WHAT IT IS, WHERE IT CAME FROM, AND WHAT IT COULD MEAN FOR OUR SCREEN TIME SHOULD YOU BE WORRIED ABOUT DIGITAL DEMENTIA?
2 • WWW.PHYSICALTHERAPYCT.COM Somatic exercises can offer a solution to long-term pain sufferers. Dr. Thomas Hanna taught the first class on somatics in 1990. He had discovered a disconnect between the industrialized world and healthy, pain-free living. Many people in Studies show that 1 in 10 Americans lives with chronic pain for more than one year. When you’re in pain, you seek a way to cope. Some might attend regular physical therapy appointments to find the source of the pain and resolve it. Others might ignore the pain and adapt their lifestyle to avoid making it worse. Either way, the body continues to sustain real damage with these adaptations, which compounds pain and can make things worse. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean healing is a lost cause. Everyone forgets things. It’s not unusual to have trouble remembering the name of someone you’ve just met or recalling the face of a classmate you haven’t seen in 20 years. But it’s less normal — and a lot more inconvenient — to become chronically absent-minded. If you find yourself struggling to remember the minutiae of daily life, which page of a book you left off on, or when it’s time to pick your kids up from soccer practice, digital dementia could be to blame. The term “digital dementia” was coined in 2012 by German neuroscientist Manfred Spitzer, who studies how our addiction to technology is impacting our brains. According to Alzheimers. net, Spitzer found that “overuse of digital technology is resulting in the breakdown of cognitive abilities in a way that is more commonly seen in people who have suffered a head injury or psychiatric illness.” Because of the shared symptoms, Spitzer called the affliction digital dementia.
industrialized countries have accepted pain as a natural part of aging and don’t understand that the body can heal from everyday pain and ailments. Somatics involve short, hands-on movements to correct the body’s posture and mobility, which can then stimulate proper healing through further movement and therapy. The technique retrains the brain on proper movement, function, and positioning to align your body and your mind so you can heal instead of just living with pain. Somatic exercises come in two forms. The first method is done with the help of a physical therapist — or in some instances, a massage therapist — who pinpoints the areas of tension and guides you through hands-on exercises In the years since, speculation has abounded about the causes of digital dementia and how people can fight it. A 2017 Forbes article theorized that the problem isn’t just time spent with screens but how much we rely on our smartphones to feed us once- memorized information. “In theory, having a device to store phone numbers, dates, maps and directions, and other information like that frees you up to focus on bigger and theoretically more important things,” Tony Bradley wrote in Forbes. “If you just use your device as a memory crutch, though, and you don’t take advantage of the opportunity to put your brain to work on other things, you aren’t exercising your brain, and it will atrophy.” Psychology Today blamed digital dementia in part on the mental strategies encouraged by video games. According to one study, gaming encourages the “response” strategy of following the same rote
movements, while nongamers tend to use the “spatial” strategy of relying on landmarks when they navigate, which is better for mental sharpness. Whatever the root cause, we can take steps to fight digital dementia. As Dr. Carolyn Brockington told Alzheimers.net, the best strategies involve stepping away from screens and relying on brainpower. The next time you’re considering picking up your smartphone, try reading a book, playing a musical instrument, hitting the gym, or learning a new language instead.
CONNECTING MIND AND BODY HOW SOMATICS CAN OFFER HEALING FOR LONGTIME PAIN SUFFERERS
that relieve the pain and align the body. The second method involves exercises patients can do at home according to their physical therapist’s guidance. You don’t have to live with pain. Healing is possible, and somatics may help you get on the road to recovery. To learn more about this therapeutic technique, visit Somatics.org or talk to your physical therapist.
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