The two photos above display common facts of life visible in all healthy children. These elements are so obvious that they are completely taken for granted.
In the first photo of the sitting child we see no vertical compression of the thorax or of the abdominal space of the child.
In the second photo, we could be somewhat amazed to notice that the child can easily “float” upon the hand of the person supporting her. In this case the entire weight of the child is born by the thorax, but neither the thorax nor the abdomen changes form. Further, the comfort of the child in this position is unaffected.
What in the healthy child we take for granted, does not appear In the same degree or measure for a child with muscular skeletal disfunction. On the contrary such children exhibit mild or even extreme weakness of core structures.
The photos of children below both illustrate and underline the fundamental problem that the ABR Method addresses: the internal compressional weaknesses of a special needs child.
The children in these and in the following photos have various forms of cerebral palsy. They come from all different parts of the globe – Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Each of the children has received the best treatment offered by western based modern medicine.
What is common to all of these children is that in spite of years of intensive physical therapy programs, the thorax and abdomen collapse under their own bodily weight.
ABR defines “Compressional Weakness” as a bodily structure that collapses – either globally or partially – under its own weight. The internal sub-muscular soft tissue layers are not strong enough to support the external bony and muscular structures.
Let us look at other photos where we can see that these weaknesses are already visible in the earliest months of life.
A four month old child:
An older child reveals similar weaknesses in the thorax and abdomen when performing such a “Flight Test”.
This compressional weakness is visible horizontally as well:
A child does not grow out of this type of weakness. On the opposite - as one can see in the first boy above (second row of photos), the situation worsens as the skeleton grows and becomes proportionally heavier.
The weakness can even be severely exposed during respiration.
As a comparison, let us look at the healthy child:
a young child
a very young premature child
a one year old child
and an older child
The thorax does not collapse in sitting position nor does it collapse under heavier loads such as seen in the flying tests below:
From the earliest days, to later years, the thorax is strong and stays strong. It does not change shape when exposed to extra pressure or loads from its own body, nor when receiving extra pressure from without.
The thorax and abdomen of a special needs child however cannot even tolerate the loads coming from its own structure. It gives way, compresses or collapses. This compressibility can be seen globally – as in the case of severe quadriplegic children, or partially – as seen in cases of diplegia, of hemiplegia, and even in children with developmental disorders such as autism and ADHD.
As long as compressional weakness is present, any physically based therapies meet with limited success at best. The less severe children (GMFCS – Level I and Level II) can learn to put their faulty structure to the best possible use. For the more severe children however (GMFCS Level III,IV,V) the extra loads applied through forced weight bearing, forceful stretching or patterning based programs - or even through forcefully applied manipulations - aggrevate muscle imbalance and reduce muscle quality (i.e. further spasticity).
The specially designed ABR Technique reduces compressional weakness and serves internal strengthening. It achieves improvements in all the elements of weight bearing.
For the severe child:
For the less severe child:
For the older child:
For the adult: