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Face to Face with the Face: Working with the Face and the Cranial Nerves through Cranio-Sacral Integration

by Thomas Attlee DO RCST

listed in bodywork

[Image: Face to Face with the Face: Working with the Face and the Cranial Nerves through Cranio-Sacral Integration]

Craniosacral therapies exists in many flavours and there are number of related disciplines including Cranial Osteopathy and Sacro-occipital Technique.

Cranial work involves the use of highly refined palpation skills with a good knowledge of the anatomy and physiology and in particular the relationship between structure and function. With good training and experience it is possible to see the relationship between disturbance of function and clinical presentations with patients. More importantly it is often possible to repair or improve this relationship allowing the patient’s own self-healing to take place with the restoration of their innate homeostatic mechanisms.

Craniosacral work is very gentle and non-invasive and patients find it very effective. However in the time of ‘evidence based medicine’ a much-abused concept, the subjectivity of the process can be off-putting to those who subscribe to mainstream thinking. This is a shame because this therapy has huge potential to help people of all ages at a low cost and very safely.

As practitioners in this field our patients will have had one or more of: dental work, ear infections, difficult births, whiplash trauma, tinnitus, vertigo and headaches. All of these experiences will have affected or been affected by the facial structures, something that is all too easy to miss without a full understanding of the whole craniosacral system.

This book is a text based on Thomas Attlee’s take on the therapy, which he terms Cranio-Sacral Integration. The book follows on from his first book Cranio-Sacral Integration, Foundation. Thomas is keen throughout to emphasize that all disturbances within a system have to be seen in the context of the whole. This is so important. Every dysfunction has a knock on effect to the rest of the body via compensation and adaptation. This also goes beyond the physical too as all problems will have psychological, emotional and spiritual dimensions both in origin, in maintenance and in effect.

It is easy to see why this part of the anatomy has been explored as a follow-up to the foundation book. It is amazing how the significance of the face and associated structures can have a profound effect on body function, through the cranial base and associated brain structures, via the complex jaw joint with implications for headaches, via the teeth with implications for sinus function and via the facial muscles for self-expression and communication.

Thomas touches on ideas from quantum physics as a context for this therapy. This provides a conceptual framework to explain the interconnections between the condition, the patient and external factors in this relationship. This also allows us to see Cranio-Sacral Integration as a holistic therapy allowing us to place all the anatomical and physical detail in context.

The book is divided into logical sections including dentistry, facial anatomy, cranial nerves, eyes, cheeks and nose, with due attention being paid to the importance of key areas such as the TMJ (jaw).

There are also a number of helpful case histories in which CST has been a key feature of treatment.

Dentition is, of course is one of the major contributors to the clinical importance of this area. This is dealt with early in the book with contributions from two of the relatively small number of dentists who work with CST.

Dr Granville Langly-Smith contributes a chapter in which he shows a dental understanding of CST and the relationship between the teeth, mouth and rest of the body. He illustrates this with case studies including one where he shows the mechanical and physiological relationship between the teeth and epileptic symptoms in a young boy.

Dr Wojciech Tarnowski emphasizes the importance of the vestibular system as a key factor in the maintenance of homeostasis in the body and its intimate relationship with structures of the face and mouth. He further goes on to explain some cranial-sacral methods he has developed to interrogate the patient’s mechanism. This illustrates the creative nature of the method and how we can by sharing the same principles, be creative in working with our clients.

There is a section on cranial nerves including a list of foramina (holes through which nerves pass through the bones, very useful for linking clinical presentation to findings on examination. In addition advice is given to the practitioner as to how by knowing the paths of the nerves areas of impingement can be determined such as in the case of trigeminal neuralgia.

Case histories are included to put the information in the real world, which can be very helpful. There is also a wealth of information to go with the dry facts. I found the information about the recurrent laryngeal nerve taking a detour around the aortic arch only to have travelled a short distance from its origin, rather fascinating. This is explained in terms of the evolution of a long neck, and if one thinks during which the nerve maintained its relationship to the aorta. This 5-inch detour relates to a 15-foot detour in, you guessed it, the giraffe! Such detail keeps the material alive and interesting.

The author shows the relationship between these nerves structurally and functionally with the central nervous system and with other areas of the body including the microbiome and the autonomic nervous system.

This book goes covers all this with detailed and clear explanations and is very well illustrated. It is an extremely useful reference book for the practitioner, textbook for the student and would be of interest for the curious and educated patient. In addition there is plenty of material to be of interest to the experienced practitioner. The style is interesting, informative, up-to-date and useful.

It may have been useful to include a little more information on factors relating to successful breast feeding, as birth trauma has a profound effect on this extremely important activity, through the impingement of nervous and bony structures. However it may be that the author is planning to expand on this on a future book on Cranial paediatrics?

At the end of the book is a useful glossary, index and the usual references.

A very useful addition to a therapist’s library at a very reasonable price!

Further Information

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Jonathan Lawrence
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