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How is Craniofacial Therapy applied?

Craniofacial therapy can help with all oro-facial dysfunctions, whether the causes are congenital or acquired, due to a disease or an accident. Craniofacial therapy is never performed alone. It is always determined in collaboration between the patient, the therapist and, if necessary, the physician, pediatrician, otolaryngologist, maxillofacial surgeon, orthodontist, psychologist, speech therapist, physiotherapist, or others.
Craniofacial therapy perceives the individual as a whole and therefore cannot function alone.

What you need to know

The duration of treatment varies from person to person and depending on the problem being treated.

The body needs time and care to break old habits and patterns, overcome trauma, learn new movements to recover. Changes in all of the above areas require patience.
It is your body and not the therapist’s! It is up to you to get better by practicing the exercises given by the professional and sticking to the appointments made. At the beginning of the treatment, your therapist will set with you the goals to be achieved and put them in a timeline in milestones. Together, you will determine the benchmarks for progress and the times for evaluation. It is quite possible that different therapies will be carried out one after the other. In the conversation, all necessary exercise steps are explained and reviewed again and again. Progress is evaluated at the end of each of the specified time intervals. The sessions do not necessarily take place every week, as the body needs time to integrate what is required of it.
In Switzerland, the costs are covered by supplementary health insurance. Contact your health insurance or the EMR (ErfahrungsMedizinischen Register, under “Myofunktionelle Therapie”).

Age-dependent therapy

Infants

For newborns with conditions such as cleft lip and palate, cranial or facial malformations, hyper- or hypotonia, early interdisciplinary therapy is important from birth. The child’s care is followed by a team in order of priority. If surgery is necessary, it is prioritized, and only then other treatments including craniofacial therapy. It involves soft muscle stimulation throughout the body, because what is triggered in the feet works through the muscle and fascial chains throughout the body. The therapy also deals with post-operative scars, e.g. cleft palate surgery or after accidents.

Your environment is incorporated into the therapy whenever possible.

Children

Craniofacial therapy is beneficial in all cases where children cannot give up their pacifiers, thumbs or other bad habits that interfere with the growth of the jaw and the correct position of the teeth (milk or permanent) and tongue.
It is also indicated when speech problems occur alongside or at the beginning of speech therapy treatment. The therapist’s view is comprehensive and a child cannot make progress in speech if his body is not properly aligned and his posture is not tightened. The craniofacial therapist works on posture and musculature and may collaborate with a speech therapist.

Writing, reading and concentration problems can also be due to poor posture and lack of tone or eye convergence.

The therapist also works on the swallowing pattern, which needs to transition from the infantile swallowing pattern to the adult pattern. If infantile swallowing persists, the entire digestive system may be disrupted. The mouth is the first stage of digestion. Chewing and swallowing – actions that seem insignificant when they are functioning – are important to our health.

Moreover, infant swallowing can contribute to unsightly malocclusions of the teeth, involve articulation problems, and lead to habitual open mouth posture. The open mouth not only makes the child get sick faster, it also leads to a lower body tone, which in turn promotes malpositions of the whole body.
The therapist also addresses concerns about hypersalivation and mouth breathing. He works on keeping the mouth closed, with a good resting position of the tongue, which allows nasal breathing to be established.

Craniofacial therapy is also an aid in rehabilitation in the maxillofacial area.

The child and his environment are involved in the therapy. No results without cooperation!

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Adolescents

It is the age when the discovery and development of one’s own personality, the formation of social contacts come first. Craniofacial therapy is often a good complement to dental treatment to stabilize the posture and thus consolidate the work of the orthodontist to avoid relapses. The therapy takes place in collaboration with the orthodontist. The adolescent has to do his part of the work. Good results can only be achieved with his active participation in the treatment.

Adolescence is not the most restful age for the body, the posture of teenagers puts the back and neck to the test!

In the last picture, the actual load on the spine corresponds to the weight of an 8-year-old child!

Source: Hansraj, KK, (2014) Assessment of cervical spine loads by posture and position of the head, PMID:25393825.
Reproduced with kind permission of K. Hansraj, MD, New York.

Sitting for long periods of time in class, at the computer, lying on your stomach, etc. can cause neck and back pain. Knowing that our eyes are connected to the short deep neck muscles, we are not surprised that there is a connection between vision and posture.
During puberty, craniofacial therapy allows the adolescent to become aware of their posture and work on it to eliminate pain and fatigue. Swallowing and the position of the tongue in the mouth are also controlled. Poor position of the tongue creates microscopic stress on the floor of the oral cavity and affects posture and gait. Our body is a long chain of muscles and fascia and what we work on one end of the body affects the whole like a tensegrity model.
In the event of an accident, craniofacial therapy helps restore jaw mobility and improve or regain essential functions such as eating, drinking, breathing and secondary functions such as expression or singing. Through muscle stimulation, it also works to address potential scars that can severely disrupt a teenager in the midst of building his or her identity.
In the case of disability, the therapy helps to keep the mouth closed, allowing control of salivation, which brings a better, social standing and increased self-confidence.

Adults

Craniofacial therapy also applies to adults. It provides help in case of accidents, disabilities or diseases. Anything that disturbs the harmony of the face is detrimental to trust and social contacts between people. The smallest pimple annoys us. How bad is it when it comes to scars, difficulties in expressing oneself, problems with food intake. Therapy accompanies surgical treatments or diseases, but it works only with the help of the person concerned. It is necessary to want to change and get well, to do the exercises explained by the therapist regularly in order to achieve a good result. The most difficult thing is certainly patience, because not everything changes in a few seconds. The therapist is a support and guides you through the healing process.
For example, in the case of bruxism, therapy complements psychological counseling or hypnosis, hippotherapy, Reiki, or any recognized therapy that helps relieve stress.

It is very important to discover the main cause of the disorders or pain. It cannot be excluded that the posture of the person is responsible for chronic pain for which no explanation could be found so far.
Poor ergonomics at the workplace can also lead to chronic pain, such as migraine or back pain.

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