In 2006, I was studying the Apgar Score, which checks the critical vital signs at birth and basically gets a newborn into the world alive. I noticed the nervous system was not a prominent part of that score. I felt that a separate score, done directly at birth, was critical to assess potential future quality of life issues. I originally called it the Brain Score, but in 2011 my daughter told me to soften the language to the Baby Brain Score (BBS).
The BBS is done only in the first few minutes of life. The score indicates to the birth provider how well the neonatal nervous system is functioning. If the score is high—a 6, 7 or 8—the neonate may be functioning fairly well. A score of 0, 1 or 2 may indicate poorer function. Without this assessment, the provider has no idea how the baby’s nervous system is working.
This score deals with only probabilities, not absolutes. If the score is high, the baby has a higher probability of functioning well in life. If the score is low, the baby has a lower probability of functioning well in life. Also the score cannot predict what conditions, if any, will develop down the road.
The brain cycle is one component of the Baby Brain Score (BBS). A Gillespie Approach–Craniosacral Fascial Therapy provider can take the brain cycle anytime. The total expansion and contraction of the brain in seconds indicates to the provider how well the brain and craniosacral fascial system are functioning at that moment.
In the 1970s, the cranial osteopaths taught me this measurement as the cranial rhythmic impulse (CRI). I felt the key was the inherent expanding and contracting of the brain as the driving force. If the fascia (dura) around the brain was tight, this motion would be restricted. The shorter, more concise term “brain cycle” just made sense for me.
People have asked me for a “good” brain cycle number. I am happy when a patient functions at around 200 seconds (100 seconds in expansion + 100 seconds in contraction = a full cycle). From 40 years of clinical observation, patients with a 200-second brain cycle are probably in the top 1% of all people on the planet. The goal of 200 seconds is appropriate because in our infant research toddlers came back after a year all doing well with a 150- to 200-second brain cycle.
Under certain conditions, the brain cycles can go higher, even over 1,000 seconds. We do not know of any specific clinical benefits of these higher cycles. I have contended for years that if all parents understood the intellectual and health benefits for their newborns and children, every Gillespie Approach practitioner would be over-the-top busy. Someday, everyone will “get it,” and everything will change.