Last week, I read a great post about what cranial osteopathy is and what it is often confused with (cranial sacral therapy, reiki, fish slapping). It is written by a UK osteopath with 20 years' experience and she puts it much better than I can. Her site osteofm is a great resource for osteopathic news and discussion.
Here is an except from her post:
(Cranial osteopathy) is not a completely different treatment modality from “structural”. There is a continuum of osteopathic techniques, from the stronger, coarser and more direct, to the subtler, gentler, lighter and more indirect. They are all based on osteopathic principles, freeing restrictions, restoring comfortable anatomical relationships, taking pressure off co pressed areas and so on, and I would argue that they affect the body on different levels from gross to subtle, and mainly differ in their strength and direction of application.
Different patients and situations need different kinds of treatment, and the best osteopaths can do all kinds. To be a good all rounder is the ideal, but good all rounders are as rare in osteopathy as in the English cricket team. Most osteopaths find their place somewhere along the spectrum. Some at the extremely mechanistic end often can’t feel or understand the subtler end, and might dismiss it as flaky, self-delusional or ineffectual; some at the other extreme might feel that the stronger ones are often too forceful and lack insight and sensitivity and understanding of the body.
Hopefully patients end up selecting the practitioner, by trial and error, that works for them. There is not normal osteopathy (physical therapy) and weird osteopathy (faith healing). There is just osteopathy.
And yes, cranial osteopathy is badly named, as we work on more than just the head. Some of the phenomena we feel as practitioners and our patients experience may sound weird or far out, but it is very similar to what stroke survivor Jill Bolte told her audience at a Ted conference. She found that her perception switched, similar to what we experience in treatment, during a stroke in which only her right brain was working. Perhaps something happens in cranial treatments that gets our right brains firing? That's my guess.
Last month, the ABC reported on an unusual senior who was going on a trip of a lifetime. For the last 6 months, 90-year-old Norma has been travelling around the USA in a campervan with her son Tim and daughter-in-law Ramie. Norma, who hails from Michigan, decided to travel after being diagnosed with uterine cancer.
Her best options included surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Having just watched her husband pass away earlier that week in hospice care, Norma made the difficult decision to forgo treatment and instead spend the rest of her life pursuing one of her great loves.
"I'm 90-years-old, I'm hitting the road," she told her doctor.
While Norma is not in pain, the family said they did worry in the beginning whether the trip was irresponsible. "[One doctor] begged her to follow through with 'traditional' treatment, saying: 'Don't you want to live to be 95?," Ramie said.
Another fully supported the decision. "As doctors, we see what cancer treatment looks like everyday," he said. "Intensive care units, nursing homes, awful side effects — honestly there is no guarantee she will survive the initial surgery to remove the mass. You are doing exactly what I would want to do in this situation. Have a fantastic trip!"
Ramie said she hoped the trip would help families start their own conversation. "We are grateful that a conversation has started about end-of-life care. There are so many lessons in this journey," she said.
And what does Norma say about it all? "Well, it is a once in a lifetime opportunity, that's for sure."
You can follow Norma on her facebook page. She was invited to be part of a St Patrick's Day parade last week, and before that, she got her first ever pedicure!
Sleep training and sleep school for babies is big business, and if you are a new mum, chances are that someone in your mother's group has already tried it.
There are different methods of sleep training, however, a new study has shown that genetics, not sleep training or the way a mom or dad parents their child, plays a large role in how babies sleep through the night.
The new research, reported in the June issue of Pediatrics, assessed the nighttime and daytime sleep habits of 995 sets of twins at 6, 18, 30, and 48 months of age. The researchers found that it didn’t matter if parents used the cry-it-out method, co-sleeping or another sleep method if their child was genetically hard-wired to wake frequently through the night. In other words, ignoring such a baby (as instructed by the cry-it-out method) won’t help change your baby’s habits, and it would be more beneficial long-term to give them comfort.
Genetics were seemingly responsible for the sleep habits of roughly half of the babies in the survey. 47% of 6 month-old babies, 58% of 30 month-old babies and 54% of 48 month-old tots showed no change in their nighttime sleep patterns regardless of what their parents did or didn't do.
Parents, don't despair. The study also showed that daytime sleep is more strongly affected by environmental issues than genetics. Longer baby daytime naps can be achieved with a quiet, dark, uninterrupted sleep space.
Also, at the 18 month mark, many babies suddenly became more affected by sleep environments instead of genetics. This means that the 18 month mark may be a good time to intervene and try to instill new sleep habits in little ones who still don’t sleep through the night.
Weight loss advice tends to be one of two things : Fewer calories in, more calories out or do more exercise. However, we are ignoring something that can cause results to vary vastly - our brain.
Psychologist and novelist Michael Graziano writes in the Aeon that hunger is like a mood. He says: "Hunger is a process that’s always present, always running in the background, only occasionally rising into consciousness. When it slowly rises or eases back down, even when it’s beneath consciousness, it alters our decisions. It warps our priorities and our emotional investment in long-term goals. It even changes our sensory perceptions – often quite profoundly."
For instance, when you are hungry, the burger on your plate looks tiny, already, you are thinking of having another one. But when you are full, the same burger may look enormous. Dr Graziano, who is a professor of neuroscience at Princeton University, says: "It isn’t just the food itself. Your own body image is warped. When the hunger mood rises, you feel a little thinner, the diet feels like it’s working and you can afford a self-indulgence. When satiety kicks in, you feel like a whale."
Ironically, the very act of trying to lose weight makes us more likely to put weight on. We may have enough self control to eat smaller main meals, but we forget how much we snack. And the same goes for exercise. If we've done a big session at the gym, we might whisper to the chocolate chip muffin, yes I've earned you today.
Dr Graziano writes: "The obesity epidemic is not an issue of calories or willpower. I began to suspect that our problem with obesity is a problem of poisoning the normal regulatory system. We possess a system that’s intricate and beautifully calibrated. It evolved over millions of years to be good at its job. It should work in the background without any conscious effort, but for more than two-thirds of us it doesn’t. "
For over a year, he experimented with his own diet and lost over 20kg. He noticed that 3 bad habits appeared to consistently boost his hunger. He calls them the super-high death-carb diet, the low-fat craze, and the calorie-counting trap.
He said: "The super-high death-carb diet has become normal US fare. We get up in the morning and eat a croissant, or pancakes with syrup, or a muffin. Or cereal and milk. The cereal is all carbs. Then comes lunch. Suppose I’m unhealthy and eat a fast-food, McDonald’s lunch. We think of it as greasy food, but beyond the grease the burger has a bun and the ketchup is sugar paste. The fries are all carbs. The large soda is sugar water. The grease is only a tiny part of the meal. Maybe you feel morally superior and prefer a ‘healthy’ lunch, a deli sandwich that’s mainly French bread. And chips. And a Snapple. All carbs."
A low-carb diet makes you lose weight because you eat less. Or (perhaps more accurately), the ridiculous, super-high death-carb diet stokes up the hunger mechanism and your eating goes out of control.
As numerous studies have now established, fat reduces hunger. Take it away and the hunger mood soars. It’s not a simple relationship, and the effect is gradual as the hypothalamus learns associations over time.
But the most insidious attack on the hunger mechanism might be the chronic diet. The more you try to micromanage your automatic hunger control mechanism, the more you mess with its dynamics. Skip breakfast, cut calories at lunch, eat a small dinner and you poke the hunger tiger. All you do is put yourself in the vicious cycle of trying to exert willpower and failing.
Dr Graziano said: "In some ways, the hunger system is like the breathing system. The brain has an unconscious mechanism that regulates breathing. Suppose that system got shut down so that it was up to you to consciously control your own breath, adjusting its rate and depth depending on factors such as blood oxygen, carbon dioxide level, physical exertion, and so on. What would happen? You’d die in about 10 minutes. You’d lose track of the necessities.
"The intellectual, conscious mind is not really good at these matters of regulating the internal environment. It’s better to leave the job as much as possible to the dedicated systems that evolved to do it. What you can do with your conscious mind is to set the general parameters. Put yourself in a place where your automatic systems can operate correctly. Don’t put a plastic bag over your head. Likewise, don’t eat the super-high death-carb, low-fat diet. Don’t micromanage your brainstem by counting every calorie. You might be surprised at how well your health self-regulates."
Here is a wonderful video showing what happens from conception to birth. Don't worry, it's all computer animation and no babies were harmed in the process. What is interesting for an osteopath is notice how early all the important structures are formed (within the first 12 weeks) and we are mostly just getting larger after that. Also, look at how the baby has to twist one way and reverse to get out at birth. This may result in birth strains, especially if the labour is a long one. If you are interested in the journey from conception to birth, look out for this really good 3 part documentary Countdown to Life available on ABC iView.
All entries complied by osteopath Dr Wei Chua unless otherwise stated.