ONCE UPON a time, there was a man named Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, who invented osteopathy in America. He based his new science within medicine on five fundamental principles, plus a thorough and complete knowledge of anatomy and physiology. All this happened in 1874.
The first of these principles was that ‘structure governs function’. Fundamentally, this means that if the structure of the person is corrected then full health will follow. The other principles can be summarised as ‘all fluid flows within the body, must be free and all homeostatic mechanisms must be in balance’. Dr. Still achieved this in treatment by using a variety of manual techniques.
The expression of these underlying principles is not fixed and is re-evaluated with each new generation of osteopaths, all of whom make their contribution to the philosophical body of thought, which underpins the profession, and its expression through treatment of patients with a whole variety of complaints.
Osteopaths work with their minds as well as their hands. Without this background in philosophy and a full grasp of anatomy and physiology, you are not working safely. Without the fundamental training in thinking, any practitioner is merely applying techniques without a clear foreknowledge of the potential outcomes of their actions. The mere application of taught techniques, based on simple protocols, is not osteopathic work.
The next big name to come along was that of one of A.T. Still’s students, William Garner Sutherland. He commenced his life’s work of extending osteopathic understanding of health and disease into the realm of what is now referred to as ‘cranial technique’. It must be clearly stated that this is a natural evolution of the osteopathic thought and philosophy brought to us by Dr. Still, not some new discipline arising separately.
Sutherland commenced his studies while still a student of osteopathy in America. He worked out the underlying concepts and practical applications entirely alone. He performed many experiments on himself, producing and correcting cranial lesions. After about 30 years of work, he was able to successfully apply his work to treating patients.
At first, this osteopathy in the cranial field was generally regarded as the dream of an erratic. However, no one could refute the results he obtained and more and more requests for treatment came from patients and tuition from colleagues.
The study of the cranial concept includes: a thorough understanding of the principles of osteopathy; a detailed knowledge of the relevant anatomy of the central nervous system; adoption of the premise that there is motion between the bones of the skull and that the cerebro-spinal fluid (CSF), which lubricates the whole of the brain and spinal cord, is the motivating force within the system, that problems in this system can create all kinds of health problems and that the correction of these ‘lesions’ can restore health.
The ability of the osteopath to work in this realm needs an excellent sense of palpation. This is not an ordinary sense of touch, but an ability that can be learned, and I have taught, to sense the motion of the structures within the body. These motions follow particular patterns and this is where the osteopath’s knowledge of ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ is very important. Osteopathic technique is governed by and through the intelligent application of this cultivated sense of touch.
This approach to technique has, in my view, several advantages: it is very gentle, which allows the treatment of people in a great deal of pain, the elderly and, of course, infants and children. Its application through the movement of the CSF allows a wider range of conditions to be treated. This means that more people can be helped to regain their health.
• For more information about your individual problem, contact Dra. Clarke at Clinica Natural in Boliqueime on 917 464 672.