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Primary Respiratory Mechanism:






General PRM
The primary respiratory mechanism is a movement present throughout the body and over which we have no control (involuntary). Dr. William G Sutherland first discovered this and it came about while he was observing a disarticulated skull when he noticed that the sutures seem to allow for some movement. He noted articulation between the temporal and parietal bones.

Dr. Sutherland found out by experimenting on himself that manipulation could bring about a range of reactions that varied from physiological to emotional changes. Sutherland concluded that good physical and mental health depends not only one the bones of the skull being in the right position, but also on the ability of the sutures to allow for slight movement. Through research is was discovered that this movement was not confined to the head, but that it could be felt throughout the body.

Sutherland after thirty years of research on this self regulating movement, which he called the primary respiratory mechanisms (PRM). This mechanism is characterized by light movement of the bones in the skull and sacrum, the membrane system (visceral) and the central nervous systems cerebrospinal fluid.

More recently research has proven that the cranial sutures are indeed like the other joints in our body and that the head actually has a moving structure. This At the request of the American Academy of Osteopathy the PRM has been measured by NASA physicists and numberous papers have been published to prove its excistance (I will try to get links).

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How does PRM work?
Just as the body has intrinsic biorhythms the PRM is one of them. The PRM is independent of all of these and is felt as the expansion and contraction of the head and body as if the whole body is "breathing". Cycles exist within the PRM which is a complete expansion and contrations that occur eight to fourteen times per minute.

There are times when the PRM will come to a complete stop by itself which is referred to as still points. This is when the PRM is re-balancing or letting go. Osteopath are primarly concerned with the rate, amplitude and quality of the movement which is present throughout ones life. The PRM is an indication of the level of vitality in a person, and helps the body's natural power of self-correction. If a person has been ill or has suffered trauma, the rate and amplitude may be much lower than normal, or it may absent all together.

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Working with the PRM?
The principles of working with the PRM are taught to osteopaths training at the undergraduate level, although most of the in-depth study is done by registered osteopaths pursuing their masters degree. Working with the PRM fits perfectly with the osteopathic principle of the practioner as an assistant to the internal self healing power of the body itself.

Today, after years of research and application of the PRM, reasons have been found for numerous symptoms and conditions that have long puzzled practioners in all areas of health. Now a days orthodox doctors, ophthalmologists, obstetricians, gynecologists, and other specialists such as dentist and psychotherapists are becoming knowledgable about the PRM and are collaborating with osteopaths.

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The PRM and treatment
During treatment a patient will usually feel only a very light pressure from the practitioner's hands, and many of the techniques require a very gentle touch indeed. The osteopath's hands may be placed of the head, spine or sacrum, as well as on an arm or leg or over an organ such as the liver. With complicated cases, two osteopaths may work together on the same patient.

Most treatments take place while the patient is lying down, although some techniques are more effective when the patient is sitting up. Treatment is often a deeply relaxing experience, which allows the patient to quiten the conscious mind to a point where they can concentrate their attention on her own inner thoughts.

The functional unity of the body is created by the neuroendocrine and immune system which are closely linked to the circulatory system. The fascia forms a continuous connection throughout the whole body and so by working specifically on one of these systems others may be influenced. The changed sensation that a patient may feel during and immediately after treatment may last for hours, a day or a week, but the deeper physiological effects will continue for a considerable time.

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Who and what does it help?
Osteopathic treatment using the primary respiratory mechanism can be given when other treatment techniques may not be suitable for a patient. Because this approach is particularly gentle, it is appropriate for the following groups of people: newborns, young children, women passed menopause, people in pain or who cannot be moved, immediately after surgery, the elderly, the terminally ill.

Ostepathic treatment using the PRM is not a "cure all", for people with long-term or complicated illness, the osteopath will recommend that the patient have additional help from other specialists.

Some of the common problems that are helped are: bowel and bladder problems, ear inflammations (non-infectious), congested or red eyes, dental problems, jaw pain, migraines, neuralgia, sinusitis and also strains of the muscles and ligaments. These are not exhaustive but rather a sample of problems that are commonly helped.

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