Crossing a Line

July 14, 2010

Recently, the inventor of what I call “our wacky therapy” published an article in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapy, an important step toward scientific legitimacy, acceptance by mainstream medicine, and, most importantly, insurance payments. I’ve researched many therapies in an effort to find the best ones for Chloe, and I’ve seen many which present only anecdotal evidence, or cite tiny, badly organized studies to prove themselves, so the fact that ABR is being so thorough and careful in its approach makes me very happy. It also makes me think about the arbitrary line between “mainstream” and “alternative” approaches to health and medical treatment.

In medicine today, there are several issues that seem to divide people into these two camps. Vaccinations come to mind immediately. People who are against vaccinating children point out, correctly, that big drug companies get away with, (literally in some instances) murder and that they are not trustworthy. They also claim, preposterously, that vaccinations have been “proven” to cause autism and that this is a valid reason to expose millions of children to deadly diseases. The other side points out, correctly, that without vaccinations, many children would die and that our quality of life would plummet. They also claim, absurdly, that we should all shut up and trust doctors and drug companies, in a country that falls at the bottom of the list when it comes to quality of healthcare.

This either/or approach drives me nuts, because I believe that there are many valid treatments and medical approaches that are stuck on the “alternative” side of fence, destined to be scoffed at by doctors and championed by freaks. And when your child has an “uncurable” condition, like CP or autism, it’s frustrating to get handed the same old useless prescriptions by a doctor who warns you against trying anything nutty. It’s also frustrating that the “nutty” approaches tend to take short cuts to legitimacy, such as Dr. Wakefield’s severely flawed study of vaccinations and autism.

Which is why I’m happy that my bet, four years ago, that ABR was the most promising “nutty” therapy for CP seems to be paying off. Not only is Chloe’s range of motion and motor function steadily improving, but the therapy is improving as well. They are gathering extensive data of every child involved, and making their case in legitimate forums. ABR claims to present a paradigm shift in the field of biomechanics, and maybe someday we’ll see that shift having an impact.

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2 Responses to “Crossing a Line”

  1. Carolina Says:

    This is a conundrum I was just thinking about, but have not yet reconciled with regard to ABR. My son has multiple diagnoses, and has been out of PT for quite some time for a number of reasons, but desperately needs to move. Stumbling upon ABR via some internet search last night, I find myself completely skeptical, and not able to satisfy my evidence-based science side with only the claims of the ABR website and having to send away for The Facts, all the while knowing that who-knows-how-many barbaric scoliosis surgeries are not the best solution for my boy.

    I’m glad I did stumble, though. I’m going to have my son’s speech therapist try some spelling tomorrow, using your alphabet magnets as inspiration. My son gave me a hand-squeeze “yes” that he knows how to spell, so we shall give it a go. Brilliant, simple idea.

    • camillajoy Says:

      Good luck with the spelling! We still haven’t found our perfect communication method, but we do what we can. And I’m still not 100% sure about ABR. But I can say that Chloe’s range of motion and motor skills have been steadily improving in a way that our therapists say is not typical for kids with CP (and no surgery yet, though botox comes up a lot–quite a conundrum there). If you want to know more about our experience with ABR, let me know. I’ll be happy to email or chat with you. Good luck with your son, and thanks for commenting!


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