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The diagnostic and treatment of functional disorders of the locomotor system and the adjacent therapy concept "Brügger Therapy" was developed by Dr.med Alois Brügger, a Swiss neurologist and neurophysiologist. It is mostly used in European and especially German-speaking countries and has been implemented as a standard functional analysis concept into many physiotherapy practices.
Pathoneurophysiology of functional disorders
The central aspect of Dr. Brüggers approach to diagnosis and treatment is the analysis of the posture, stance and motion patterns which the patient uses throughout their daily life. He found out that the protective measures which the body implements to spare damaged (or threatened) tissues are caused by the nociceptive somatomotor blockage effect (NSB). Brügger labelled the origin of the pain, which correlates to the damaged tissue, as Interference factor. The pain experienced by the patient triggers the NSB in order to allow for the affected areas to heal or at least not become more damaged. NSBs reprogramme the physiological patterns of stance, gait, posture, etc. using evasive movements which do not trigger the pain experience. By identifying the interference factors that cause evasive movements, the therapist can readjust the patient's behaviour back to the physiological origin. Since the interference factors are not necessarily located at the point where the patient experiences pain, this often requires an extensive analysis of the body's motion pattern. The concept calls for looking beyond the pain location and identifying reactive chains within the musculoskeletal system.
Locomotion patterns in upright and stooping postures
Under physiological circumstances the human body develops motion patters that work effectively, economically and protectively to the anatomical structures. Essential to this is the upright position of the body, in which all structures operate in the most ergonomic way. When assuming a stooping posture the structures leave their biomechanically optimal position. In the long-term this can cause damage to tissues which are under higher distress induced by the unphysiological positioning. Brügger saw the decrease in quality and quantity of movement through the modern lifestyle as the main cause of increasing pain-related diagnoses.
The positioning of the body sections in daily activities and especially during heavy labour are key to functional analysis according to Brügger. The physiological lordosis can be found in two of the spinal sections, the lumbar spine and the cervical section. Brügger saw the double-S shape of the spine as a combination of two main lordoses. The biomechanical importance of these physiological lordoses to force distribution along the spine was compared to one of a tension band which counteracts the ventral weight load of the inner organs and arms. Therefore, the physiological shape of the spine is essential to the bipedal, upright posture of humans. When losing the double-S shape through an unhealthy adaption of the posture to a low-motion lifestyle the load-bearing capacity of the muscles, tendons and bones, as well as all other involved tissues, decreases. When seated the risk of stooped posture becomes a lot higher than in stance since the act of standing needs far more muscle activity to keep the balance. Nevertheless, also in stance and gait stooping posture can persist when strength and activation of the erecting muscles are low. In Table 1 the typical joint positions of upright and stooped positions are listed. Similarly, the pattern of unphysiological upper body and arm positioning are flexion-adduction oriented.
|Table 1. Motion patterns when seated without back-and armrest compared|
|Upright position||Stooped position|
- Die Brügger Therapie. University Clinic Bonn, Neurological Department. Available from: https://neurologie.uni-bonn.de/physikalische-therapie/physiotherapie/die-bruegger-therapie.htm (last accessed 16. January 2021).
- Brugger Concept. Dagmar Pavlu. 6th World Congress of Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation, 2018. Available from: https://www.omicsonline.org/proceedings/brugger-concept-104925.html (last accessed 16 January 2021).
- Kubalek-Schröder S, Dehler F. Funktionsabhängige Beschwerdebilder des Bewegungssystems. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Medizin 2004, 2013.