There is no longer any need to introduce osteopaths to William G. Sutherland. All therapists who apply cranial osteopathy in their treatments will most likely have heard of him. Hence, we do not want to present Sutherland's life and work here, but merely those aspects that fit within the framework of this book.
Among Still's students, William G. Sutherland was probably the one who came closest to the master in his work. On the one hand, he recognized the significance of anatomy and biomechanics in the formation and treatment of dysfunctions. On the other hand, however, he was also aware that other factors exist that influence a person's health. Just like Still, Sutherland was a religious man who allowed this to influence his treatments. The "breath of life," as he called it, flows through the entire body via the liquor and interstitial fluid. This was an important aspect of Sutherland's treatment method.
In the course of his osteopathic work, Sutherland went through a remarkable development. Originally, the mechanical aspect clearly dominated in his treatments. We can see this from the fact that he considered cranial lesions as mechanical malpositions and treated them accordingly in his student years. As a result. he developed a kind of turban or helmet to influence individual cranial regions specifically. He also compared the bones of the cranial base with the vertebrae, and the cranial roof with the transverse and spinous processes.
In the same way that we can deduce the position of vertebral bodies from the position of the spinous and transverse processes, the cranial roof can inform us about the position of the sphenoid and occiput.
Embryologically, we can consider the cranium to consist of three modified vertebrae, with the occiput, sphenoid, and presphenoid (ethmoid) extending the
Fig. 4.1a-c a Cranial "vertebra," b rightward bend of the sphenoidal bone, c rightward rotation of the sphenoidal bone.
spinal column towards the cranium. The occiput and sphenoid thereby form a frontally concave curve that is comparable with the thoracic spinal column (TSC) kyphosis.
In his terminology of movements, Sutherland used the same terms for the spinal column and the cranium (flexion, extension, torsion, and sidebending rotation), with sidebending rotation corresponding to exten-sion-rotation-sidebending (ERS) or flexion-rota-tion-sidebending (FRS) (see Chapter 3).
The embryonic development of the brain and head is responsible for the fact that the planes of movement in rotation and sidebending differ for the sphenobasilar synchondrosis (SBS). In the course of philogenesis, the head bent forward to direct vision forward in the upright position.
While the rotation of the sphenoidal and occipital bones takes place in a frontal plane, they bend around a vertical axis into a transversal plane in sidebending rotation. Flexion and extension take place in a sagittal plane (Fig. 4.1).
Long years of practical experience and experiments caused Dr. Sutherland over time to change his treatment methods and treat more and more gently. Hence, he realized that dysfunctions can also be treated indirectly by bringing the affected joint or bone into a position that is as relaxed as possible and then letting the body do the correcting.
At the end of his career, Sutherland used the liquor-or the tides—for therapeutic purposes, by directing the liquor flow and utilizing respiration and movements of the extremities for support.
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