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  • Niyati Nath

Craniosacral therapy helps infants and children recover from birth injury

Updated: Feb 18

During the birth process, there are many twists, turns and compressions as the baby moves through the birth canal. As the baby’s head travels down the birth canal, it needs to make a nodding flexion movement, a spiralling motion and while emerging, a big extension movement. The head turns from a side-lying position to facing the sacrum. For the head to emerge from the birth canal, the baby’s occiput needs to stem against the mother’s pubic symphysis.

A 9-month-old fetus’ cranial bones (occiput, sphenoid, temporals and frontal) are not yet fused. In response to the compressive forces exerted on the baby’s cranium as it moves through the birth canal, the bones overlap at the sutures to reduce the head size to facilitate the passage of the baby through the mother’s pelvic canal. After birth, the bones of the baby’s head and face recover from the compression and revert to their original alignment – this is facilitated by the natural movements of the baby as it yawns, sucks, breast-feeds and cries. However, difficulties may arise if the cranial bones remain compressed or have difficulty releasing naturally. This can happen in very long births, or if the baby is lying in an unusual position. Caesarean sections and births involving forceps or vacuum suction can lead to birth injuries.

Craniosacral Therapy works to gently release tension and strain within the fascia of the head, spine and body. This makes it a very effective treatment for plagiocephaly/ brachycephaly (misshapen head) and the torticollis (a twist in the neck), which often accompanies plagiocephaly. The apparent manifestation of plagiocephaly is a flat or distorted skull, uneven ears and eyes. The potential over time is for more severe problems, such as headaches, scoliosis, visual disorders, sensorimotor and sensory processing dysfunction, and TMJ problems, to arise. The use of Craniosacral Therapy on infants with plagiocephaly results in better-proportioned head shape. More significantly, it boosts the functioning of the underlying systems — with results that include improved feeding, sleeping, and sensory and neuromotor development.

Craniosacral therapy and Cerebral Palsy:

Cerebral palsy is caused by an injury to the brain, most often associated with the birth process. It is commonly caused by a lack of oxygen to a distinct area of brain cells. The injury usually causes dysfunction of the motor system.

There are several presentations of cerebral palsy, depending on what part of the brain is affected. Spasticity is the most common symptom. Often there are difficulties with speech, balance, and motor control.

Craniosacral Therapy helps support the health of the brain and promotes neuroplasticity. It is not likely that the cells that have died due to anoxia will come back to life. However, we can support neuroplasticity by supporting the attempt of the healthy tissue to uptake some of the functions of the damaged tissue, as the brain may accomplish in recovery from a stroke. Craniosacral therapy also helps alleviate stiffness and rigidity of the body associated with spasticity, which can lead to better motor function.


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