Today we look at a simple CNS screen for your “central pattern generators” or “CPG’s”. If you do not pass, then the exercise becomes the rehab exercise. If you (or your client) does not have good coordination between the upper and lower extremity, then they will not be that efficient, physiologically or metabolically.
The “cross crawl” or “step test” looks at upper and lower extremity coordination, rather than muscular strength. If performed for a few minutes, it becomes a test that can look at endurance as well.
It is based on the “crossed extensor” response, we looked at last week. That is, when one lower limb flexes, the other extends; the contralateral upper limb also flexes and the ipsilateral upper limb extends. It mimics the way things should move when walking or running.
- Stand (or have your client stand) in a place where you will not run into anything.
- Begin marching in place.
- Observe for a few seconds. When you (or your client) are flexing the right thigh, the left arm should flex as well; then the left thigh and right arm. Are your (their) arms moving? Are they coordinated with the lower extremity?
- What happens after a few minutes? Is motion good at 1st and then breaks down?
- Now speed up. What happens? Is the movement smooth and coordinated? Choppy? Discoordinated?
- now slow back down and try it with your (their) eyes closed
If movement is smooth and coordinated, you (they) pass
If movement is choppy or discoordinated, there can be many causes, from simple (muscle not firing, injury) to complex (physical or physiological lesion in the CNS).
- If movement is not smooth and coordinated, try doing the exercise for a few minutes a day. You can even start sitting down, if you (they) cannot perform it standing. If it improves, great; you were able to help “reprogram” the system. If not, then you (they) should seek out a qualified individual for some assistance and to get to the root of the problem.