In 1899, William Garner Sutherland was a student at the American School of Osteopathy, at kirksville, Missouri. In the North Hall of the Infirmary Building, his attention was directed to a disarticulated skull. The beveled articular surfaces, relative to the greater wings of the
sphenoid and the squamous portions of the temporal bones, became especially interesting. 

Then, as he described it, "like a blinding flash of light came the thought-beveled like the gills of a fish and indicating articular mobility for a respiratory mechanism.(1) In 1939, following a long period of original research, he published his findings in a small volume named "The
Cranial Bowl".

His concepts formed the basis of what is known as Osteopathy in the cranial field. Osteopathy in the cranial field is primarily concerned with two physiological phenomena the motion present in the cranial sutures and a rhythmic impulse within the cranium, distinct from any previously know pulsation, as they relate to a basic physiological complex considered to be responsible for many of the essentials of homeostasis.

A study of the cranial concept involves a thorough understanding of the principles of osteopathy. In the past, anatomists have viewed cranial sutures as immovable joints. This concept was developed after studying dried skulls and those of cadavers.

We know, however from the work of Michael and Retzlaff, Viola Frymann and others that cranial bones exhibit motion.
Cranial micro-motion does exist and at present there are over 300 documented references pointing to this fact.

This cranial motion, of what Dr Sutherland called. "The Primary Respiratory Mechanism."
Is made up of five parts:   
  1) The inherent motility of the brain and spinal cord.
  2) The fluctuation of the cerebrospinal fluid.
  3) The mobility of the intracranial and intraspinal membranes.
  4) The articular mobility of the cranial bones.
  5) The involuntary mobility of the sacrum between the ilia.

  The origin of cranial motion is thought to come from the brain cells. The energy of contraction, relaxation, expansion and contraction takes   place on a rhythmic basis just like that which occurs with the lungs and all of the body organs.

The rhythmical micro-motion. with a   hysiologic range of 6-12 cycles per minute, can be likened to an umbrella that is slowly being opened and closed This motion can most   readily be palpated on the head and is expressed as the cranial respiratory index (CRI).

A clinician with good palpatory skills can pick up   this motion on any part of the body. The CRI is a stable motion which does not fluctuate in response in response to physical exercise,
  emotional crisis, rest. etc as do the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. Palpating craniosacral motion for rate, amplitude, and   symmetry will provide invaluable diagnostic information. For exemple, a slow CRI is associated with a patient's low vitality and resistance,   disease susceptibility and a degenerative state such as that seen in a coma due to anoxia or other forms of brain damage.

A rapid CRI   has been observed in hyperkinetic children, high fevers. coma due to drugs or other hypermetabolic states. In addition.   a craniomandibular somatic dysfunction can alter the CRI and in turn affect the cerebrospinal fluid flow as well as blood flow to the brain.

  The blood flow problems arise from reciprocal cervical vertebrae distortions which affect the vertebral artery and dysfunctional mandibular   distortions which influence the internal carotid artery which supplies the Circle of Willis and Anterior Brain.



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