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Balancing Spring Challenges
As the winter months come to a close and warmer spring weather appears, patients may begin to present with new challenging pattern presentations.
Clearing Blocks: A Way to Improve Cosmetic Acupuncture
As a Five Element acupuncturist who teaches facial acupuncture classes nationally, I was surprised to learn that one of the basic principles I was taught in school is unfamiliar to most acupuncturists.
A Daily Strategy for Heavy-Metal Detox
In modern society, we are constantly exposed to heavy metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury. These heavy metals have no essential biochemical roles in our body, and conversely, can cause us a great deal of harm if they build up to toxic levels.
An Integrated Approach to Chronic Pain
Findings from a unique Medicaid pilot project in Rhode Island involving high-use Medicaid recipients from two health plans were recently presented to the state's Department of Health, demonstrating stellar outcomes with regard to medication use, ER visits, health care costs and patient satisfaction.
An Unexpected Diagnosis: The Result of Lacking Communication
A couple years ago I had a case that showed me the importance of open communication between health practitioners. We need to show up with less fear, and let go of our judgments so we can do better for the patient.
Is It Time to Rethink Mental Illness? (Pt. 1)
Invariably, patients will ask their chiropractor about depression or various mental illnesses. Some practitioners will reflexively offer a cervical adjustment, suggest St. John's wort or contemplate a referral to a specialist.
Give Yourself the Digital Advantage
When you see this article in the print version of this issue and swear you read it already, don't be alarmed: you probably did. That's because by that time, the May issue will have been available online in digital format for three weeks.
News in Brief
ACA Adopts New Governance Model; ACA 2017 Awards; CCA Helps Calif. DCs "Share the Love"; $1 Million to Help Advance the Profession; D'Youville Raises the Bar on Anatomy Education; ErRatum.
Creating Good Business Buzz
What do patients really think about working with you? Rarely do you hear the whole truth. Those who improve may be candid in their gratitude.
Universal Design: Principles & Practice
In many respects, universal design serves as the core of ergonomics. It's also a good tool to use when designing a return-to-work program for injured and/or ill patients. Let's take a closer look at universal design and why it should matter to you and your patients.
Is the New Medicare Reporting Exemption Right for You?
What you've heard is not a rumor – there will be exemptions for providers of Medicare patients, with no penalties assessed for offices that do not do Quality Payment Program (EHR, PQRS, MACRA and MIPS) reporting.
Raditation & Your Smartphone: Is it Worth the Risk?
If radial arteries could talk (and in my experience they can to some extent), they would say, "Step away from the smartphone." At least that is the message I am receiving loud and clear as I feel the pulses of many patients.
The Visual Error Scoring System: A Concussion Tool
Postural stability and oculomotor function are the most easily recognized physical indicators of neurologic motor dysfunction associated with concussions.
Bill With Confidence: Learn What to Collect
Q: I am trying to understand what I may collect from my patient when there is insurance. Do I have to accept the amount allowed by the plan or may I collect up to my billed amount? Please note, I am not a member of any insurance plan.
A Major Role in Back Pain: The Multifidus
Back pain affects roughly 80 percent of the population at one time or another and is one of the leading causes of doctor visits.
Women's Hormones: A Western & Eastern Perspective
Sometimes it may seem that you require a degree in medicine to understand hormones and how they function.
Why I Quit Doing House Calls
My father was a chiropractor who did house calls, so when I became a DC, I figured doing house calls was part of the job. My March article recalled my experience as a small boy, accompanying my dad while he went to patients' homes to treat them.
Eczema & Acupuncture: A Sound Solution (Part 1)
Eczema affects approximately 3.5 percent of the global population and is one of the most common skin complaints seen by dermatologists.
Taking the Chiropractic Message to the Press
"There is no better place on earth to have a news event," the National Press Club boasts, and it's easy to understand why: Every year, the 108-year-old Washington, D.C.-based organization hosts countless press conferences on the hottest topics impacting America and often the world.
New Relationships, Old Trauma: AOM & Other Healing Strategies
Being in love is one the most beautiful and enjoyable experiences. Most of us are willing to pay almost any price to have that experience, and still often find it elusive or fleeting. Navigating the ups and downs of loving relationships are often challenging — even for the most psychologically balanced among us.
February, 2013, Vol. 13, Issue 02
Helping Babies Heal from Difficult Births with CranioSacral Therapy
By Janine Blanchard
Newborns and infants express themselves by gurgling, crying and wailing. But what if you feel like you can't satisfy their needs or simply don't know what's going on? In CranioSacral Therapy, we "listen" to what a baby has to say with our "thinking, feeling, seeing, knowing fingers," a term that the founder of Craniosacral Therapy, W.G. Sutherland, coined. We use touch to learn how trauma or difficult experiences have left their mark on the baby. This gives us important information about what's happening with a baby who seems upset or unhappy.
As a CranioSacral Therapist, I work with different tides in the body associated with a child's nervous system. I am able to palpate subtle rhythms in the body, similar to, but more subtle than the breath and heart beat. This helps me discover what might be inhibiting a child's balance or state of well-being. For example, with my knowing hands and fingers, I can find restrictions in parts of the skull. These can occur where a complicated or long birth process causes cranial bones to move and position themselves on top of each other. I can then help the body correct these problems.
Take newborn Amelia, for instance. Her family brought her into my office because she was in respiratory distress after birth. She spent weeks in the newborn intensive care unit so that her breathing could be monitored. After examining Amelia, I concluded that her breathing was shallow. Her little lungs felt like they were not using the room they had to unfold and breathe deeply. Her ribcage was not expanding all the way. We call these "underinflated" lungs. I see this in cases when the baby will attempt her first breath while the torso is still in the birth canal and only the head is delivered.
I worked to settle Amelia's lungs. First, I placed my fingers on her sternum and confirmed the "under-inflated" feel of the tissues under my fingers. I sensed the shock and trauma involved in this part of her body. I could feel pent-up energy, which I worked to release. After this, Amelia took a deep breath and fell into a deep relaxation. To help heal Amelia's trachea, which was irritated by medical procedures, I brought the tissues involved into a "point of balanced membranous tension," a physiological process that allows the tissues to relax. The next time I saw Amelia, the newborn didn't show symptoms of respiratory difficulties and all family members were less worried about their baby.
When newborns like Amelia experience difficult births, they can move away from what CranioSacral Therapists view as the ideal state: to be in the here-and-now, grounded in the present. Babies can move away from this state before and during the birthing process if they're exposed to fear. Fear can cause infants to disconnect from the present moment and function in the "fear" mode — worried and unsettled. They operate under the influence of the sympathetic nervous system, the system that kicks in the fight-or-flight response when in danger.
This process can begin in the womb. Imagine your baby in your womb. The close physiological connection between mother and her embryo influences the unborn and may set the stage for how the baby perceives and responds to challenging situations throughout life. This connection is known as prenatal programming. It is possible that a mother with constantly raised levels of cortisol, released under stress during her pregnancy, may well produce a child with hyperactivity or behavioral problems.
For this reason, it's important for pregnant mothers to reduce stress during pregnancy. What's more, creating the right birth environment is critical. Leaving the womb is an intense process and, ideally, babies should enter an environment that's as similar as possible to the physical environment of the womb. Babies should be welcomed by soft light, familiar voices and the warmth of the mother's arms. Such conditions stimulate the production of oxytoxin – also called the "love hormone" – to reaffirm the bond between mother and child.
A baby's first moments have an enormous influence on the weeks and possibly years or decades after labor. Ideally, we want mother and baby to feel as much skin-to-skin contact as possible. This also will release oxytoxin, a neuro-hormone that is naturally released in an intimate relationship. It is the hormone produced during orgasm, and it is an important hormone for breastfeeding mothers. This magical love hormone is stimulated in the mother by her infant's scent or by pheromones (chemicals sensed by smell).
When we don't provide a nurturing birth environment, the baby can experience trauma, physical problems and emotional imbalances. When baby cannot be close to mom after birth and is exposed to strangers, sharp light and loud noises, baby falls into a state of fight-or-flight. But the child is too small to react the way adults would. The baby's sympathetic system stays in high alert and the newborn in high stress and anxiety. This can result in symptoms like restlessness, digestive problems or sleeping difficulties.
Since a baby's nervous system is growing so rapidly at this point, the negative experiences can biologically follow the child through life, making it hard for the child to adapt comfortably to change and new beginnings. It is always amazing for me to see and feel how infants can slowly let go of their history of trauma and move back toward health. In a CranioSacral session, babies can unwind, which is a term for moving one's own tissues into a more adaptable state. Babies can literally re-experience parts of their birth process, "telling" us their birth story. Sometimes they will move their bodies the way they did coming through the birth canal, but this time giving their tissues the opportunity to avoid getting stuck or traumatized.
Tony, for example, had to be delivered by vacuum extraction because of birth-related complications. He was a rather fidgety, restless newborn and had digestive problems. Medical findings were inconclusive. In our first session, I noticed tension in his cranial bones. There was also an irritation on the vagus nerve, which is the major nerve for controlling our digestive system and parasympathetic nervous system. I treated him by releasing tension in the cranial bones, freeing the vagal nerve and regulating the autonomic nervous system to function freely. During the session, Tony's system settled and his little body relaxed.
The tension in Tony's system was most likely caused by direct pressure on his head from the vacuum extraction. A natural birth usually involves less direct and more equal distribution of force. After a few more sessions working with other birth-related issues in his system, Tony became more content in everyday life and his digestive system started to settle. It's possible this therapy helped him avoid problems later in life. For example, we often find food sensitivities and attention disorders in children who experience births like Tony's.
In a therapy session, we have the opportunity to provide the most nurturing environment, correcting the initial traumas the body innocently embraced. In this way, babies' sense of presence is strong and healthy again. They no longer operate in the fear state. By re-establishing proper states in the body, old, unhealthy patterns fade and the infant is set to welcome new experiences and opportunities for growth and love.
Janine Blanchard is a European Osteopath and CranioSacral Therapist in Portland specializing in pre- and postpartum care, infants and children. For more information about her work, visit www.janineblanchard.com.
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