History of Osteopathy
Osteopathy was founded over a hundred years ago by Andrew Taylor Still, D.O., an American physician who wanted to look beyond conventional methods and what they had to offer for certain medical conditions. He felt that the body's ability to maintain health was dependent upon structural integrity. Osteopathic philosophy maintains that the body contains the ability to heal itself, and osteopathic treatment is founded on the principle of manual correction of structural problems, rather than by the administration of drugs. Osteopathy Now
Osteopathy is well known and respected throughout Europe and Canada, but is less well known in the United States. Canadian and European trained osteopaths are intensively trained in manual techniques. Their practices consist of evaluation and treatment of the patient's body by using their hands to correct problems in the body's structural alignment. They are not considered physicians. Osteopaths trained in America receive an education similar to a medical doctor plus some training in osteopathic manipulative techniques. After graduation, they may or may not perform any manual techniques in their practices. They are authorized to prescribe medications and generally function as medical doctors. In North America, the mechanical link osteopathic approach is practiced by some physical and occupational therapists, chiropractors, massage therapists, and osteopaths who study manual therapy in order to integrate structural rehabilitation techniques into their treatments.
Practitioners of manual therapy are trained to feel the body for osteopathic lesions. A lesion is defined as something in the body that should move freely but does not. The body is in perpetual movement at all times. Even when we are still, we have many internal rhythms. There are the obvious rhythms of the pulse and the breath, but there are many others as well, including the rhythm and movement of the digestive organs, the pumping of the lymphatic fluids, the rhythmic pumping of the cerebrospinal fluid as it bathes the brain and spinal cord. Any disruption of these rhythms can cause impairment in the body's ability to function and adversely affect health and well being.
Lesions can occur at any time during a person's life, beginning with gestation, and can be the result of accidents, such as car crashes, falls, blows to the head, birth trauma, and the aftermath of surgery or dental work. They can also be caused by poor habits of movement or posture, and emotional issues, such as grief after the loss of a loved one, stress and diverse emotional trauma.
Lesions exist in everyone and generally consist of a combination of physical and emotional trauma in their origins. The body has a finite capacity to absorb these traumas and to continue functioning in a healthy manner. When a body has reached a limit in its ability to absorb trauma without consequence, illness and pain inevitably follow.
Lesions can be primary or secondary. Primary lesions are the actual sources of impairment in function. Secondary lesions are caused by the primary structural problems, and these lesions will resolve spontaneously when the primary lesions are released.
Whole body connection
The body is designed in such a way that one part cannot be affected without all the other parts being affected in return. For example, if we were to visualize the arrangement of soft tissue in the body as a cloth spread out on a table and then tweak one corner of the cloth, we would see that by changing one area of tension in the cloth, all the rest of the surface tension of the cloth would change as well. Thus, a Mechanical Link practitioner can release body tension in a specific area to help the healing process without directly touching it. For example, it is possible to correct a misaligned jaw by healing the structural problems in the pelvis, ankles, skull and neck that are pulling the tendons and ligaments in the jaw out of their correct alignment.
Mechanical Link was developed as an efficient method of evaluating the entire body in a single session, determining which are the primary lesions and targeting them for treatment. Any one of the systems that govern the body can be addressed. Using Mechanical Link, an experienced practitioner can evaluate and treat the musculoskeletal, digestive, respiratory, circulatory, lymph, endocrine, cranial, and nervous systems.
A typical Mechanical Link session consists of gentle palpation on the body to determine where the lesions reside. The practitioner will then determine which lesions are primary by using a technique called inhibitory balancing. On testing, one lesion will release and the other will remain blocked. The lesions that do not release are the primary blockages. They are the ones that are targeted for treatment.
Once the primary lesions have been isolated, the practitioner is ready to begin treatment. Treatment consists of a technique called recoil. The practitioner very gently positions the affected body part containing the lesion. Using a precise amount of direction, speed and vibration, the practitioner then releases it by recoiling using the hands. This action triggers a response in the mechano receptors in the area, which send signals to the central nervous system and frees the blockage. Because the treatment focuses on the primary lesion, it has a profound effect on the areas depending on it as well, which then will also release in response and begin to heal themselves. Since Mechanical Link addresses the whole person and releases lesions that contain emotional components as well, treatment can have a global effect on the person's health, happiness and ability to function.
#1: M.M. was referred to a Mechanical Link practitioner by his occupational therapist. M.M. was a five year old boy whose behavioral issues were so extreme that he was unable to attend school. He had been diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder and food allergies. His O.T. observed that he had many sensory issues: he hated to be touched, could not tolerate loud noises, became car sick almost immediately, did not like to have his feet off the ground, and was visually quite distractible. His balance and strength were far below what they should have been for his age level, and although he was very bright, he scored far below the norms on standardized tests evaluating visual motor and cognitive perceptual development. He was often violent and could not play with his siblings and peers without fighting. He had harmed his baby sister several times. His sleep patterns were erratic, and he had a hard time transitioning between activities. Frequently throwing tantrums when asked to end one activity in order to begin another, he required constant structure and limit-setting.
During his first visit he was evaluated by the Mechanical Link practitioner and treated for lesions in the leg and pelvis. Initially, he was seen once every three weeks. As his symptoms were alleviated and the lesions decreased, the treatments were spaced further apart. Within a few months, he was learning to read and write, could walk on a balance beam, throw a ball, play age appropriate games, and take turns. His oppositional and violent behaviors had decreased dramatically. The next school year, he was placed in a regular classroom without incident. He continues to receive treatments every two months to support his development and is functioning within the school system.
M.M.'s case is an example of why it is crucial to be able to evaluate the entire body in order to make effective, lasting changes. Based on his mother's report of her pregnancy and M.M.'s birth, and from the occupational therapist's observations of his sensory and behavioral issues, the Mechanical Link practitioner had assumed that the dominant lesions would be found in his skull. On palpation, however, the problem areas were found in M.M.'s leg and pelvis, and he responded to treatment quickly.
#2: Another client, L.B., sought treatment for a sprained ankle that had not healed after two and a half years. The client had several physical complaints; including intermittent jaw pain and cracking due to chronic tooth grinding, constant foot pain, swelling in both ankles, and pain in the lower limbs when arising in the morning and after being seated for long periods. She was almost one hundred pounds over her ideal weight, and she suffered from depression and lack of confidence in her abilities, although she was a well-educated and successful professional.
An initial examination revealed long-standing lesions stemming from trauma suffered in childhood. Some were physical in origin. L.B. endured many years of orthodontia, dentistry, and oral surgery to correct a serious overbite, and she suffered the usual falls and accidents of childhood. Some, however, were emotional in origin. L.B. lost her mother at a very young age, and was raised by an abusive alcoholic father, which resulted in L.B. having a very lonely and difficult childhood.
After a few visits to correct the structural problems, L.B. was given Mechanical Link treatments focusing on releasing the emotional lesions that were causing her so much pain. After receiving treatments once a month for 6 months, L.B. lost a considerable amount of weight, and reported to her practitioner that she was no longer eating in response to anxiety or stress. She had begun to actively grieve for her mother. Despite years of psychotherapy she had suppressed her grief and pain for over 30 years, which had been affecting her physically and emotionally every day.
After a year of monthly treatments, the pain and swelling in her feet and ankles went away. She stopped grinding her teeth at night, and her jaw pain vanished. In addition, her depressive episodes diminished, and, as her confidence and motivation increased, she realized her dream of entering private practice in her profession.
#3: Mechanical Link can also be extremely effective in treating localized injury, as in the case of W.B., who woke up one morning with lower back spasms and acute pain. He was unable to straighten and stand upright. He leaned greatly to the left, most likely due to a herniated disc at the L4-L5 level. He was treated using the whole body approach that same day. The Mechanical Link practitioner recommended that he walk and exercise as tolerated and the practitioner provided him with back extension exercises.
By that afternoon, he reported to be 60 per cent better, feeling well enough to go sledding with his children. He was treated again the next day, utilizing a localized approach to the spine. Within 48 hours, he was 85 per cent better, and by the third day, he was completely out of pain. He had regained all of the range of motion in his spine and was standing and moving normally. He was advised to return in four weeks and to continue to exercise and resume his normal activities.
Who can benefit?
Mechanical Link can be performed on anyone, from pregnant women, the smallest infant, to the most elderly. It addresses not only the whole body but also the whole person, physical, mental, and emotional. Mechanical Link can be very effective in improving conditions that have not responded well to conventional treatment. This includes joint related pain in the neck, back, hip, knees, shoulders, etc., chronic headaches and migraine, breathing disorders such as asthma, post-partum blues, depression, gait abnormality, trauma following a stroke or motor vehicle accident, sleep disorders, reflux, ADD and ADHD, autism, hyperactivity, cerebral palsy, behavioral problems, developmental delay, motor incoordination, etc.
Treatment frequency and duration
How long a Mechanical Link session lasts, how often the client is seen, and how many sessions are required depends on what the practitioner finds, how severe and longstanding the lesions are, how the lesions respond to treatment, and the level of experience of the practitioner. Mechanical Link practitioners operate under the philosophy that less is more and that given the correct opportunity, the body will heal itself.