Developmental Delay Therapy

SENSORY PATHWAYS

Perhaps the first question, and if not the second, that people ask is “What is it you do?” By this they mean what treatment can be provided that may help these various developmental delay disorders?The answer is to afferentate the areas of brain that are under functioning and thereby bring them up to speed so that they can function neurophysiologically as they were intended to.Afferentation simply means using the sensory pathways into the nervous system as a means to cause changes in the areas of brain that are not working too well or have not matured at a time that would have been appropriate.

Neurons need to be activated in such a manner as to keep them not merely viable but healthy. In just the same way as if you exercise your muscles you will keep in trim, so exercising the brain keeps it in good shape. Put simply you must use IT or lose IT. With neurons every time they receive an impulse from another neuron, be it a positive or negative message (it makes no difference), they make more protein. More protein makes for healthier neurons with not only better internal structures but more neurotransmitters to pass on messages to the next neurons in the chain. Hence if one area of the brain is under functioning, then the areas it should talk to on a regular basis suffer as well as their protein production slows as a consequence. This is the basis of what has been termed a diaschisis.

The treatment modalities range from simple, yet specific, exercises carried out at home designed to afferentate the area or areas of brain found to be under functioning, to computer generated programs again specifically designed to hit the right spot.

All the sensory systems can be used, be it the fight against gravity, a type of light, sound, vibration or olfaction.

Aspects of the motor system can be employed notably joint-mechanoreceptors, Golgi Tendon Organs and the intrafusal muscle fibres. These can operate at a spinal cord level or via higher levels at the cerebellum and cortex.

Clearly as no two individuals will present with exactly the same problem then the treatment has to be tailor-made for each and every person. It is the understanding of the underlying functional neurology that provides the diagnosis and how this neurophysiology can be changed that provides the logic to the treatment regime.

Provider: Gráinne Gilmartin

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