Two new babies to the office recently reminded me of the critical importance of the diaphragm.
When the first baby had an APGAR score of 2, doctors immediately rushed him into the NICU for assisted breathing measures. The baby was eventually released from the hospital, and an occupational therapist referred him to me at four weeks of age.
The first thing I noticed during the exam was that his diaphragm was stuck. As a general red flag for all neonatal hospital staff, if a breathing problem presents at birth, at some point, sooner than later, someone needs to check the function of the diaphragm.
Mom confirmed this potential restriction when she said he hiccuped and coughed a lot. He also had difficulty burping with the parents waiting 20 or 30 seconds for a burp. All three signs indicate a tight diaphragm.
After my first session, the parents and I could see that he was now belly breathing, a sign of better respiration. That needs to be a goal for every baby upon leaving the hospital.
A myofunctional therapist referred the second baby. His mother was concerned because he was a mouth breather at nine months of age.
He did have some oral strains, but his main issue was a tight diaphragm. When I got into that tissue in therapy, he was not happy because of its difficult strain pattern. But the fascia started to release nicely, and I expect a good result with continued therapy.
Let untreated, these children can end up at the orthodontist’s office with advanced oral issues. A red flag needs to go up then to check the function of the diaphragm.