NeuroKinetic Therapy is a form of manual therapy that combines motor control theory and manual muscle testing. The science of motor control theory states that the motor control center (in the cerebellum) holds all the coordination patterns of the body. It creates movement patterns, such as when a baby learns to stand, under the direction of the limbic system and the cerebral cortex. It also creates substitute patterns, such as when we are injured. When a muscle is inhibited from normal function (as can happen with injury), the motor control center will find a substitute muscle to perform the function. If this pattern remains in the motor control center, dysfunction and pain follows. NKT works to undo this dysfunctional pattern.
Using muscle testing, the NKT practitioner finds relationships between muscles that are out of balance. For example, many people have gluteus maximus muscles that test weak (due to things such as sitting at a desk all day). Other muscles will kick in to try to do the movement pattern that glute max is involved in (for example, hip extension). Lumbar erectors, calf muscles, hamstrings, deep lateral hip rotators, etc. can become hypertoned in their attempt to do glute max's job. Motor control theory states that, if the body fails to perform a specific function, the motor control center is open to new learning for approximately 30 to 60 seconds. The NKT practitioner will use this window of opportunity to change the dysfunctional relationship between muscles. For example, if the glute max tests inhibited (under-working) the practitioner can make a connection to the facilitated (over-working) muscle. This helps to change the dysfunctional pattern. A release is made to the facilitated muscle, and an activation happens to the inhibited muscle. Homework can then be given to the client so the healthier movement pattern can be reinforced with repetition.
NeuroKinetic Therapy is a useful piece in rehabilitative manual therapy because it not only identifies the cause of pain and dysfunction, but also can correct it quickly and with little pain.