Craniosacral Therapy

Chappel_1Hi, my name is Josh Chappell. I love massage therapy and have been a massage therapist for ten years. For my work, I am privileged to work with people who have different abilities (disabilities). It is so very rewarding being able to help somebody to be able to function and feel better.

I also have a son, Bryce, who was diagnosed with Kabuki Syndrome when he was nine months old. As his father, I have been blessed to be able to work with Bryce and observe first-hand the effects of Craniosacral Therapy (CST) for somebody with Kabuki Syndrome. He has made such great progress and I attribute much of that progress to his receiving CST. This article will detail more of what CST is and how it can help you, your child, or the person you care for with Kabuki Syndrome.

In a nutshell, Craniosacral Therapy is a light touch therapy that releases restrictions and adhesions in the Craniosacral System. The Craniosacral System is intimately related to many systems of the body, including: endocrinei, neuromuscular, nervous, immune, lymphatic, and musculoskeletal systems. Because of this relationship, by benefitting the Craniosacral System, these systems are also benefitted.

When I first went to school, we students practiced on each other. I distinctly remember learning Craniosacral Therapy and feeling my partner's cheekbones move. This was so cool to me! From this moment, I became extremely intrigued and wanted to know all I could about Craniosacral Therapy. I have since taken and re-taken classes in Craniosacral Therapy from John Upledger, an osteopathic physician who developed this great therapy.

It can be called many different things: CST, Cranial, Craniosacral -- It is a light-touch therapy in which very light pressure is applied to the bones of the skull, spine, sacrumi and surrounding tissues, releasing restrictions or adhesions that inhibit the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Abnormal pressure is also removed or lessened from the brain. By enhancing flow and releasing adhesions, a better flow of CSF is achieved. CSF is responsible for cushioning and providing nutrients to our nervous system.

This therapy is very beneficial for: mental disorders (autism, ADD/ADHD, hyperactivity, etc.), seizure disorders, neuromuscular disorders (cerebrali palsyi, etc.), sensory integration disorders, and head injury. It helps the whole nervous system (brain, spinal cord, sacrum) relax and by so doing, also benefits related systems (emotional, neurological, neuromuscular, immune, endocrine, etc.)

My son Bryce is now 5 and has been given a combination of problems common to Kabuki that most of us are not used to dealing with ourselves. He was born with a cleft palatei and a heart defect. He had difficulty nursing or eating by mouth so has eaten formula through a feeding tube all of his life. He has a G-tube in his stomach where we feed him using a feeding pump. He has severe developmental delays and sensory issues (akin to sensory integration disorder), and for most of his life, he has had an aversion to any food or liquids(even candy!).

Chappel_2Bryce has been fun to work with, and one of the most memorable experiences I have working with him is when I did a 10-day Craniosacral Therapy trial on him. I worked on him every day for 10 days in a row, using basic Craniosacral techniques. Imagine my wife, Heather's, and my joy when he began tasting, chewing, and swallowing food! Little or no gagging, hardly any hesitation. This was after years of not eating anything and always spitting out the food we offered him. It was more than coincidence. It was a miracle.

Through continued perseverance, we are now able to get him to eat enough calories by mouth on most days that we are able to drop one of his four-daily tube feeds and he's still maintaining his weight. (not only that, but he's also getting some of his nutrition from whole foods, rather than scientifically-formulated "semi-foods")

Needless to say, we are very excited and continue to work with him. I haven't been able to do CST as regularly as I would have liked, but the improvement in his eating is still there. He is chewing and swallowing and tasting so the improvement seems to have been maintained by continually offering him food and keeping his mind active. He is more even-tempered and has less severity in his sensory issues. He is also able to focus better and expresses himself better through vocalizing his needs.

Because consistency really helps to "re-pattern" the whole craniosacral system and help the body become used to the improvement as it becomes more normalized, it is best to find a therapist who can work with the person you care for regularly.

Now, I could stop here and you would have a pretty good idea of what CST can do, but I must tell you about another experience we've had with him. Bryce is constantly on the go. He doesnʼt stay on task for very long, and is always looking for some sort of stimulation or excitement. He would not sit still very easily, but one Sunday before church, I worked on him for about 20 minutes and his behavior improved so much! He seemed much more aware and alert, he sat on our lap through church, and we were absolutely amazed by his progress.

Because I work with many children and adults with different disabilities and varying degrees of severity, I have had the opportunity to use Craniosacral Therapy on many of them. Unanimously between all their parents, they noticed more alertness, better communication, as well as them being more aware of their surroundings as a result of the CST. One teacher even said it helped her student become more "cognitively- minded."

From my experience, Craniosacral Therapy has been nothing short of a miracle therapy in helping my son with the symptoms of Kabuki Syndrome. He still has many of them, but with CST as a complimentary therapy, he is learning to overcome many of them. The symptoms also do not seem as severe. I recommend CST to anybody with a child with Kabuki Syndrome or any other kind of disability.

For questions or comments, you can contact Josh.  To find a craniosacral therapist in your area, go to this website and click on the 'find a practitioner' tab.