If the cranial base was totally free in its development, what would be the structure-function of the body?
Then consider the reality, where there are at least minimal and often more severe modifications of the cranial base from external forces that occur in prenatal, natal, or postnatal period, or later.
What would be, and are, the patterns of structure and functioning in the infant, child, or adult?
The adult is a relatively stable body physiology. He is not a bilaterally symmetric structure-functioning unit. There are many superimposed variations that begin in the prenatal, natal and postnatal periods and on up through the early years in life.
In early life, the cranium is a membranous structure, still developing. The only articular gear operating at birth in the cranium is the junction of the condylar parts of the occiput with the pits of the atlas.
(There are 11 small pieces of cartilaginous bones in the cranial base at birth -4 for the occiput, 3 for the sphenoid, and 2 each for the temporal bones- held together by intercartilaginous unions and by the reciprocal tension membrane with its three sickles and its inferior pole of attachment at the sacrum. The adult occiput is one bone, while through the first seven to nine years, is four parts- a basilar portion at the anterior end of the foramen magnum, 2 condilar parts forming the lateral borders, and posteriorly, the occipital squama with a cartilaginous union between it and the condilar parts.)
With the fetal head resting in the pelvis, a compressive force through the amniotic fluid from a labor contraction can drive these condyles into the facets of the atlas, a fulcum point and the only bony contact at that age. Or, depending on the direction of force, the condyles can be modified in their contacts with the squama or the basilar process of the occiput to produce a structural pattern a tiny bit different from that which a freely functioning cranial base should be.
This will be reflected into the total body structural mechanism as body matures. It may be a simple dysfunctional pattern (torsion or sidebending rotation are considered basically phisiological), or it can be the onset of a scoliosis that will appear during the teenage period. Other unphysiological patterns may show theirself later in life.
An example is a boy, age 10, whose speech was so poor, it couldn’t be understood. His intelligence was normal. He had a lateral strain. His problem did not appear until two, three, or four years of age, when a child is supposed to start speaking clearly. His lateral strain was corrected over a period of 6 months. Needless to say, his parents and teachers were grateful.
More serious strains of the cranial base can contribute to cerebral palsy or any abnormal color, actions, crying, feeding, growth, etc.
One of the most unusual cases I ever saw was an infant, 9 months old, who cried continuously and whose skin from the top of the head to the soles of the feet was covered with open skin lesions. This condition existed practically from birth. I worked from the condylar parts of the occiput. Belive it or not, within 12 hours, the infant grew new skin, and it slept all night for the first time in its life. […] In thinking about this now, I reflect on the fact that central nervous system and the skin both develop from ectoderm, and both were involved in this particular case.
The time in between production of the strain and symptomatology can be weeks, months, or years.
In one patient, a blow on the occiput, at age of 4, gave no symptoms until the age of 24.
A girl’s fall on her sacrum, at age of 10, showed itself as severe head pain at age 42.
A woman, age 26. Severe headaches and pain since 18 years old. Portion of parietal-temporal bone removed for cerebral decompression, multiple central and autonomic nervous system disturbances. No official diagnosis established. She had a difficult labor at 18 years with her second child.
A whiplash showed itself as trophic disturbance in the upper thoracic area 20 years later. (Several cases with severe falls on the sacrum, completely locking its respiratory movement and distorting the sacrum. This alteration in low back function persisted for 20, 30, 40, 55 years.)
No infant is too young or a child too old that she or he cannot be examined and treated using the basic principles of the science of osteopathy. Any corrective work done at this early age is preventive care for years later, and you get better health in the process.
-extract from “Life in Motion”, Rollin E. Backer, lecture dated 1984-