Friday, October 21, 2011

The Anatomy of Function

This post is intended "for all audiences", however I have formulated it with all of my ABR families in mind. I hope that it sheds some light on a bigger picture...which is sometimes lost in the daily challenges of life.

I think the title gives this post an appropriate "flavour"...thats is to say, we are going to DISSECT function. To be more accurate, it is more of a "de-construction". Function (or better function) is, to say the least, the ultimate goal of any care seeker...and most certainly all of you ABR parents. Therefore, function is an "end"...or a destination. By definition, a destination (or end) must have a starting point and a middle. To be precise, the goal is DEFINED by the journey! Therefore FUNCTION is the sum of component parts. What are the component parts, you ask? STRUCTURE, STRUCTURE, STRUCTURE. You do not have function without structure.

We see this everyday...on every street corner...and in every aspect of our life, but yet it seems to elude us when we get into issues of the human organism. A simple stopwatch from the 1950's (see above image) is an excellent example. A simple function (telling the time) is dependant on hundreds or thousands of smaller structural components working together. For you ABR folks...remember this watch! Functional performance DEPENDS on each piece being in the right place! How would this watch perform if even one of its component pieces were slightly out of alignment? Of course, the human body is not a stop is exponentially more complex. This truth is precisely the point...if this applies to a "simple" mechanism, then it applies to more complex mechanisms as well.

Even down to the microscopic level, cells are structurally arranged in such a way to, not only function systemically, but to sense mechanical forces and convert them into biochemical changes. This phenomenon is called mechanotransduction. Therefore there is a hierarchy that starts at the smallest level (cells) and extends to the macrostructures (tissues, organs, etc) to reveal a fundamental reality: Structure and Function are seemlessly integrated. You cannot disentangle them...they are intimately related. Structure is the language of function.

So...attention all ABR families curious enough to read this far: Remember this intimate relationship and store it in your mental hard drive. This is precisely the reason we focus so intently on the shoulder blade...the clavicles...the circumference of the thorax, for example. These structural components are the "architectural" foundations of the performance of the arm!

Consider the tired watchmaker peering through the magnifying glass and putting each tiny spring and each tiny geer wheel in place. As each component is put in place, he is that much closer to a functional timepiece!

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