Water and Hydration

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It is Summer time now and we enjoy basking in the warmth!  As lovely as it is for the brain injured child to experience the warmth of the Sun on his or her skin and to be outside without extra clothing – this time of year can present even extra challenges if the parents are not attentive!

The post below is not only important in the Summer but it may be one of the most important piece of information that you need for the optimal care of your CP child.  It can be immediately implemented as well.

The parents of thousands of children with brain damage have told us:  The child does not like to drink – and especially not water.

For the ABR Accessors who do the children’s evaluations – this is not a surprise.  Moreover the “song and dance” routines that some mothers and fathers have thought out in order to try to get their children to drink anything at all can be very amusing to hear – but it is not the main proportion of the parents who have developed these hydration routines with success. Unfortunately most parents will tend settle at the thirst level of the child.

The main thing that parents of a brain injured child need to keep in mind, is that once the child’s body is dehydrated, he or she does not feel thirst. So it is incredibly important that in respect to water intake and hydration, the parents do not feel inclined to “follow the child”!  Most parents will simply do this – and this is of course natural.  These children have so many problems and the refusal to drink seems to be rather small one in respect to the other difficulties on hand.  But especially in the case of hydration, the parent has to know that he or she knows best – and much better than the child!  Only the parent can regulate the intake of water for a child and especially for one who is certainly already dehydrated.

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Water is the foundation for all life and it possesses dynamic qualities!

The parent needs to know and remember that water and liquid flow is the basis for all of the life processes taking part in the child.  At the same time, even a slight dehydration has an enormous cascade effect upon the entire bodily system!

  • When dehydration occurs and the overall water volume in the body is reduced: this then results in a reduction in the central blood volume and, therefore also in skin blood flow!
  • The decrease in the blood volume then causes a compensatory increase in the heart rate, which is then again followed by a decrease in stroke volume. This is due to the increased heart rate and decreased filling time for the heart!
  • Remember that the heart beat rate increases! Many children with CP have tachycardia. Before giving the child pharmaceutical drugs for this condition – try to bring up the hydration level!

Water is essential for all of the life processes.  It is important to realize that the flow of the fluids within the tissues together with the capillary flow is the essential tissue stimulation required for all tissue regeneration and tissue renewal.  This fluid exchange movement known as “liquid shear” has a positive remodelling effect upon the tissues.  When the tissues dry out and the pathways for the more capillary located blood flow decrease, then the tissues will of necessity be locked into a process of slow and steady degeneration.  For a children with movement disorders the systemic reduction of tissue fluids is one of the leading factors which reduces the child’s general performance.  It is also responsible for an increase in joint stiffness and spasticity!

Enough written about the importance of water intake!   We could continue with many more aspects but the parents and caretakers should be able to see the connections between sufficient water intake and their own child’s health and development.

Some of the signs of dehydration that are easy to recognize are as follows:

  • The colour of the urine is the most significant sign. Instead of being a light greenish yellow, it becomes bright orange yellow or worse yet dark yellowish amber brown.  When the colour of the urine is in this range it is a sign that the child has much too little to drink.  If the child is using disposable nappies, it may be difficult to discern the colour.  Here also the parent needs to be creative and perhaps use a cloth nappy in order to see the colour.
  • Odour of the urine – if it smells this is a sign of dehydration
  • If the child smells badly (and many children with CP have a bad smell) – this is also not a good sign! Healthy hydrated children do not smell.
  • Dizziness and headaches. Most children will not be able to express anything about this, but they may certainly being having these symptoms.
  • Confusion
  • Dry skin, brittle skin or paper thin skin where one can easily see the bluish colour of veins

On the other hand, if one can achieve some diligence in getting the child to drink, the success of what may seem like a bagatelle can be shown in an interesting example of a child from Hungary.  The parents came with the child to a long pre-assessment where we found out that the child drank almost nothing at all.  In addition the girl had problems with:

  • sleeplessness
  • chewing and swallowing – it took half the day to give the child her meals
  • drinking
  • seizures
  • mood swings
  • restlessness
  • attentiveness problems

Six weeks later we met for a further assessment before the family started with the ABR training.  At this meeting we found out that the mother had taken the recommendations we had given her to take the drinking seriously and had tried to increase the water intake up to at least one liter per day for a child of her small size.  The mother was fortunately able to get the girl to drink consistently.  Most amazing however was the long list of improvements that the parents told us about that had came about spontaneously during these short weeks simply through increasing the water intake!

  • The child started sleeping through the nights.
  • Constipation was relieved.
  • She was much less restless during the day as well.
  • The child began to be able to swallow and to chew almost normally!. The time taken for the meals was down to a normal time for a meal so that the child is now finished eating together with the parents.
  • The seizure level decreased significantly and seizures almost disappeared.
  • Motor function improvements
  • Sound production
  • Communication efforts

This story illustrates the extreme importance of good hydration for children with cerebral palsy.

The parents need to be encouraged to pay attention to hydration at all times!  Not one day should go by when the child has too little to drink.

If the child has been dehydrated for a long time – and this is the case of most children with brain injury – then it cannot be expected that thirst will simply be present.  The cells within the body have been used to a minimal liquid exchange.  It will take time for the introduced water to begin to move consistently through the system – but do not give up!

You need to be consistent and will also need to develop a strategy.

Some of the methods that work are:

  1. Offer the liquids at least once each half an hour.  In this way the child will become used to having liquids in his body.
  2. If there are issues with getting the fluids into the child’s mouth, try using a variety of cups, bottles, syringes or even spray bottles at first.
  3. If the child refuses to drink, try using a syringe and find out where to bring the water into the mouth so that the child does not choke but can swallow it. Or use even a spray bottle and simply spray the water into the child’s mouth.
  4. Make a realistic goal for increasing the liquid intake on a week-to-week basis. Increase by ca. 100 ml each week until one achieves the wished for daily water intake.
  5. Taste can be important. If the water has some taste then the stomach will automatically react in such a way as to facilitate swallowing.  If the child simply refuses the water, then add a bit of non-sweetened juice or some soup broth.  Taste can be important assistant in swallowing and it may be necessary in the beginning to add something that has some taste.
  6. There are several healthy foods that can be used as thickeners if all else fails to work. This helps the child who has much difficulty with the swallowing of water to be able to manage the liquids when they enter the mouth.  Agar, psyllium fiber or chia seeds can all be used as a thickener agent for water. Arrowroot can also be tried.  Xanthan gum is not to be recommended, as it is a more or less engineered food additive. ( read here:  https://draxe.com/what-is-xanthan-gum/)


Diane Vincentz
ABR Denmark Aps

The Hands and Feet


Specialized ABR Ankle Wraps

Every parent of a special needs child lends a particular notice and emphasis upon what is happening with the hands and the feet of their child.

On the one hand this is due to the fact that these are the most obvious areas of the body – they stick out! If the feet roll inwards, if the hand is shriveled and not useful for grasping objects, eating and playing – well then the parents and the therapists as well gather around this hand or foot. They try to stimulate the child to use it better, try to stretch it, try to massage it – anything to try to bring it to usage.

The ABR Method takes an entirely different avenue. First of all one works on understanding and recognition! One tries to go a few levels deeper into the evaluation of the difficulty of the “hand” or the “foot” itself – in following the present example.

What does a shriveled hand show us? The hand always leads back to the shoulder girdle and the neck. When one sees a shriveled or a hand with contracture there is no doubt that limitations can be found higher up in the vertical connections of the neck and spine. When the cervical spine is weak, then it needs to start to use and mobilize the arms and hands for stability. The arms then take over as stabilizers because the most important thing that needs to be done is to protect the neck and keep the head stable.

Movement teachers who have worked with children can surely remember having seen the following: A young girl or boy who runs with at least one arm bent and held close to the body. One may have asked oneself “What is this child doing? Why does he run like that?”

As soon as one recognizes that even an otherwise healthy child who runs with one or both arms bent and held close to the chest is doing this to protect the less obvious weaknesses in his neck – then the strange positions of the arms and hands of children with cerebral palsy and related conditions can be recognized for what they truly are at a deeper structural base: They are all the natural attempts to protect and to stabilize the weak connections between the head and the neck.

Or: If my head wobbles, because my neck is weak, I can then create stability for the neck by blocking the long horizontal connections of the arms that would otherwise create even more chaos for my wobbly head. Instead of allowing the horizontal connections of the arms to simply ruin any stability I can find in my neck, I will recruit them by blocking them to add some stability to my weak vertical neck connections.

This is the basic understanding of the shriveled hands, the folded hands, and the turned in feet. The special needs child has with an internal act of genius searched for ways to stabilize the head – or the pelvis/spine connections in the case of the feet – even if the attempt has not been effective and even if there are much more suitable ways of attaining head stability.

For the ABR inspired – and what could be called Bio-tensegral Informed Understanding – it is clear that it will be necessary to assist the child with folded hands and/or contractures of the feet at higher levels of the body starting with the vertical connections – specifically at the spine – before one can expect to achieve a meaningful change in the positioning or usage of either the hands or the feet. Any stretching, injecting with nerve poisons, orthopaedic interventions or surgeries will only have a limited and short term effect if one cannot manage to address the problem at the root.

On the other hand once the hands or feet have stiffened into a permanently poor position, they unfortunately become an additional liability for the child or affected adult. They have been trying to do the work of the weak neck or the weak pelvic connections for years and this has brought them into a state of permanent stiffening more commonly called spasticity. These spastic hands and feet however – do not allow the child to release any tensions generated through his daily life through the arms and legs. Normally a person can release an immense amount of tension through simply walking, doing something with the hands, or gesticulating when talking. The hands and feet of the special needs child – instead of being able to move, dance in daily movement and release tensions – end up being tension collectors and return built up tensions to the overly tense body.

Parents of special needs children know how the child is always getting tension – when she is happy and excited, when he is nervous, unhappy or in pain – tensions are exhibited in the legs, in the hands, in the jaw, in the neck –

A vicious cycle is implemented – and the child cannot exit on his own. It is here that the child need assistance from another side and he or she cannot bring this himself.

ABR strategy – in this case – is not only to strengthen the vertical connections at the level of the spine, but to reduce the negative effect of the feet and hand tensions. Tensions that build up and cannot be released have a long term negative effect upon the individual – leading to further stiffening, further fibrosis of the tissues, further discomfort – and so it goes around and around.

Newer ABR applications developed – like the power socks, the wraps, the Osteo-tapping, the “Reverse Squeeze” at the hands and feet – all these are designed to bring a release of tensions to the peripheral joints.

The ABR children have now been rewarding the efforts of their parents with faster attainment and new levels of grasping objects, eating on ones own, using the arms for weight bearing, standing independently.

We watch these improvements with joy and congratulate ABR families for their immense efforts!

Beach Walking – Backwards

Now that it is Summer, we wish to remi3599139c8f4d9ba5c86ec8cef754f758nd all parents of children with some kind of walking function of the great value of the backwards walking in the sand for children with gait difficulties. Whether they are walking with support or walking free, the backwards walking is the perfect active exercise for them!

When walking forwards a child or an adult  with gait problems tends to use the “falling tree” method for his  momentum. Because the person cannot control the weight transfer through the foot, ankle and knee, he or she simply lets the upper body fall forwards and then catches up with the feet. This is not the correct sequence of activation for the walking.

When walking backwards, this is not possible. The child needs to lift the foot first, transfer the weight onto the leg. When walking backwards one needs to activate the step from the trunk, and the foot clearance is necessary. The trunk limb coordination goes in the correct sequence!

Therefore – whether the child can walk backwards alone, or needs some support of one or two hands, walking backwards barefoot on the sand or in the grass if there is no beach, is the absolute best Summer exercise for your child. For those who need support – try to vary the support – sometimes give two hands, sometimes one hand – from the right or the left.

We wish you a great Summer with the backwards walking style.

ABR is: Parent Driven Development


Today’s world is a world of “specialists”. But there is at least one jewel of knowledge that even the poorest and the richest parents of special needs children share!  The richest parents know it because they have traveled the globe searching for the best doctors that modern medicine can supply –  and they have found out what the poorest parents know by default:  That in the end, the parent is responsible for a handicapped child.  The destiny of this child lies exhaustively in the hands of the parent in a more intense manner than that of any healthy child ever does.


What is it that definitely does not help a handicapped child to improve:

  •  parent uncertainty
  • parent exhaustion
  • parent remorse
  • parent pressure (on the child)


What ABR can do for all parents of children with cerebral palsy, brain injury, genetic illness and other disorders is to give a deep sense of reassurance that lies in the knowledge of the developmental potential of each person no matter how severe the illness.

Every child can improve.

When you the parent become the driver of your child’s rehabilitation, your focus changes from “cure” to “development”.   Improvements matter, each increment of change matters.  You realize all this because it is happening under your own hands.  You observe how small increments of change accumulate and one day begin to bring huge transformations!  A “cure” does not happen from one day to another, but is a process that can occur over time.  You start to see that the unique thing about human beings is that they develop – they can transform and that development is the most essential aspect of childhood – and even of adult life.

It is a great tool – ABR Method – for child developmental promotion.  Having this tool in your own hands as a parent,  brings an immense satisfaction that ABR parents learn to cherish.

Diane Vincentz

Baby Time, Down Time, Internalizing Time

baby-toes-940x198One mother wrote to us: My girl is sleeping a lot since we started with ABR. My husband thinks that I am doing too much and making her tired. Is ABR making her tired? Should I do less?

In order for a special needs child to be able to develop further it is essential for him or her to be able to return to the baby stages. This is true on both the bodily level, as well as on a cognitive level, although the mechanisms are somewhat different.

ABR treatment is based upon restoring the baby stages to the body’s development. The tissues that are being regenerated with ABR are very primitive and basic bodily structures, but at the same time absolutely fundamental to the child’s further functional development. Without a restoration of this primary tissue system of fascia and connective tissues, the child will be caught and captured in his limited muscular skeletal development. Stages that a child missed in his or her early years, can be re-gained through the work that the parents do with ABR.

In order for the body to regenerate, sleep is essential. Requiring more sleep, is one of the signs of a child who is starting with the ABR program. During the sleep, the child rebuilds inner structures and strengthens his internal system. So, if the child sleeps more, or falls to sleep during the exercising times, then be assured that the efforts are paying off and that the child is utilizing the ABR input to the most optimal degree.

Not only is it important that the children in the ABR program get enough sleep, but also that they are allowed what we call “down time”. This is time where the parents and therapists are not running around after them, trying to get them to crawl or to creep or to perform some tasks that one thinks are important for them to learn to do; but where the child simply has time to himself to internalize his own inward bodily sensations.

For the healthy child and the special needs child alike, this type of “quiet time” is equally important. During such minutes and hours, a child explores the possibilities of his own system. He explores a great magnitude of the so-called “mini movements”. He rocks back and forth, he pushes with his feet against the crib, he grasps his own hands or feet, he tilts the pelvis slightly to the right or to the left, and so on. All of these mini-movements and explorations of the own body are absolutely essential for both integrating the movement capacity of the body, as well as for the actual mechanical strengthening of the joint connections! Moreover, these mini-movements, which parents tend to overlook, are important transition to what is called long chain movements, which involve many joint connections and are executed over long kinematic chains.

So, our fundamental advice to parents is: Allow your children lots of this down time, for internalizing and exploring the potentials and capacities that one is creating through the ABR work.

Unfortunately in today’s electronic world, one needs to add, that such internalizing cannot be done when the child is sitting in front of the computer or watching television. For this internalizing activity, the child needs to free up his sensory system for inward investigation, and not be caught up in the consuming impressions of a television screen.
Formal “training” of a special needs child usually is based upon the philosophy that the child is simply not smart enough to do the things that the parents or the therapist wish for him to do or to achieve. If he is not smart enough, then we have to show him, and train him to be able to do the things better. This philosophy can go to great lengths – even to the extent of forcing a child with a weakened muscular skeletal system to crawl long distances each day. Here again the underlying thought is: The child is not smart enough – and then, by taking the philosophy that one must teach the child everything to the extreme, justifies filling up every moment of the day for forcing the child beyond its own natural limits.

Unfortunately this philosophy overlooks some essential elements about the developmental system of both a healthy and a special needs child.

All children instinctively seek an inner equilibrium in their performance of movements! They take the path which is easiest for themselves and which comes most naturally. Why is this? – Simply because the muscular skeletal system is one of the bodies most expensive systems. It not only demands extensive involvement of the nervous system, but it “costs” the body a huge amount of expensive energy to run. Studies have shown that a child with spasticity uses four or five times as much of this expensive energy to perform even simple movements as the healthy person does.

On the other hand the structure of a special needs child is only similar to a healthy child on a superficial level. When one begins to analyze the muscular skeletal system of a special needs child one can notice that many of the movements or activities that one often tries to “train” a special needs child to do, such as to crawl, to creep, or to walk with some type of assistance, have no similarity with the crawling or creeping of a healthy child. And this “fake crawling” that a special needs child can be forced into doing excessively, is always stereotyped in nature, never varies in momentum or in speed or in distribution of weight to the joints and muscles, always uses the same muscle groups, and by over-using a small group of muscles, eventually leads to further disintegration and spasticity of these parts.

It is therefore that ABR focuses its attention on addressing the fascia as being a more primitive and basic connective tissue structure. These tissues are not “expensive” for the body. They do not require the expensive ATP supply of energy, but run on a back burner both with respect to energy and also with respect to the attention needed from the nervous system. Strengthening these tissues means that the child receives the background support from inner structures, to allow the muscles to work more efficiently and effortlessly.

At the same time the child’s cognitive system is freed up from extensive muscular effort and can be utilized for the development of cognitive activities.

If we take the healthy child as our starting point, we can see that the healthy child is always busy – from early until late. He explores in the early years the extents to which his body can move, and then goes on to use the body to explore the world around him. If left to his own devises, he develops a beautiful and organic way of using his muscular skeletal system. He explores new movements daily, integrates the newly gained elements into the already attained system, strengthening the system as he goes, in order to be able to maintain the new challenges that he is putting on the system.

The special needs child – and especially the children in the ABR program – require this quiet time, down time and baby time, not only for extensive regeneration, but for exploring, internalizing and realizing the newly born potentials of his or her motor skeletal system.

Diane Vincentz

Toe Curling Crutches – Insight Gleaned From Clients

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.

Diane Vincentz

ABR Denmark

This entry was posted on 12 April, 2017

U-Turn Approach to Independent Sitting

A mother has asked us to elaborate on what ABR calls the “U-Turn Approach to Independent Sitting”.

ABR is a technique that addresses weaknesses within the connective tissue skeleton and brings architectural and structural  improvements to children with muscular skeletal and movement disorders. The following explanation is given in order to create a basis for understanding how these structural improvements translate to improved function.
The child cannot sit independently. What stages does she have to go through to attain independent sitting? How will we be able to mark and to notice the improvements when they start to appear?

The speed of transitions from one step to another will depend upon the severity of the child. A mildly affected child will progress through these stages in such a way that the parent may not even notice it. The parents will notice the appearance of more dynamic functions like rolling and crawling and creeping, as well as the emergence of transitions from one position to another. In the case of a more severe child, these stages will show up more gradually.

In the description given below, sitting is used as an example, but this example could equally be applied to most other movements and functional complexes as well.

What ABR demonstrates repeatedly is that, when the direct road to the achievement of independent sitting is closed for the child, one can take the U-Turn approach and still come to independent sitting.

On the other hand, if the child does not show any spine movement, if the thorax is excessively weak, and the entire body responds as one block in respect to changes in positioning – the child will not learn to sit independently, regardless of how much external training and brain stimulation the child receives.

The U-turn approach describes the functional steps that will show up along the way that lead the child to the attainment of the function of independent sitting.

Normally the problem is analyzed as follows:
If we were to put the child into a sitting position on a stool and go away the child would fall. One could say: “Well her brain is damaged and the brain is sending poor signals to the body. Therefore she cannot sit.”  One then goes on to try to train her to sit anyways –  and this is the basis of most training programs.

But this will not help the child to come further. We need to look deeper to find the elements of independent sitting that the child is missing, and then make a strategy as to how to attain them. We can see that she seems to initiate the fall  often through some kind of full body stiffening or protective reactions.  Many children appear to “throw themselves backwards”. But, if she initiates a fall she is not able to stop or to brake the fall. Movement in the healthy person is not only constituted of the ability to initiate a movement, but a controlled movement is also made up of the ability to stop or brake the movements in any and every position and at any and (almost) every acceleration.

Initially, if the child starts to fall, she will do this with the accelerated fall. She does not have a simple fall that follows the gravitational pull, but will fall with an increasing velocity. This is due to the fact that when we put her into a sitting position we do this against inherent bodily resistance. This resistance is a result of a combination of factors such as backline spasticity and fascial shortening  – which are brought into an elongated tension when she is put in sitting position. As soon as the external support is taken away, the tightness along her back re-contracts and returns to the neutral position, making the velocity of her fall accelerate. We can observe the “snap back” reactions.

At the same time the child has not been able to “index” the variety of positions which a healthy person has in respect to the sitting position.  This huge variety is an  “unknown unknown” for the child.  The bottom of the child cannot grip the surface she is sitting upon and then the entire body goes into a protective reaction.  When the full body stiffening occurs, the child shoots.

When she does this, she is simply unable to brake the fall.

  1. If we want her to improve we need help her to go through several phases.
    The first thing that needs to happen is that she can begin to fall with a simple, floppy and loose fall. This will appear when spasticity and fascial tightness in the trunk begins to release and is – never the less – a result of connective tissue strengthening and remodeling. This is a deep and important improvement, but not necessarily yet a functional improvement.  The parent may not even notice when the child goes through this stage.
  2. The next step is that she will be able to begin to slow down the fall. She may not yet have achieved the strength needed to brake the fall entirely, but if we – for example – initiate a change of position, the child will begin to show us that she is trying to slow down the fall.
  3. Thereafter the child will move on to having control of the fall in some positions, but not yet in all of them. The child still cannot really sit alone, but if we change the sitting position, the child will not helplessly go into the falling mode, but will be able to stop the fall at some of the positions between being upright and being completely horizontal.
  4. After arriving at this stage, the next really big step is when the child begins to perform the counter balancing movements. A counter balancing movement is a movement that balances out another bodily movement in order to avoid distortion of the body or the loss of balance. We make the stages of counter balancing development visible by initiating a movement through the utilization of one segment – for example the head or the upper trunk or pelvis for this. If the child can start to return part of the body towards the initial position whilst another bodily segment stays or still moves in the counter direction, then the counter balancing movements are starting to appear. In effect all of our changes of positioning and especially walking involve a highly developed complex of counter balancing movements. With respect to a child who has not yet attained free and independent sitting, the achievement of some counter balancing movements show us that the child is getting close to being able to sit without support.  Often at this stage the child can begin to sit alone or with support on his or her arms when placed in the sitting position.

On the way to achieving the counter balancing movements, the child will of course have improved significantly in respect to trunk strength and stability, pelvis positioning, the strength and mobility of the vertebral column as well as to increasing bodily segmentation. The child will begin to show mobility in the upper body that is independent of the movements of the extremities, i.e. arms and legs. The head will have to become independently mobile with respect to the trunk, and the thorax needs to be independently mobile in respect to the abdomen, etc.

In this way one can understand how the ability to perform segmented movements of bodily parts in respect to each other is essential for the attainment of independent sitting.  As long as the different segments – be it head, neck, chest, abdomen, arms or legs – are all fused together as one movement unit, then the possibility for both “braking” a movement and also for the counter balancing movements are not available to the child.

In order to summarize one can say that the child will go through the stages of:

1. A simple and loose fall
2. Slowing down of the initiated fall
3. Stopping an initiated fall
4. Counter balancing movements
5. Maintaining the sitting position for shorter or more extended periods –  on the way to the attainment of a free and independent sitting.

This describes the “U-Turn” approach that is possible to achieve through ABR work in conditions where the progress has otherwise shown to be impossible.


Diane Vincentz
ABR Denmark Aps

ABR Grassroots

During the past months we have held many lectures about ABR for new and interested parents around Europe and in Africa.  I begin each of these lectures with the comment and observation that ABR has developed together with children or adults with special needs and their families.

Without these individuals who have been willing and enthusiastic about working with ABR during the last 17 years, ABR would not have entered into existence and would not have developed to the most effective means of addressing brain injury in the world today.  There is no laboratory where ABR is tested – far away from any patients.  There are no biopsies, MRI’s, or Ultra Sound tests fuelling ABR development.

ABR development has happened 100% in the field and this makes it specifically viable as a grass roots movement.

Especially in a world that is so dominated by the modern scientific methods, and the “evidence based” industrial medicine, it is important to remember how necessary the “Hands On” and “Real Life” evaluation of any phenomena is in order to attain the essential information for creating and developing anything new for addressing real life problems.

A cell culture or biopsy, an MRI or CT scanning can never give any information about how a child or an adult with severe muscular skeletal problems can improve, evolve or develop.  For this it is important to go directly to the individuals themselves and do an in-depth and as thorough an evaluation as possible.

We as human beings have amazing sensory abilities:  sight, touch, hearing, smell, taste – but more that the famous five we learned about in school – we have the sense of movement, we have proprioception, interoception, exteroception, nocioception – we can sense a thought, we understand speech, we feel warmth – our senses are amazingly rich and manifold!  How is it possible that mankind has gone so far astray, as to think that any invented apparatus for measuring some of the electrical activity in the brain or some device that is dependant upon magnetic resonance or an ultra sound light spectrum can tell us information that is more important that all we can gather ourselves through our own observation and thinking?  We can of course glean additional information through the use of such devices, but technical devices and laboratories cannot take the place of what the information can gain through our own sensory based facilities for observation.

It is here that ABR developed it’s own foundation.  Where parents and other affected individuals are willing to take the time, observe together with the ABR Assessors and Trainers – seek and find the limitations of the bodies of affected children and adults – and then to go further and to implement the techniques that have emerged based upon the observations of these weaknesses.  ABR Techniques have all developed as means of addressing “real life” and “hands on” tangible weaknesses and disorders.

Long years of application, trial and on the other hand the applied understanding of the emerging Fascia Based Research that has intensified globally during the last 20 years are then the practical results of the ABR Based Observational Methods.

The entire ABR Team is thankful for the hundreds of families around the world who are taking part in this new emerging science and understanding for addressing brain injury, cerebral palsy and other related disorders – based entirely upon observation and thinking and the application of the real-life ABR techniques evolving thereout.


This entry was posted on 2 April, 2017

ABR Dietary Guidelines

las-reglas-de-la-alimentacion-saludable1Many families have asked about ABR and diet. Because ABR is about building small increments of health from the very basic level, it is of course important to include a sensible diet as one of the basic foundations of health building and health regeneration.

As described in the ABR assessments all parents should have attained the understanding that the special needs children have generalized metabolic and digestive weakness.  Therefore anything one can do to assist the digestion and metabolic system can relieve it of stress and help it to work better.

Below we will give some general guidelines.

Size and Consistency of the Food

If the child cannot chew well – and most of the Level III, Level IV and Level V children do not chew sufficiently – then it is always good to think about the size of the food pieces and whether the food should be pureed or not.  If the child cannot chew the food sufficiently, then the big pieces that land in his/her stomach turn into a problem for the child.  The digestive enzymes that are already in under-production cannot handle the big pieces.  In fact digestive enzymes are not meant to be able to digest big pieces – they can only work from the outside layers of the food.  Therefore large pieces will either stay in the stomach for a long time or they will pass the stomach as large pieces where they will be even more indigestible for the system.

Therefore – observe how your child eats and adjust the piece size or pureed state of the food accordingly.

Your ABR Team is always observing the condition of the jaw of your child and works on giving you appropriate exercises for jaw and palate strengthening.  Still, until the chewing capacity of the child has advanced enough, remember to take care and not give food in too large pieces.  If one would like the child to have some “chewing practice” regularly, then try with raisins or dried fruits and see how the child handles these.

Type of Food

In general it is best to buy food that is organic in quality and as little processed as possible.  This means “food” in its raw state:

  • Fresh vegetables
  • Fresh grains
  • Fresh meats or fish
  • Dairy Products (non-pasteurized if at all)

All of the above should be in as fresh a condition as possible and as little “altered” as possible – through being treated or industrialized or refined.  It is important to avoid and eliminate:

  • Processed foods and frozen foods
  • Sugars – especially refined white sugar – but in any case – use sugar with discression – (especially with children with epilepsy eliminate sugar all together.)
  • Already prepared foods such as frozen pizzas, frozen dinners, chips, etc.
  • All colas and soft drinks, sweet sugary drinks

In addition we recommend that parents also eliminate grains that have gluten in them and milk products.  Children with weak metabolic systems all seem to thrive much better when casein and gluten are taken out of their diet.

Food Combining

Due to the fact that the children do not have a very robust digestive activity, it is a great help to reduce the types of foods that a child receives at one meal. The different types of foods require different enzymes for digestion, and if one gives the child both proteins and carbohydrates during one meal, such a meal will not be so easy for the child to digest.

Therefore if one wants to make the meals easier for the child to digest then one suggestion is to build each meal around vegetables.

The vegetables should be steamed lightly and not over cooked until they are in a soft or mushy state.  Broccoli and cauliflower may be crisp.  When the “bright green” colour appears, then most of the green vegetables are sufficiently cooked.

With the steamed vegetable base of a meal, one can then add either grains such as rice or millet or buckwheat – or some fish or meat.

One can successfully use nut-butters like cashew or almond butter – mixing it with grains or vegetables for a nutritious meal.  Or add fresh pressed flax seed oil.

In respect to food combining it is most important to try to avoid mixing proteins with carbohydrates.  Fruits can be given separately of both protein and carbohydrates.


Coconut oil has proven to be a very highly nutritious and high-grade oil.  All children should use it.

Children with epilepsy should try to eliminate all fats except for coconut oil.  This has eliminated seizures all together in several children with epilepsy.  In some cases the children can also tolerate “ghee” or “clarified butter”.

All oils should be non-hydrogenated and high grade.  It is always good to give the child high grade flax seed oil each day – as fresh as possible, buy in small bottles and buy and store cold.  Give this oil non-cooked – on the food or in vegetables.

Dairy Products

There are many arguments for the reduction or elimination of milk and dairy products from the diet of children with special needs.  If one does chose to maintain dairy products in the diet, then try to find farm fresh organic milk or yoghurt products. Yoghurt products – if not over processed are sometimes more tolerable than milk itself.

Sheep and goat’s milk products – if fresh from the farm are easier to digest than cow milk products.

Gluten Free

Again, many parents of special needs children have chosen to give them a gluten free diet.  Gluten is difficult to digest. For children with special needs gluten can be a poison and prevent their further development and improvement.  Gluten free grains are:

  • Rice
  • Millet
  • Buckwheat
  • Amaranth
  • Quinoa

Grains with smaller amounts of gluten that some children tolerate are:

  • Rye – questionable tolerance
  • Oats

For children with epilepsy it is highly recommended to go over to both a dairy, gluten and sugar free diet.  This is a first step on helping to control seizures through dietary measures.

The above contains highly general guidelines that can be followed when trying to improve the diet of the child.  More specific measures can of course be adopted.

Non- Dairy Drinks

One can prepare drinks for children using coconut water and coconut milk. If one wishes to add more fat and protein, then mix in some almond or cashew butter.  One can also add turmeric or ginger (carefully).  Turmeric needs to be simmered lightly for 20 minutes.

Other Highly Important Foods

Research has shown that children with brain injury have high levels of inflammation in the tissues. This can help to explain the tissue degeneration.

Several spices are highly anti-inflammatory and should be added to food daily.  We recommend:

  • Turmeric – cooked with grains or vegetables or made into Golden Milk
  • Rosemary
  • Ginger
  • Cloves

These can be added to the foods on a daily basis. But also use:

  1. Cinnamon
  2. Jamaican allspice
  3. Oregano
  4. Marjoram
  5. Sage
  6. Thyme
  7. Gourmet Italian spice

Raw Food Sweets

If one wants to create highly nutritious sweets for the children then try the following:

  • 250 grams walnuts
  • 250 grams dates
  • 250 grams shredded coconut

Mix the above in a food processor until fine.  Then melt together and add:

  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons coconut cream
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa butter

Mix together.  Form into balls.  Cool in refrigerator a few hours.

Water Intake

Essential for the success of your ABR work is the water intake.  We find out time and time again that especially the more severe children are severely dehydrated.  They simply do not want to drink. But one needs to ask oneself:  “Does the desert crave rain?”

When they do not drink then the tissues cannot hydrate.  When the tissues cannot hydrate – then they become even more depleted and more fused together.  It becomes a vicious cycle. The child does not get thirsty and crave water, because most of his body has gotten used to a low supply of liquid.

Parents need to understand the seriousness of this issue and work hard to increase the water consumption.

  • If necessary, use a syringe to get water in
  • One can add some “taste” to the water – a little bit of apple juice or coconut water.  It is easier for the child to swallow when the water tastes of something.  The stomach reacts to tastes and creates a downward movement making it easier for the child to swallow.
  • One can try to find a natural thickener for the water – avoid conventional corn thickener due to the probability of it being a GMO product.

By working with ABR one is working on replenishing the fluid intake to the tissues.  But of course this cannot happen, if the child is not given a high supply of fluid – basically water.

Therefore a sufficiently high intake of water is a central priority.

On the other hand try not to give much water when eating meals – unless it is part of a soup or sauce.  Especially important when eating carbohydrates as liquids dilute the stomach enzymes needed for food digestion.

If you have questions or comments, please contact us.

Diane Vincentz

What Can Be Achieved Through Theratogs Usage?

TheraTogs usage is advantageous for persons with muscular skeletal or sensory impairments. Improvements while wearing a TheraTogs system are evident both immediately through the fitting and donning as well as long term through continuous usage. More important for the user however are the effects accumulated through term usage.

Instantaneous Usage Advantages:

When donning the TheraTogs the user will experience:

  1. Immediate improvement in trunk and spine stability through the attainment of an internal trunk pre-stress
  2. Immediate improvements in posture and postural competence
  3. Immediate improvements in skeletal alignment through garment and strapping applications
  4. Functional weight bearing improvements
  5. Improvements in counter balancing
  6. Improvements in limb functioning

The first three above outlined advantages allow for reduction of both sensory and energy costly muscular “over-drive” in weak and stiff (spastic) individuals. The magnitude of the importance of a reduction of the “over-drive” for a person with motor impairments can be understood when considering the following:

  • It has been shown that – in comparison to a healthy individual – a walking individual with cerebral palsy has a three to five times higher energy expenditure for performing an equal task.  This reveals that the reliance upon “muscular overdrive” for performing tasks in an individual with cerebral palsy is an energy expensive endeavor. The question then arises: With such a high energy expenditure, how can the patient gain sufficient energy resource availability which would allow him able to “invest” in the strengthening and rehabilitation of weak tissues and in tissue reconstruction?

TheraTogs usage – through reducing the reliance on muscular overdrive – contributes to muscular relaxation, which in turn allows for the needed biomechanical remodeling and improvement.

  • It has been shown that human tissues remodel based upon force transfer and bio-mechanical loading. Poor skeletal alignment in patients with muscular-skeletal impairments presents itself as a self-sustaining vicious cycle that is difficult or impossible to overcome. Faulty mechanical loading through weight bearing activities serves to promote further modeling of tissues following the preferred – though faulty – stress transfer lines  – contractures and scoliosis being only a few of the later and more profound outcomes.

Through improving the mechanical loading properties and providing new preferred pathways the TheraTogs is able to promote a more biomechanically sound tissue remodeling for the user. This has a long-term effect upon both preventing joint degeneration, actually improving the condition of weakened joints, and improving faulty muscular skeletal alignment.

  • At the same time a person with cerebral palsy or other muscular skeletal disorders must constantly over engage the usage of the central nervous system when performing motor functions – meaning – that these individuals have little or no “auto-pilot” mode of motor function.

Through achieving a heightened trunk stability, it becomes possible for the patient to begin to rely on the “auto-pilot” functioning that is normally present in the healthy person who possesses trunk and core strength and stability. This then frees up the central nervous system for other activities – both emotional and cognitive.

Here we can observe both immediate improvements and improvement over time in emotional and cognitive development of users.

  • The attained improved alignment and posture is sending a more normalized proprioceptive “feedback” to the central nervous system on a continuous basis, allowing for an improved muscular skeletal integration within the CNS.

The user is able to emerge from the sensory chaos that impaired structure is imposing upon his sensory system and to gain an improved organization of the proprioceptive base – both for further development of both his motor functions and the emotional and cognitive functions as described in 3 above.

Gains in Function

The TheraTogs provides the trunk with support and alignment of the pelvis and ribcage – improving trunk and core stability. This is achieved through a unique fabric design.  The fabric works in such a way as to provide a healthy “pre-stress” to the tissues that does not in any way disrupt the healthy micro-vascularization of the tissues.

Ordinary compressional garments have been shown to disrupt the micro-vascularizational flow, which then in turn has a negative effect upon tissue development and tissue remodeling.

The TheraTogs fabric construction integrates into the tissue system of the body of the user. As it is worn directly on the skin, the specialized foam construction grips to the external layers of the connective tissues and fascia reaching even the fascia-profound level at the muscular transition. This grip to the skin quality – instead of inhibiting tissue health and “squeezing the tissues” works to improve tissue health.

When donning the garment one first adjusts the pelvis and rib cage manually and thereafter stabilizes the improved position utilizing the garment. This has an immediate and a long-term effect upon function.

A more stable core allows for improvements in:

–      Head and neck control

–      Hand and arm usage and coordination

–      Mini – adjustments and counter balancing movements important for all attempts of the user to find and maintain the upright position.

–      Stabilization of the shoulder girdle with respect to the pelvic girdle

–      Leg positioning in respect to the pelvis

–      Improvements in walking function

–      Etc.

Users experience a much greater ease of motor function. Many children are suddenly able to “do things” they could not or did not do without the TheraTogs. The repertoire increases significantly which in turn gives the child/adult a positive emotional feedback, strengthens the user’s motivation and confidence for additional motor exploration. Counter balancing and micro movement adjustments become more readily available with TheraTogs usage showing us that it is not the central nervous system alone that is responsible for the motor impairment but that the ensuing trunk weakness plays a great role in impairment expression.

Further TheraTogs advantages:

  • Proper usage implies that the garment and strapping is regularly adjusted to follow the users improvements in structure and function.  The TheraTogs is not a “fixed” garment but evolves along with the structural and functional development and improvements of the user.
  • The garment is backed with special foam that clings to and in effect merges with the skin. This means that the garment does not slide over the users body when the user moves, but it is fully integrated into the users dynamic movements and positional changes through a connection to the muscles and deep fascia layers.
  • The garment provides stability but does not impair the users own movements.  This is a great advantage as many orthotics provide stability but significantly limit movement.  Limitation of movement as well as a compressional level that reduces the micro-vascularization has been shown to further promote structural degeneration and reduce improvement potential.
  • The physical therapist can also use a variety of strapping applications during the physical therapy sessions to promote various activities in the user.

Diane Vincentz