massagehandsElaine Surowick is a CranioSacral Therapist.  You may think massage therapy is mainly for adults, but Surowick specializes in working with children.  In fact her youngest clients have been two five hour old babies.  Surowick was called in to work with these infants because they couldn't nurse.  In one case a shoulder got stuck during birth.  Surowick says it put so much tention on the baby's jaw that she couldn't open it.

"Working with newborns is a fascinating process because their energy systems are so undeveloped," Surowick says.  "I've had to learn to feel things that are so much more subtle than in adults.  I work on them while they are being taken care of by their mom, so there is no kind of separation or anxiety.  The body is telling me a story, so I am listening to that story with my hands."

She worked on one newborn for about ten minutes, after which the baby was able to nurse.  Surowick says that there is always a lot of pressure on a baby's head during childbirth.  That affects the cranial nerves, causing pain or digestive problems, difficulty sleeping or other symtoms.  She works with kids who were delivered with forceps, Caesarean birth, or suction.

"They'll each have their own patterns of trauma," she says.  "A baby is trying to heal itself in its own natural way, but these things put such strong pressure on their little systems that they can't really do that themselves.  With the help of my hands they can release so much."

She has been a CranioSacral Therapist for nine years.  She studied at Upledger Institute, and earned her massage license at Finger Lakes School of Massage.  She has had special training in pediatrics.  She works with newborns trained to work with kids with disabilities at the Family Hope Center in Philadelphia.  She works with clients of all ages, but has a special interest in working with children.  Working with infants poses special challenges.

"Some of their signs of stress are crying a lot and colic," she says.  "When a mom and dad can't figure out how to console them there is some deeper distress," she says.  "For older kids things left over from their birth could cause attention problems, or health problems.  Sometimes I see kids who are chronically sick, or kids who fell from bikes or out of trees.  I find the stress of school is a lot for kids."

She also works with adults who have suffered injuries.  Surowic says that CranioSacral Therapy is unique to all kinds of approaches to health.

"It's working with the pulse that moves the fluid along the spine, so it's working with the whole central nervous system," she explains.  "Through that pulse I can feel where the restrictions are in the body.  That helps me to help that person release whatever trauma or restrictions they have developed."

Recently she has been studying the Hindu system of Ayurveda to understand the digestive process and techniques to help the brain function better.

"I can give parents clues about a different order of things to eat or different ways to help them digest better for kids who have a hard time learning.  A seven year old told me she wished she didn't have to erase her test answers all the time.  I suggested the mom give her beets for breakfast because they help the gall bladder and decision making. When they came back a couple of weeks later she said it was amazing how she didn't have to erase her answers at all any more."

elaine_surowickElaine Surowick

Surowick wants to grow her practice with more children from birth to about twelve years old.  She says there is a lot she can do if they are worked on early.

"If there's stress for the mom in the birth there is stress for the baby," she says.  "That is in the body memory.  The brain is so pliable at that time that you can help them to develop so much more.  If you have a kid with a disability it's so important to work with them early, just as soon as you see something that isn't right."

She has worked with kids suffering from epilepsy, Down's Syndrome, those born with drug addiction, lung collapse, failure to thrive, ADD, stroke, delayed brain development, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, allergies, and intensive medical interventions.

She says the therapy is also beneficial to kids without these health issues. 

"When I work with them they always take a leap," she says.  "They are calmer, or make better choices, or they study better.   Their life is just better."