Josie Davenport on Stroke Recovery


After a Stroke – Small Volitional Movements May Help Speed Recovery

I remember being in the room with Anat Baniel some years ago. I heard her tell the group an important detail about working with stroke victims immediately in the hospital. One of our staff members had called Anat to ask how to best work with a friend, who having just had a stroke, was in the hospital. Anat told the class about the instructions she had given. This is how I heard it (not a quote):
The most important thing to do right away is to support the affected hand (and foot) so that they can easily make the smallest response. It doesn’t matter how small the response, but it has to be movement initiated by them, not done by you. Helping a stroke patient do this small movement on their own may help speed their motor recovery to the affected side.
This sounds incredibly simple, right? Within the year, I had the unhappy opportunity to try this out myself as our dear friend and cousin suffered a stroke that affected his entire right side. We went to visit him right away and, sure enough, by supporting his hand and making it very easy for him to respond, he moved his finger! So we went through all the fingers and then all the toes and he responded! I showed this technique to his wife and daughter so that they could repeat it and build on what he could already do. With that start and the combination of therapies that he received, our cousin was driving in a year! One of the therapies that helped him continue his amazing progress during his rehabilitation was hippotherapy with his wife, a nurse practitioner, and his daughter, an OT.
After our cousin’s remarkable stroke recovery, I continued reading the book, The Brain That Changes Itself by Dr. Norman Doidge. In the book, Doidge describes research showing that when there is damage to the spinal cord there is a critical period of time that is called “spinal shock”. If the brain or spinal cord damage is to one side of the body only, as is common with stroke, when the patient tries to do what they used to be able to do with the affected limbs, they won’t be able to use those limbs. Because of this inability to move, the brain will begin to function as if the limbs no longer work. However, if the affected limbs are put in a cast (for one to three months) until that critical period is over, the limbs will be able return to functioning. This is why asking for only a tiny amount of movement can help to keep the affected limbs functional. Even though we are calling for movement during the critical period, we are asking for only that tiny amount of volitional movement that is possible. Further on in Doidge’s book, research showed that right after the damage, or even years later, by casting the “good arm”, the non-functional arm could come back into use as well.
Please do check me on the details. Also, please be aware that I am in no way suggesting to do anything other than get a stroke victim to a hospital and medical attention immediately. This small Anat Baniel MethodSM movement lesson is only useful after a patient’s life has been saved and only with the awareness and agreement of everyone involved. At the same time, the earlier the patient can move with volition, the better. The possibilities for early treatment and stroke recovery seem to go far beyond our usual way of thinking. In a similar way, children who have brain damage or have missing brain structures are also able to learn and improve.

Wishing the very best for all of you,


MNRI® and the Anat Baniel Method(sm)

Studying the Masgutova Neurosensorymotor Reflex Integration system has opened a window for me of understanding. My years of training and practice in the tensional and subtle movement systems in the body, especially deep tissue therapy and Cranial-Sacral therapy, help me to utilize and feel when and how the reflexes come into subtle activity without muscular involvement. Within the framework of the Anat Baniel Method, which helps children connect with their joy of learning, this awareness of reflexes and the direct intention to help each child connect through their core completes a holistic picture to support learning.
The Anat Baniel Method helps a child acquire a gentle three dimensional internal experience of their movement capabilities. In this way the ABM gives a child a full palette of of movement possibilities with which they can connect in a meaningful way to intentional movement in a relaxed learning atmosphere. Children are free to discover what interests them, to move through their own frustration and to have the satisfaction of accomplishment. As I work with children, I find that I can easily combine information about reflexes to help children further their learning process.
The following is an excerpt from Andrea Bowers blog article, Anat Baniel Method and Masgutova Neurosensorimotor Reflex Integration:
“ As I gained familiarity with MNRI I could see that though Masgutova and Feldenkrais have many of the same sources of information their focus diverged with Feldenkrais’ core of learning in gravity and the importance of bones, and Masgutova’s core of pre-gravitational (in utero) reflexes and reflexive protective mechanisms.  I find the two perspectives give me more tools to be helpful, especially with children with special needs who are often still so influenced by reflexes that their learning is hugely inhibited.
I am very glad that I experienced Feldenkrais/ABM first and was able to add the reflex knowledge to my understanding of how the human system works.  I would like all children to have the experience of the joyfulness of learning and discovering that ABM brings.
I heard a story about an early Masgutova camp in California.  50% of the children were learning quite a bit faster than the other half.  When they looked for the common factor it was discovered those were the children who had been receiving ABM lessons before beginning the reflex work. If ABM is the first experience for a child with difficulty learning every other kind of experience will be enhanced. ”

I am also glad that I studied MNRI and that I am able to bring that understanding to the children and families that I serve. I plan to continue this learning process, I also have the joy of learning! For more information follow this link:

All the best ~ Josie

Aroma Blend for Kids

Child in flowers from webCalm~Happy~Safe Aromatherapy Blend for Children (1 yr and older)

This is safe to use as a spray for the room or for the parent’s clothing – NOT to spray on the child.

*See cautions below

ENJOY!! I found that it worked very well in a child’s ABM lesson this morning!


2 oz. glass spray bottle with water

Small amount aloe or vitamin E as a carrier oil

Lemon 5 drops
Sweet Orange 10 drops
Chamomile 2 drops
Rose 2 drops
Lavender 6 drops
Sandal 4 drops

Some Simple Cautions:

* Some oils are not recommended to be used in the vicinity of children – these are all safe oils.
* To be especially careful – spray a small amount on a piece of cloth that can be removed from the room. I have never found this necessary with these oils, but this   would make it easy to remove in case of an allergic response.
* Don’t try this with children who have a history of severe allergies.
* Keep this bottle out of sight and out of reach of children
* Store away from heat and light and air (Heat changes the chemistry and oxidized oils can become harsh)
* Do not apply undiluted essential oils to the skin of children.
* Never apply pure essential oils to your own skin without dilution into a carrier oil.

Try it and let me know how you like it!
Also, look for further posts on safe oil blends for kids.

About Myself

I am an ABM for Children(sm) (with special needs) practitioner in Gainesville, FL since Anat’s first ABM training in 2003 – I also attended her first children’s training in 1998 before ABM was created and graduated from Anat Baniel’s 4-year FeldenkraisR Training in 1997.

I have many credentials, one of which is a 200 hour Certification in Aromatherapy.
I like to use all the tools at my command to create a safe and loving environment for children and their families.
I feel very grateful and privileged to be an Anat Baniel MethodSM Practitioner. I love my job!!

Also, visit my page for information that I have gathered about neurology and special needs kids – a lot of information in one place!

All the best, Josie Davenport
Link to Josie’s Facebook Page: Josie Davenport ABM for Children

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Josie Davenport at Reaching to Learn

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