Developmental / Neurological Disorders

Eighty percent of all neuro-developmental problems in children are not associated with a specific diagnosis. Many of these have their origin in a traumatic birth experience which left an ongoing compromise to the central nervous system, either due to direct structural injury or compromised oxygen levels at this critical time.

A prolonged labor, or one that needed the help of forceps or vacuum extraction, may take its toll in the relationship of one bone to another, or in irritation and tension on the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. This affects the function of the central nervous system as it grows and may lead to developmental delays or learning disabilities. If oxygen was at a lower than ideal level surrounding the time of birth similar complications may ensue.

Osteopathic treatment helps the body to use its inherent abilities to heal by correcting structural disturbances. A few examples demonstrate the principles involved in treatment.
When the compression on the baby's head distorts the shape of the opening where the brainstem leaves the skull to become the spinal cord, the resultant pressure causes spasticity of the limbs. Gentle osteopathic treatment to help this opening return to the shape it had before the difficult birth can normalize the tone of the baby's muscles.

When the membranes which lie between the skull and brain are irritated from the compression of the skull in the birth process, one may see tremors and twitches and generalized irritability. Gentle osteopathic treatment to release this membrane restriction can result in a calm nervous system able to function more normally.

When oxygen compromise was a factor, osteopathic treatment aims to ensure good function of the respiratory center in the brain as well as free motion in the ribs and diaphragm.


We help children with autism. Refer to our autism page to learn more.


ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) are neurobehavioral developmental disorders primarily characterized by inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. These disorders are the most commonly diagnosed psychiatric disorders in children, teenagers, and is believed to affect about 7% of children. ADHD is most common in boys than in girls and affects them two to four times more than girls.  The majority of children diagnosed with ADD / ADHD continue to have its symptoms through adulthood. It is believed that two to five percent of adults live with this condition. 

Osteopathy along with nutritional and biomedical intervention has been used successfully in the treatment of this disorder (ADD)  Craniosacral osteopathy looks for slight changes in the cerebrospinal fluid, this is the fluid found around the brain and the spinal cord. This fluid when it does not have any restrictions in function, has a particular rhythm, flow, and beat. Osteopathy aims to work at releasing any blockages that may be present throughout the central nervous system and brain allowing optimum level of central nervous system function.


What can the osteopathic approach offer to a genetic syndrome? When one thinks about the dynamic relationship between body structure and body function, one can see the value of osteopathy in Down Syndrome.

The typical face of a child with Down Syndrome is flat in the area of the cheeks and the bridge of the nose, and the whole head is short from front to back, wide from side to side. The ears are often low set and the tongue often protrudes from the mouth. Even though there is a genetic component to these typical features, they are all capable of change with treatment. As the structure becomes more anatomically typical, the function of related systems improves. One example might help to illustrate.

The recessed mid face makes for small sinus cavities which drain poorly. As osteopathic treatment allows the mid face to come forward and the bridge of the nose to become more prominent, the sinus cavities can drain more normally and these children are no longer sicker than their peers.

The distorted shape of the whole skull in children with Down Syndrome is partly due to the way the bones of the skull come together. But this is dramatically influenced by the membrane system that lies beneath the bones. These membranes are typically very restricted in these children and when released osteopathically, the skull attains a more typical shape.

Since healthy neurologic development is partly dependant on the precise geometry of the skull, allowing the nerve pathways to lay themselves down correctly, this improvement of cranial shape can have a beneficial effect on development and learning.

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