Osteopathy: stimulating the vagus nerve in babies

Stimulating the vagus nerve in babies

When osteopaths recognize the symptoms of dysmaturation, the most important treatment aim is to stimulate the vagus tone by:

• Mobilizing the upper cervicals (cranial base release, 4th ventricle compression…).
• Explaining clearly to the parents concerning vagus functions and thereby stimulate behavioral changes into the direction of increased vagus tone:
o Regularity in feeding, sleeping.
o Avoidance loud noises, intense light as in television, …
o Bonding.
o Stress avoidance.
o Softly talking to the child.
o Rocking (rhythmic oscillatory tilt results in a positive increase in cardiac vagal tone).

Rocking and swinging in which the position of the head is changed relative to the position of the heart will stimulate the baroreceptors and engage this feedback loop.

Vagus nerve stimulation reduces even autistic-like behavior.

Vagus afferent stimulation has direct influence on both the lower motor neurons in the brainstem and the upper motor neurons in the cortex that regulate the social engagement system.

Osteopaths use these phenomena by mobilizing the diaphragm, the gut and by rotating the babies and children around a craniocaudal axis. This mobilization in rotation between the body regions: high cervical, cervicothoracic, thoracolumbar and pelvic sends ‘regulating’ afferents to the CNS and stimulates the parasympathetic system.

All of this means that not only the manual osteopathic techniques will do the job but also all influences (visual, tactile, auditive, temperature, …) have to be balanced.

Childhood is the most important period in life to build a well-functioning ANS and immune system.

Building resilience is life quality essential.

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