The importance of proper respiratory mechanics is well understood and quite easy to relate to. However, most of the understanding is based on a relatively simplistic view of "bringing oxygen in and expelling carbon dioxide". In addition, most of the focus with respect to breathing is placed on the lungs. Although this is an obvious focal point, the larger picture should still be the context from which these focal point are examined.
This perspective is vital in the understanding of rehabilitative priorities in CP. Chaitow's discussion on breathing was related to a significantly less complex situation (hyperventilation). If the simple act of hyperventilation results in such significant changes in the brain environment, the effects in the CP individual can be assumed to be more significant simply due to the fact that the respiratory dysfunction is constant.
|Cerebral Blood Flow|
-Smooth muscle constriction of the intestines
-Magnesium and Calcium imbalance in muscles
There are more, but the overall message is quite clear. The discussion is therefore directed to the general root causes of this characteristic dysfunction of respiratory mechanics in CP. This list is also quite extensive, however in an effort to maintain the flow of this post, I will summarize some of them below:
-Insufficient circumferencial volume of the thorax
-Reduced elasticity of the individual ribs and ribcage
-Extremely weak connective tissue system that is characterized by:
-weak upper respiratory pathways
-unstable trachea (leads to turbulent and disrupted air flow)
-Distortion of the bony alignment of fascial bones
-lack of sufficient control of the lips and tongue
-lack of division between the clavicles and upper 3 ribs
-underdevelopment and underuse of the upper lobes of the lungs
There are numerous strategies that are currently in place in an attempt to improve respiratory mechanics, however the overwhelming majority are formulated with the objective of "teaching" proper breathing mechanics...or using some repetitive training mechanisms in the hopes of reducing this challenge. The reality is that breathing is a function that should require LESS mental focus and be something that is AUTOMATIC and not the result of training. Increased mental and muscular effort placed on breathing is not only metabolically expensive, it negatively affects cognitive development potential and creates more difficulties to an already neurologically challenged system.
Although this post is clearly more of a rant, the main message should be relatively clear and understood: adressing the structural and biomechanical considerations as a priority has a positive cascade effect on all of the other considerations (social, cognitive, systemic, metabolic, neurological). Therefore, a focused and intelligent strategy to improve thoracic volume and elasticity will ultimately contribute to better brain metabolism and homeostasis. IMPORTANT NOTE: These are my personal views and do not necessarily reflect those of Mr. Chaitow. I have reviewed his comments on this subject and have simply provided my own interpretation based on my professional experiences with CP. Fortunately, Mr. Chaitow has generously provided some feedback on my interpretation and understanding of his perspective and this exchange is posted in the comments section.
You can refer to the One Giant Leap Facebook page for Chaitow's discussion as well as other interesting subjects.