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  • Niyati Nath

Craniosacral therapy: an effective therapeutic intervention for Down Syndrome

Updated: Feb 18

Down syndrome is caused by extra genetic material (trisomy) on chromosome 21. This slows the development of the embryo between the sixth and twelfth week of intrauterine life, which causes developmental delays that create the following distinct features.

  • Under-development and shortening of the cranial base: The cranial base is straight with a steep (45 degree) angle. Due to the steep angle of the hard palate, the volume of the mouth decreases and the tongue characteristically protrudes.

  • As the sphenoid bone is affected, the sphenoid sinus is absent. This causes the presentation of a flat forehead and a decreased anterior-posterior dimension. The growth of the ethmoid, nasal bones, maxillae, and mandible are also affected.

  • Because of the deficiencies in the ethmoid, sphenoid, and nasal bones, along with the extruding tongue, the child often has great difficulty breathing through the nose. He/ she may suffer from sleep apnea because of the tongue obstruction. This results in an overall lack of oxygen (hypoxia), which can lead to other significant postnatal conditions.

  • Spinal issues - Atlanto-axial instability, a misalignment of the top two cervical vertebrae, puts the child at risk of serious injury to the spinal cord from over-extension of the neck.

  • Down syndrome patients often have congenital heart conditions, autoimmune conditions, gastrointestinal issues, poor muscle tone, hearing loss and ear infections, cognitive impairment and intellectual disabilities.

How can Craniosacral therapy help?

  • The Craniosacral Therapist works with the bones of the cranial base, the hard palate, the nasal, ethmoid, zygoma and frontal bones to maximise the child’s capacity to breathe.

  • Down syndrome affects the stability of the upper cervical vertebrae, it causes a thinning of the cranial vault, and there is often a significant separation of the cranial sutures, particularly the sagittal suture between the parietal bones. Craniosacral Therapy supports the functionality of the musculoskeletal system to facilitate easier breathing, greater comfort and improved speech.

  • Craniosacral therapy can slow down the progression of conditions caused by reduced oxygenation to the tissue and nerves. It supports better immune function.

  • It can help with gut issues which makes for better and easier feeding and retention.

  • It can improve motor and co-ordination issues by helping to restore the elasticity of the fascia.

  • Other reported benefits include positive changes in personality, behavior, communication, walking and talking.


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