I think the 2016 consensus meeting gave us some leeway in that direction. And I think one of the most important things that stood out is that it’s a continuum. It is not one moment in time. And I think what I read in the literature often is is that it’s such a that coma to choice yes or no at at six months or nine months, whatever you’re, you’re, you’re, you’re believing in. I think what we need to understand is certainly in light of the high number of secondary ACL injuries, particularly in the young population, in, in, in pivoting type sports, that’s number one. But also the second one is that, you know, only, I think a disappointed percentage of people reach their pre-injury level.

Speaker 3 (20:00):

So their performance is not up to par. So do those two factors. When we, when we look at that, I think it all starts prior to the surgery. So the rehabilitation, I think is one of the key factors that we need to, that we need to consider anything that’s left. Unaddressed will show up even in higher magnitude, after the ACL reconstruction, which was the second trauma to the knee. And, and then in, during the entire rehabilitation process, something very simple. And I can’t stress that enough if, if walking is not normal and how do, how do many clinicians assess a normal gait pattern? They usually ballpark it, but, you know, even a slight deficit of five degrees is clinically meaningful. And now, now just follow some logical sense. If you’re walking is not normal, what do you think will happen with the running?

Speaker 3 (21:01):

W what do you think, what would you expect? How, how the squat will be executed by the patient and how will the single leg up will be done or a drop foot, a good jump. So that’s why I think that all these elements from a motor learning perspective, and also we’ll touch back on that a little bit later, of course, sound strengthening program, you know, no question about it, very important, but I think it is, it is very important to also incorporate the model learning process so that we make sure that the patient is learning or relearning those motor skills, but Mo and I can also stress enough. It’s also important that we as clinicians really, really measure and boarding and, and I, we just completed and published a study among Flemish physiotherapist. And one of the things that came out of this study is that many don’t use the evidence-based principles, meaning also they don’t use two criteria as they don’t assess and in order, and that’s also coming down to model learning. If you want to a certain that learning has taken place, you need to measure, otherwise you can’t, you can’t be sure that the patient has learned something.

Speaker 2 (22:22):

And how do you, what are some examples that you can maybe give the listeners of how you measure these motor learning outcomes? Because I think that’s important to let people kind of wrap their heads around that. And on that note, we’re going to take a quick break to hear from our sponsor and be right back

Speaker 4 (22:41):

On Tuesday, March 9th, net health is putting on a three-part mini webinars series entitled from purpose to profits, how to elevate your practice in an uncertain economy after 2020, you’re going to want to sign up for this. You’re going to hear from a panel of experts that have over 50 years of combined experience working in the PT industry, signup will begin tomorrow for this mini webinars series. So head over to net to sign up once again, that’s net forward slash L I T Z Y.

Speaker 3 (23:16):

Yeah. So I use, then that’s something from, from the business that you probably know that the PDCA cycle, the plan do check act and the P and the plan, which means you do a baseline test. So first you need to let’s say balance. So there’s the patient have a balance deficit yes or no. You can use the star balance says you can use th the balance error scoring system. That’s your baseline test. Now, it’s up for you as, as a physiotherapist with your clinical reasoning. Does the patient need an intervention to target a balance? Yes or no, or are we happy with, but let’s assume now there is a balance deficit. Now we go to the do, which means what is my intervention? So my intervention could be, I’m planning to do balance training for four weeks, with two therapy sessions in the clinic, and four sessions at home consisting of those and those exercises.

Speaker 3 (24:21):

And then AF in between I’m doing an interim evaluation, is the patient going on track as I’m expecting or not? I can still find tune my my intervention program, a training program. And then I do a final assessment after, after two weeks and preferably even one little bit later on as well to make sure that the effects of the balanced training are really sustained over time. Remember what I said about riding a bike or skiing and that’s a very simple procedure you can use. It doesn’t take a lot of time but it’s, it needs to be integrated in your daily practice because if you don’t measure, you don’t know.

Speaker 2 (25:09):

Yeah, absolutely. And I love that. I think people can get behind that PDCA cycle and cause, you know, PTs love things that are regimented and you know, things that sort of follow a plan. So I think this is a really easy, and I think people can get behind it. And I also think that it will keep your patient on track and keep you on track and organized versus just like throwing whatever up against the wall and seeing what sticks, if you measure it, you’re, you know, you’re, you kinda know where this patient is going and that makes all the difference.

Speaker 3 (25:51):

Yeah. Which, which th that’s a good point that you I, I forgot to mention it actually in the, in the, in the planning cycle, I’m incorporating my patient. So I’m discussing the baseline tests and I’m asking in my patients, so you have a balanced deficit. What do you think is needed for you to improve your score? What do you think is could be if you score eight out of 10, so zero would be no balanced error. 10 would be the maximum errors that you can acquire. So you have an eight, what do you think is reasonable to achieve in two weeks time, for example, and then the patient could say, yeah, I think I’m I can reach a seven. Hey, that’s the interesting information. Why, why are you so conservative? Why can’t, why can’t you challenge yourself from, from an eight to a four, for example?

Speaker 3 (26:42):

So I always creating this interaction with my patient. You know, I can in conjunction with, with, with me and my patient, I can set goals that, and that’s quite important as well. That need to be challenging for the patient, because if you, if you already a good or something, you’re not challenging and it’s not challenging anymore, if it’s too difficult, then you then it’s overreaching. But it, it has to be something that the patient sees. Okay. I really got to put some effort into this is again, which is, again, something for important for learning.

Speaker 2 (27:22):

I was just going to say that I said from a motor learning standpoint, if you do nothing that gives a substantial challenge to your patient, are they really going to see the benefits of those exercise or of your plan? Exactly. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. That makes perfect sense. Okay.

Speaker 3 (27:45):

And also going back to to the first example where the two patients with the balance exercise, if, if I give my patient an exercise, it is usually an exercise that creates difficulty for them. So if I see a perfect demonstration, then I’m kind of thinking, yeah, what is the learning potential here? So I purposely make the exercise a little bit more difficult right away. And I explained that to them, I’m explaining to them, don’t expect to, to master this exercise today or tomorrow. And I always give that example of, of riding a bike and, and a lot of patients like that because, Oh yeah, I remember that I fell down quite a few times and and that that’s in ACL rehab. It’s, it’s more or less the same process.

Speaker 2 (28:37):

Yeah. And, and I also want to switch, well, this isn’t really switching gears just moving forward. So yes, we know that return to sport is a continuum you’ve got returned to sport and returned to performance, different things. And one of the things that I spoke about with Nicole [inaudible] is the importance of on-field rehab. So I know that’s something that you’re also passionate about. So do you want to kind of tie that into what, what therapists can do on field to continue to foster this motor learning within their sport, whatever that sport may be?

Speaker 3 (29:20):

Yeah. I think that’s, that’s something that’s underappreciated and, and maybe that’s because we haven’t really integrated the motor learning processes in our rehab. And one of the things that we have to consider is when you observe your patient in the clinic and you a certain motor behavior, that’s all what it means. It stems down to the interaction between the environment. The task at hand could be a jumping exercise, could be a single lag, actually, whatever. And, and, and, and to behavior that you’re seeing. So there is a task athlete, environmental interaction, which means the movement that you see from that interaction only is valid for that interaction. You cannot extrapolate a jump landing strategy from a box in a physiotherapy clinic. And imagine how this athlete would play lacrosse or American football or soccer. It’s completely different game, completely different worlds.

Speaker 3 (30:37):

So I think that’s where one of the main reasons why single leg hop test and accessed by, by, by Kate Webster and, and, and Tim, you, it were shown not to be valid predictors of secondary ACL injury, because a hop test is something completely different than how an athlete performs on the field. So, in, in, in that regards I think we need to take the patient to the field and to see how the patient is performing based on that interaction that I just refer to the tasks, the environment, and the athlete interaction. And then you get meaningful information where the, where that patient is is add, which for example also means that one-on-one training is not what’s needed for a football player. They are team ball athletes. So you need to do something with the ball. You need to be on the turf and you need to do something with teammates

Speaker 2 (31:43):

That yes, when you’re working with someone with a team sport, you have to have those other I don’t want to say distractions, but you know, other people, a ball scanning a field versus just going one to one with you.

Speaker 3 (32:02):

Yeah. And we, we’ve just completed an analysis of 47 non-contact ACL injuries in Italian professional football. Just this work that I’ve done with Francisco Della Villa from the ISO kinetic group. And what we did is we, we looked at the injury mechanism through a different lens and what we the lens we use was a neurocognition lens. So we looked at the inciting events that happened before the ACL injury took place, because so far the literature is predominated by the dynamic valgus collapse. And I totally agree. I totally agree. However, it doesn’t tell you what led to the injury. It just tells you what the end point is. That’s dynamic velvets now. And what we’ve done now is what are now some typical events occurring during a match play in which a non-contact ACL injuries took place. And we took two neurocognitive factors. One is the selective attention. So are you able to maintain attention to the relevant information in this regard and filter out irrelevant information? And the other one is, did we see some impulsive behavior of defenders? And they were running into a situation in which basically the attacker waiting for them to approach. And then at the last moment, they made a deceiving action that the defender did not entail.

Speaker 2 (33:40):

And now in the very small timeframe,

Speaker 3 (33:43):

The defender had to change the movements in a timeframe that you don’t have enough time to coordinate those movements well. So if you think about this as a framework, how injuries may happen, we also need to consider this framework, how we integrate that in our rehabilitation process. And this is what I do from day one. And certainly this is what I do re related back to your question for the on-field this framework we use for the on-field rehabilitation. And I’ve created a model for that.

Speaker 2 (34:19):

Yeah. So I was just going to say, I know that you’ve created a model and it’s going to be published soon. So let’s talk about what that model is. And if you can kind of walk us through that, that would be great.

Speaker 3 (34:31):

So the model is consists of three main pillars. The first one is neurocognition and neurocognition, you need to think about reaction time. Decision-Making selective attention, as I mentioned before, but also your ability to control impulsive behavior. That’s called inhibition. Can you, can you change your intended movement? Yeah. That’s something to control your impulses. Very important. Working memory is another aspect. So those are the neurocognitive components. Then we have the motor component, and I think that’s where most physios will be quite familiar with. So we think about strength, range of motion endurance speed, things like that. Yeah. That that’s, that’s I think pretty straightforward. Then we have the sensory part. So in the sensory part, we can have the visual components so we can alter the visual input, maybe quite relevant for ACL rehab as Dustin grooms has already shown. And also my colleague and part of borne, Tim layman has demonstrated that with EEG, that the patient may have some visual reliance, but also things like, do you have your patient do training with shoes on is, are you playing on the hard surface, soft surface lighting conditions, auditory information.

Speaker 3 (36:06):

Now those three factors, neurocognitive motor, and the sensory part. What I did in my model, I created like a gauge, so I can create an exercise combination in which I have a relatively simple motor skill. So not so demanding, standing on one leg, for example, but what happens now, if I, and more cognitive load, for example, by having them do math subtractions, or working on the synaptic sensory station by doing motion tracking. Now I can see what the influences is of an added neurocognitive load on my motor art, because those three shape my functional movement coordination. Likewise, I can turn back. My neurocognition lit and stay with the same exercise and do now something on the sensory part. And this is what we all do as clinicians. So we do a single leg balance exercise, and we have the patient stand on on the, on the foam surface, or we have them close their eyes.

Speaker 3 (37:14):

So we already doing this, but I think the model can help you. How do I plan my exercises within one rehab session? And I’m changing that from week two week. And why would this be important? Well, first of all, we all always need to consider that we have, we need cognition during our motor control. And if we only work on pre-planned activities that, that are often in happened, we miss something exactly what you pointed out already from the on-field situation. They have to perceive a lot of information. They have to process that information and then execute the movement. And here’s where cognition comes in. And we do this by being aware of that, we can use these gauges. What we do is we actually create a rehab environment that we call in part a board. And we call that an enriched environment in which we constantly provide different stimuli to the patient.

Speaker 3 (38:22):

That means the rehab from week one to week two is not the same, which means variation, something new, something I haven’t done before. Again, this could already motivation so significantly, and I can tell you from experience, patients love this. The second benefit would be since you’re providing different stimuli, you actually confronting the brain every time with a new situation and the brain has to find solutions. And this is I think very important also from the motor learning perspective that we need to consider to enhance the neuroplasticity of the brain, because an ACL injury is not just a peripheral ligamentous injury. It is also a neurophysiological lesion and that’s, I think, needs to be considered and rehab.

Speaker 2 (39:19):

I mean, I, I have to say for me, I really liked this model because it, it gives you a great way. Like you said, to plan out your session so you can maybe enlarge the motor component one day or take it back another day, do more, neurocognition move that back, do more sensory, do sensory motor, maybe not so much neuro do a little bit of all three. So it’s sort of like, I just sort of see the Venn diagram, just expanding and contracting with all three of those bubbles, which I think is really great. And like you said, it gives you, it’s almost from a therapist standpoint, a clinician standpoint, I feel like it gives me permission to play around and come up with some fun things and be a little more original.

Speaker 3 (40:06):

Yeah. And I think what it also does it, it, it may help you as a therapist to get a better understanding where some underlying deficits may be because we only, we T we typically like to measure the outcome. So let’s say I’m doing an agility course, and I’m just looking at at the time. And then I see, Oh, the patient is not so fast. So I need to do more training. Well, what you could maybe do is try to untangle a little bit and to see if the patient from the motor perspective has all the necessary requirements in order to be fast. Maybe there’s a deficit there, but let’s assume it’s not the case. So all, all the strength, all the rate of force development, all these parameters are satisfactory. That must mean that there’s something else in the system that can’t cope with the demands. And that could quite well be that there is an underlying neurocognitive deficit, and this may help you as a therapist to work more on those neurocognitive elements with the intended goal that the patient becomes faster, but maybe not so much, but we’re doing more plyometrics and, and doing more speed now working on the neurocognitive aspect.

Speaker 2 (41:30):

Yeah. So it’s, it’s a, a treatment as well as an evaluative tool to kind of see where some deficits are and how you, you and your patient together can plan to move forward. Sounds great. When when will this be widely available?

Speaker 3 (41:49):

I hope we have it out in a month, the time from that pending on, on the, on the publication process, but please stay tuned.

Speaker 2 (41:58):

Okay, perfect. And we will let, we will let people know. I will put it on social media when that is out. So that sounds great. Well, I mean, thank you so much for coming on and talking about this, I’ve been taking copious notes. I think this was great. Before we get into where people can find you, I have one last question and I ask everyone this, and that’s knowing where you are now in your life and in your career. What advice would you give to your, to your younger self?

Speaker 3 (42:23):

Good question. I think what would have helped me if I would have spent more time in the neurological field, I think in, in what I still see, or with colleagues that work with pediatric patients, I think some of the motor learning principles that they use could be very beneficial for us working with more orthopedic sports related injuries. That’s something I did not understand back then, because my interests were solely in the, in the sports domain, but in retrospect, I should have spent more time in, in the neurological and pediatric field.

Speaker 2 (43:04):

Great advice and great advice for anyone who is maybe at that starting point in the sports or orthopedic rehab world and trying to figure out, Hey, what is there something I’m missing here? So I think that’s great advice now, where can people find you and find all this great stuff, all your great info.

Speaker 3 (43:24):

All right. So we have a website from our company and our company’s serves as the hopefully as the intermediary between academics and the clinical field. I, I work in both fields. I’m, I’m a clinician, I’m a researcher. And with our platform, actually our community model learning Institute, we want to create a bridge between the academic field and the clinical field, because I think we can all improve, but we need to find each other and we need to speak the same language and have respect mutual respect for one another. And if we engage in in such a culture by exploring, by facilitating one another, I think we can create a lot of new things and approaches with the overall purpose to help our patient. This website will be updated in a month from from now. So we will we will be offering completely new courses, which are also have the opportunity to get coaching from us. So it’s not frontal education, but we offer for every course participant to receive life or written feedback on their progress during the course, because our premise is that we want to create a course in such a way that you can apply it into your setting after you’ve completed the course.

Speaker 2 (44:58):

That sounds amazing. And we will have links to to the website. We’ll have also put the link up to your research gate profile so that if people want to look at some of the papers that you mentioned today, they can just go there and see all the papers that you have authored and co-authored do. I think it would be really helpful. And if people want to find you on social media, where’s the best place to reach out to you there

Speaker 3 (45:26):

Would be Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

Speaker 2 (45:30):

Perfect. And what are the handles if you know them off hand motor learning Institute. Perfect. Perfect. Okay. So thank you so much. And like I said, I will have everything available up on the website at pod podcast at healthy, wealthy, So Allie, thank you so much for coming on again. I really appreciate it.

Speaker 3 (45:55):

Thank you, Karen. And I really want to say, thank you so much for setting this up. I think this is exactly what we also stand for, that we create a platform in which we can exchange our ideas. We can ask one another question that that’s the best way I think, to move forward. So really thankful for you to organize this and yeah.

Speaker 2 (46:16):

And so everyone, thank you so much for listening. Have a great couple. I have a great week and stay healthy, wealthy and smart. Well, a big thank you to Allie for coming on and sharing all this great information about motor learning as it relates to ACL injury and rehab. And of course thank you to our sponsor net health. So remember on Tuesday, March 9th, net health is putting on a three-part mini webinars series entitled from purpose to profits, how to elevate your practice in an uncertain economy. You’re going to hear from a panel of guests that have over 50 years of combined experience working in the PT industry, signups will begin tomorrow, which is February 23rd for this mini webinars series. So head over to net let’s say to sign up once again, that’s net forward slash L I

Speaker 1 (47:04):

T Z Y. Thank you for listening and please subscribe to the podcast at podcast dot healthy, wealthy, And don’t forget to follow us on social media.


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©2019 Karen Litzy Physical Therapy PLLC.
©2019 Karen Litzy Physical Therapy PLLC.