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by Hermine Terhorst

March 30, 2010

Think about it … no, really!

The largest part of the brain controls the upper body, a fact anyone reading this article should know.

On April 13, 2009 60 Minutes did a segment on artificial limbs. I sat mesmerized by what was being reported. Demonstrated for all to see was a robotic arm sitting on a table two feet away from the solider who would be using it eventually. It was connected to him via wires and electrodes to his nerves that existed for the arm that “used to be there.”

Here is the conversation that followed between the soldier and the interviewer:

Interviewer: "Explain to me what you're doing with your right arm and the sensors, and how that relates to your new right hand."

Soldier: "I'm imagining performing movements with my right hand, and when I do that I am moving the muscles that remain here in my arm. When those muscles move they make little electrical impulses that we can detect with these electrodes."

He controls a robotic arm simply by thinking about moving his own hand that no longer exists.

Asked how much training is involved to learn how to move the hand, the soldier explained, "I'm not really learning, so much as the computer is. I'm doing what I imagine I'd like to do. And we've taught the computer to interpret the signals and do what it is."

He said it almost feels natural to him.

Bingo, hallelujah, damn the torpedoes, bulls eye, god loves me, you name it … so, if one thinks about how one wants his/her hand to move, how fast one wants his/ her hand to move, where one wants his/her hand to go that fast and override any negative thought that might want to disagree with the above then one can think about it and do it. How simple is that?

Time and time again the most simple is the most profound and usually the last thing we try. So I tried it.

The program aired on April 13th, 2009. I had just returned from Pacific Masters Swimming’s short course champs. I did lousy, repeat, lousy. Two and one half weeks later I would be going to Nationals in Clovis, Calif. I had wanted to go under a minute in the 100-yard free. Although I coach, I did not swim past 12 years old, so I had not done it yet.

When I got to Clovis, I made the decision to watch one person swim the 100 free before me and then I would tell my brain to make my hands move just like that. At Nationals sometimes men swim before women, so I took a moment to look around and there, standing before me about to ascend the blocks, was the master himself, Rowdy Gaines. “God loves me,” I thought, as I watched him go a forty something as a fifty something.

So here goes: “OK self, ‘brain, talk to the hand,’”


So, just think about it then, and only then, just do it! Oh, and good luck at the upcoming short course championships everyone!

Hermine Terhorst is the head coach of the Santa Rosa Masters, in Santa Rosa, Calif. She told all three of her daughters that as a single mom, on her salary, the only way they were going to college was if they got scholarships. All three of them, swimmers, did just that.


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