December 2, 2020

What is Developmental Functional Neurology?

“Research suggests that restoring neural integration requires the simultaneous reregulation of networks on both vertical and horizontal planes” •Lou Cozolino 2010

One of the most important concepts to understand and the basis of our practice is the understanding of vertical and horizontal integration. Vertical integration is the development of the brain from the bottom to the top.  Think of building a house, you begin by laying a strong foundation, then you build the walls on top of that and finally the roof.  Vertical integration and development of the brain is the exact same way, first, the foundation has to be built, which is the brainstem.  

The brainstem is responsible for all of our essential life functions like heart rate, digestion and breathing.  It also holds the basic program of our nervous system which are the primitive reflexes.  Primitive reflexes are the training wheels of the nervous system and are responsible for the initial development of the brain.  

Next, we have to build the walls which is the cerebellum.  The cerebellum is responsible for balance and coordination and is like the conductor of the brain and keeps everything running smoothly. 

Finally, the roof or the cortex has to be built which is responsible for all of our senses like smell, sight, taste and executive functions like learning, judgment, regulating emotions and communication.  

Once the cortex is developed the next process of brain development begins, which is horizontal integration.  This is the development of both the left and right sides of our brain.  Both sides must develop evenly since both sides must share information to effectively work to their fullest potential.  For example, the right side of the brain is responsible for non-verbal communication while the left side is responsible for verbal communication.

This all eventually leads to Top Down-Regulation, which controls the whole body.  Think of this as an airport control tower monitoring and coordinating all the activity around an airport.  This also is responsible for inhibiting or turning off the primitive reflexes since the brain has developed enough to no longer need them, think of this like upgrading the software on your phone.  The brain can now process information faster and perform more complex actions like walking as opposed to crawling.  This is how all complex systems evolve the parts to develop the whole and the whole comes down to eventually regulate the parts.

But, any interference in this process alters the developmental trajectory of the individual and can lead to primitive reflexes not being integrated ie retained primitive reflexes, and an imbalance in the brain called a functional disconnection.   This ultimately results in a myriad of conditions such as ADHD, Autism, Dyslexia, PANS/PANDAS, OCD, Tics & Tourettes, etc.

As the quote above suggests to be successful we must be able to examine and treat both vertical and horizontal integration SIMULTANEOUSLY. 

Vertical integration looks at brain development and removing bottom-up interference (integrating primitive reflexes, improving balance and coordination, and developing core strength).  Horizontal integration is hemispheric integration and building connectivity so that the left and right side of the cortex is balanced. 

By addressing the nervous system and body in a comprehensive manner most if not all of the above conditions can resolve.

Contact us to learn more and how Wild and Precious can help.

July 27, 2020

What’s the harm in W-sit position?

Our son Rivers is 3-years-old now, and for the first couple years of him learning to sit, his favorite position to sit in was the W-sit position. We would frequently pick Rivers up and reposition him, or we would remind him, “fix your legs!” He did not like to cross-legged, and we also noticed that already he preferred to slouch whenever he sat in the W-sit position. As neurologically-based chiropractors, we are very fortunate to use the skills and knowledge we have to apply to our own son, and we want to share what we’ve learned and experienced with you in this post all about the W-sit position!

What is the W-sit position?

When a child is in a W-sit position, they are sitting on their bottom with their knees bent and feet positioned outside of their hips. 

If you're standing above your child, you will see their legs and body make the shape of a ‘W’. This position naturally creases a wider base of support, which increases trunk stability and strength--- especially if the trunk area is weak. This requires less postural control, and it becomes “easier” for the kiddo and allows them to put more energy into playing rather than focus on balance.  

That position almost resembles a yoga pose called the Hero pose (Sanskrit name, Virasana.) Isn’t that supposed to be a beneficial pose? Absolutely! Practiced mindfully and purposefully, there are great benefits gained from this pose for adults to promote mobility. However, this is not the same as the W-sit position in the sense that it is an unconscious position that kids sit in. For kiddos, it is much easier for them to get in this position because their hips have a much greater range of motion. In the W-sitting position, their hips are positioned at extreme limits of internal rotation. Frequently sitting in this position, and/or for extended periods of time, along with the inability to grow out of this pattern is the concern.

What are concerns with frequent & prolonged W-sit position? 

The W-sitting position is not the cause of your child’s issues. Rather it can be an outcome of unhealthy brain development. For example, it may an indicator that there are retained primitive reflexes. Primitive reflexes are automatic actions originating in the central nervous system that are exhibited by normal infants before 12 months of age. These reflexes should be suppressed by the development of the frontal lobes as a child transitions normally into child development. However, abnormal maturation of the brain may not properly inhibit these reflexes. Just like a light on the dashboard giving you a warning that something is running incorrectly in your car, the W-sit position is a warning light for you to start asking questions about the function of the brain. If ignored and not addressed, symptoms continue to layer on and the list continues to grow. A number of physical and cognitive concerns can include:

  • Poor postural development, such as slouching
  • Weakened core stabilization and strength
  • Less range of rotational motion of trunk leading to deficits in eye-hand skills and crossing midline play
  • Restlessness while sitting, and often have to hook feet around the chair in order to stabilize
  • Affects balance and coordination development during childhood
  • Limits exploration and movement to other positions
  • Predisposition to hip dislocation, hip dysplasia, and abnormal muscle tone throughout the body
  • May contribute to unhealthy compensatory issues affecting mobility patterns in adulthood. Adults may present with symptoms such as back pain, sciatica, headaches, knee pain.

In our next posts, we’ll continue the conversation and discuss:

  • Primitive reflexes and brain dysfunction that result in W-sit position, 
  • How you can test if there is a presence of brain weaknesses and how you can proactively stop  your child W-sitting (and preventing further concerns listed above.)

ABOUT US

We partner with individuals and families to increase resilience, thrive and heal with neurologically based chiropractic and mindfulness practice; building vibrant & connected communities for generations to come.

ABOUT US

We partner with individuals and families to increase resilience, thrive and heal with neurologically based chiropractic and mindfulness practice; building vibrant & connected communities for generations to come.

ABOUT US

We partner with individuals and families to increase resilience, thrive and heal with neurologically based chiropractic and mindfulness practice; building vibrant & connected communities for generations to come.

ABOUT US

We partner with individuals and families to increase resilience, thrive and heal with neurologically based chiropractic and mindfulness practice; building vibrant & connected communities for generations to come.

ABOUT US

We partner with individuals and families to increase resilience, thrive and heal with neurologically based chiropractic and mindfulness practice; building vibrant & connected communities for generations to come.

HOURS

MONDAY—FRIDAY
8AM—6PM

HOURS

MONDAY—FRIDAY
8AM—6PM

ABOUT US

MONDAY—FRIDAY
8AM—6PM

HOURS

MONDAY—FRIDAY
8AM—6PM

HOURS

MONDAY—FRIDAY
8AM—6PM