To Us, It's Personal
Our adorable son David decided to bless us with his appearance a bit earlier than planned, born at just 29 weeks. There were no severe complications, with the exception of his premature lungs needing some additional support. After 57 long days in the NYC Beth Israel Hospital, David was finally ready to come home with us. He was discharged as "healthy", with a very small PVL (Periventricular Leukomalacia), which we were told was completely insignificant, with no need to worry.
We first grew concerned about our son's developmental delay at around six months, as he had weak head control and was not rolling over. However, we were assured by David's neurologist that it was a normal part of development for a premature baby. According to the doctors, David would surely catch up.
We started Early Intervention, in which David was assessed with having a low muscle tone (Hypotonia), so we proceeded with occupational and physical therapies. His sessions proved to be very challenging and stressful, pushing him to complete movements that were too difficult. Numerous sessions passed with no improvement in David's motor skills.
At that time, we were totally clueless about how painful it was for David to do these exercises and we pressed on with the recommended traditional method of physical therapy. I recall switching between therapists in hopes of yielding better and maybe even quicker results. Little did we know then that David would soon be diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy (CP).
By now, I have stopped asking myself the obvious questions of how all the medical specialists monitoring David could have missed this -- or how his muscle tone went from hypotonia to hypertonia...
I clearly remember the shock of being told that David has a “light” form of CP (within the wide spectrum of “CP umbrella”), most likely caused by his PVL. He was 14 months old at that time. As per neurologist's recommendation, we were to continue his rehabilitation with traditional therapy.
At this point, we decided to take matters into our own hands and started researching the topic. We had to dig deeper than the well-known traditional types of physical and massage therapy such as Dolman, intensive work on fitness ball, aqua and regular PT because, unfortunately, none of those approaches were giving us any results. Putting our son through all this hard work was not only painful for him, but also mentally and emotionally draining for me. I knew we needed to look for answers within the world of non-traditional therapy, both locally and outside of United States.
To my surprise, there were some promising methods out there, one of them being the Feldenkrais method and its more recent incarnation, the Anat Baniel Method (ABM). We immediately gave it a try and saw positive results. Personally, what I liked about it the most was the very gentle and painless approach. It follows the body’s needs and natural movements instead of forcing challenging exercises on the body. This was exactly what I was looking for. However, I also felt that I wanted to be more actively hands-on in David's therapy -- something that I could do for him and with him. That's when I discovered BFM – the Biodynamic Fascial Modulation Method developed by Nadejda Loskutova.
I spent several days watching endless videos and reading parents’ forums, in order to gain some perspective on this approach. After speaking with a few moms like myself, who have been practicing this method with their children and seeing tremendous results, I decided to book my plane ticket to Russia.
Our first trip to Loskutova's Center in Moscow was in November of 2015. David was 19 months old at the time and could only muster crab crawling, still unable to get into sitting position or crawl on all fours. His upper body was stiff, he could not sit straight in a high chair or feed himself with a spoon and he spoke only a handful of words.
Upon arriving in Moscow, David and I got to work: I was studying the technique and methods of BFM, while he was attending sessions provided by a specialist in Loskutova’s center. The results were impossible to deny: by his ninth session, David was getting on all fours and slowly moving into upright sitting by maneuvering his legs into a "w–sitting" position. Anyone with a child with CP knows what a big deal this is. His whole body felt less tense and more flexible. It was absolutely amazing to see!
I finished my initial four levels of training during the first visit to Russia and began practicing BFM with David, as well as some friends and family members, as soon as we got back stateside. We could see immediate results in David right in front of our eyes. He stopped drooling (it was pronounced before our trip) and he started sitting nearly straight while eating and playing in his highchair. He was able to remain seated in a "w-position" while playing with both hands. His speech and vocabulary were improving every day. I knew we were on the right path. We finally felt some relief that we are doing right by him.
I went back to Moscow several times more to continue my training, attend additional seminars and obtain necessary certifications. The BFM Method gave me an opportunity to work with my son and be his own therapist. After all, what could be more healing than your own mother’s hands, supported and trained by an amazing therapeutic holistic method? Now, there is no need to drag David to multiple therapists and watch him struggle with painful exercises.
We started BFM therapy in 2015. By the age of two-and-a-half, David worked his way up to crawling on all fours, with transitioning into a side sitting position. His w-sitting has gotten narrower, sometimes disappearing altogether. His posture is near-perfect, he uses utensils to feed himself and he just started propelling himself into a tall kneeling position, walking on his knees around the house with light support. He can sit on elevated furniture with legs dangling or resting on the floor, balancing his hands against the surface or with no propping at all. His fine motor skills are excellent, almost on par with his age category. And by the age of three David starts taking his first steps and cruising around!!! And closer to four he started walking with a walker!! Now, he gets more and more confident with his moves.
Most importantly, each day brings with itself more positive change! David's orthopedist and occupational therapist marvel at the improvements they have seen since we started practicing the BFM Method. In fact, we were told that he is progressing above all expectations!
I am a true believer that everything happens for a reason in life. I was blessed to have David. He has taught me so much and continues to do so. I met a lot of great people because of him, including Nadejda Loskutova, who showed me the light at the end of the tunnel.
This very personal experience proved to me that the BFM Method works, which is why I became a certified practitioner and founded BFM Planet. Putting my original career on pause(and eventually changing it completely), I dedicated myself full-time to helping my son as well as others. Including children and adults struggling with CP (and not only), with impressive results.
Furthermore, the BFM Method, with its completely harmless techniques, has applications well beyond treating CP: it helps any body become less stiff and more flexible and will benefit anyone suffering from psychosomatic body and mind tensions. Loskutova's Center in Moscow provides BFM services to patients with a variety of medical conditions as well as health-minded individuals seeking to incorporate these methods into a larger wellness lifestyle. Read here about Loskutova's practice in her own words:
Please feel free to contact me with any questions regarding my therapy sessions or questions about this method. Living or dealing with CP can be confusing and scary: know that you are not alone and I am here to share my experience and expertise in any way that helps.
Certified BFM Practitioner
Licenced Massage Therapist
Pain is never the real issue. It is a message the body provides when something is out of balance. The key is to discover the source of the problem and resolve it by communicating with the body gently, in a language it understands and responds to naturally. BFM helps the body to work properly and provides insight into becoming an active participant in one's own health care.