Super Bowl Poll Results:Muscle Memory and Stroke Recovery

The winner of the “Muscle Memory Poll from my last post is NOT Madonna, although she did get 20% of the vote.

Results of our Muscle Memory Poll on

The winning Super Bowl vote(s) for best display of muscle memory* during the big game were split evenly between the Manningham catch (40%) and the Bradshaw touchdown run (40%). Unfortunately, NFL Films pulled the videos off of YouTube shortly after posting this poll so you can’t go back to the last post to review each play but we can get inside the huddle and replay what was happening on the field courtesy of interviews conducted after the game by reporters for

According to the an interview with Eli Manning, here’s what went on in the huddle and what he was yelling to Ahmad Bradshaw on the final scoring play: “I just yelled, ‘Don’t score! Don’t score!’ Obviously, he heard me (because) he thought about it. I know it’s tough for a running back. They see a big hole right there going for a touchdown (and muscle memory almost drives them on autopilot to get in the end zone*). I think something almost had to pop into his head like something was up. This is a little bit too good to be true. I am yelling, and he obviously had heard me. He thought about kind of going down, but I think he didn’t quite know what to do. He said, ‘Hey, I have a touchdown, I am going to take it.’ I am glad he did.”

Eli Manning also commented on the great catch by Manningham and if he thought his pass late in the fourth quarter was one of the best throws of his career. Here’s what reports Eli said: “I’m not good at ranking my throws. Obviously, it was a Super Bowl and a tight throw, but I didn’t have any questions. I felt the safety was inside. I wasn’t worried about whether it would be an interception or a dangerous throw when the ball was released. I saw a window. I felt confident about it. I didn’t think much about it. I just saw where Mario (Manningham) was and knew the timing. A lot of those throws are muscle memory. You don’t think about how far to throw it or what to do. You see your receiver, you step, you make the throw and hopefully you put it in a good spot where he can catch it. He made a great play.”

What the heck does this have to do with stroke recovery?

Successful stroke recovery requires an adequate stimulus or volume of “work in” to drive change. This input or training effect restores or retrains that same muscle memory and makes tasks more fluid or automatic. In a previous post I described how stroke patients must develop a new mindset to be successful.  They must think of their rehab as preparing with the same mindset as an athlete would before going to the Olympics.

Just as an athlete would use an expert coach to design and oversee an appropriate training protocol, the stroke survivor should team up with a PT that has developed an arsenal of therapy skill sets. The therapist also should have a working knowledge of the new research in training intensity and frequency as it relates to neuroplasticity. The PT Coach should also be up to date on new EMG, FES and combined biofeedback and gaming technologies to maximize their patients home training program and to help provide enough stimulus and volume of work required to rewire the brain.

“Performing 2 sets of 10 reps once per day is not going to get you to the Olympics and it certainly is not going to prepare you for your return to the best possible outcome post stroke!”- David Dansereau, Stroke Survivor and Physical Therapist

[*Sidebar] Because I write this column I get to cast the tie breaking deciding vote.  I vote for the Touchdown.  Bradshaw had every muscle fiber trained to go for the end zone ever since the day he started practicing as a youth.  With all those years of practice, it was entirely unnatural to stop and fall at the goal line despite Eli yelling at him to get down.  Survivors take note, Fall or Walk – your choice- now go practice!

David Dansereau

*Muscle memory as defined in Wikipedia has been used synonymously with motor learning, which is a form of procedural memory that involves consolidating a specific motor task into memory through repetition. When a movement is repeated over time, a long-term muscle memory is created for that task, eventually allowing it to be performed without conscious effort. This process decreases the need for attention and creates maximum efficiency within the motor and memory systems.


Published by David Dansereau

Licensed Physical Therapist, Nutritionist and Author in private consulting practice at PTC Physical Therapy Consulting and SmartMovesPT. is my blog and members resource to raise stroke awareness and educate the public about reducing stroke risk as well as provide tips, tools and review new technologies for stroke recovery. Learn about my book, Body in Balance sold on Amazon at

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