Posted by: Tracy Barsamian Ventola | August 14, 2012

Treating Strabismus Holistically

Dr. Grace giving Lauren a chiropractic treatment.  Lauren is holding an activator.

Miss Lauren has strabismus (big word for crossed eyes).  I had originally wanted to start this blog so that I could chronicle our holistic journey to a cure!  But, somehow five months have passed and this is the first time that I am writing about it.  So…let me catch everyone (including myself!) up to date.  Thus far, we have used three primary healing modalities:  chiropractic, energy kinesiology, and behavioral optometry.

I.  Chiropractic

Pretty much as soon as we got home from China, Lauren started chiropractic.  We go to this amazing place in Cambridge called the Lydian Center.  At first, Lauren was – shall we say – unhappy (okay, crying and screaming bloody murder) for the entirety of her appointments.  But Dr. Knutson, Dr. Grace, and Dr. Maya (yes! our little Lauren sometimes required all three chiropractors’ help!) were all absolutely wonderful with her.  They did everything they possibly could to make our girl feel safe.  They would sing to her!  The room full of adults would sing the Itsy Bitsy Spider to calm Lauren down.  So by the time that her “foundation” was complete, our two-year-old was a believer in chiropractic!  And she was in such better shape; it was almost unbelievable that a little girl could change so much so quickly.  When we met her, Lauren could not do a sit up.  She was stuck in a lying down position until someone helped her up (if Lauren were not my daughter, I might marvel and the ingenuousness of this technique – a two-year-old who literally cannot climb out of bed.  She was stuck).  She also could not get from sitting to standing without assistance.  Her core was so weak.  But by the end of the first round of chiropractic, she could get from lying down to standing up in one swift motion (the only downside is that now she climbs out of bed way too easily, hee-hee).  But wait, there’s more to this chiropractic tale:  It made her eyes straighter!!

One thing that I’d like to mention here is that our family does not go to a traditional chiropractor.  Our far superior chiropractor uses a non-force method called axial stability.  The Lydian Center Website defines the chiropractic axial stability method as, ” a gentle, non-force technique exclusively used at the Lydian Center to directly communicate with the central nervous system clearing confusion and dysfunction caused by injury to the neuromusculoskeletal system”.  But what does this mean?  It means there’s NO CRACKING!  Did you read that Auntie Jenny, NO CRACKING?!  Just acupressure.  They use an activator (the metal tool Lauren is holding in the photo) to put pressure on the appropriate points in order to help your body to heal itself.  You cannot feel the pressure.  You just hear a clicking noise.  Lauren doesn’t call our primary care chiropractor by just her name, she calls her, “Dr. Grace, click-click”.  Lauren LOVES getting clicks.  Recently, Keira had an appointment with Dr. Grace and Lauren did not.  While Keira was being treated, Lauren took off all of her clothes (except her diaper) and when Keira climbed off the table, Lauren climbed on, thereby demanding a treatment.  I just don’t know where she get her assertiveness from?!?!  I think that she just knows/feels how much the treatments help her.

II.  Energy Kinesiology

After Lauren’s chiropractic foundation was completed, we had our first energy kinesiology appointment with Dr. Krebs.  I thought chiropractic was amazing, but energy kinesiology is even more wild.  It’s like magic.  Awesome magic.  The Lydian Center Website defines energy kinesiology as “a holistic approach to health and wellbeing based upon the principles of both Western neurological models of muscle function and Eastern models of energy medicine, using muscle biofeedback to identify and treat areas of stress/imbalance within the whole body, brain, and energy systems.”  So what does this mean?  The kinesiologist uses muscle testing to find areas of stress or weakness in the body.  A muscle test looks very simple.  The patient holds up her arm and the practitioner puts pressure on the arm, trying to push it down.  When doing a muscle test, the practitioner is checking different parts of the body/brain/spirit and checking (by pushing on the arm) to see if there is a problem.  If the patient’s arm is strong (cannot be pushed down), all is well.  If her arm is weak (the practitioner can push it down), the practitioner ahs identified a stress or imbalance in the body/brain/spirit.  The kinesiologist will use acupressure to relieve the stress and restore balance.  It does not hurt at all.  Not one tiny bit.

Our goal in going to see Dr. Krebs was to straighten Lauren’s eyes.  And he has worked wonders.  When Lauren first came home, both her eyes crossed.  And now, between the chiropractic and the kinesiology, only her right eye crosses!  And it sometimes is straight.  Of course we need it be straight all the time, but the foundation that all of these holistic treatments have given Lauren, as she begins the behavioral optometry treatments, is miraculous.

Another wonder that I need to mention about our energy kinesiology experience is that Dr. Krebs also worked on Lauren’s language development.  As a result, she went from having a few words to non-stop-talking pretty much over night!!  A-M-A-Z-I-N-G results.

Before seeing Dr. Krebs, we had Lauren evaluated by Early Intervention (EI).  She qualified for language services, but I was just not impressed with the team that came to our house for the evaluation.  And while Lauren only qualified for language services, EI felt that a developmental specialist would be able to meet Lauren’s needs (as opposed to a more expensive speech therapist).  Wha?!  When I pressed them to see what exactly a developmental specialist would do for Lauren’s language development, they described pretty much a play-based weekly session.  I am home with Lauren all day, everyday, playing – for free!  I just didn’t see how that was an “intervention” of any kind.  Anyway, you now have to pay for EI services, so I am awfully glad that I kept my $1500 and went to see Dr. Krebs!!

III.  Behavioral Optometry

During the two and a half months on the waitlist to see Dr. Hinrich, the behavioral optometrist, we did more chiropractic work on Lauren’s eyes and had four Energy kinesiology appointments with Dr. Krebs.

In a 2010 interview with the MetroWest Daily News, Dr. Hinrichs explained that behavioral optometry is “… kind of like physical therapy for the eyes. The neurological aspect is  very important because the eyes are a direct physical extensions of the brain.  So we really see with our brains and not with our eyes.  I work with patients who have visual skills deficits and vision-related  learning issues. So deficits are how your eyes track, focus and work together for eye coordination.”

We had the initial eye exam with Dr. Hinrichs in July.  She found that Lauren is farsighted and prescribed glasses.  We chose the pink plastic number.  The glasses really fit Lauren’s personality!  And she liked wearing them!  Makes sense; she can see when she wears them…  At the next appointment, we moved on to patching.  Lauren has nasal patches that she wears on her glasses every day.  They are almost like little stickers that go on the inside edge of her glasses near her nose.  The idea is to prevent her eyes from looking inward, forcing them outward.  She also got a similar sticker patch to wear two hours a day, everyday.  Lauren was quite cooperative about it all.

At our most recent appointment, Dr. Hinrichs was not pleased her eye’s rate of improvement.  So she got much more aggressive.  Even with the sticker blurring her vision, Lauren still chose to use her stronger eye!  So Dr. Hinrichs asked us to patch Lauren, not just with the sticker patch, but to totally occlude the eye.  And to increase to 4 hours on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.  Lauren was quite cooperative actually.  But we’ve hit a snafu.  Lauren has quit sleeping!  I told you it was a snafu!  And we suspect it’s related to the patching.  Forcing her to use that weak eye is forcing her brain to rewire.  And as a result, sleep is not coming easily to her (nor to the rest of us who live with her)!  This used to happen with Keira.  Something developmental would be going on with her and she’d quit sleeping.  Ahhhh…how quickly we forget these types of parental torture when we decide to grow our families!!  We have another appointment with Dr. Hinrichs on Thursday.  So now you are up-to-date!  But stay tuned for Thursday’s results!!

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Responses

  1. Wishing you SLEEP. 😉

  2. How very interesting, Tracy! I plan to share this with Philip. Perhaps he has patients who would benefit from this type of therapy. In the meantime, I hope Lauren’s little brain decides that sleep is a good thing- for your sake.

    • Hi Mary! Oh, I’ll be so curious to hear what Philip says about Lauren’s therapies. My pediatrician thinks that I am crazy. But she can’t argue with the results!! Thanks so much for reading my blog! I owe you a phone call. I can’t wait to catch up on the kids! Especially how Miss Ella is doing as a big sister. I suspect that we could probably swap Keira and Ella de-throning stories!! xo, Tracy

  3. LOVE alternative medicine! I think it’s just awesome that you’re open to it. So many people are just so uncomfortable with the very idea of anything other than traditional medical techniques. I’ve noticed the skepticism from others, even though I got results, with using a chiropractor (it was accupressure based also) to turn Max in the proper birthing postion. I’ve known a few people who’ve had to have surgery to tighten muscles around the eyes to correct crossed eyes. Maybe the technique has since improved, but hurray that Lauren gets to experience a few clicks from her loving caretakers rather than be cut while under anesthesia… and then recover from the surgery. That sounds so traumatic. SO happy to hear you’ve found a fabulous team;o)

    • Isn’t it weird how closed people are to alternative medicine? The irony is how gentle holistic treatments are as compared with conventional medicine! Would you be willing to send me your chiropractor’s info? I’ve listed all of the peopel that we see — but I would LOVE to include other fantatic, beloved practitioners on my site, too. Maybe a niche/purpose is forming here as I write… Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences, Andrea. You’re the best!!

      • You are too sweet!! You, without a doubt, are pretty awesome yourself! Maybe you’ve found this to be true as well, but it seems the wider viewpoint of most is that conventional medicine is the end all, be all. Don’t get me wrong, I think it has it’s place, but it used in a cookie cutter manner. Not all patients respond to conventional treatments, just like not all respond to alternative treatments. When it came to giving birth, conventional methods just didn’t work for me. Yes, with my first breech pregnancy I grew two beautiful, very healthy girls, but the cesarean recovery was no walk in the park. And let me tell you, when Mamma isn’t doing well, it makes things much rougher for the newborns than it needs to be! Many forget that it’s a delicate balance. Then came the second breech baby and I just knew there had to be a better way. It took a lot of work, but I found it: Dr. Martin Rosen (www.wellesleychiro.com). I had a really hard time finding anyone that would perform the technique for me and most chiro’s told me straight up (without seeing me) that it was a difficult thing to do and they weren’t willing to practice with me. However, I thank my lucky stars that I found the guy who practically wrote the book on turning breech babies! It was only while I was waiting for the first treatment I found out he has ~90% success rate, including turning twins. Boy, do I wish I found him sooner! Needless to say, consumers really need to realize what is available to them and be open to different approaches. Otherwise, with the failed external version, it would have been another surgery for us and I/ we would have been miserable… again. Instead, I had an amazing experience with my second birth and it makes me sad to think that if I took my first OB’s advice, I would have been deprived of that beautiful experience! I think many traditional practitioners are realizing this and they’re starting to embrace it. Just recently, my pediatrician sent out an email that they brought in a accupuncturist and would be offering treatments to adults and kids! I saw this coming down the pike since they started offering kids yoga and added programs aimed at developing and boosting the self esteem of pre-teen and teenage girls, to name a few. I, for one, look forward to witnessing the change in healthcare where the whole person/ family treatment is the norm rather than the exception. Medicine is a business, unfortunately, so if the demand is there… ;o) I’d like to think we are part of that change by seeking alternatives:o)

        Sorry for the long winded reply!! I think you’ve hit on a passionate topic for me-LOL.

  4. Just a couple of notes about the Lydian center. After a few apppointments to strenthen her core, Lauren decided to begin treating her baby dolls. She would preform the exercises on the dolls while singing itsy bitsy spider (theme song from the Lyndian Center). Pretty awesome.

  5. PS One more note about Dr. Krebbs. He was in a accident earlier in his life and was paralyzed. He healed himself. He now walks. Don’t get me wrong, the guy isn’t running road races. However, he is mobile. I do question if his techniques will be effective in the long run….But then I think “this guy was paralyzed”.

  6. Hooray for no cracking! Crack is whack!

    I am very glad you guys have been seeing such great results through holistic therapies. ♥

    • So do you think you might give the Lydian Center a whirl?! Keira says that she’ll hold your hand the first time that you go 🙂 And I love that heart that you inserted into your comment BTW!!

      • I might. Who knows?

        And you can copy and paste symbols into your blog or your comments. Or you can use code … ♥ should display as ♥!


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