Breathing quality affects many of the following problems commonly seen in CP
- Poor posture
- General movement
- Head control
- Muscular skeletal deformity
- Hip dislocation
- General health
- Respiratory infections
- Weight gain
- Acid reflux
If you are a parent or relative of a child with cerebral palsy (CP) you will know that CP is a brain injury occurring before or near birth that is caused by a lack of oxygen to one or more of the areas of the brain that control movement.
However, both the reduced oxygen in a CP child’s brain that caused the brain injury and the movement disability itself cause considerable and far reaching related abnormalities in a CP child’s breathing.
In fact in CP, both the growth of the respiratory organs and the way in which they are controlled are affected in relation to the degree of severity of the brain injury and the degree of severity of the movement problem.
Further disturbance of the development of a CP child’s breathing occurs if the child is premature or has been on a ventilator or has suffered other forms of early stress such as surgery or infections.
Moreover, the resulting breathing abnormalities may be held at least in part responsible not only for the range of additional symptoms from which the CP child suffers but also for the chronic nature of the condition (i.e. why the child with CP is supposed not to get better).
This is why it is important to recognise how much breathing quality matters to children with cerebral palsy.
Treating Breathing with TST
The main thing to understand about breathing, CP and development is that the most important breathing muscle, the diaphragm is weakened in CP.
The diaphragm is responsible for many actions in the body, all of which will be affected in children with cerebral palsy and improved by TST
- The diaphragm works against the lungs to control and co-ordinate breathing pattern so that the amount of oxygen taken into the body with each breath will balance the body’s varied and ever changing oxygen needs.
- It is the body’s main postural muscle creating the co-ordination between flexibility and stability that allows us to sit, stand, walk and run.
- It creates a stable foundation for the movement of the limbs.
- It helps circulate blood from the limbs, brain and abdominal organs back to the heart.
- Its movement provides the changes in internal pressures which shape the body’s structure from within moulding the spinal curves and preventing scoliosis and deformities.
- Its movement also helps to provide and control the air we use to produce speech.
- It helps co-ordinate breathing with chewing and swallowing.
- It plays a role in temperature control.
- It helps promote relaxation and sleep.
- Its breathing supports brain metabolism, brain growth and learning during sleep.
- Its movement during breathing helps keep the abdominal organs strong and healthy, promotes a good digestion and helps protect against acid reflex.
- It pumps lymph round the body to provide the oxygen needed to fight disease gives it a key role in overall health and immunity.
Results of TST
The Bradford University physiotherapy study showed that after 2 years of TST therapy the chest structure of children receiving TST moved significantly closer to normal.
In a statistical study of 31 children aged between 2 to 16 years who had all completed their first year at Advance, parents reported on 26 of their children’s symptoms before and after TST. Progress in all areas was found to be significantly better after TST.
This statisticallly based study showed improvements in development which included, head control, limb movement, posture, chewing and swallowing, vision, speech, understanding, communication, general health, sleep, digestion, limb temperature and behaviour.
The children’s clinicians, including paediatric neurologists, paediatricians, physiotherapists and speech therapists also reported to parents their surprise and delight at the gains the children had made.
See parent stories for a fuller picture of the effect of TST on the development of CP children.