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 Osteopathy: Child Development 
What is a brain injured child?

Brain injury may be microscopic, or it may be global. It may be recognized in disturbances of learning, of visual perception or even of speech. But these are minor disabilities in a generally healthy child. The global brain injury resulting from illness in mother during pregnancy, injury during a long or difficult birth or injury after birth such as a car accident will reveal itself as major disability. It may affect mobility; as for example spastic cerebral palsy or language impairment or as a generalized developmental delay of physical growth and activity and mental or emotional delay.

What can we do for the brain injured child?

A developmentalist can provide you, the parent, with the tools/activities and education to give your child the needed sensory stimulation at the appropriate developmental level.

Why is this important?

Movement is learning. It allows the brain to know where the body is in relation to the world, it provides the opportunity for increased experience of touch, vision and hearing. A brain injury can create barriers that stifle this process. Guidance in the form of patterning movements, increased touch, visual, or hearing stimulation at the correct level can help reorganize these processes in the brain.

What is a healthy, disorganized child?

Neurological development within the brain occurs as a result of interaction with the child’s environment. Prone on the floor the baby begins the effort to crawl, army style. When care givers talk to the baby about everything all his waking hours he will begin to babble back and progressively acquire language. A baby soon finds fingers and toes to play with but will then discover objects in the environment to manipulate, to play with, to take apart, and eventually reassemble. But for the child with some degree of brain injury this interaction with the environment is obstructed. The developmentalist provides techniques to replace these deficiencies by various exercises such as patterning to cultivate integrated arm, leg, head movement, visual tracking of the eyes while maintaining a clear single visual image whether at far or near and manual dexterity. Such activities provide organized sensory input which stimulates effective, integrated motor output. Minimal cerebral dysfunction occurs in the child with very little if any abnormality in the MRI. But this child may lack coordination of walking, running or skipping. He may have difficulty following a line of print from side to side or a column of figures from above down or transcribing from the board to his desk in school.

The developmentalist teaches the child by means of sensory input - the child learns the sensation of crawling and creeping, learns the sensation of tracking with the eyes and learns the sensations that are perceived through the skin moment by moment through the day. This stimulation program known by the general term of patterning is taught to the family to perform at home.

What can we do for the disorganized healthy child?

There is no visible pathology in the brain, but this child finds it difficult to receive, process, retrieve and use information. There is a glitch in the integration necessary for organized thought processes.

What can we do for the disorganized healthy child?

A developmentalist can provide you, the parent, with the tools/activities and education to guide your child to live in a more organized way. Recognition of visual, touch, or hearing processing problems will help to design approaches to learning that integrate all the senses so that there is success in learning.

Why is this important?

If the process of thought is in a jumble because the path is not even or complete, then it is difficult to get through the day. Think of the thought process as climbing a ladder. If a few rungs are missing or incomplete then it is far more difficult to climb. It is important to integrate all our senses so that we can perform our best.

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