Movement Therapy can be often mistaken for OT , but it is so much more. If your child has Autism or Down Syndrome or Cerebral Palsy, have you considered movement within the body?

When I think of movement therapies, I think of

  • Reflex Integration, which allows for unhindered movement
  • Rhythmic Movement, which uses movement to calm and train the brain
  • Cranial Osteopathy, which works with movement of CSF inside the body
  • Chiropractic, which removes skeletal hinderance to movement
  • Myofascial Release, which removes stress in our connective tissue throughout the body
  • Manual Therapy, which helps with Lymph Drainage.
  • Anat Baniel Method, which uses movement to create neural networks.

Movement is beyond OT, in fact, OT can even be the least consequential to functional movement for some children.

Today, I want to introduce you to my friend Becky Dawson, an Integrative Manual Therapist. In her podcast she talks about lymph, movement, and the ability of IMT to enhance function in a situation of chronic neuro-inflammation and seizures, with her son.



Audio Transcription: 

Hey there, welcome back to functional nutrition and learning for kids your short backpack podcast that aims to bring together the latest and the greatest in functional nutrition news, and respectful age appropriate education for your child with Down syndrome, or autism, or ADHD, or learning disability, we are delving into the world of manual therapy today. And this is such a fantastic example of how we can support our child’s bodies. So they are just that much more comfortable in it.

Now, while this is useful for everyone, if your child has limited mobility, I would highly recommend checking out this podcast and checking out how manual therapy can work for your family. Before you jump in, please tell me how I can help you what you would like to see on this podcast by sending a note to Weisz at functional nutrition for kids.com. I am super excited to introduce my friend Becky Dawson.

Today, Becky is a certified functional nutrition and lifestyle practitioner, and a manual therapist. She partners in journeys with individuals struggling with chronic health issues, to uncover root health problems by looking through the lens of nutrition, lifestyle practices, and manual therapy. She also specializes in supporting parents who care for chronically ill children, or children with disabilities. And now, of course, parents were impacted by the pandemic. Becky was drawn to this work many years ago via her son who suffers from a severe progressive seizure disorder.

I’m excited to speak with Becky on multiple levels, because I don’t think we’ve ever had someone who’s talked about manual therapy in the context of our kids before. So welcome, Becky. I’m so glad to hear Yeah, thanks. Yeah, can you tell us a little bit about what manual therapy is to start us off? Because whenever I hear you speak about it, I think about physical therapy, and I’m not sure if it’s the same thing. Yeah. So manual therapy really means hands on techniques that a skilled individual does. So you could have a PT who does it a manual therapist, chiropractor, I’ve even had nurses. But what I do, specialize specializes in integrative manual therapy. And it it uses gentle skilled hands on techniques and diagnostics to treat.

And I like functional nutrition, it’s route based, it’s looking for the underlying cause. It does an awful lot with removing blockages, adhesions. And it can it can put like muscles and vessels and nerves into Slack, which helps to remove spasm. And then ultimately restoring communication with within the body and blood flow. And, you know, healing, essentially. So, that that’s interesting. So what, so if you look at functional nutrition and manual therapy, so, so manual therapy is removing some of the structural obstacles, would that be correct to say? Right, right.

In fact, manual therapy, and integrated manual therapy really does work on structure, like within the body, I mean, we’re talking it can be vessels organ, it could be, you know, muscles, bone structure, all of those things, it can address all of that, which is which, which basically then provides potential, you know, yeah, so and you said, there’s, you can be trained in many of the forms of manual therapy, right. So there’s, many things that can kind of come under that umbrella. Could you give us a few examples? Like, like, you mean, individuals who work who do it or I mean, like schools of manual therapy are there like so I was thinking like, you know, you said a physical therapist, or a What else, a massage therapist, man, massage therapist and a massage therapist, chiropractors, nurses, individual to do hands on work, but but the special techniques that I that I learned the integrated manual therapy techniques were developed by Sharon Faisal fish GMO tail.

She developed probably over 30 years ago, she went and did an incredible amount of training with like, osteopaths and cranial sacral, visceral manipulation therapists, acupuncturist functional nutrition doctors. And she really then established like 1000s of tools developed 1000s of tools to address most like every like body system and you know, function so Yeah, she started with just muscles and bones and like their attachments, but then really started to move into like smooth muscle. And you have smooth muscle like on your organs, you have it and your vessels. So in fact, they can spasm. And they can twist and they can things can happen to on. So by putting him in like Slack, you can allow things to unwind to you can really spasm, which can restore blood flow.

I hear you using this term, did you say Slack? Slack? What does that mean? I mean, when you putt if you think about like, a line that you have, essentially what you’re doing is you would you know, you’re pushing in and in different directions to create as much slack for that, that area. So, yeah, yeah, very cool. So if if you were thinking of something like, let’s say, gi function, digestion. So when as functional nutritionist, we look at it from from a systems perspective, but not necessarily from a structural perspective, we’re looking at enzyme flow, we’re looking at, you know, chewing, we’re looking at all of the things that we do the food that you eat, now that but so you’re you can come at it from another angle. So you’re saying that the spasms and restrictions in the muscle movement could also impact from the outside? dysfunction? Correct? Exactly. And integrated manual therapy works under.

I mean, like, it’s premise is protection. So ultimately, the body protects. And the question is what’s causing the body to protect. So if you go, so a lot of times, you know, all you’re seeing is, you know, the symptoms with the gut, you’re seeing, you know, discomfort, or vomiting, or like I had a client, a baby who just didn’t stop vomiting. And it was the pyloric sphincter was stuck. And so by just going in and doing like, kind of a three planar myofascial release, and some cleanup, then it, it that stopped, and he’s back psalmody.

That was nice, because that was a really easy one. That’s yeah, or like we would have ever felt, without your perspective, it would be hard to actually see it, see that issue as the root cause, right would be addressing stomach acid, high stomach acid and whatnot, but not necessarily, like manual structure. So often, the gastrin has, I mean, the cecum, and the sigmoid colon often have issues they call the cecum, like the brain of the gut. And so I often go to those places right off the bat to see if, if there’s any issues with with dysfunction there. And I’ve also been able to do kind of a myofascial release through starting with the top of the esophagus, back of the throat all the way through, which sometimes can then release those areas.

However, the reality is, a lot of times what triggers it is food, or something going on, related to that. So it’ll all go back if you don’t address that issue, right. So we’re coming back to our basics, our diet, and even though we need this work, we still have to go back, you can’t just do the work and eat. Yeah, they work hand in hand. And so sometimes you could have damage to one thing and repair it and you’re good. But especially for kids, you know, they’ll like they’ll get the repair. And then it goes right back, then you have to like figure out what are the other pieces? So would you would you say that actually have two questions, but let me start with the first one. Would you say that this would be something that would come when when you’re looking at a child with disability, somebody I mean, like a predominant number of children with disabilities, as you know, have gut issues.

When as they’re working on the gut healing and the nutrition piece, they should be parallely working on a manual therapy such as myofascial release, would you say that that’s like a noni right? They work beautifully together. Because Because think about like inflammation and all these these problems that happen with diet nutrition. So really, like if you if like I said earlier, if you can’t, if you don’t deal with those, then it’s just gonna keep returning you might be able to fix the structure. I did.

I had a child who he, he would I would repair stuff. He had problems. He was seven years old and he was having bowel accidents. And you know, really hard and, and so we’d work on him improved for a little while, and then he’d go right back. And so you know it related to like diet and things like that. It does go beautifully hand in hand is myofascial release, like, is that the primary technique you use? Or are there multiple techniques? There’s like so many. But myofascial so you’ll, you’ll hear a massage therapist say like myofascial release, and there is like techniques that you just do that’s really impacting, you know, like muscle and tissue. But, but you can go deeper where you do more of a three planar myofascial release, and that just puts, it just releases, the whatever you’re working on, it could be the Oregon, sometimes if you get to the end of like, vessels, you can, you can do the myofascial on both sides of it and create space.

There’s other tools, she created these templates that are very much acupressure minded. She pulls in some acupuncture points, as well as other things. And so I mean, she has I mean, there’s 1000s of those that address multiple, I mean, so many different body system issues. So there’s those one ounce, there’s muscle energy technique. Yeah, there’s quite a bit. And you’ll find a manual therapist, any any therapists, they’re gonna pull tools, just like we do, like with the functional nutrition, you like, find as many resources as you can and put it in your toolbox.

Got it. Becky, in the introduction, we briefly mentioned your history. And a little bit about your son who developed seizure disorders when he was one, is that correct? Correct. Yeah. And could you share a little bit about your personal journey? And how, definitely manual therapy, but perhaps also functional nutrition have built into your life and have support your son through this? Absolutely. Yeah. So he started having seizures. I mean, and he had no, they were pretty mild, actually.

I mean, I say that now, initially, at that point, I thought the world was ending then. But they were pretty mild seizures at that point. And he was he had turned two or No, he just turned one. And we had, they were putting on him, and he had, you know, tonic tonic clonic, which are grandma’s he, he had, and that was later, the early ones he had, like photosensitive myoclonic seizures, were light triggers to seizures.

He has an iconic piece with movement, walking, stability. You know, a prac, Sia, speech delay really is global. Right? It was global delay. At that point, we had gotten started at Hill Children’s Hospital in Denver, and we’ve gone through all these tests, he had an EEG, and that’s where we discovered the seizures. And then they did tons of research, tons of like tests. And for those of you who’ve walked through that, you know, exactly how distressing that can be. And we, we had a metabolic geneticists ultimately say, Okay, we’re kind of at the end of our line right now.

Why don’t you take them home and enjoy them? And that was, I mean, nobody’s going to enjoy seizures, and the pain and the suffering. And that’s what caused me to like, look outside of Western typical western medicine, because I needed to find other answers. I was really fortunate. A friend referred me to a clinic that happened to be in Boulder. It’s no longer there. But, and with, that was the center of IMT.

Literally, like, I were like, well, this is it’s different. It’s not something we’ve ever experienced before, but we’ll give it six weeks. And, and he was just digressing at that point. And the seizures are increasing, and the meds were terrible and weren’t working. And at that point, it kind of stopped digression. I mean, and we address diet, nutrition at that point, they pull in functional nutrition concepts. And just very slowly made gains, tons and tons of gains. I think, though, that when he turned 12, he, that’s when we learned that this was progressive.

I think all the functional medicine we had done, all of the manual therapy had kept him progressing and he was doing remarkably. And then he hit puberty and the seizures kind of went awry. And so we haven’t been able to control those and he is an it truly is a genetic issue and he’s digressing. But it has been pretty remarkable.

The just the tools and we learning how to keep going to IMTA really has helped us keep out of crises. And that’s, that’s a guest. I think that’s so important. What you said is that sometimes any people, we’re all looking for, you know, quick fixes and cures. And yes, if that happens, that is awesome. But a lot of times, that doesn’t happen. And if you just have a tool to what you said, to keep you out of a crisis, and I mean, it is what it is. But but But you feel equipped, you feel that this is this is how you’re helping him feel more comfortable in his body. Right? Right. Right.

I mean, like crises for us mean, like seizures, lots of pain, instability, falling head injuries. So I mean, if we can abate the, you know, I think things with a lot of these kids that things just get exacerbated, you know, it’s like, insult to injury. And it happens a lot, you know, like one thing leads to the next. So if you can stop that, you know, that progression, it’s, it’s really helpful. That’s good to know. Thanks for sharing your story, Becky, if I was going to ask you, if if you have a parent that’s new on the path, let’s say I mean, I work with a lot of parents these days that are having some sort of that have kids with some sort of neuro inflammation, whether that be pans or pandas.

Let’s say they’re already on the diet, and they’re doing that, what is the incentive for them to seek out? So would you say that? Who should they seek out? And why should they seek out in with respect to manual therapy, because when we say that, it becomes a broad umbrella, so is there like a certain kind of practitioner that you would recommend kids with neuro inflammatory conditions seek out first, I think in the realm of IMT, you would want somebody who’s skilled and has been doing it a long time.

Clinicians the more time I mean, I think this is with any profession, but the more time you spend in it, the more training you get, the more perceptive you are. So and when these kids come, you’re talking about, there are lots of system issues, you’re not just talking about, you know, he had a head injury, and there’s compression, which then impacted your blood vessels, and, and then the layers within the brain, which then you can slowly, you know, work apart and help to restore some healing to you’re talking about that, then you’ve got a lot of times there’s like damage to things in the brain, organs within the brain.

A lot of times, they have visual pieces, they have auditory pieces, they have, you know, speech pieces, there’s, you think about even social interaction. I mean, I think it because there are so many layers to it, you want somebody who can look at it and go, Okay, let’s see what’s primary. And let’s start there. And, and work our way out. And so, I mean, did that answer your question? Yes. And so you’re saying somebody who, who understands that it’s a systems issue, but who also knows where to start? Yeah, yeah. And I think yeah, you ended up there are there’s there’s, you know, popup palatable, diagnostic tools you can use, there’s, which is really helpful, you know, pulling in all really your whole toolbox, because with these kids, you need the whole toolbox, and start with the nutrition piece. And, and, and reducing the inflammation.

Sometimes the inflammation, what happens is the the, like, for example, my son has a seizure, and his brain swells and the blood vessels that some of them have integrity issues, so they, you know, they bust or they leak or so and that’s just common with seizures can cause that. So, a lot of times what can happen is so with that situation, the body is protecting, so it compresses, you think about a frozen shoulder, and things that idea, it’ll do it anywhere. So it’ll compress, it’ll kind of make the the area safe. Then the child starts to have like buzzing or throbbing, and that could be like just the compression on those that area or you can also have like, compression in like near the limbic system.

Your limbic system is your fight or flight. So that You know, that if a child is always has compression on that the child is going to be aggressive, going to be always in this, like, on guard place. And so you can, by going and finding the root cause, let’s say it’s that blood vessel, you restore some function to it, the body says, okay, we can take the protection off now, then you then you’re able to, I mean, the buzzing staff, there’s no more compression on that limbic system. So it kind of works that way, you know, like, it can cause all of these other problems, the protection, genius, I mean, the body protects in so many ways, except down down the road, you’ve been start to have like, other problems, because it’s compressing other other things, you know, is it compatible to what we think of as chronic inflammation where the inflammation initially is necessary, but we just don’t have an off switch? Would it? Exactly the body does not turn off the protection?

Exactly. So when you and what what you are doing with the manual work and and releasing the physical stress is to kind of release that compression, is that correct, right. And in addition to that, like, then there’s also extra fluids and pressure in the head, let’s say with a seizure. So sometimes, like drainage isn’t happening, a lot of pressure builds up that way, right. So making sure that the brainstem can drain, making sure, but sometimes, it’s actually a broader body system, like like the sister and Kylie, where the limp dumps is like a, you know, the limp will dump into the sister and Kylie and it will get overloaded.

Sometimes if you just empty that out, it will start the flow again, in the in the body. So sometimes I’ve done that with my son, you, you release that. And then you can get drainage, better drainage, and you’ll see it you’ll see like he has, he’ll start to get like some just, it looks a little more swell in the tissue on like his neck, or somebody who wears oxygen. So you’ll start to see that, you know, the divots in the Arctic, you can totally see the swelling. And you end up doing doing lymph drainage is super helpful, and it can take the pressure off the brain.

Thank you, specially thank you for sharing your story. Because I think it is it is such a great example of where you can have a chronic condition that’s genetic that you aren’t necessarily looking to, to cure or to fix forever. But, but But you are a great example of having the right tools where the where your son is just that much more comfortable in his body and can can keep moving. Right. Right, like quality of life. Yes. Yeah. So as much as much function as much as you know, as much as you can bring in quality of life. I mean, that has been our focus. Yeah.

Where can people reach you, Becky? And do you do offer online services? I do. I do. It’s a little different. Because those manual therapy, there’s definitely usually a hands on component with. However, I do work with clients at a distance. I mean, I can teach them how to do some of the acupressure, like the templates that are similar to their IMT templates. I’ve done a lot of that recently. I can. There’s also other clinicians who are around the country if you want hands on. And where do you live? Can you share if people want to live live? Yeah, yeah, I live just outside of Fort Collins, Colorado. It’s just north of Denver by about an hour. And I Yeah, but I do.

I do online nutrition counseling I do online. Teaching clients how to do self care with the manual therapy and utilizing templates can definitely do a lot of verbal and problem solving. Using mate. I mean, I think the matrix is a beautiful guest to go even deeper. And I apply it to the manual therapy concept as well. And, and then I also am just in, in developing some courses right now geared towards parents who have chronically ill, or a special needs children. And it’s really geared towards the parent. Because over these, these many years of stress and care for the child, the it takes a toll on the parent. And so my goal is to support the parent.

I’m finding that these tools can help those parents who are struggling with during this pandemic piece too because moms are so stressed out right now. So, I have your website for anybody wants to Check it out further, you can find Becky at integrated body.net. Thank you so much for joining us, Becky. Thanks, guys. Thanks for listening. If you’re enjoying this podcast, please pause right now and go take one minute to drop in a review on iTunes or your favorite podcasting app. It really really, really helps for more people to see this podcast. I invite your host and I will see you next week. Bye.