Gym Ball Therapy for gross motor development in children.
Craniosacral Therapy for adults & children- through Upledger, Gehin,
Chiropractic pediatric courses
It was challenging working with children who were having delays in their gross motor milestones. We worked with natural activities in home living rooms, using small pediatric gym balls and balance toys, teaching children how to move through the environment with trunk control, weight shifting, and many other principles of movement integration.
It was personally painful not finding complete solutions to children’s motor development delays. It was much later in my life that I became more involved in hands-on approaches, often called Manual Therapy, which began in physical therapy and eventually lead me to chiropractic. In this approach one looks more deeply into the muscles, bones and joints to help balance the body’s distortions, and thus accelerate normal movement allowing for normal nervous system development.
Finally, as I became expert at manual therapy (mobilization or manipulation of soft tissues and joints), I made discoveries, startling to me, about the pediatric field that I had been working in previously as a young therapist. I found that the old-time doctors of chiropractic and osteopathy had for years been working on the spines and extremity joints of young children, as well as there cranial sutures. They were using light touch approaches to gently loosen up and free misalignments in spinal structures as well as in cranial sutures and membranes. They were able to help a child become comfortable in its body after birth, to free up its nervous system, and to help it sleep, suck and swallow. Basically all the brain stem and spinal nerve functions could be improved by restoring the normal relaxed position of joints and cranial myofascial membranes . So what is this nervous system healing I am referring to? Basically the newborn’s nervous system is enclosed in a membrane sack, called the dural tube, and this membrane or myofascial system is cushioned in a bony spinal column and cranium. Craniosacral therapy is a method of correcting the membranes through very light touch on the outer bones at the suture lines. This helps restore the normal ebb and flow of the system of cerebral spinal fluids and tissues beneath the cranial bones.
It has been said that the trip down the birth canal is the most difficult and dangerous trip one can make during life
Delivery is a long journey down a very tight bony space and the newborn arrives with many unusual bumps and twists remaining in its spine. Growing up with these mechanical distortions uncorrected is not necessary. These imbalances can cause endocrine problems, digestive problems, and musculoskeletal discomfort, in adolescence and on into adulthood. The list of birth canal trauma includes:
Dural tube traction during the long delivery, which can stretch the brain stem down through the foramen magnum causing all sorts of cranial nerve symptoms.
Strangulates the brain stem.
Blood clots , which can block CSF from flowing down the canal.
Interferences in the normal passage through the birth canal, which can cause an imbalance in the cranial sacral system, setting the scene for spinal curvatures as the child grows up.
Forceps delivery, breech delivery, prolonged labor, or too quick a delivery, which are potential causes for scoliosis.
Unnecessary forces on the newborn’s structure can be resolved by prudent manual therapy care of newborn spines. Mobilization of the spines and ribs, and balancing of the craniosacral system can be done during the first few days after delivery.
Case study example
One of the most dramatic cases I have worked on was a newborn who was unable to breastfeed. Her sucking and swallowing was weak and she was failing to thrive. She had been lying in her adoption orphanage for several months without much movement and her cranial bones had been compressed in one direction, mainly so the lateral bones of her head were flat. In two to three visits I was able to relax the base of her cranium, the sub-occipital region where her atlas and axis support the base of the head. She was back to normal breast feeding and sleeping well shortly after her first visit.
This region of the upper cervical is where many exciting results are seen in chiropractic. We relax this region through manual massage techniques that allow the bones to roll and slide naturally. We thus free up any subluxations that may restrict the nerves and cause interference with the nervous system and the body’s normal function. The exciting aspect of working with these children is how quickly they change. When one re-establishes the normal mechanical motions in a given region, the child’s nervous system responds beautifully and they begin to regain normal vitality.
The old-timers called this “restoring innate intelligence”, allowing “innate” to flow after correction of the subluxations.
Is it safe to have children get spinal corrections?
Absolutely. Of all the forms of children’s healthcare chiropractic is one of the safest. Research into spinal trauma caused by the birth process has shown that at least 12 out of 100 infants will have subluxations in the upper cervical at birth. One group selected for study was children that had problems with sleeping and feeding, or had their heads tilted to one side. This study showed that 89% of these children had spinal subluxations at the top of the neck.
Since children suffer lots of trauma growing up it is recommended that they regularly have their spines checked for the damaging and sometimes debilitating effects of these subluxations.
How do subluxations occur? The treachourous trip down the birth canal has been mentioned. Other causes include the frequent falls when learning to walk and tumbles taken while playing. As the child gets more mobile and play becomes more boisterous, opportunities for subluxation increase. Later in life full-blown sports trauma is possible.
What childhood conditions can be caused by subluxatons? Children are not commonly treated for low back pain. More typical is persistent earaches, colic, asthma, or bedwetting. Many types of ordinary sickness, colds and flu can be helped by relieving the pressure on the nervous system around the upper neck where some of the cranial nerves may be restricted due to tight muscles from subluxations.
How are these spinal problems corrected on children? After evaluating the spine, the chiropractor begins with very light finger-tip adjustments to correct the stiff or mal-functioning spinal structures. The gentle touch is like a nudge or massage of a muscle and joint to facilitate its resuming its correct position and joint play motion. It usually does not require many visits with children because of their youth and flexibility - they are not rigidly holding the problem. Their bodies know the natural form they crave and respond very quickly. They should however be checked once or twice a year to make sure their spines are not developing a spinal subluxation that could then grow into a bigger problem.
What happens if these problems are left untreated? If left untreated the child grows up with a much lower quality of health in many aspects. Congested sinuses, headaches, spinal pain and even learning disabilities can be partly or even largely due to these abnormal tensions in the cranial membranes
Holistic Physical Therapy: Integrating Physical Therapy , Chiropractic and Myofascial Massage Techniques Gale McIntosh PT, DC 650.560-8043 (Se Habla Español) 300 Main St. Suite 5, HMB, Ca. 94019