Falling can be an issue for older adults.

Beyond Concussion: I Keep Falling. Why?

“I’m 75 and trying to stay active. I keep falling and no one can figure out why. I don’t want to use this walker but I’m afraid to be moving around without it.”

Falling, a post-concussion issue?

Head injuries don’t just happen to children and athletes. Falls amongst older adults are a leading cause of head injuries. (Statistics are below.)

Older adults who might be your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, and neighbors are important people. You enjoy doing things together! But when they fall you wonder will they be able to recover their active lifestyle?

Falls, with or without injury, carry a heavy quality of life impact. A growing number of older adults fear falling and, as a result, limit their activities and social engagements. This can result in further physical decline, depression, social isolation, and feelings of helplessness.
National Council on Aging

It doesn’t have to be this way. Read about a client who fell and found herself caught in the downward spiral.

The case of the recurrent falls

Our client, age 75, comes in periodically for help with movement and pain related to a severe auto accident 15 years ago. She was a very active person before the auto accident, and still tries to be as active as possible.

What exactly occurred?

Earlier this summer she tripped and landed hard on her knee. In addition to the knee her mobility took a hit and she had to use a walker to safely get around. She follows up with us every 4-6 weeks and each time there were more falls. Frustrating for her and confounding for us.

We stepped back to ask, ‘why are you falling, and always to your right side’. The loss of stability and confidence all began with the summer trip and fall. ‘Is there a chance your head hit something when you fell?’ we asked.

Talking through the details she realized she had hit her head. The hip and knee were hurt so bad that they took the attention away from her head.

Which of her foundational movements were impacted?

We had to figure how the fall disturbed her movement foundation. In our assessment we quickly found the coordination of her leg and core were not working correctly. The fall also threw off the symmetry of her core movements. We used the Bridging movements to link her leg and core back together and re-center her core movements.

Were there Sensory System Integration Issues?

Yes! The loss of balance control to her right side was a factor in the subsequent falls. We tested her balance reactions in multiple directions. This revealed that her sway control (the ability to keep oneself safe when off balance) had gone awry, but only to the right. The poor balance control was not keeping her safe.

Did prior injuries play a role?

Yes—the prior auto accident left symmetry permanently affected. Because we had worked together we were tuned into her normal asymmetries. We also knew her balance was reasonably good for her activity level.

How correct were the head/body relationships to begin with?

Another complicating factor, she was born with malformed hips and had them replaced years ago. The leg-core relationships are not quite right because of this. Even so, her balance before the fall was reasonably good.

The wrap-up

Once figuring out there was a head injury impacting balance (vestibular system) we used the gentle Bridging technique movements to support her body and head allowing the vestibular reactions to regroup. She left the office moving steady and not feeling the need for her walker. A few weeks later and the walker is now relegated to the closet.

One in four Americans aged 65+ falls each year.

  • Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of non-fatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.
  • Falls result in more than 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

At Kinetic Konnections we look at different aspects of an injury.

We take your entire history into account looking at how your head, core and limbs currently work together compared to how they are naturally supposed to work together.

Some of the unique information we gather and use in our problem-solving includes:

  • What exactly occurred in the injury event? (and what else occurred that you don’t recall based on the logistics of the event.)
  • Which of the fundamental head and body movement relationships were impacted?
  • How was the integration of key sensory systems affected? (Vision and vestibular/balance)
  • What prior injuries also impacted the foundational head and core movement relationships?
  • Were the head/body relationships compromised from early developmental factors?

While these questions may seem unrelated, the answers are important. Answers to these questions lead us to the missing piece of your puzzle to get you back on your way to moving well.

A unique five-step process to get you back to better function

Our first step is gather injury information and assess key aspects of stability, balance, symmetry and visual-motor funciton.

Step two is to re-center the movements of the body and of the head, and link the arms and legs. We use the gentle Bridging technique movements to do this, and often begin from a position of reconstructing the event. Essentially, we back-up the body’s structural relationships to the point before they got off track and help erase the way the forces and torques changed them.

Step three is to refresh all the correct relationships so the body remembers how it is structurally supposed to work. Restoring muscle memory is one way to think of this.

Step four is to refine the relationships of the body, head, eyes and balance system. Sometimes this falls into place just by centering the head and body.

Step five when needed, is a more complex step to account for skewed movements from early years of development, and/or prior injuries. This is a critical step that we uniquely consider at Kinetic Konnections and it makes a difference!

Sharing resources

  • In our FB videos I share a more detailed explanation of how we resolve head injury issues using the Bridging technique. (You do not need a FB account to watch)
  • Information about falls and prevention strategies for older adults. Read here.
  • Adults over 65 TBI statistics from the CDC. Read here.

During October, I am focused on different scenarios of head injury and how the Kinetic Konnections’ unique perspective addresses overlooked aspects which are essential to recovery.

The four head injury scenarios discussed this month:

  • Cleared, but still struggling (read here)
  • Not a concussion, just a head injury (read here)
  • Lost my balance again (this week)
  • The unsuspected head trauma
playground

Beyond Concussion: What If It’s Just a Head Injury?

“My daughter fell on the playground at school. The ER says there is no concussion. She took a pretty good hit in the face. Should we come in?”

Each year, nearly 200,000 children, ages 14 and under, require emergency room treatment due to playground falls.

  • The most severe playground-related injuries are due to falls.
  • More than half of all playground-related injuries occur in children ages 5 to 9.
  • Children ages 4 and under tend to suffer injuries to the face and head from playground-related injuries, while older children are more likely to injure arms or hands.

Stanford Children’s

 

Panic. Fear. You spring into action to make sure your child is ok. If not, off to the ER or Urgent Care you go. Once assured that things are ok, you still observe. Is everything ok? Sometimes, not.

For example, we just met a kindergartner at the end of the summer related to an on-going elbow issue. A few weeks later an unexpected call from Mom came in; the day before her daughter had had a playground accident. Mom was worried that the impact to her head was a concern. She was right. More of this story follows.

During October, I am focused on different scenarios of head injury and how the Kinetic Konnections’ unique perspective addresses overlooked aspects which are essential to recovery.

These four head injury scenarios will be discussed this month:

  • Cleared, but still struggling (read here)
  • Not a concussion, just a head injury (this week)
  • Lost my balance again
  • The unsuspected head trauma

Putting Humpty Dumpty back together

It happens. Children need to explore and take risks. Playgrounds provide a great environment for this, but kids will be kids whether they horse around or bump into each other. (Bunk beds are also ripe for the same unintended injuries.)

When playing at the park so much can happen — falls, being bopped by equipment, or even bumped into by other children at the park. Most of the time some ice, a colorful bandage and a kiss will do the trick. When all is not ok, a visit to urgent care may be in the cards.

Once the injuries are cleared by a physician, Kinetic Konnections is ready to put head and body back together in working order.

Let’s consider a different perspective

At Kinetic Konnections we look at a completely different aspect of an injury. We take your entire history into account looking at how your head, core, and limbs currently work together compared to how they are naturally supposed to work together.

Some of the unique information we gather and use in our problem-solving includes:

  • What exactly occurred in the injury event? (and what else occurred that you don’t recall based on the logistics of the event.)
  • Which of the fundamental head and body movement relationships were impacted?
  • How was the integration of key sensory systems affected? (Vision and vestibular/balance)
  • What prior injuries also impacted the foundational head and core movement relationships?
  • Were the head/body relationships compromised from early developmental factors?

While these questions may seem unrelated, the answers are important. Answers to these questions lead us to the missing piece of your puzzle of why your child still feels off.

The case of the kindergarten playground fall — the details

What exactly occurred?

Our young student was balancing on the short piers which make up a balance section of the playground scape. Another child bumped into her, throwing her off-balance. Falling to her right side, the platform of the play structure broke her fall. Her jaw and front teeth impacted the platform leaving blood everywhere along with two loose baby teeth. With such impact to the face Mom was called and off to the ER they went.

Mom called the next day wanting to know if she should just wait until the scheduled follow-up appointment in November or come in sooner. Experience tells us the upward impact to the chin should be checked out for less obvious consequences. She was able to come in about three weeks after the fall, enough time for the mouth injury to heal.

Which of the foundational movements were impacted?

Two aspects of the fall become key — the momentum of the fall was off to the right side so there was a torque upon impact. The second insight is the head to core relationships thrown out of sync in more than one dimension. The head stopped at the platform but the upper body kept going. Momentum from the fall ended up stressing two places–her upper jaw compressed upward, and her neck/upper back elongated forward.
playroom

  • A key job of the muscles and bones is to absorb impact. This event was not the sort of impact our muscles are designed for. We reconstructed the positions of what happened supporting her body in the way it landed. We then re-organized her body-head relationships back to baseline.
  • In order to re-establish the head/torso movement relationships, we got creative. We rested her body on a soft peanut-shaped ball while we supported her jaw at an angle similar to impact. As we supported the positions of impact we lightly oscillated her shoulders until the muscle relationships between the head and body were are able to match up again. Everything suddenly felt lighter!

Are there Sensory System Integration Issues?

Yes! Testing her balance relationships revealed the sway control (ability to keep oneself safe when off balance) was gone awry. This left her primed for future falls because her poor reactions would not keep her safe. The loss of balance control was the most significant remnant of the entire event.

A significant part of the session was spent on restoring the synchronous reactions between her feet, core and head. For these essential balancing movements the body and brain should sense when we are off-center, react, and self-correct. The body is amazing at reconstructing these relationships given some support and guidance. Going through the process of reintegration looked like we were making her dance.

Prior injuries?

There had been prior elbow injuries. Because she had been in for an appointment the month before, these were not a factor with the current injury.

How correct were the head/body relationships to begin with?

There was an indication that arm relationships were not 100% with the first visit. (Three elbows injuries at earlier ages.) Something wasn’t transitioning well at the elbow. Because this was addressed in the initial session it did not seem to be a factor in the current injury.

The wrap-up

She left looking more in control with her movement and with a calmer demeanor. Her integration of balance and motor skills looked great! She will check in again later this fall.

A unique five-step process to get you back to better function

Our first step is gather injury information and assess key aspects of stability, balance, symmetry and visual-motor function.

Step two is to re-center the movements of the body and of the head, and link the arms and legs. We use the gentle Bridging technique movements to do this, and often begin from a position of reconstructing the event. Essentially, we back-up the body’s structural relationships to the point before they got off track and help erase the way the forces and torques changed them.

Step three is to refresh all the correct relationships so the body remembers how it is structurally supposed to work. Restoring muscle memory is one way to think of this.

Step four is to refine the relationships of the body, head, eyes and balance system. Sometimes this falls into place just by centering the head and body.

Step five when needed, is a more complex step to account for skewed movements from early years of development, and/or prior injuries. This is a critical step that we uniquely consider at Kinetic Konnections and it makes a difference!

Sharing resources

In our FB videos I share a more detailed explanation of how we resolve head injury issues using the Bridging technique. (You do not need a FB account to watch)

Typical concussion recovery steps are outlined in this article.

Statistics about playground injuries.

A study of injury prevalence by type of playground equipment. (The merry-go-round is not the bad apple we thought it to be!)

concussion word cloud

Beyond Concussion: Cleared But Still Struggling

The call came three months after the injury. “My daughter is still having headaches. She also says that her vision is blurry sometimes. We saw the neurologist and she was cleared.”

Fall is a time for lots of outdoor activity. Coupled with slippery rain and leaves the season is ripe with the conditions for the most common causes of head injuries — sports trauma and falling.

Head injuries are complex. There is often residual pain, challenges in movement and focus, and/or fatigue, even after being cleared by a physician. We help you get back on track quickly after a head injury by looking at specific head/body relationships that other professionals don’t realize are so vital.

During October, I will focus on different scenarios of head injury and how the Kinetic Konnections’ unique perspective addresses overlooked aspects which are essential to recovery.

These four head injury scenarios will be discussed this month:

  • Cleared, but still struggling (this week)
  • Not a concussion, just a head bump
  • Lost my balance again
  • The unsuspected head trauma

When you still don’t feel better?

You followed the advice provided after your child’s concussion but they are still having a hard time. As a parent you want to know how you can help.

Let’s consider a different perspective

At Kinetic Konnections we look at a completely different aspect of the concussive event. We take your entire history into account, looking at how your head, core, and limbs work together compared to how they are naturally supposed to work together.

Unique information we gather and use in our problem-solving includes:

  • What exactly occurred in the injury event? (and what else occurred that you don’t recall based on the logistics of the event.)
  • Which of the fundamental head and body movement relationships were impacted?
  • How was the integration of key sensory systems affected? (Vision and vestibular/balance)
  • What prior injuries also impacted the foundational head and core movement relationships?
  • Were the head/body relationships compromised from early developmental factors?

While these questions may seem unrelated, the answers are important. Answers to these questions lead us to the missing piece of your puzzle of why you/your child still feels off.

The case of the high school student

What exactly occurred?

The details of the injury are important to identifying and helping with ancillary pain or discomfort. Often by reconstructing the angles, torques, and forces of the accident we can figure out what other parts of your body were involved even though you don’t remember the details.

  • A high school student sustained a head injury on spring break. She misjudged where she was going and smacked solidly into a low door frame of a boat.The way she hit her head was throwing off her functional head alignment. It was a factor for the unresolved headaches and occasional blurry vision.

Which of the foundational movements were impacted?

We assess a developmental framework of how the body and head center with each other. Also important are how the arms and legs relate to the body. Once the body and head are centered, the sensory systems, nervous system, and respiration all calm, reducing brain fog, fatigue, and pain.

  • When she hit the doorframe her reaction caused her head to recoil. The reaction to the injury and the injury itself caused the center of her head movement to be bumped off-center from the center of the body movement. They were out of sync.

Are there Sensory System Integration Issues?

With any injury we assess balance reactions commonly referred to as sway control. This is your body’s ability to stay stable, react, and re-center when off balance. We also assess an integration of visual-motor skills. Vision experts will assess your visual function following a concussion. We take this a step further by checking how your vision and head fluently work with your hand movements. It’s common to find vision and fine motor are individually fine, but they lock up when they should be working together. This causes stress which is often experienced as headaches and fatigue.

  • Our HS student did well on a simple timed visual-motor test. However, the functional position of her head, shoulder, and arm while she worked was contorted. No wonder she was getting headaches!

Prior injuries?

Quite often the event with the most trauma was not the most recent. Prior injuries can be a reason you don’t bounce back from a seemingly minor injury. Past accidents, trauma, or surgeries set the stage for the one that is now hard to recover from. Very often an impactful fall can throw off balance reactions, which leads to the situation resulting in the head injury.

  • Our HS student did not have any prior injuries. A quick re-test at the end of the first session showed most of the functional issues were resolved. Because our HS student had no other injuries and developed from birth uneventfully, we were able to get her back on track in only two sessions.

How correct were the head/body relationships to begin with?

When early development has its own unique attributes we can develop just fine but underneath there may be a web of compensations that never were apparent. This is another layer of complexity of why you don’t bounce back the way everyone expects.

  • What made things interesting for the HS student is that she was a twin. This meant she developed in utero with a series of asymmetric movements due to the restricted environment. Her head and body originally learned to work in a slightly off-center manner. None of this had any impact on her until the head injury. Once injured, these relationships were hard to self-reorganize so we had to help her head and body find a new symmetric way to work together.

A unique five-step process to get you back to better function

Our first step is gather injury information and assess key aspects of stability, balance, symmetry, and visual-motor function.

Step two is to re-center the movements of the body and of the head, and link the arms and legs. We use the gentle Bridging technique movements to do this, and often begin from a position of reconstructing the event. Essentially, we back-up the body’s structural relationships to the point before they got off track and help erase the way the forces and torques changed them.

Step three is to refresh all the correct relationships so the body remembers how it is structurally supposed to work. Restoring muscle memory is one way to think of this.

Step four is to refine the relationships of the body, head, eyes, and balance system. Sometimes this falls into place just by centering the head and body.

Step five when needed, is a more complex step to account for skewed movements from early years of development, and/or prior injuries. This is a critical step that we uniquely consider at Kinetic Konnections and it makes a difference!

Sharing resources

Typical concussion recovery steps are outlined in this article.

Know someone who is still having a hard time after a head injury?

You can call 847-390-8348 or schedule online to schedule your first session.

To find out how we can specifically help you, or your loved one check out our website. Past newsletter topics are now posted on the BLOG page.

Find related explanations in the FB videos where I share a more detailed description of common challenges and how we use Bridging to help. (You do not need a FB account to watch)

Deliberate Practice

What is Deliberate Practice?

Deliberate practice is something we embrace as Bridging® Technique Specialists. Finding ways to help relieve your pain faster and increase function more completely is a passion for us.

Breaking down the nuances of your pains or developmental challenges to better understand the causes, effects, and movement relationships is something we love to do. Every two weeks we have time set aside to specifically dig into movement concepts.

In her book, Grit, Angela Ducksworth adds the concept of deliberate practice to the process of how we learn and excel. Deliberate practice occurs with specific intent and with specific feedback.

As adults, we recognize that both quantity of time and specificity of intent are integral to not just learning, but mastering skills. Examples abound — Language study really requires immersion and time for fluency. Driving requires years before we have the habitual instinct of all the ways to avoid other drivers’ recklessness. (At least teens have to complete 100 hours!) Pilots complete thousands of hours of cumulative flight time with additional hours annually for specific training.

This same habituation is exactly what happens with each step of childhood development. Hours and hours of practice. The deliberate practice includes the coaching and exuberant smiles from parents. The variations of different terrain and situations adds to the resilience of skills. It is also why we make specific time to practice.

Continuous Learning

A key part of our commitment to helping you feel and function better is curiosity and continuous learning. This takes several forms comprised of our weekly team calls, a biweekly team project time, and a quarterly Bridging community learning time.

  • The weekly team calls include sharing recently published research relevant to our clients. (This week was an article about microbiota in newborns born via C-section.)
  • The team project time is where we take time to get curious, hypothesize, and experiment. What are some consistent characteristics we have seen with clients? Are there any outliers — complex or fast-responding? Common traits within the groups? What insight does published research add? How are the involved structures supposed to develop in the fetal period and infancy? What are the structural details? (The current theme of exploration is paws–hands and feet.)
  • We test the theories on ourselves and review the changes. In the time between project time sessions we integrate this new knowledge into work with clients when relevant. This becomes new data to add to the discussion when we reconvene. As a consistent set of rules around the relationships emerges, the knowledge is codified to share with other Specialists.

Quarterly Bridging Specialist gatherings are where the latest learnings are shared to the larger Bridging Specialist community.

What we’ve been exploring lately — Hands

working with handsLeslie and Joanna explore how Erika’s hand relationships enable changes in her shoulders and core.

Increasing the intricacy of the segmental movement in the fingers, the palm, and the wrist made a difference to the flexibility of Erika’s shoulders and tightness at her neck — a persistent trouble spot.

What do we check for and observe?

In the most fundamental aspect, the right and left hands need to match in every quality imaginable — range of motion, strength, flexibility, lightness, speed, etc. As we progress into more complex relationships we check to make sure detailed characteristics of the right and left sides of a hand itself match.

Drilling down another layer is where we check how each individual segment of the fingers connect and match up to the next, and various finger-based coordination tasks like tapping and sliding.

The movement flow from the finger tips cascades sequentially all to way up to the neck and core. Indeed, enabling more complex interactions at the hand allows for more complex interactions at the neck and shoulder.

Bottom line — your muscles feel more at ease and you feel better!

How does this relate to you?

Hands bothering you, have trouble typing or writing, or maybe persistent neck stiffness?
Hard to write neatly or easily, use scissors, or master the coordination for a video game?

These are all things we find related to lack of differentiation in the hands.
These are all functional movements which change fairly quickly.

Sharing some of our background research: Hand function related to brain function

Your hand function changes as we use the Bridging technique — sometimes in just minutes! It really is amazing is to see the accompanying changes in writing, communication, and perception. Here are two research studies which show a link between hand and brain function.

  • People are losing the brain benefits of writing by hand as the practice becomes less common. Writing by hand may also improve a person’s memory for new information. A 2017 study in the journal Frontiers in Psychology found that brain regions associated with learning are more active when people completed a task by hand, as opposed to on a keyboard. Read more.
  • Researcher unlocking relationship between early math ability, fingers. Ask toddlers how old they are, and they are likely to hold up the corresponding number of fingers and say, “this many.” Read more.

A structural resource — 3D Anatomy

anatomy of hand and forearmEven taking a fresh look at all the little details in the area we are studying can trigger new thoughts. We love the Anatomy 3D Atlas app. We can add or take away layers of various types of tissues.

Here is an image of the hand and forearm showing the arteries (red), lymphatic vessels (green), and one layer of muscles. Each of these systems can restrict specific aspects of movement.

By exploring the Bridging movements in the context of each anatomical layer we can construct hypotheses related to various client situations. Feel free to ask us to show the layers of relationships we are working on.

How do I get started?

You can call 847-390-8348 or schedule online for a session.

To find out how we can specifically help you, or your loved one check out our website. Past newsletter topics are now posted on the BLOG page.

Find related explanations in the FB videos where I share a more detailed description of common challenges and how we use Bridging to help. (You do not need a FB account to watch)

tummy time

Visual-Motor System Need an Upgrade, or Just an Update?

Shoulder and head strength, hand-eye coordination, hand function, and more — so many essential postural and motor skills emanate from tummy time!

What may not be so apparent? The same fundamental laddered skills related to tummy time support our visual-motor function and are needed at every age.

If these skills are so important, how do they get off track and can they be restored? Recognizing when the skills were disrupted or derailed is a key part of the answer.

Why this matters to us, and to you

When medical necessity or family situations inhibit tummy time, key developmental opportuniites are lost.

When injury or illness disrupts the essential tummy time based shoulder and head skills, you don’t function at your best. The unresolved pain or clouded thinking may have you wondering if you’re getting old. (No!)

You don’t have to do hours and hours of tummy time to get so much to change! We close the gap for you.

In case you missed the recent discussion of Need more Focus or Fine Motor? Tummy Time! view the entire article.

Why the ‘When” matters

The point in time which the tummy time related skills got off track tells us if you are need of a mere update or a more extensive upgrade.

  • Were the skills skipped or minimally developed as an infant?
  • Were the skills impaired as a child?
  • Or, were the skills impaired as an adult?

The upgrade scenario is when the disruption to tummy time occurred as an infant. The skills were never learned quite the right way. We go back to ground zero and rebuild the core, head, and limb relationships leading up to tummy time. The younger the child, the faster this process goes. (Adults who skipped this phase as a child can also rebuild the skills. You just need more patience.)

The update scenario is applicable to the adults and older children. The basic neuromuscular patterning was correctly developed as an infant but an injury or illness has thrown things off track. We use the Bridging® technique to gently match up the correct muscle function relating to the tummy time arm and upper body control.

How do I know if I have impaired tummy time skills?

Age three to thirteen: When injuries happen from age three to adolescence there is often a compensation which becomes stressed with physical growth. Common challenges are a recurring mystery pain, a propensity for falling or clumsiness, or exaggerated fatigue for activities not normally perceived to be very tiring. Skills that used to be easy can suddenly become a challenge for no apparent reason.

Age teen to adult: Injuries as an adult to the tummy time framework result in the oddest of pains or movement restrictions that just won’t go away. The pain may be TMJ because an arm injury left the associated head relationships unsupported. Computer work may cause stress because visual skills are thrown off by a shoulder injury.

Why would someone have missed tummy time?

During the first six months, the visual-motor system is developing the foundation of how it works together. Postural control and balance essentials are forming through age three.

If an injury or health issue happens in the first three years, skill gaps happen. A child develops compensations which either lock-out more complex skills down the road, or require such focus and energy that behavior and willingness-to-try suffer.

We find the primary reasons for limited or skipped tummy time are:

  • Medical procedures as an infant (surgery for repairs to birth defects)
  • Illness requiring hospitalization (respiratory, fever, dehydration)
  • Colic and reflux (causing discomfort)
  • Living situations not amenable to being on the floor
  • Having older siblings (in car seats while driving siblings to activities)

Some medical statistics

Some back of the envelope calculations (its an engineering thing and I’m an engineer) show there are about 70,000 infants having surgery per year. (Using birth data and CHUP 2012 surgery data.)

Although this is roughly 2% of the infant population, the developmental gaps are monumental when it is your child.

What relationships are at stake?

tummy time infographicPlenty. The infant medical procedures messed up fragile neurological relationships. Take a look at this diagram from BabyBegin.com. You will notice many areas which also plague teens and adults.

To look more in depth at the specific skills normally developed from birth forward, the Pathways organization has a great reference. Complete with photos, there is a description of what each month’s progression should look like.

How to catch up?

Surprisingly there seems to be no standard Tummy Time make-up programs. Such important skills, yet no current protocol for catching up. As a parent, do you make the kids hang out on the floor and hope they get some benefit? No.

How do we help?

At Kinetic Konnections we go back to the root cause. We identify when the tummy time skills got off track. Then we assess how the skills are being accomplished via compensations. Generally something works even though the skills may not be working quite right.

The positions of success become our starting point as we use the Bridging Technique to restore missing functional relationships. We replicate the tummy time arm, shoulder, core, and head skills to clear-up any skews or gaps from that developmental period. (At any age!)

The amazing part? The child’s muscles seem like they’ve been waiting for the right help to function correctly. The change is immediate and lasts. Daily life reinforces the new movement relationships. Adults feel the tightness melt away.

What is even more amazing? The subsequent laddered skills automatically start changing and moderating. Social skills become more age appropriate with increased ability to read the non-verbal aspects of communication—facial expression, intonation, body language and linguistic inferences. It seems like restoring the missing skill allowed an entire set of gears to shift!

How do I get started?

You can call 847-390-8348 or schedule online for a session.

To find out how we can specifically help you, or your loved one check out our website.

Find related explanations in the FB videos where I share a more detailed description of common challenges and how we use Bridging to help. (You do not have to have a FB account to watch)

visual motor development

Trouble with Fine Motor Skills? Why Tummy Time is So Important

Do you or your child need better focus and/or fine motor skills?

In his 2008 book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell introduced us to the concept of 10,000 hours for mastery. Motor skill development is no different, yet we find so many reasons why infants and young children have missed out on the hours and hours necessary to set them up for success in school.

No need to hang out on the floor to make up earlier times. We can find the gaps, no matter your age, and get you upgraded quickly.

Why tummy time is so important

Babies learn by doing. Fidgeting, falling, wiggling, laughing and crying, rolling, pushing and pulling. Their sole job really is to practice a variety of ways to experience the world in order to understand the world in a multi-sensory perspective–visual, auditory, gravity and balance. They spend hours and hours in order to level up! (Maybe they are prepping for teen years of video game achievements?)

Just how many hours are actually spent on foundational skill development?

The study, “How Do You Learn to Walk? Thousands of Steps and Dozens of Falls Per Day” looked at how babies learn to walk.

Here is an astonishing observation. “Although most people would assume that infants walk and fall a lot, few would guess that the average toddler takes 2368 steps, travels 701 m — the length of 7.7 American football fields — and falls 17 times per hour, six hours per day.” This amounts to over 14,000 steps per day!

Malcolm Gladwell clarified that 10,000 hours doesn’t guarantee excelling at a skill, but this seems to be the amount of practice required to excel given a suitable level ability. For infants, the practice is essential. Tummy time is the first experience where infants develop skills which become the underlying foundation of visual-motor skills, essential for school success.

Does your infant get hours of essential tummy time each day? There are many reasons why they many not. The reasons generally fall into two categories — environmental or health-related. In this newsletter we will focus on the environmental factors, which are changeable.

Which skills are being short-changed?

When infants develop, they develop what we call laddered skills. The basic skills become a platform for higher level skills.

The postural and head control (control is different than strength) developed over days and months during tummy time are base layers for so many later cognitive and sensorimotor skills. Since these skills ladder on each other, a weakness early on creates an unstable “ladder” of growth and development.

A lesser known benefit of advanced tummy time has to do with weight bearing on hands. This develops the arches in the palm essential for efficient grasp used for more mature fine motor skills such as holding pencils and using forks and knives.

There are many more examples of laddered skills from infancy which play out over and over again in skill fluency of later childhood years.

One common and surprising reason why today’s children have focus and stamina issues? — SITTING as an infant!

In fact, the top selling baby gear actually deprives your child of key postural and visual-motor development experiences. Convenience and innovation come at a huge cost to building a robust developmental foundation.

Popular items at any baby shower include:

  • Infant positioners (hold a baby in cradled upright position)
  • Infant reclining seats and bounders (hold baby in angled position)
  • Multi-purpose stroller/car seats (you never have to take baby out!)
  • Bumbo or similar seats. (babies sit without needing to use core muscles even though they are advertised as ‘trainers’)

With the wide range of seats used to contain infants from dawn to dusk it is easy to see how critical hours of core and sensory system development are missing. This integrated development only comes from practice and quantity matters!

How do we help?

At Kinetic Konnections we understand the relationships between these early life events and the challenges your child may be having in life and school.

We identify the “glass half full” aspect of function — how are skills working even though they may not be working entirely the way they are supposed to. This is the default for how a child has found to compensate. Often the default compensatory mechanisms shed light onto why the kids act out the way they do. This can range from interesting homework postures and homework habits to avoidance and defiance. Once understood, you can better advocate and support, instead of nag.

The positions of success become our starting point as we use the Bridging Technique to pair muscle function. We replicate the tummy time arm, shoulder, core, and head skills to clear-up any skews or gaps from that developmental period. (At any age!)

The amazing part? The child’s muscles seem like they’ve been waiting for the right help to function correctly. The change is immediate and lasts. Daily life reinforces the new movement relationships.

What is even more amazing? The subsequent laddered skills automatically start changing and moderating. Social skills become more age appropriate with increased ability to read the non-verbal aspects of communication — facial expression, intonation, body language, and linguistic inferences. It seems like restoring the missing skill allowed an entire set of gears to shift!

Why this matters to us, and to you

Poor integration or skipped aspects of the early upper body control and movement come into play with many school and recreational skills.

Often children are acting out by avoiding. Another coping mechanism is to develop self-narratives of “I can’t” or “I’m not good at.” Self-confidence is at stake!

You don’t have to do thousands of hours of tummy time to get so much to change! We close the gap for you.

Read more about school readiness on our website.

when is a reach more than a reach

Children’s Motor Skills: When is a Reach more than a Reach?

Early life events are a big deal!

Motor skills are actually an essential aspect for all that we hope our children will be — thriving socially and emotionally.

Every sensory-motor skill developed as an infant is essential for building another skill somewhere down the road. This concept is called laddering — the skills ladder on top of each other.

When one skill is skipped there is an impact to subsequent ones. Perhaps they take more time to develop, work a little slower, or cause a child to skip over a series of related skills to something more advanced. (Think skipping crawling completely and going straight to walking.)

A reach is so much more than a reach!

As parents we aren’t fully attuned to how each discrete developmental step is essential to the future of other domains of skills. For example, purposeful reaching (which should happen around 5 months of age) is not only a motor skill: the act of reaching involves and refines developing visual skills later used for reading books and social settings.

The act of reaching for a person is indeed one of the first stages of social communication and emotional development.

Read more about the laddering of skills throughout the years of a child’s social emotional development in this National Center for Biotechnology Information summary updated in 2019 — Developmental Stages of Social Emotional Development In Children

How is Development of a Reach Movement Derailed?

What are reasons a child may not correctly develop a reaching motion?

At Kinetic Konnections, no matter what the challenge, we look for the root of the issues impacting a child’s success. This takes us to some interesting places for reasons motor skills get derailed.

The following are of some of the earliest causes we find that impact reaching(in developmental order).

  • Prenatal positioning impacting the complete development of movements between an arm and torso.
  • Birth trauma when baby’s arm is commonly used as a handle to pull baby out via C-section. (approx. 32% of all births in US)
  • PICU, NICU Monitoring attached to neonates and infants. The monitoring is attached and stabilized, preventing movement of the arm.
  • Invasive medical procedures prior to five months old. The IVs, respiratory support, and incision recovery all interfere with essential tummy time, which develops shoulder, core, and neck strength.
  • Injuries to hands and arms such as sprains and fractures.

How do we help?

At Kinetic Konnections we understand the relationships between these early life events and the challenges your child may be having in life and school. The older the child, the more likely these gaps surface as academic processing delays or shut-down behaviors. Sometimes it’s ADHD. Each child is unique given the level of skill gap and the way they’ve learned to adapt.

We look at the foundational movement interactions. These movements begin forming before birth and increase in complexity as an infant. This unique insight provides the starting point for rebuilding the limb and core relationships which were missed or skewed. We then use the gentle movements of the Bridging Technique to support and rebuild the motor skills.

The amazing part? The child’s muscles seem like they’ve been waiting for the right help to function correctly. The change is immediate and lasts. Daily life reinforces the new movement relationships.

What is even more amazing? The subsequent laddered skills automatically start changing and moderating. Social skills become more age appropriate with increased ability to read the non-verbal aspects of communication—facial expression, intonation, body language and linguistic inferences. It seems like restoring the missing skill allowed an entire set of gears to shift!

Why this matters to us, and to you

We find adults and children who have mystery performance or pain issues very often have had an early age hospitalization or surgical procedure creating a skip or skew in the most fundamental ladder rungs of development.
Once we put the pieces together so much changes!

In case you missed the recent discussion of ‘The Hidden Impact of Medical Procedures on Children’: Why can hospitalization impact developmental foundations?

We see many children with mystery behavioral, growth, cognitive, and social-emotional challenges. A common theme amongst the children is early-in-life medical intervention (which was often life-saving.)

Here are some aspects of common medical procedures and how we find they affect development.

  • Lumbar puncture for high fevers (The location of the puncture is where the diaphragm and hip flexor meet. We find respiratory implications and/or subsequent challenges to movement transitions for crawling and walking.)
  • Respiratory support which can include intubation. (We find motor-control for the head and arms is impacted by the insertion process, leaving bilateral visual-motor development asymmetric.)
  • Abdominal surgery (Appendix and hernia are most common). (We find movement symmetry impacted — skewed to the side of the body where internal scarring restricts movement.)
  • IVs and monitoring (Restricted limb movement affects push and pull movements. The arms and legs need to push and pull to establish the rich core interactions required for postural control used in play and learning.)

Did your child or a loved one have medical procedures as a child? We can help solve many unseen or mystery challenges.

How do I get started?

You can call 847-390-8348 or schedule online for a session.

To find out how we can specifically help you, or your loved one check out our website for more info about development and academics.

Check out the weekly FB videos where I share a more detailed description of common challenges from the office and how we use Bridging to help.

impact of medical procedures

The Hidden Impact of Medical Procedures on Children

Beyond the Scar

A recent newsletter discussed the considerations of pre- and post-surgical considerations which often leave a lasting imprint of pain, discomfort, and insomnia. When procedures are for a child there is more to consider.

The impact of medical procedures upon a child’s development is personal — my son had 38 lumbar punctures and four surgical procedures during his three years of leukemia treatment. The biggest impacts, which doctors had no answers for, were in the cognitive, emotional, and social domains. I was left to figure it out on my own. Nine years later he is now thriving.

What about when the surgery is for an infant or young child?

Surgery for a child doesn’t fix the trauma of hidden impacts that may result.

In addition to the obvious signs of discomfort and pain, young children are also impacted in their development by medical procedures.

As adults we expect to be sidelined for the usual recovery period of 6-10 weeks. This is the amount of time spent healing and then rebuilding strength. For an infant these are precious formative weeks. For children, depending upon age, the disruption to development of a month or two is cataclysmic. Why, you ask?

Let’s consider an infant born with an abdominal hernia (third most common pediatric surgery) who has surgery before six months of age. This baby will not be on its stomach on a floor playing, thus missing critical Tummy Time development in these formative first six months.

These are some of the foundational skills an infant with medical interventions will not completely master:

  • Hold their head up (essential for visual development)
  • Push-up on arms (key to crawling and later fine-motor control)
  • Roll-over (core control and strength needed to sit and stand)
  • Learning to reach out for toys (which is a key stage to visual-motor skills)
  • Reciprocally sleep/wake, calm/excite (self-regulation for social-emotional growth)

ALL of these developmental skills are impacted in some way when a young child is hospitalized, not just if they are having surgery.

ALL of these developmental skills are the foundation to playing, reading, writing, and socially engaging. Youth who have good executive function and behavioral regulation skills have a well-established underlying movement and development foundation.

Yes, the developmental foundation is impacted in some way, although some of the impact won’t be noticed until more advanced transitions are challenged. Challenges typically surface at the transitional ages of 4-5, 7-8, 11-13 when fine motor, reading, and social-emotional skills should pivot from learning to mastery. The frustration often plays out in the behavioral realm as anxiety, anger, and lack of effort or cooperation.

Why can hospitalization impact developmental foundations?

We see many children with mystery behavioral, growth, cognitive, and social-emotional challenges. A common theme amongst the children is early-in-life medical intervention (which was often life-saving).

Here are some aspects of common medical procedures and how we find they affect development.

  • Lumbar puncture for high fevers. (The location of the puncture is where the diaphragm and hip flexor meet. We find respiratory implications and/or subsequent challenges to movement transitions for crawling and walking.)
  • Respiratory support which can include intubation. (We find motor-control for the head and arms is impacted by the insertion process, leaving bilateral visual-motor development asymmetric.)
  • Abdominal surgery (Appendix and hernia are most common). (We find movement symmetry impacted–skewed to the side of the body where internal scarring restricts movement.)
  • IVs and monitoring (Restricted limb movement affects push and pull movements. The arms and legs need to push and pull to establish the rich core interactions required for postural control used in play and learning.)

More common than you’d expect

As rare as hospitalization and surgery are for young children, the numbers are still large.

In the most current data (2009) available there were 216,081 pediatric surgical procedures, The three most common:

  • Appendix
  • Trauma management (surgical intervention to stabilize traumatic injury)
  • Inguinal hernia under age 6 months

Hospital admission rates tell an even more interesting story. In 2016 some of the most common US admits of ages 0-17 were:

  • 171,855 Bronchitis and Asthma
  • 116,442 Full term babies w/ major problem
  • 97,317 Pneumonia
  • 86,026 Digestive and enteric
  • 60,716 Neonates w/ extreme issues or respiratory distress
  • 37,801 Cellulitis

Why this matters to us, and to you

At Kinetic Konnections we find that adults and children who have mystery performance or pain issues very often have had an early age hospitalization or surgical procedure.

Addressing the disconnect right after a surgery, can eliminate the years of pain, performance, or delayed development in your child.

Did your child or a loved one have medical procedures as a child? We can help solve many unseen or mystery challenges.

How do I get started?

You can call 847-390-8348 or schedule online for a session.

To find out how we can specifically help you, or your loved one check out our website for more info about development and post-surgical support.

scar tissue

The Magic Eraser for Scars

Surgery’s Leave-behind, the Scar

A lasting reminder of medical procedures is the scar. Bridging can help it fade.

The scar tissue is at fault they say … Yes, the scar tissue can be a source of discomfort and restricted movement, not to mention how it looks.
Different than other professionals, we restore the movement to and across the area affected by the surgery. When the affected area can move freely, we find the scar tissue begins to soften on its own. The scar had an important job; now that job is done and the movement needs help returning to normal.

Let’s take a look at a real example

This client came in for a tune-up and mentioned he had a skin lesion on his calf removed about 6 weeks ago. (See before picture–the incision is still puckered and red.)

The movement implications — his leg was stiff compared to the other leg. The hip didn’t rotate fluently nor did the ankle/knee/hip flex sequentially.

After 15-20 minutes of Bridging movements applied to the overall leg we rechecked the leg. We found the hip rotated easily and the leg flexed sequentially, just like it’s supposed to. Even more amazing is the change to the scar — it’s smoother and the coloration is neutralized. (See the after picture.)

Why did the scar change without specific attention?

First let’s step back and think about what happens with an incision–some amount of tissue is cut, removed, and rearranged in order to put it back together. The entire area has been disrupted and remains fragile (not moving) as it heals. What most people don’t realize is the movement in the area doesn’t magically re-set itself once healed.

There are two aspects of this shut down movement — the overall movement and the interconnected micro-flows within the affected area.

  • Overall movement: In our example above, the stiffness with hip rotation and leg flexion typify how movement itself is compromised. (He was walking but hadn’t felt like working out since the procedure.)
  • Micro-flows: The various layers of tissue structures within the area of the procedure were impacted. This includes skin, fat, muscle, nerves, fascia, blood vessels and lymphatic structures which all have well orchestrated micro-flows. These relate to the puckered texture and discoloration.

The light oscillatory movement of Bridging enables all of these elements to shift slightly, helping both the movement and internal micro-flows return to normal. The skin tension then calms and restored circulation flows clear away the residual particles and fluids related to the discoloration. It really does seem like a magic eraser!

Will it last? We find many scars are nearly gone when we see a client again weeks later. The restored movement is the key for the affected area returning to normal.

What if the scar is from years ago? These old wounds can still inhibit movement and tissue flows. They do change.

A memorable change was a teen’s tracheotomy scar in the center of her neckline from an infant procedure 12 or so years prior. The discoloration significantly faded and the textured area became so smooth it is now barely noticeable. She no longer feels like she has to cover the area up to avoid attention.

Does this sound like something you or a loved one are experiencing? We can help.

Check out our website for more info about post-surgical support.

surgical scars

Summer, with a Side of Surgery?

Surgery fixed the issue; Bridging®gets you feeling good again!

It’s that time of the year where we freak out saying ‘where did summer go, I still have so many things I want to do!’

Scheduled, or by accident, summer is a time for surgery and Bridging® can help your recovery in unexpected ways.

However, summer surgery seems to be one of those things that people actually get done. This is commonly so their recovery can be in a time where they (or their helpers) are out of school, or to take advantage of good weather for post surgical recovery therapy. Knee and hip replacements seem to be the most common summer surgeries, but there are others people plan for over summer, such as tonsils and feet.

Sometimes though, a summer surgery is unplanned and our clients want to see a faster recovery period. We have already seen a few clients recovering from fractures with summer sports injuries. Being outdoors and active raises the risk factor of injury. Our clients want to be back on the field playing their sport as soon as they can.

How can Bridging help surgical recovery?

At Kinetic Konnections we look at the symmetry and flow of movement in about a dozen fundamental relationships. Most surgeries (even minimally invasive) disrupt three or more of these movement flows. By focusing on the specifics of your surgery we are able to assess and restore the affected movements fairly quickly. This allows you to heal and get back to your active life or fall sport.

How soon can I schedule Bridging to help with recovery?

There are three points in time related to surgery where Bridging can help.

  1. Pre-surgery (anytime prior) to help get you in a good place for moving after the pre-op tests and possible surgery itself. For example, Lisa was able to have minimally invasive surgery with some Bridging specific help to recover much faster. Read Lisa’s story here.
  2. Post-surgical (following discharge) to help calm the invasive trauma of the surgical procedure (e.g., anesthesia trauma, swelling, IV site irritation, restless sleep).
  3. Post-surgical (6-10 weeks later) to help restore fluency to movement and posture, which boosts energy levels, allowing you to feel like yourself again.

If you’ve had surgery and just don’t feel like you’re back to normal we can often have you feeling better in just one or two sessions. Schedule here.

Check out our website for more info about post-surgical support.

Why does Bridging help with surgical recovery?

Depending on the specifics, there are several ways the Bridging technique restores movement to help you feel better at each stage along the way.

Beyond the incision…
Post-surgical (following discharge)

Surgery is over but you can’t sleep or you have odd pains and stiffness that don’t seem to go away. The swelling is uncomfortable, not to mention the gastrointestinal discomfort.

The process of surgery is invasive in so many ways beyond the incision. Often the trauma to movement begins before surgery with invasive testing (biopsies, contrast MRI’s, cardiac catheterizations, etc). Read about Ann’s experience before and after surgery with Bridging help to get her back on her feet and feeling great quickly.

During the surgery itself there are IVs restricting elbows or wrists; anesthesia and breathing support restricting the head; and odd positions of your body during the process. Minimally invasive surgery uses gas to expand the area the instruments pass through which disassociates the integrity of movement in the area.

These all disrupt essential relationships of the body related to movement, core integrity, and head relationships. You may not even realize the movement is off—all you can tell is that you don’t feel right.

Bridging can help with most of it, and one to two sessions makes a huge difference in the comfort of your recovery.

Another common characteristic we find at this stage is uncomfortable swelling. By using just a little of the Bridging technique’s movements to support the circulatory pathways, most swelling diminishes quickly allowing for a faster overall recovery.

A month or two later I should be back to normal, right?
Post-surgical (6-10 weeks later)

You don’t feel right and may have symptoms that have nothing to do with the procedure so you aren’t sure what is wrong. We also find many people still have some residual discomfort, pain, or lack of energy even once everything should be mostly healed. The Physical Therapy exercises you diligently did to regain strength haven’t helped much with balance or stability.

Often people we see post-op have trouble with their sleep or energy levels; we find this relates to movement of the core being compromised by the surgery itself or the breathing support. Symmetry and flow of the core is stuck. Even though the body is healed, the movements in the core need some support and guidance to re-center and link correctly. This is the real magic of Bridging—it’s quick and specific and gets your core movements on functioning effectively again.

The scar tissue is at fault they say … Yes, the scar tissue can be a source of discomfort. Different than other professionals, we restore the movement to and across the area affected by the surgery. When the affected area can move freely, we find the scar tissue begins to soften on its own. The scar had an important job; now that job is done and the movement needs help returning to normal.

Does this sound like something you or a loved one are experiencing? We can help.

How do I get started?

You can call 847-390-8348 or schedule online for a session to find out how we can specifically help you, or your loved one.