Cerebral Palsy and Biomechanical Diet.
In my constant attempts of making the ABR message more user-friendly I have recently stumbled upon an interesting angle that I want to share today and bring it to your judgment.
I would appreciate the feedback and responses – indicating whether this angle is worth further pursuing.
I guess the title of the post itself “Cerebral palsy and Biomechanical Diet” pretty much indicates the angle that I plan to take – but let me give you some details.
First of all – some field observations.
I must say that the children with Cerebral Palsy – at least the children of ABR Families – are the best nourished and taken care of individuals that I have ever encountered in my life.
They are given the best organic foods, home-cooked, balanced for a full spectrum of nutritional needs, delivered at regular intervals and with consistent daily/ weekly routine. On top of that – each child receives a complete set of supplements – from iron to aminoacids to vitamins – that target the weakest links in the nutritional chains and take care of the gaps left by the staple diet itself.
Experience shows – such a serious approach to the diet of a child with Cerebral Palsy, especially a weaker quadriplegic one – is vital and essential. Without such attention to detail and installation of consistent routines – things go downhill very quickly: troubles with digestion; stomach pains; vulnerability to infections; constipation; intoxication; weight loss and so on.
What I want to do in this post is to draw some parallels...
First – in order to thrive Musculoskeletal system needs not only regular ‘metabolic’ foods but the special kind of food – mechanical stimuli.
It won’t be too far of a stretch to say that musculoskeletal system at all the levels – from deep fascial core to the superficial striated muscles – feeds of mechanical interactions with external environment.
In other words –mechanical stimuli are food for musculoskeletal system.
Well, and here is the first parallel – such mechanical stimuli could be “nutritious” or “empty”; they could be “staple” foods or “pleasure” foods; they could be “balanced” or “imbalanced” …
Basically everything you know about nutrition and diet principles for the ‘metabolic’ foods very much applies to the mechanical foods as well.
Where is a quadriplegic child with Cerebral Palsy in this picture? – A quadriplegic child in a mechanical sense is in a position similar to those victims of starvation that you regularly see in the news when there is a famine somewhere in the less developed regions of the world.
Why? – because in the regular mechanical interactions with environment –hungry and bullying superficial muscles are the ones that take the lion share of the mechanical stimuli that come from the external environment in the form of the reaction forces.
On the organismic level such ‘egotistic’ tendencies of the superficial muscles doesn’t do them any good – because the starvation of the deeper and more fundamental fascial levels leads to further destruction of the larger movement system. However, every single element of the body when ‘grabbing’ their share of mechanical foods is regulated at the level of local autonomous nervous system – so it is ultimately egotistic. It’s the most basic act of mechano-transduction that doesn’t engage the central regulation. It’s very much “every man for himself right here right now” – no matter what happens in the long-run. Local autonomous reactions of the musculoskeletal elements to the direct mechanical stimuli have no consideration of the long-term ‘collective good’ at the organismic level.
The central regulation, i.e. the brain, faces the unfortunate task of dealing with the consequences of such disproportional ‘grab’ of mechanical foods.
So that’s the key idea –a child with Cerebral Palsy, especially a quadriplegic one, needs strategic and targeted Biomechanical Diet in order to overcome these imbalances in the spontaneous ‘mechanical food’ grab by individual musculoskeletal elements and in order to maximize the long-term developmental potential at the organismic level.
What are you doing with ABR? – Exactly that: mechanically feeding the weak but important ones – deep fascial structures
In essence ABR is a highly targeted biomechanical diet that delivers the ‘mechanical food’ in the form of mechanical stimuli to the structures that have been starving since birth – deep myofascial core.
To do so we need to be technically tricky because we need to bypass the superficial layers that out of their own ‘egotistic’ autonomous responses “want” to ‘grab’ whatever mechanical stimuli come their way – no matter whether it’s good for the entire body in the long-term or not.
You have heard that in our articles and in conference presentations we have been pedaling two main terms – ‘stress shielding’ effect and ‘biomechanical homeostasis’ – focusing on the fact that stress shielding inevitably destabilizes biomechanical homeostasis (self-regulation) and leads to the downwards spiral of deterioration for the entire musculoskeletal system and respectively to distortions, deformities, aggravated spasticity and all the other negatives.
The context of mechanical stimuli being ‘biomechanical foods/nutrition’ helps to visualize the ‘stress-shielding’ effect easier.
What happens with stress-shielding effect? – The stronger muscles or fascia (actually any mechanical element in the co-responding pair )– ‘bullies’ the weak one by grabbing the lion’s share of the mechanical stimuli that come from reaction forces. As a result the strong one keeps getting stronger and the weak one deteriorates at ever increasing rate.
The term ‘homeostasis’ is originally a biochemical/ physiological one and refers to the co-dependence and self-regulation of biochemical processes in the human body organized in inter-dependent chains.
So, when you work on balancing your child’s diet – foods and supplements for optimal nutrition – you are trying to improve the parameters of the biochemical (metabolic) homeostasis.
And you know from experience :
- How important such bio-chemical balance is;
- How difficult it might be to fine-tune it;
- How essential is consistency in implementation of the proper diet.
In that light – what are the so-called “therapies for Cerebral Palsy” that compete for your attention? – They are the bio-mechanical diets.
Whether the proponents of a certain training or “correctional” physical method realize it or not – their primary impact always lands directly at the elements of the musculoskeletal system. Whenever you impose any movement onto your child’s body or place him in a specific position – you are delivering some biomechanical foods. That’s a fact – whether you realize it or not. It’s the same as with the digestive tract – whatever falls down the throat is food, period. Whether it’s good or bad – that’s a next question.
The same thing is with the movements as well – your physical impacts are the mechanical foods for your child’s body.
Now the question is: Are these foods really “mechanically nutritious”? and even more importantly: Are these mechanical foods properly balanced and target the weakest link in the biomechanical homeostasis?
There are areas – deep fascial core – that are starving being depleted of mechanical ‘food’ since birth and that in a Cerebral Palsy child get no ‘food’ spontaneously; and there are areas – spastic superficial muscles – that are ‘overfed’ with mechanical stimuli by means of everyday interaction with environment; – are you targeting the right ones with your ‘therapy’?!
So the key message is simple:
- Biomechanical diet is as essential as metabolic diet.
- Proper balance in biomechanical diet is as important as in metabolic diet – which structures are you feeding: the starving ones or the overfed ones?
- Positive experiences from metabolic diet should encourage you to look optimistically at the long-term potential of the biomechanical diet.
- Strategic approach and understanding of the weakest links and targets is as fundamental for a biomechanical diet as it is for the metabolic ones.
- If you neglect the nutrition and diet or choose it wrongly – there are all sorts of negative consequences…
These are some key ideas of Biomechanical Diet for Cerebral Palsy concept – I’d be happy to get into some extra details in the following posts – but first I’d appreciate some response on whether you find this angle helpful altogether.
Thanks for your time…