We were exceedingly pleased when earlier this month (March 2017) several new ABR enthusiasts joined our group in Austria. Special to this group is however that they are all talkative young men – both walking and in a wheel chair.
From these adult individuals we could glean directly from the affected individuals themselves confirmations about many aspects of our basic ABR understanding and principles.
Those of you who have been following my blog for some months will have read the post called Hands and Feet:
This post is an illustration of the internal necessity for stiff arms/hands and legs/feet in children with cerebral palsy. Stiffness of the arms and legs, hands and feet – or even of the stiffened open mouth – these are all natural reactions!
In that post, we expounded upon the idea that if any individual has a weak spine, the person will then search for the next best solution available in order to add more stability to the spine. If the neck is weak, then one can stabilize the neck by stiffening the arms. The arms are of course not meant to be used as spine stabilizers. When they are stiffened continuously in order to add stability to the spine, then they will of course soon “remodel” in a stiffer fashion. This “stiffening” of the arms is then popularly termed “spasticity”. One does not need to apply the typical neurological reasoning in order to find the direct cause of spasticity.
This month in Austria when holding the first assessment for a young man who is studying to be a teacher with cerebral palsy I asked him:
“Can you try to stand on one foot?” His answer was nothing less that a direct confirmation of what is written above:
“Yes I can, but I need to curl my toes.”
Toe curling is a creative way to clench and to stiffen the body in order to add stability! If I clench my toes, I feel it all the way up to my buttocks and the pelvis – but also the lumbar area gets tense! What geniuses these individuals are!
Their body tells them automatically and intrinsically that they do not have the spine stability needed to be able to stand on one foot, but that, if they clench or curl the toes, then they will be able to mobilize more stability to make the standing on one foot possible. They can compensate for the lack of the central stability that the vertebral column should be providing for by stiffening other areas.
So, Dear Parents: The ABR message to you is to please stop worrying about the spastic legs and feet and the spastic arms and hands! Stop fighting with them by stretching them, cutting the tendons and lengthening the muscles, and by injecting them with toxins! You need to understand that your child needs these spastic feet, legs, arms and hands. Your child is an amazing genius who has been able to sense and to navigate within his own weaknesses and has been able to find an alternative for what he does not have intrinsically.
That which he or she is missing intrinsically is sufficient stability of the Connective Tissue Based Architecture! This is the internal support system that we use all the time at a very low cost. The healthy persons are so used to this internal architecture that we take it 100% for granted, day in and day out.
It is only when we do not have it that we notice: “I need to curl my toes in order to be able to stand on one foot.”
And now Dear Parents: You can all re-assess your child’s movements and manners. You can begin to see, to feel yourselves within, and to understand what is going on.
When your child opens his or her mouth wide each time he/she wants to lift or to move his head or raise an arm: Now you understand why! The wide-open mouth brings tension into the neck and the base of the skull and makes it easier for your child to control the head movement.
This is of course not the best way to do things, but this is what your child has figured out how to use. Your child is not “brain deficient” but exceedingly smart. If he or she has figured this out, then it is only a matter of diligence of application of ABR Techniques designed to strengthen the central core of the body, of the spine and of the internal connective tissue base that will in turn allow for him to find new strategies for lifting the head. As soon as the central structures are strengthened internally, your child will not need to use his wide open mouth, or his arm stiffening to support the neck.
Before this internal strengthening is achieved, then any attempts to “loosen up” the arms or legs are not going to lead to longterm positive results. It is comparable to taking away someone’s crutches when he needs crutches for walking. No one would do this! But yet we as parents of Special Needs Children are lead to believe that we need to cut, to inject, to stretch the very structures that our children need as crutches for their own central and internal weaknesses.
As all families, parents and clients soon find out, at ABR we take time to listen. We listen to your stories, your struggles, your successes, your difficult and intense problems, and your journeys.
Not only do we use the information you give us to shape your ABR Program, to guide you on a day to day basis with respect to general health based insights and suggestions, but we can then let the information flow from parent to parent. What works for one family, will often work for another family, so there is no reason to keep anything to ourselves? Each small bit of information can be given further.
This kind of information coming from young adults with cerebral palsy is precious. It confirms our understanding that we are on the correct path in the promotion of the ABR Techniques and Methods which are all designed to provide for internal intrinsic architectural connective tissue based strength and stability.