In his poem “The Divine Comedy” Dante describes his travels down the nine circles of the inferno. We are going to take a similar trip down the twenty circles of soft tissue birth traumas.
We start our journey at the seemingly innocuous first level, the fussy baby circle. Most of our tight infants fall into this group. These babies, according to many pediatricians, are completely “healthy”—parents need not worry because they will “grow out of” their nursing issues, colic, reflux, gas, indigestion, and constipation. In our world these “healthy” babies may not be truly “happy” babies. These causative fascial strains may continue to plague many of them for the rest of their lives.
Down the second level of the inferno the multiple-birth babies are waving a red flag for therapy. Their confined anatomical development can lead to sustained compressive soft tissue injuries. Working with six sets of twins in our infant research, we classically treated one baby with the typical fussiness conditions. The sibling, who was often smaller and immobile in a twisted position, usually had more complex issues.
Off in the distance we see the babies with narrow faces and high-vaulted palates. They can be more prone to sinus, breathing, speaking, swallowing, tongue, and orthodontic issues later in life. The work at birth can preventatively open their “V”-shaped palates to broader, flatter U-shaped ones that can accommodate all of the adult teeth. The sinuses and airway spaces can also correspondingly widen for better function.
As we travel along the path towards the fourth circle, the infants with hiccupping, coughing, snoring, burping, drooling, gagging, and choking issues appear. Undetected fascial strain at birth can be the main culprit.
The next level consists of the tongue tie and lip tie infants. We believe that all newborns need to become strain-free with therapy before leaving the hospital. Some of these ties, constituting part of the tight fascial web, may be corrected then. If they do not resolve completely, revision can be a more effective solution.
In the sixth circle we face the circumcised infants. This surgical procedure can create fascial strain in the genital area, pelvic floor, and eventually extend to the rest of the body. We are at a loss why some babies are fine post-op and others are adversely impacted.
The eye trauma babies are resting at the next circle. Wearing glasses as a child is an indicator for sustained fetal compressive eye strain. With vision of 20/120, I was one of those children and wore distance glasses for most of my life. When I later revisited that fetal trauma with therapy, my eyes over a period of two years amazingly corrected to 20/15 at the age of 65. I wish this work at birth had been available in 1947!
The arching babies with Sandifer syndrome are at the eighth level. We found in our infant research that arching was a HUGE indicator for many baby issues. For those infants to become truly “healthy,” therapy needed to completely work out that severe fascial extension pattern. If left untreated, this common strain may result in a lifetime of structural issues.
As we descend into the ninth circle, we meet the torticollis and plagiocephalic infants, the majority of babies who fly into Philadelphia to see me. Mom realizes that her infant will probably not “grow out of” this situation, and no one in her area has an answer. Most of these babies have an unseen fascial pelvic twist that corkscrews up the body into the shoulders, neck, and head due to a sustained abnormal fetal compressive position. That birth trauma needs to be revisited and cleared for authentic healing.
Our travels bring us to the failure to thrive babies. They can be underweight primarily due to severe fascial strain, most notably in their throat area. They have difficulty coordinating the suck, swallow, and breathe reflex, critical for life. Our work can help relieve that fascial strain so these babies can thrive.
At the eleventh circle we eventually greet the infants who had difficulty taking their first breath, usually because of the wrapped umbilical cord. The blue newborns are the most vulnerable. These untreated babies may become the weak criers, who can have later speech and orthodontic issues. Since the fascial web can hold the adverse effects of any trauma for a lifetime, we know the critical importance of mitigating this throat injury at birth to possibly prevent childhood respiratory diseases like pediatric asthma.
Developmentally delayed infants at the next level can have limited mobility. Their fascial strains have resulted in tight bodies that have difficulty moving. Many doctors believe that the origins of their issues are neurologic, but in reality, their restricted fascial webs keep them from functioning normally.
The passage takes us to the thirteenth circle of newborns who had forceps delivery, vacuum suction extractions, protracted labors, and shoulder dystocia with brachial plexus nerve damage. Special attention needs to be given to the shape of their heads and their brain motion.
Continuing down the trail we encounter the clubfoot babies, a distinct visual birth condition. We view clubfoot as severe fascial leg strain due to a sustained unphysiologic fetal compressive position. Specifically helping to release the strain directly at birth may avoid the classical casting and surgical protocols.
The neurologically impaired babies with more brain trauma are waiting at the fifteenth level. We believe that these infants are more prone to later contracting ADHD, tics, and cognitive issues. They may grow into the children who have difficulty focusing, concentrating, and reading in school.
At the next circle we see the babies with the surgical issues of strabismus, laryngomalacia, stridor, pyloric stenosis, volvulus, fundoplication, functional ureter obstruction, and hydronephrosis. Their causative fascial strain may be corrected with therapy at birth to possibly prevent this later surgery.
We are descending to the seventeenth level of the severely distressed NICU babies. We believe that therapy may possibly be effective for those especially vulnerable infants with NEC (necrotizing enterocolitis), BPD (bronchopulmonary dysplasia), and ROP (retinopathy of prematurity).
Down the road we come across the brain-injured newborns at this circle. We cannot prevent the traumas that caused their issues, but we can most importantly help reestablish excellent neonatal neurophysiology on day one to give them the best opportunity for their nervous system to heal. We hypothesize that a newborn with a severe brain injury may develop a milder lifetime outcome with therapy, and a neonate with a mild brain injury may possibly live a normal or near normal life. Since we cannot identify the brain-injured babies minutes after birth, we want therapy for every newborn just to change the lives of these few who fall through the cracks.
We have now reached the depth of despair at the nineteenth level, staring at the babies with the ultimate brain injury—shaken baby syndrome. The combination of their inconsolability from fascial tightness and extreme parental instability may create a perfect storm for violence. Our hearts go out to these vulnerable infants, who even with survival, may live a challenged life. It is sad to watch their limited response to our therapy. Oh, how we wish that if these infants had become “happy” babies at birth, they may have had different lifetime outcomes.
At the end of our journey at the heart of darkness, we confront the babies with craniostenosis, chiari malformation, and hydrocephalus. The possibility of any of these three nightmarish conditions for a family would certainly justify that every newborn be preventatively checked at birth. These untreated infants, who virtually all have tight fascial webs and zero-second brain cycles, are consequently looking squarely at brain surgery.
I have never seen a true case of craniostenosis, the premature fusion of an infant’s cranial bones. After the first CFT visit for each afflicted infant, their brain and bones started to nicely expand and contract. Since the tight fascial web was creating their “apparent” skull immobility, CFT would definitely be indicated before surgery.
Chiari malformation denotes soft tissue pressure in the upper cervical area with potential cerebellar blockage at the base of the skull. Infant CFT is worth a try before surgery to possibly release this fascial strain and restore normal cerebrospinal fluid flow down the spine.
Hydrocephalus signifies a blockage of the normal flow of cerebrospinal fluid in the ventricular system. If the condition is primarily due to compressive fascial strain, CFT may possibly be corrective before surgery. For the Gillespie Approach providers, please look for severe arching and torticollis with fascia pulling hard into the neck and cranium for all three issues.
When I was in my periodontal surgical training, the golden rule said that the least invasive procedure is always tried first, with surgery being the last resort. The pediatric neurological profession, generally unaware of our noninvasive world of brain motion and fascial strain, has no conservative therapeutic options for these conditions.
These vulnerable babies are powerless and voiceless as to their fate, and their devastated parents are understandably overwhelmed. For the previous nineteen levels I do not tell parents what to do for their baby, as much as I would love therapy for them all. But at this most dire level of our soft tissue birth traumas, I literally become the voice of the infant to very strongly urge the parents to try this approach. My heart says, “Please let me work on your baby before surgery. If you do not have the fee to pay me, no problem. It has nothing to do with money, me, or even you. It is all about your baby.”
This journey describes the breadth of the Gillespie Approach in helping babies become the best they can be. Our goal is to show the world what is possible for newborns. We believe that the prevention at birth concept will dramatically change neonatology, pediatrics, and dentistry. We are blessed.