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Born to Energize the Human Spirit: Recollections of Sig Miller
Sig Miller, longtime executive director of the Association of New Jersey Chiropractors (ANJC), passed away on Sept. 17 after a long battle with cancer.
Mechanism: Experimental Approaches to Understanding Acupuncture, Part 1
The clinical benefits of acupuncture are difficult to ignore, but also can be difficult to explain to a Western audience. For nearly 50 years, relentlessly inquisitive scientists and physicians have been working toward a conceptual model to explain acupuncture.
It's Time to Review
It is amazing to see the changes that are occurring in the acupuncture profession. Let's look at some of the news and events that have contributed to this growth and awareness.
Designing a Fitness Plan (Part 1)
It doesn't matter if you come to my practice for pain relief, weight loss, healthy aging or something else. The formula I talk about for each patient's fitness strategy is pretty much the same.
Which Way is the Energy Going? Are You Burning Yourself Out?
One of the simple methods that I use to define Yin/Yang theory to patients is to ask the question, "Which way is your energy going?"
Pro-Con: Swaddling for Newborns
The practice of swaddling has been used for thousands of years and was popular until the 1700s, when it was slowly abandoned by many cultures that considered it old-fashioned or barbaric.
Tailor-Made Knee Pain: The Sartorius Muscle
A patient was referred to my office after receiving treatment from various providers with no results. The patient was training for the Olympics as a marathon runner and was unable to run or walk without severe medial knee pain.
Chinese Herbs and Pulmonary Fibrosis: A Case Study
"Mary M."* recently celebrated her 90th birthday. Even the former sheriff dropped by to kiss the hand of this diminutive retired teacher, to honor the years she interpreted for him during interviews with Latinas and Latinos.
Footsteps of the Sages: An Apprenticeship with Dr. Kezhan Zhang
When I met Dr. Kezhen Zhang in May 2013, I was his translator and the integrity, creativity, and passion he demonstrated as a practitioner and advocate of the medicine convinced me to travel to Beijing to study with him.
Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine in the West
We know acupuncture and Oriental medicine as the indigenous medicine of East Asia; in particular China, Korea and Japan are the countries of origin of this wonderful healing system.
The Concussion-Subluxation Complex
In the Aug. 1, 2014 issue of Dynamic Chiropractic, I reviewed some of the literature demonstrating the role of the chiropractic adjustment in post-concussive care.
Omega-3 Fish Oil: An Underappreciated Element of Men's Health
As a clinician with many male patients -- and as a man myself -- I am all too aware of the fact that we like to convince ourselves that we are doing great, when that may be the farthest thing from the truth.
Diagnose Sprain Injuries in MVA Cases With Dynamic X-Rays (Pt. 1)
Am I the only person to notice hospitals are doing a seemingly insufficient job lately in their initial radiological workup of motor vehicle accident (MVA) victims?
Dietary Fat and Prostate Cancer: An Important Update
K.M. Di Sebastiano and M. Mourtzakis published a review paper examining the role of dietary fat on prostate cancer development and progression late last year that does a stellar job of summarizing the available data on fat and prostate cancer.
The Modern Application of Ancient Mei Rong
Chinese Medical Cosmetology (Mei Rong) has a well-documented and venerated history dating back to the Qin (221-206 BC) Dynasty.
North Carolina Acupuncture Board Files Dry Needling Lawsuit
In early September, the NCALB filed a complaint against the North Carolina Board of Physical Therapy Examiners over the issue of dry needling, a form of acupuncture that uses solid needles to puncture the skin and muscle tissue to relieve pain.
Your Billing Questions Answered
I hear a lot of the following questions: I am afraid I may doing something illegal. I have heard I cannot have different fees for the same service.
Making Sense of an Increasingly Obvious Conclusion
Where's U.S. health care heading? Like it or not, the list of telltale signs is growing to a point that stands out to even the most myopic observer. Consider this list of facts as you look into the future of health care in the United States:
Too Many to Remember: Tips to Revive Your Ortho / Neuro Test Skills
When I was at Palmer in the mid-1980s, we were given a set of notes in one of our diagnostic courses. The notes covered approximately 70 orthopedic and neurological tests for various regions of the body.
F4CP Making a High-Impact Impression
The Foundation for Chiropractic Progress has released details of its 2016 strategy, certain elements of which are already in play. The strategy includes ads, posters and other resources available to all F4CP members.
Targeting the Bad Apples in the Bunch
While everyone was focused on the conversion to ICD-10, the Office of Inspector General for Health and Human Services released a new report on chiropractic titled "CMS Should Use Targeted Tactics to Curb Questionable and Inappropriate Payments for Chiropractic Services."
Syncretism: Acupuncture and Public Health in Cuba
"Syncretism" is defined as a union of diverse tenets or practices. On a recent trip to Cuba designed to demonstrate the integration of Traditional Medicine and biomedicine, our group witnessed this union firsthand.
One Size Does Not Fit All: Exercise and Nutrition According to Your Yin/Yang Body Type
There are countless new exercise and nutrition plans out there, emphasizing the latest ground-breaking research and claiming to revolutionize the way we view health.
August, 2002, Vol. 02, Issue 08
Working with Clients Who Have Cerebral Palsy
By Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB, Massage Therapy Foundation President
In my last article, I discussed the special challenges of working with clients who have survived spinal cord injuries. I had been surprised at how little input I got before I prepared that piece, and I have likewise been surprised (happily) at how much feedback I got afterward - from both massage therapists and SCI survivors (and in one case, a person who is both).Here are some examples:
I want to extend my thanks to all the people who responded to my article. It certainly seems clear that many massage therapists feel they need more education on working with clients with a wide variety of CNS dysfunction.
This month, I have chosen to focus on another type of CNS disorder: cerebral palsy. As usual, I will review some of the technical information about what manifests this set of signs and symptoms; then I will discuss some of the special issues this disorder raises in the context of bodywork.
Cerebral Palsy: What Is It?
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a term that refers to many possible injuries to the brain during gestational development, birth, and early infancy. Several different types of CP have been identified, each involving damage to different parts of the brain.
The incidence of CP in the United States is two to four out of every 1,000 live births. Around half a million CP patients live in the U.S. today. In spite of improved prenatal care, the rate of CP in the U.S. has remained unchanged for many years.
Etiology: What Happens?
Cerebral palsy is the result of brain damage, usually to motor areas of the brain, specifically the basal ganglia and/or cerebellum. The damage can be brought about in a number of ways.
Regardless of the cause of brain damage, the child with cerebral palsy will have some impairment of function. The problem could be so minor that only people who know what to look for may see it, or it may be completely debilitating both physically and mentally; it all depends on what part and how much of the brain has been affected.
Types of Cerebral Palsy
CP is classified into four types: spastic, athetoid, ataxic, and mixed.
CP may also be classified by what part of the body is affected. These terms are consistent with those used for other CNS disorders: hemiplegic CP means the left or right side is affected; diplegic CP means either two arms or two legs are affected; and quadriplegic CP means all the extremities are affected to some extent.
Types of CP may come and go, or change entirely from one kind to another, as the child grows. CP is not a progressive disorder, however, and if symptoms seem to be getting significantly worse over time, a different kind of CNS dysfunction must be considered.
Signs and Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of CP vary according to the location and extent of brain injury. Damage to the cerebellum produces different symptoms from damage to the frontal lobe, for instance. But some of the most common features of CP include hypertonicity; hypotonicity; poor coordination and voluntary muscle control; unusually weak muscles; random movements; seizure disorders; early hearing and/or vision problems; and progressive muscle contractures. About half of all CP patients have some level of mental retardation, and many are unable to communicate verbally.
Because infants don't develop voluntary motor skills until they are around six months old, CP may be difficult to diagnose earlier than this point.
CP is incurable and irreversible; as such, it is managed, rather than treated, by providing skills and equipment to live as fully and functionally as possible. For some CP patients this could mean using a brace for one foot that is slightly weaker than the other; for others it could mean intensive occupational, physical, and speech therapy for many years.
Medication for CP is occasionally prescribed to help manage seizures, and to reduce muscle spasm. Some surgical interventions have been developed to lengthen contracted muscles, to realign vertebrae that have become distorted by scoliosis, and to alter nerve pathways in the brain to reduce the severity of tremors.
Physical therapy is recommended for people with CP because the process of developing muscle contractures is slow and can be made even slower when muscles and joints are specifically stretched and manipulated to maintain flexibility. Patients may also be encouraged to use and strengthen their weaker limbs. It is important to note the many uses and benefits physical therapy has to offer CP patients, because massage therapy may also be a valuable adjunct in these cases.
What about Massage?
There is no question that massage therapy can have a valuable role in improving the quality of life of a person with CP. Unlike many CNS disorders, a lot of information about bodywork for CP patients is easily available; I'll list some wonderful sources at the end of this article. Nonetheless, these clients require some special adjustments in the way bodywork is administered, and I've had several letters from massage therapists who would like to feel their work is more effective with this population.
The damage for a person who has CP does not begin in the muscle and connective tissues. Although this is where we feel the tightening of the connective tissue wrappings around muscles, the contractures themselves are simply a symptom-a complication of a problem deep in the brain. Therefore, if all we try to do is lengthen the muscles and stretch the fascia, we will run smack into a brick wall: either no progress will happed at all, or symptoms may even be temporarily exacerbated. Most people with CP get best results if bodywork focuses on indirectly affecting muscle tone through craniosacral work, gentle rocking, slow range of motion exercises, and manipulation of the arms and legs that engages the client in ways he or she doesn't automatically resist-this often means going with the direction of muscle shortening in order to disengage the reflex. Ultimately, the therapist will have to experiment with lots of different approaches, often accompanied by extremely supportive bolstering, in order to find what techniques allow their clients to relax and enjoy their massage.
The benefits of massage to CP patients are undeniable. Parents write of their satisfaction when their child is able to sleep through the night, when postural distortions unbind, when breathing eases, when faces light up with joy because the massage therapist has arrived for a session. Imagine a child who is the object of vast numbers of painful, intrusive, unpleasant, dehumanizing medical procedures (regardless of the supportive intentions behind them). This child is handled rather than touched. Then his massage therapist arrives and arranges him carefully among pillows and bolsters on the table. She cradles his occiput and straightens his neck so he can breathe more easily. She rocks his arms and legs until their tension eases. She plays with his fingers until he realizes he can move them in lots of directions. Nothing she does hurts. What a gift, what a privilege to be invited into such a relationship!
If physical therapy is used to stretch and strengthen skeletal muscles, massage will also be a safe choice. The only caution is that people with very severe CP may not be able to communicate their wants or concerns clearly. If a massage therapist works with a client who cannot speak, other modes of communication, including nonverbal signals, become especially important. It is the responsibility of the massage therapist to make sure that his or her work is welcome and freely accepted at all times.
Our culture harbors a fear of people who look, or sound, or act differently from ourselves. Seeing or being with someone with CP can raise all kinds of fears or judgments that we never realized were there. Maybe this person can't speak, or drools, or walks funny, or doesn't walk at all. Speaking for myself, I will share that it's especially hard for me to deal with disabilities when they occur in children. And yet, here is a population that so needs the work we do! As long as basic common-sense precautions are respected (don't overwork numb areas, be sensitive to nonverbal communications, if anything you do makes symptoms worse then stop and try something else) massage can be a central coping mechanism for a child or adult with CP.
I am hopeful that any readers who have the opportunity to work with clients who have CP will feel more confident to do so. I am especially delighted to share some valuable resources that help me put together the parts of this article about bodywork:
For my next column, I'm going to offer readers a choice. I've had requests for articles on these topics:
So, what do you want to have discussed next in What's On Your Table?
Ruth Werner, LMT, NCTMB
Click here for previous articles by Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB, Massage Therapy Foundation President.
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