Doctor, Why is My Child So Clumsy?

I occasionally hear this question in various forms.  Parents bring up this subject  for discussion in several ways.  Did s/he inherit this clumsiness?  Or, s/he was ‘born’ clumsy! The answer is…sort of.  As a conventional pediatrician, this was never taught to us in medical school, in our books, or in our training programs.  I came upon this conclusion several years ago but did not put it together until a couple of weeks ago watching my babyrepeatedly knock her head.  Short answer: Head trauma.  Below is the long winded explanation…

We are creatures of bilateral symmetry.  This means that the right side is a mirror image of the left and vice versa.  Usually, in our Most Natural State, unimpeded and untraumatized, we develop with a balanced form.  The next question to ask is, well, which and what types of unnatural states would cause our symmetry to be disrupted?  Let’s take the legs.  If you break a leg, the growth in th broken leg is disrupted while it repairs in the cast for 6 weeks.  I must also mention the possibility of your ortho casting the underside too thick, which would add inches to ‘length’ on that side for the period of casting.  Other orthos may use a boot.  If you have ever seen people hobbling around on the fancy-schmancy boots, take a close look at their hips.  The pelvis is off balance and the side of the broken leg is higher.  When the pelvis tilts, it causes…hello…a compensatory scoliosis…hello.  So, one little trauma and the subsequent attempt to treat it causes major structural shifts that neither the patient nor the doctor are aware of…hmmm…makes one think, huh?  Let’s talk about the arms.  You say, Doctor H., “In what case would you ever see one arm longer than the other?”  Well, again a fracture would do it; especially at the elbow.   The elbow is notoriously difficult to repair.  It almost always heals angulated and that will cause a shortened length.  Serious tennis athletes who slam out serves of close to a hundred miles an hour…all that repetitive force will stimulate a lengthing of that arm.  So what does this all have to do with clumsiness?

Our balance, equilibrium, our perception of our self in space, all these mechanisms are housed within our ear canals.  The temporal bones to us Traditional Osteopathic Physicians move in synchrony and there is balance.  The first trauma that can disrupt this balance is called..birth.  In the birthing process, after the head is engaged, it is then compressed.  As the baby’s compressed head traverses the birth canal, it has to spiral (followed by the full length of the body).  Somewhere along this path, one side gets more compressed than the other, see my prior post Plagiocephaly and Other Malformed Infant Heads.  As nursing commences, engaging all the muscles of the face and mouth, the infant head, over time decompresses.  Some babies continue to be molded, i.e., stuck.  If one ear is more stuck than the other, you get an imbalance.  Self and our perception is distorted in these patients.  In some ways clumsiness can be ‘inherited’ because the child’s head is prone to compression in the back if a parent has that tendency.

How do I know this?  I do equilibrium testing before and after treatment.  Adult patients get better.  They walk straighter with their eyes closed.  I’ve done equilibrium testing so many times that I’ve stopped.  Patients feel better, their heads are less congested, they report that they sleep better; this is proof enough for me.  In infants, their heads look more rounded, symmetrical and balanced.

In older children, from repeated trauma to the body, buttocks and head, these kids are definitely out of whack.  Trauma begets trauma.  It is a vicious cycle.  An accident causes trauma.  Thereafter, balance is affected leading to more accidents and injuries.  Athletes know this all too well.  One ankle sprain will lead repeatedly to re-spraining. 

So what can we parents do about this?  Early on, get the child treated with OMT.  Infants and children should only be touched by osteopathic physician and not anyone else.  I had an infant come to me late because mom had taken the child to a ‘craniosacral therapist’ and  a chiropractor.  The baby still had problems nursing and latching.  On the first visit, after I treated, mom could tell right away that the latching and nursing was improved.  When I treat an infant, parents notice within the same visit results.  Do not settle for less.  Keep in mind that you get what you pay for.  For children, it takes longer to see results because their young bodies usually pile up traumatic strain before they clinically present.

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