Kimberly Burnham, IMTC, PhD Candidate

Essays and articles written by Kimberly Burnham, whose interests include Integrative Manual Therapy (IMT), CenterIMT, Neurodegenerative Disorders, Parkinson's Disease, Vision, VisionIMT, Eye Disorders, Travel, Languages, PhD Candidate, Westbrook University, Connecticut School of Integrative Manual Therapy.

Location: Bloomfield, Connecticut, United States

Monday, January 10, 2005

Essay - Autonomic Nervous System and Integrative Manual Therapy

Introduction to Autonomic Nervous System Templates
by Kimberly Burnham, IMTC, PhD Candidate

The autonomic nervous system regulates functions in the body which need to be balanced, in order for the individual to thrive and function in their environment. Without the moderating effects of the autonomic nervous system, blood pressure falls too low or rises too high, body temperature fluctuates to a dangerous degree. If many functional levels swing too greatly, death and dysfunction result.

The range between low blood pressure and high blood pressure is small. Average diastolic blood pressure is 80 psi. In high blood pressure diastolic is anything over 90 psi and in low blood pressure anything below 70 psi. That is a difference on only 20 psi. The diastolic pressure can fluctuate less than 10 percent in either direction before function is significantly affected.

The average human body temperature is 97.5 degrees to 99 degrees Fahrenheit. Fluctuations above or below this can result in serious damage to the nervous system or indicate an autonomic nervous system problem. Your temperature can fluctuate about 2 percent in either direction before function is impaired.

The use of Templates techniques from Integrative Manual Therapy (IMT) is thought to normalize the ability of the autonomic nervous system to maintain balance in the body and keep movement towards the extremes to a minimum. The Template technique itself is the use of microsecond resistance to a palpable motility, thought to be reflective of the autonomic nervous system, either sympathetic or parasympathetic in particular places for particular functions. Mobility Templates, for example normalizes the autonomic nervous system’s affect on biomechanics. The motilities are reflected in the thoracic spine for the sympathetic system and in the occipital area of the head (cranial nerve area) and at the sacrum. Consider the effect of hypermobility and hypomobility of a joint on function. How much can the range of motion of the shoulder girdle be restricted before function is compromised? How hypermobile can the joint become before control of arm movement is lost? This theory plus the effectiveness of the Mobility Templates technique indicates that the autonomic nervous system plays a substantial role in biomechanical function by balancing the ability to move with the ability to control that movement. There are autonomic nervous system templates for many functions.

Consider the effect of the IMT Templates for muscle function. What factors in a muscle need to be maintained within narrow parameters? The amount of oxygenation of the muscle tissue, the release and reabsorbtion of calcium, atrophy and hypertrophy of the muscle are just a few variables which can not fluctuate too much before there is a decrease in function.

Our autonomic nervous system maintains our ability to function in our environment. If you go outside on a cold day, the autonomic nervous system facilitates changes in blood flow, muscle contraction and more, in order to maintain body temperature. If you go hiking in the mountains or work out at the gym, the autonomic nervous system causes changes in blood vessels, respiration rate, heart rate, sweating and more to keep the amount of oxygen and blood flow to the muscles within appropriate levels. The autonomic nervous system continues to adjust to changes after you stop working out.

Consciousness is another aspect influenced by the autonomic nervous system. Breathing is something over which there is both voluntary control and autonomic control. If you voluntarily hold your breath or if you voluntarily hyperventilate, eventually you will lose consciousness. Once you lose consciousness your autonomic nervous system takes over and restores appropriate breathing, if possible. If you are under water or have something blocking your throat, the autonomic nervous system can not restore norms and function stops.

How many of us are exerting voluntary control over our functions or place ourselves in an environment such that the autonomic nervous system can not restore appropriate values? How do these choices affect our consciousness? When our conscious control is inappropriate to our surviving and thriving in our environment, do we lose consciousness or some aspect of consciousness so that the autonomic nervous system can take over, unimpeded by our conscious mind?

When we make voluntary choices that affect our ability to survive and thrive in our environment, it also affects the level of the limbic system facilitation. Every voluntary choice we make whether fully conscious or not, affects our ability to see the choices we have and to live our lives fully conscious. The autonomic nervous system Templates help restore our ability to choose.


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