No one knows for sure. When a new patient presents on the first visit, no one knows how many layers of trauma that body is holding. Since we are just listening to the body in the Gillespie Approach, each layer will come out in its own space and time.
After a number of visits, the body can feel very quiet, and the patient may be close to or symptom-free. Are we done? Not sure. More layer(s) may be waiting to release in the future. Usually, the majority of patients are done, but we just have to wait and see.
I recently saw an 11-month-old for a three-day intensive with 13 issues: colic, reflux, choking, gas, indigestion, constipation, nystagmus, hiccups, coughing, stridor, laryngomalacia, difficulty swallowing, and food allergies. All of these conditions have the possibility of improvement with therapy; she is literally a Gillespie Approach poster baby.
Her local medical providers told her parents that she is “healthy.” I do not agree because birth trauma has created fascial tightness resulting in an unphysiologic parallel universe for her. No condition is life-threatening, but her quality of life is certainly not optimal.
The big red flag was a 37-hour labor, most certainly creating soft tissue strain. Initially, she had nursing issues that necessitated tongue, lip, and buccal tie revisions. Later, a choking incident led to an overnight hospital stay.
Recently, the parents declined GI testing at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, the No. 2-ranked hospital in America. Mom, who is an occupational therapist, has also seen a lactation consultant, chiropractor, physical therapist, occupational therapist, nutritionist, feeding specialist, and speech therapist.
A strong emotional component is at play for the parents. “Crazy” mom feels no one in the health care field believes her or takes her seriously. She and her baby do not sleep well. It is hard for her to watch her child suffer. She has been searching for anyone who could help, hence the last-resort plane trip to Dr. Loose in Philadelphia.
Supportive dad has difficulty watching his wife go through this process. When you decide to have a child, this is definitely not the scenario for which you sign up.
Clinically, the baby’s craniosacral fascial system was very tight as expected with a zero-second brain cycle. The parents related that she was tight and stiff at birth and now cannot comfortably lay flat on her back.
When the parents also tell you their child cannot ride in a car seat, your mind shoots up a red flag for “archer.” In our Lancaster research, arching became a critical factor for health. Two years into the research we discovered that babies did not begin to improve until their arching went away first.
The first day of the Gillespie Approach went very well. The craniosacral fascial system opened beautifully as the arching started to release. The brain cycle reached 120 seconds.
The second day featured therapy on her small intestine and peritoneum attaching the organs to the posterior abdominal wall (the inside of the back). Also fascial strain as part of the arching released in her laryngeal and upper esophageal sphincter (UES) area. This key location controls the breathing, speaking, swallowing, and reflux; it must be strain-free to function well. Her brain cycle was now over 200 seconds.
The third day focused on her throat for two hours until it became quiet. There was no sign of arching. The prime question: Is her body now strain-free or is it still processing the change of three intense days with more to come?
In Philadelphia, the parents saw that she can lay on her back comfortably and can even fall asleep in her car seat, mitigating the key arching factor. We shall see how she does with all the conditions when the dust settles as she goes home with a looser body.
After three days, mom said the arching returned, and the symptoms came back with a vengeance. In our Lancaster research, we found that 17% of the archers needed follow-up care for continued arching.
Arching seems to be a deep-seated, sustained, compressive, positional, fascial strain extending from the cranium to the sacrum. It appears to have a strong effect on the central and autonomic nervous systems, hence the many conditions presenting for this and other babies. We know very little how it is caused in utero. As a clinical observation, fetuses in the transverse position seem to be the most vulnerable.
Our body is hard-wired to heal. A patient does not have any control when s(he) starts to release a new layer of the onion. Our job as therapists is to just listen to the body and allow it to do whatever it has to do to heal itself in its own space and time.