A favorite thing of mine to do on Wednesday mornings (when we typically don’t see patients) is to dive back into the research literature and today I stumbled across a gold mine for pediatric care. The study is titled, “Kinematic Imbalances Due to Suboccipital Strain in Newborns”, that was published in the Journal of Manual Medicines.
Sometimes research literature has impossibly difficult to understand titles, but this one can be broken down fairly easily.
Kinematics is motion. So here we have an imbalance in motion.
The suboccipital area is a group of muscles that begin at the base of the skull and attach into the upper neck bones or the ‘upper cervical spine’. When one of these muscles becomes strained or damaged, it alters the movement and position of the head, among many other things...
There are some basic outward signs you can look for in your own child to determine if they may be affected by this kinematic imbalance:
· Is your child’s head consistently tilted to one side?
· Does your child curl towards one side like a “C” when lying on their back?
· Is there an asymmetrical muscle pattern in their glutes, face, or in the folds of their skin on their legs?
· Once your child is old enough to stand and walk, is one shoulder lower than the other?
Who is at risk for this?
Honestly, any child who is born could be at risk for damage to this area of the body as it is widely recognized as a point of weakness for the developing fetus and newborns, however, certain things can place them at greater risk:
· Was your child delivered by C-section?
· Was the use of an extraction device utilized during the delivery? This could include vacuum extraction, forceps, and even manual traction to the head and neck to aid in delivery.
· Was there multiple fetuses, as in twins, or was the child ever in a breech position?
· Was the labor prolonged and difficult?
What can you expect to see in terms of symptoms or secondary conditions in regard to this kinematic imbalance? (This list can vary greatly and is far from being complete).
· Chronic Ear Infections
· Seizure activity
· Digestive issues such as reflux
· Pathological reflexes
· Foot deformities
· ADD & ADHD
· Developmental delays
If your child or someone you know is affected by any of these conditions or is displaying outward signs of kinematic imbalance, we strongly encourage you to have them evaluated by a chiropractor who can gently correct the underlying imbalances to promote healing and development.
Dr. Andrew R. Burns