ROLLA - A new health tool is giving Elizabeth Hanson and Rose Grimson of Rolla something more to offer clients with physical conditions that can benefit from additional therapy.
Hanson, who offers complementary therapies in her business, The Health Tap, and Grimson, an early childhood intervention specialist, trained at a seminar in Montana in craniosacral fascial therapy, or CFT.
Craniosacral therapy is based on the premise that the brain and spinal cord have a slight, gentle motion, which affects the workings of the central nervous system. The fascia is a full-body connective tissue web that can apply pressure to the nerves, muscles, organs and bones. The idea behind the therapy is that a freely moving brain and unrestricted fascia are a must.
Rose Grimson, left, and Elizabeth Hanson, right, provide a craniosacral fascial therapy session to Reece Laducer, 21 months, in Rolla Jan. 24.
Elizabeth Hanson works with her 7-month-old grandson, Samuel Bercier, during a craniosacral fascial therapy session in Rolla Jan. 24.
During CFT, a practitioner makes a light touch on the body. If the body part doesn't react, the practitioner moves on. If the body moves that corresponding part, the practitioner will support that movement.
"It's very gentle. You can't be hurt by it because the body doesn't get pushed past where it wishes to go," Hanson said. "It's just to be open and aware and let the body do what it does."
"The body knows where the constrictions are. It finds them and relaxes," Grimson added. "I think of it as lending my energy to their energy so they have a little extra to go with."
The women find that CFT works especially well with children.
Grimson had been working several months in early childhood intervention with a baby from Belcourt who was experiencing floppy muscle tone with twitching and regressed development that began when he was only a few months old.
"He was progressing with physical therapy for a while," Jennifer Laducer said of her son, Reece. "Then he kind of started to regress. We pretty much doubled up his physical therapy and it just wasn't helping. He was kind of plateauing."
Having seen a few different specialists, Reece's condition remains officially undiagnosed, she said.
After introducing the family to Hanson, Grimson began providing Reece with CFT together with Hanson last October. Since then, Reece, now 21 months old, has had less muscle tension and more strength and flexibility.
"It's really been great, actually," Laducer said of the progress Reece is making. Reece's doctor had suggested seizure medicine, but since starting CFT, issues of twitching, rolling eyes and clenched hands have eased. Reece currently is on no medicine, his mother said.
"He seems to be a lot happier and more relaxed whenever he's done with a session," Laducer said. "He usually falls asleep on the way home."
Esther Hanson Bercier, Hanson's daughter, finds CFT has the same effect on her 7-month-old son.
"He always feels better afterwards. He will have a big, long nap," she said.
Hanson and Bercier credit CFT, performed shortly after the boy's birth, for correcting a mild clubfoot, avoiding the need for the usual surgery.
Hanson and Grimson said children seem to enjoy the therapy sessions, and parents have been receptive when offered the option.
"As parents of children with disabilities, they just want to help their kids, and this is another way to help their children," Hanson said.
Hanson and Grimson personally found CFT helpful for common ailments such as eye strain and back pain.
While CFT doesn't replace traditional medicine or other holistic health practices, it provides another option that can help with some conditions, Hanson said. Hanson, who also is trained in another holistic, self-healing therapy called Body Talk, sometimes will use elements of Body Talk to complement CFT.
Hanson and Grimson practice a form of craniosacral fascial therapy known as the Gillespie Approach, developed by periodontist Barry Gillespie. The Gillespie Approach is described as a means of optimizing brain function to address conditions from allergies to whiplash. It is promoted as an alternative treatment for infant breast-feeding issues, colic, constipation and may help with cerebral palsy.
In 2006, Gillespie created the Baby Brain Score as a screening tool to assess a newborn's brain function. A medical article about the scoring system was published in the peer-reviewed "The Internet Journal of Pediatrics and Neonatology" in 2010. Gillespie recommends testing for all newborns and the use of CFT with infants with low scores.