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Cranial Manipulation Theory and Practice: Osseous and Soft Tissue Approaches

by Leon Chaitow DO

listed in bodywork

[Image: Cranial Manipulation Theory and Practice: Osseous and Soft Tissue Approaches]

Leon Chaitow is a prolific recorder and interpreter of the growing world of bodywork therapeutics. Four other books of his are current Harcourt Brace publications: Muscle Energy Techniques, Positional Release Techniques, Modern Neuromuscular Techniques and Palpation Skills. It is likely that he has a readership that embraces several disciplines, not least that of the modern osteopath who is obliged to demonstrate a portfolio of competencies in order to attain statutory registration.

The newest work is as timely as any Chaitow has produced. Cranial manipulation under whatever banner it is practised (sacrocranial therapy or cranial osteopathy or sacro-occipital technic) is a minor boom industry. The few who pioneered the subject a century ago and those who explored it in this country 35 years and more ago (and that includes Chaitow himself) were at best tolerated and at worst derided for their imaginative suggestions that something linking the head and sacrum to the whole body could provide a means of health restoration.

There are certain differences between then and now, though. Osteopathy and Chiropractic have become legitimate in statutory terms. Teaching by apprenticeship and tradition is being augmented, even supplanted, by the academic rigours of university degree education. There is now an obligation to verify the inspired pronouncements of originators like Still, Sutherland and deJarnette. Not least, the Primary Respiratory Mechanism (PRM) theories behind the sacrocranial relationship, like those of the meridians of acupuncture, are being exploited, in the nicest sense, as vehicles for therapies other than those of the osteopath, chiropractor or acupuncturist.

Leon Chaitow has compiled in fine detail the researched facts and hypotheses of several informed practitioners. Numerous questions emerge thereby, not least those concerning Sutherland's five point composition of the PRM: inherent motility of the brain and spinal cord, fluctuating cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), motility of intracranial and spinal membranes, mobility of the bones of the skull and involuntary sacral motion between the ilia. Which, if any, are the prime movers of the whole? What is the rhythmic rate of movement of the PRM and how is it to be distinguished from those of the vascular and respiratory systems and of other as yet unidentified mechanisms? Cranial bones move at their sutures; can it be said that the sphenobasilar junction has motion when Gray's Anatomy insists it has fused by age 25? In short, how valid are the propositions of the pioneers and how does it all relate to the health of the individual?

Hypotheses vary and Chaitow seems to have explored everything ever written on the subject. He presents his material in readable fashion interweaving critical research with practical procedural exercises that emanate from a variety of teachers. Apart from cranial fundamentals that include the prominent role of the meningeal membranes and that hint at possible fluid energy transmission the author has a strong bias towards the role muscles play in the observed phenomena of successful cranial manipulation.

Experienced practitioners will gain from the systematised layout of tables, illustrations, arguments, counter-arguments, references and appendices that make up its 302 pages It is to be hoped that some of the author's enthusiasm may inspire aspiring researchers in a field that is wide open for research.

The average novice may feel overwhelmed by the huge storehouse of knowledge presented but appetites will doubtless be whetted to encourage training from appropriate establishments. Cranial Manipulation Theory and Practice will then be an excellent text book to go with such training.

About the ReviewerJoseph Goodman DO is Head of Department, Theory and Practice of Osteopathy, College of Osteopaths at Middlesex University; Chairman, Cranial Osteopathic Association

Cranial Manipulation Theory And Practice: Osseous and soft tissue approaches by Leon Chaitow DO is available from Harcourt International. Price £29.50. Tel: 0181 308 5700.

This book can be ordered from the Positive Health bookstore. Please click the Bookshop image at the top of the column to your right, then click on Bodywork.

Joseph Goodman
Harcourt International, 0181 308 5700

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