• Matt Parsons

Dancing with Erbs Palsy

I recently went on a school trip to Spain. We had an amazing time and the pupils were completely absorbed in the culture. One activity we did with the kids was flamenco dancing. I’ve always been a fan of dance and there were times that I’ve really considered going to dance classes. I didn’t realise I was about to have an internal battle of emotions because of my erbs palsy.

We arrived at the class and the dance teacher got us to stand in the appropriate place. We did a warm up where we had to pinch our thumb and fingers together.

“That’s ok” I thought “I can just about do that”.

He then got us to put our arms out straight and rotate our wrists around, while looking in the mirror. I had a feeling of panic inside. Firstly, the only thing I see in the mirror is how my left arm doesn’t hang in the same way and now I have to watch myself trying to straighten my arm and rotate my wrists around when I physically can’t do it! It’s a really strange feeling when you can’t do something so simple. On a day to day basis I have no need to rotate my wrists and I get along just fine. For some reason this really got to me.


“Nevermind” I thought, “it’s only a warm up exercise, I’ll just blag my way through this and I’ll be ok when it comes to the dancing.”

Little did I know that it’d open up a door of #emotion, which I then struggled to shut. The first steps were fine and I started to enjoy the dance moves (Although counting in Spanish was pretty difficult). I just about nailed the first dance move and then he demonstrated the next one, which was to slap my hand against the back of my foot as I lifted it behind me. It was meant to make a slapping noise as the palm of my hand struck the side of my foot!


"Too often we brush our feelings under the carpet, they get forgotten about, until one day they re-surface worse then ever"

I get a real sense of frustration when I can’t do things how I’m meant to. It’s a simple movement and I just couldn’t do it. People always say “It’s ok, just try your best”. But I think what they don’t understand is how it makes you feel inside. Of course I’m trying my best, but I can’t do it the way I want to! My hand doesn’t open enough, my arm doesn’t reach down that far, I have to twist my whole body and then I loose balance and look stupid. I really wanted to enjoy the dancing, but I struggled because I felt awkward and useless. I ended up making excuses not to carry on with the lesson. I hate quitting, but something happened inside that sparked a feeling of negativity.


I know we can adapt, but sometimes it doesn’t stop us wanting to do something the same as everyone else. I also know that I don’t have #erbspalsy as bad as some people and there are people out there with only one arm who manage to accomplish incredible things. I know it shouldn’t have made me think I’m useless, but it did. I’ve managed to play musical instruments and play county cricket, I’m good at DIY and other sports. Maybe the thing that sparked this feeling was having to see myself do it in the mirror. As I’ve said in previous posts, I’m very self-conscious about how my arm looks and having to watch myself do movement I can’t do threw me off. With all my other hobbies, I don’t have to look at myself.


Moving forward


Maybe flamenco dancing wasn’t for me. I’m on a mission to build up my body strength so that I can feel #moreconfident and look stronger. If I’m able to focus on getting my body to a place that I’m happy with, maybe I’ll give it another go. I need to do some #soulsearching and work out why I care so much about my appearance and try to eliminate this from inside, rather than outside. I do a lot of #meditations and #mindfulness and I believe it is so important to look inwards and deal with the problems as you feel them. Too often we brush our feelings under the carpet, they get forgotten about, until one day they re-surface worse then ever. If we can talk about them, live with them, feel them, understand them, then hopefully we will be able to eliminate them.


Much love x


I hate the saying “you can’t teach old dogs new tricks”. This little video is relevant even if you don’t have #brachialplexusinjury. It’s never too late to start something new…


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Beating BPI

A BLOG BY MATT PARSONS 

Left arm Brachial Plexus / Erbs Palsy

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