Notice I do not use the words PTSD – for me, to consider Post Traumatic Stress a DISORDER is disrespectful. It is simply the result of overstressing a neurological system. The body has responded in the only way it knew how in order to survive – how can that be a disorder? It’s simply a natural, human response.
A few years back, my work changed dramatically. That was thanks partly to a phrase I read in Stanley Rosenberg’s excellent Book Accessing the Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve: Self-Help Exercises for Anxiety, Depression, Trauma, and Autism. This is a simple, easy to read book that I would highly recommend it to everyone. It simply stated: “The Ventral Vagus nerve controls the top third of the esophagus.” The penny dropped, lightbulbs started to come on inside my old grey matter, and I could see the pieces of the therapeutic jigsaw clicking together!! I did a little more research, tested my Engineering theory on a few people, and it worked! My gut told me it would, but I needed more confirmation. I spoke to a few people, and the Universe guided me to Camp My Way in Canada to work with Terrance Kosikar helping veterans and first responders with PTS. I met some amazing people, made new friends for life, and tested my theory on people I had no connection with. It worked!
What exactly had I uncovered?
I realised that it was not always one traumatic event that led to PTS, but more often than not, a CUMULATIVE effect of UNRESOLVED TRAUMAS that we gather through life. This was the key. It was a snowball effect of musculoskeletal compensatory patterns in the body, each one applying pressure to the Central nervous System until the body lost the ability to adapt anymore and got “stuck” in protective mode. At that point, the body has lost the ability to self-heal, and things like immune system, digestion, respiration and cardiac function do not operate normally.
This leads to a breakdown in the chemical balance of the body, and to symptoms like panic attacks, anxiety, depression and ultimately suicidal thoughts – not to mention the physical pain they may also experience! Take that person, put them on a beach in Barbados and they will still feel tense and anxious. They have lost the ability to return to a natural self-healing state, even when in a non-threatening environment, because the problem is mechanical! My theory was fundamentally straight forward, but consisted of 3 different components. Independent, but directly inter related, like cogs in a clock, influencing one another.
- This cumulative effect of unresolved “life” trauma causes head to misalign on top of the neck, and tightens jaw muscles, compromising Trigeminal Nerve
- It also compromises a nerve junction called Jugular foramina where the bones behind the ears meet the base of the skull. There are 2 – right and left
- This in turn compromises blood flow draining from Brain back to the Heart
- It also compromises Cranial Nerves IX, X AND XI
- Cranial nerve X is the Vagus, “fight or flight” nerve
- Cranial nerve XI controls the 2 main shoulder muscles, Sternocleidomastoid and Trapezius.
- If nerve is dysfunctional, SCM and Trapezius tighten and will lift and inwardly rotate shoulder
- This in turn lifts ribcage, hip and distorts entire body structure
- It also places FURTHER pressure on the Jugular Foramina and the nerves there, and tightens respiratory diaphragm impacting on breathing and tightening chest
Thirdly, the final loop in the circle:
- Ventral Vagus controls top third of the esophagus – the pipe carrying food and liquid to the stomach, and also cardiac and lung function
- This elevates stomach under left ribs causing Hiatus Hernia, or at the very least distorts the Hiatus – the Hiatus is a “hole” in the big muscle separating Heart and Lungs from lower abdomen. Hernia is where part of the stomach is sucked up into the cavity above causing acid reflux, heartburn and indigestion
- The 2 Vagus nerves, left and right, follow the esophagus through the Hiatus
- Any distortion of the Hiatus will apply extra pressure to the Vagus nerves and will further pull on the Brainstem and Central nervous System
- Body senses this AND FURTHER TIGHTENS THE NECK AND SHOULDER MUSCLES.
At that tipping point, the body loses the ability to further compensate and adapt, and gets locked in a vicious cycle of self-protective musculoskeletal compensatory patterns, and can no longer self-heal.
My “Body Engineering” theory was two-fold:
1) Devise a simple diagnostic test to ACCURATELY ASSESS the Central nervous System was compromised, then 2) create a protocol of hands on techniques to gently and safely address ALL 3 possible areas of dysfunction.
In doing so, we could reduce the pressure off of the Central Nervous System and the body would naturally revert to self-healing mode. It worked!
The problem with PTS is it is NOT a medically diagnosable condition. You don’t have a blood test or X ray, and they show PTS! It is a neurological response to stress, and needs a different approach.
Using accepted medical knowledge with an engineering mind-set, we can determine very quickly and accurately if there is a mechanical restriction within the body that is having a negative effect on the balanced function of the nervous system. Once diagnosed, forget medication or counselling – these approaches are very powerful and are extremely valuable tools, but if the body is neurologically/mechanically compromised, there is simply no foundation for self-healing.
Once that foundation is restored – and this is often achieved very quickly as we proved on the Camp – then these other modalities will significantly help speed up recovery even more. Ideally, without need for medication. Teamwork!
The exciting thing about these simple diagnostic tests is their capacity within seconds to determine who may be at risk of developing PTS, because their nervous systems cannot relax after stressful stimulations. This enables us to have the tools to be PROACTIVE and PREVENTATIVE, and offer early intervention BEFORE someone’s system crashes, and they get a PTS diagnosis. Prevention has to be better than cure!
A Medic in the Canadian Army, Beata Czapla, had been following our progress at Camp My Way, and we got chatting. Result was an invitation to travel to Canadas East coast and work with the amazing people there to help spread this news.
It was their input that spurred me on to develop the Workshops and New Vision Therapy Qualification. We had found a way to help the guys with PTS, and many other chronic conditions, and I had to share this far and wide! Teach to Teach!!
This also led to another exciting development: “The Resilient Minds Project”.