What can the osteopathic approach offer to a genetic syndrome? When you observe the dynamic relationship between body structure and body function, you can see the value of osteopathy in Down Syndrome.
The typical face of a child with Down Syndrome is a flat face with a wide head. The palate is high and narrow, and the jaw bones are small. The ears are often low set and the tongue often protrudes from the mouth. Even though there is a genetic component to these typical features, they are all capable of change with treatment.
The flat mid face results in small sinus cavities which drain poorly. This is a cuase of frequent upper respiratory infections. Osteopathic treatment assists the mid face to come forward and the bridge of the nose to become more prominent. This allows the sinus to drain more normally and helps prevent upper respiratory infections.
The distorted shape of the skull in children with Down Syndrome is partly due to the way the bones of the skull come together. But this is dramatically influenced by the tissue membranes that lies underneath the bones. These membranes are typically very restricted in these children and when released osteopathically, the skull attains a more typical shape.
Since healthy neurologic development is partly dependant on the precise geometry of the skull, allowing the nerve pathways to lay themselves down correctly, this improvement of cranial shape can have a beneficial effect on development and learning.