Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Functional Neurology part 2

Functional Neurology continued...
The following information was derived from a combination of our consultation (last Friday) with Dr. Theirl (from Functional Restoration) and an interview Dr. Theirl conducted with Natural Mom's Talk Radio.

Starting in early infancy aspects of multiple senses such as light, movement, sound, smell, and taste are present and ignite brain development. There is one constant thing that is always there no matter what you do: Gravity. Because it is always there, our bodies and nervous systems are designed to move through gravity with ease and use constant stimulation from joints and muscles to activate our brain in a way that supports cognitive development. However, some people struggle to move through gravity with ease. One thing Dr. Theirl looks at is crawling. He finds that often times people with cognitive functioning deficits had trouble crawling or may even benefit from crawling improvement as teens or adults.

Crawling drives your cerebellum function in what is called cross cord mechanisms. You want to make sure your cross cord mechanisms are strong.

As I mentioned, it might be critical to re-teach crawling patterns. In Calvin's case, we want to focus on teaching him crawling patterns because he has Down syndrome and therefore struggles more with coordination, patterning, and organizing. This has been evident since he was a baby and he had to work at feeding. It took time for him to know what to do when the bottle came in to his mouth. He is finally nursing well enough that I do not have to have a drip cloth under his cheek. Of course not every child with Down syndrome struggles in the same way, which is why we are personalizing Calvin's treatment plan to meet his needs.

Calvin needs help in patterning. This is seen in other ways as well as his inability to crawl (again, not that he would necessarily be expected to crawl yet, but it is a good idea to start teaching him how to pattern his hand and leg movements).

So, to do so, we are using an interactive metronome to provide both sound and rhythm to have him pattern to. You can get a free metronome right online and here is the one we've used: FREE METRONOME

Interactive metronome strengthens movement patterns to stimulate the cerebellum. As the cerebellum gets stronger it helps reflexively with movements.

We set the metronome to 60 beats per minute (one per second) and lie Calvin on his back. Then, for at least 15 seconds (longer if he will tolerate it) we mimic crawling. To do so, you need 2 people: One at feet, one at hands. Then we touch Cal's palm to his opposite knee to the tempo of the metronome. Simple really. Really simple.

After the 15 to 30 seconds, we stop the metronome, flip him over, and support his waist/weight. We put a toy slightly out of reach and watch for his hands to start alternating to reach that toy.

Flip him back over after he reaches the toy (want it to be positive, so reward even if the movement is not there) and start over. We want to do this 2 times a day and Dr. Theirl said we should see him start to pattern fairly soon.

Unfortunately Joe has been sick with a stomach bug and we have not begun it but plan to tonight when he gets home from work. I will keep you posted.

If you are interested I recommend listening to that interview but it is long (30 minutes or so). Interactive Metronome Therapy is not new, but it is to us.
Dr. Theirl said he would check on Calvin in a couple of months when he is back in the area. I am very grateful for any work I can do with Calvin. I have many thoughts but I will save them for another post. It is simply not the easiest thing to parent a child with special needs. Us parents have to be our child's advocate and it is my desire to be open to every possibility. And, when it is scientifically supported, I feel comfortable giving it a chance. If I close doors simply because I do not understand them, then I could be doing more harm than good.


  1. I hope it works for you guys and can't wait to hear how he's doing with it.

  2. I look forward to hearing more about how this helps Calvin! It really is amazing all the things that can help our kiddos!

  3. I've always know that crawling was important, but I didn't know why. Thanks for sharing!! I wonder since I teach music and use metronomes regularly if some of that has rubbed of on Reagan already. I'm going to ask her PT when she gets here in a few minutes about this.

  4. So interesting. My dad has always told me how important crawling is (and even jokes that my own lack of grace stems from the fact that I pretty much skipped crawling), so this is great to read. It will also give me insight as Cora gets to this point! Thanks.