Posted tagged ‘cranial osteopathic treatment’

Massage…for Infants and Children?

September 27, 2010

No.  Absolutely not.   Do not do it.  Let me remind you that I trained to be a pediatrician.  I have seen thousands of children in my 13 years.  Treating children, saving lives.  As a traditional osteopathic physician, our hands are very skilled.  We can feel anatomy in a way that MDs do not.  Manual therapist, massage therapists, chiropractors, and craniosacral therapists can feel maybe almost as well as we do (and some maybe not), but because of  their lack of medical education, and certainly no osteopathic training, their knowledge is a huge gaping deficit in understanding the human body, human physiology and basic fundamental physics of a biological system.

For several years I have heard people talk of  infant massages as a gentle means of touching, contacting,  and bonding with an infant.  I never gave it much thought…yeah? okay. whatever. until now…Read my prior post  Cracking is Bad…I started seeing some unusual cases…

Two years ago a mom brought her 6 year old daughter in to see if I could help her daughter with cranial osteopathic manipulative treatments.  She had a form of strabismus, a ‘wandering eye.’   When one eye looked at you, the other was staring up into space.  It wasn’t just a little bit ‘wandering.’  It was fully tweaked out.  I asked about birth history.  As an infant she had torticollis and plagiocephaly.  Mom refused physical therapy and brought her to a chiropractor.  Did the chiropractor crack this baby’s neck? I asked suspiciously.  No.  He just ‘massaged’ her neck.  Then what happened?  They went for several sessions.  Then what?  At 1 year of age, mom said 2 things happened – the neck straightened and the eye tweaked up.  I did not want to touch this.  I referred her to one of our advanced cranial  instructors who treats children and teaches an eyeball course.  It took him 7 visits for the mom to notice the eye ‘softening.’

Since then, I became suspicious and started asking questions.  I started seeing more cases of chiropractors and physical therapists “massaging.”  So far my count is 4 cases of strabismus associated with plagiocephaly and torticollis.  

The reason I am now blogging about this is because last week I met my 5th case.  I need to warn the world about this.  Those who read this blog can heed my words or not.  I consider this fair warning.  Those who still opt to have their child massaged must bear the consequences.  This poor child only 4 years old wants her poor eye to be corrected so badly, it is so sad.  Mom is worried because now she is starting to notice the other eye wandering.  I asked if as an infant this child had plagiocephaly or torticollis and the mom replied in the negative.  She was taken to a chiropractor regularly as an infant.  I asked why?  Mom replied that it was for ‘preventative’ purposes.  On examination this poor child is completely electrically disconnected.  Her whole right head was locked up.  She had a huge neck spasm on the same side as the tweaked eyeball, coincidence?  As I started to treat her, her legs jerk and spasm, so much so that the mom had to hold them down.  I finally get the muscles to calm down and as I continue, muscles on the L side start to tighten.  The muscle tone in her body is completely out of balance.  They will be returning soon and I hope to have some photos.

Now, let’s talk about anatomy.  If you don’t believe an experienced osteopathic physician, at least maybe talking about the anatomy might convince you.  The family believed that it was good to have an infant’s neck cracked because the nerves controlled all of the body.  My first comment for this is that the child was healthy.  To presume that anyone can make a system that was dealing well with birth strain ‘better’ is arrogant.  I became a pediatrician first and then returned to practicing traditional osteopathy several years later and even I don’t touch a baby unless there is something wrong.  Secondly, newborns, infants and children, their tissues are not well defined – they do not have muscles, their bony skeletons immature and unformed.  Our teachers associated with the osteopathic medical schools have access to fresh, unfixed cadaver specimens (they are called to autopsy bodies withing 30min of death and arrival at the schools).  In our advanced courses, we review anatomy and the slides include these specimens.  Newborns, infants and children, their tissues are not well differentiated enough.  Full physical maturation doesn’t occur until puberty.  Do you think that the muscles of an infant is the same as an adult?  Look at your biceps and triceps muscles.  Do you think in a baby, those muscles look the same, function the same?  If so, shouldn’t a newborn be able to walk, grab things and lift?  Let’s talk about the neck.  If the neck muscles and bones of the cervical spine are mature and fully developed enough to be cracked or massaged (because they are ‘spasmed’), why can’t a newborn hold up its own neck?  The answer is that the muscles are immature.  If the bodies of infants and children were the same as adults, uhh…there would be no need for…pediatricians.  What is the tissue feel?  How can the tissue be distinguished?  What are you massaging?  The answer is that infants are gooey.   Their tissues have the feel of a sea cucumber or the land equivalent of  a slug.  Again, what are you cracking or massaging?  Undifferentiated tissues.  Don’t do it.

The mom consented and signed to allow me to teach with these photos.  It took only three visits to wake up the nerve.  They will continue to do eye exercises for the next year.  Mom reports that the left doesn’t even wander anymore and the right eye only does occasionally wander.  If it is just for the eye, she is done.  But because of the electrical disconnection, increased tone and tissue density, she will not be done for a long time.

Plagiocephaly and Other Types of Malformed Infant Heads

July 25, 2010

Physical therapists who deal with children (and the MD pediatricians who send them there) believe that tummy time is going to resolve a lop sided head. No it will not.  They feel that the infant needs time off of the head so that it can grow and offset the flatness.  They are asking the wrong questions.  What causes the lopsidedness to begin with?  The birthing process and sometimes the last trimester shape and mold the head.  The head is a spherical object that is circumferentially compressed.  Do not buy into the helmut as an answer.  FYI, the helmut was devised/created by what type of professional? …believe it or not…a physical therapist.  What do they know about child development?  What medical experience with children do they have?  Insurance doesn’t pay for it, so it will cost you about $3,000 to harm your child.  One brand of helmut is called the “Cranial Band.”  How medieval and horrific does that sound? You try and put a rubber band around your head.  See how you like it.  It is a simple issue in fundamental physics that you do not resolve a compression problem with more compression; the answer is decompression (that’s where osteopaths come in).

Let’s talk about that last month first…

Things get pretty tight and difficult for pregnant moms in that last month.  Mommies, if it was uncomfortable for you,  think what the baby is going through.  Babies who are breech in that last month tend to be very colicky.  Positionally, an otherwise normally free floating and developing head  gets trapped underneath momma’s liver and a tight diaphragm; what happens is that the head gets stuck and a downward compression strain hurt these babies terribly.  They scream bloody murder because they hurt.  Whenever I hear, “Oh she laid in this spot and never moved”  my antenna picks up.  The next question is why?  Most of the time it is because there is no room.  There is always compression strain in these cases.  If there are multiples, wow, forget it, there is never enough room throughout the pregnancy, never mind the last month.  On top of that these babies need to come out early and the effects of gravity on these delicate heads will have long lasting effects, not to mention these heads are softer and are more easily (abnormally) molded.  Theses babies manifest their problems with myriad presentations.  Right off the bat, some can not latch.  Some can not nurse well [the ability to nurse, coordinate suckle and swallow is present by 33-34wks in uterol] but compression at the back of the head kinks the nerve (cranial nerve 9) that controls the muscles of the tongue and back of throat.  They tend not to gain weight too well.  Babies that are compressed may have funny looking heads, but how else can one tell.  Intuitive moms will recognize immediately these clues: the soft spot is too small, the soft spot is not soft enough, scalp veins are bulging and blue, usually on one side more than the other, red splotchy face (even when not crying), facial rash.

Lets talk about delivery…As labor starts, the infant flexes the head and presents usually the vertex, the top of the head (where the hair whorl starts).  As the infant descends, there is circumferential compression of the spherical structure that is our cranium.  In order for the infant to pass through the vaginal canal, it has to, get this, spiral the body (this is how and where the plagio starts, and also we believe, the cranial basis of a f uture back scoliosis).  Spiralling allows one shoulder to deliver before the other (otherwise, the infant would get stuck if both shoulders tried to deliver at once).   When the head crowns, it undergoes head and neck extension.  In this whole process, while it is apparently smooth, especially if the amniotic sac is intact,  may not be so.  There are over 100 bones in the head and face that are being formed in the sleeve of periosteal lining.  Anywhere along this pathway, a sleeve can get caught.  Have you ever tried to put your hand through a sleeve that is rolled or caught?  Near impossible to get it through right?  A similar situation is pulling a sweater over a long sleeved shirt when the shirt is bunched up at the shoulder or elbow.   You can still go to work, you can still function, but it isn’t comfortable is it?   Well, that is how the infant feels.  It is not pleasant for them.  They just had their brains and skull crushed down about 66% in a ardous process.  Some of them do not bounce out of it completely.   In our Most Natural State, immediately nursing on the breast helps; screaming from the pain over several months does most of the rest.  Cranial osteopathic treatment at any stage will most certainly remedy some or nearly all of  this.  Here are a couple of my favorite photos.  One day I will gather my collection of photos to educate the public.  Other interesting adult and children photos can be found on my website:   Oh, sorry.  These photos are a couple of my before shots.  You can go to the web site to view the great ‘after’ photos.

Oh yeah, another patient of mine just told me about this.  She decided that the helmuts are ‘evil.’  They remind her of what the Japanese do to their watermelons.   Apparently, the timing has to be perfect.  If they are off by a week because the watermelon can’t outgrow the mold, it will rot.  This is pretty much what the helmuts do to your kid’s head.  Compress the head and cause a buildup of pressure of which you, the parent are unaware; and the poor infant can not grab at it to take it off.  Please view this link: