The objective of the Dr Bramati-Castellarin’s published research (Bramati-Castellarin et al., 2016) was to investigate the effect of visceral osteopathy on GUT symptoms as well as behaviour patterns in autistic children. According to the study there were some positive symptomatic changes.
The study was designed to investigate the use of visceral osteopathic techniques* (abdominal massage) on the gut (Gastro-Intestinal system – GI system) function of children, aged between 3 1/2 and 8 years, who have been diagnosed autistic.
The study aimed to address the lack of low-invasive treatments to autistic children suffering from GI signs and symptoms. The possible connection between changing behaviour signs and symptoms and the gastrointestinal condition in these children, as well as the lack of an appropriate low-invasive gastrointestinal treatment led the researcher to study the possible effects of application of VOT in these autistic children (Bramati-Castellarin et.al 2016).
The role of Visceral Osteopathy
Visceral osteopathy is used to optimise blood and lymphatic supply to the internal organs. The viscera are a collection of organs in the abdominal cavity that generally respond to the internal physiological motion guided by the involuntary movement of the diaphragm in respiration; the internal motility of the viscera such as peristaltic movement; cardiac movement and blood and lymph circulation; and via skeletal movement such as walking, running or exercising (Barral and Mercier, 2006, Barral and Mercier, 2007, Stone, 1999). This motion and motility and the influence on the viscera is constantly present throughout life.
A recent study on the effectiveness of visceral osteopathic techniques (VOTs) was performed on IBS patients with positive results. Attali et al. (2013) considered 31 IBS patients in a randomized cross-over placebo controlled study. The qualitative effects of depression, constipation, diarrhoea, abdominal distension and abdominal pain using visual analogue scales (VAS), and rectal sensitivity using a distension balloon, before and after treatment were evaluated. The treatment group received general visceral osteopathy sessions as well as locally applied techniques in specifically sensitive areas of the abdomen and gentle manipulation to the sacral area. The placebo group received treatment in the same areas of the abdomen with a light, non-therapeutic, pressure. The authors reported that VOT ameliorates diarrhoea, abdominal distension and pain as well as rectal sensitivity. The positive effects of the therapy were long lasting and the symptom scores continued to be low at one year follow-up with no further treatment (Attali et al. 2013).
Previous studies have suggested that manual stimulation of the GI system may help to decrease inflammatory processes as well as promote a decrease in constipation, diarrhoea and bloating suffered by autistic children (Bramati-Castellarin et al 2013) . It may also help to ameliorate some of the behavioural symptoms characteristic of autism.
Please note that the references are pilot studies. There is a need for larger trials to confirm these findings.
BRAMATI-CASTELLARIN, I., PATEL, V. B. & DRYSDALE, I. P. Repeat-measures longitudinal study evaluating behavioural and gastrointestinal symptoms in children with autism before, during and after visceral osteopathic technique (VOT). Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies – In Press 2016
Evaluation of behavioural and gastrointestinal symptoms in autistic children after visceral osteopathic treatment – International Journal of Osteopathic Medicine Volume 16, Issue 1, March 2013, Pages e13-e14 Special Issue: Osteopathic Principles
ATTALI, T. V., BOUCHOUCHA, M. & BENAMOUZIG, R. 2013. Treatment of refractory irritable bowel syndrome with visceral osteopathy: short-term and long-term results of a randomized trial. J Dig Dis, 14, 654-61.
BARRAL, J. P. & MERCIER, P. 2007. Visceral manipulation II, Seattle, Eastland Press.
BRAMATI-CASTELLARIN, I., PATEL, V. B. & DRYSDALE, I. P. 2016. Repeat-measures longitudinal study evaluating behavioural and gastrointestinal symptoms in children with autism before, during and after visceral osteopathic treatment (VOT). Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies.
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