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How easily the nutrients make it to the target cells is
determined by:
1. the density of the fibrous matrix;
2. the viscosity of the ground substance.
If the fibers are too dense, or the ground substance
too dehydrated and viscous, then these cells will be less
thoroughly fed and watered. It is one basic intention of
manual and movement interventions - quite aside from
the educational value they may have - to open both of
these elements to allow free flow of nutrients to, and
waste products from, these cells. The condition of the
fibers and ground substance is of course partially deter-
mined by genetic and nutritional factors, as well as exer-
cise, but local areas can be subject to 'clogging' through
either of these two mechanisms when excess strain,
trauma, or insufficient movement has allowed such
clogging to occur. Once the clog is dispersed, by what-
ever means, the free flow of chemistry to and from the
cells allows the cell to stop functioning on metabolism-
only 'survival' mode to resume its specialized 'social'
function, be that contraction, secretion, or conduction.
'There is but one disease,' says Paracelsus, 4 7 'and its
name is congestion.'
Back at the macro level, we need one final note on the
distribution of the net in general: it is worthwhile
making a separation, for clinical analysis only, among
the fibrous elements inhabiting the two major body
cavities - dorsal and ventral (Fig. 1.26).
The dura mater, arachnoid layer, and pia mater are
connective tissue sacs that surround and protect the
brain, and are in turn surrounded by and awash in the
cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). These membranes arise from
the neural crest, a special area at the junction between
the mesoderm and ectoderm in the developing embryo. 4 8
They interact with the central nervous system and the
CSF to produce a series of palpable pulses within the
dorsal cavity, and by extension, to the fascial net as a
whole. 49ab ' 5 C These pulses are well known to the cranial
osteopaths and others who use them therapeutically,
though the mechanism is not yet well understood, and
even the existence of these wave motions is still denied
by some. 51-5 2
Besides the billions of neurons that make up the brain
and spinal cord, there are, within the dorsal cavity, addi-
tional connective tissue cells: the support cells which
surround and infuse the entire nervous system, called
the perineural network. These astrocytes, oligodendro-
cytes, Schwann cells, and other neuroglia are 'greater in
number [than the neurons] but have received less atten-
tion because they were not thought to be directly
involved in neural transmission', according to Charles
Leonard. 5 3 Now they are: 'beginning to cast a shadow
over the performing brilliance of the neurons'. During
development, support cells guide the neurons to their
final destination, provide nutrients to neurons, create
protective barriers, secrete neuroprotective chemicals,
and literally provide the glue and skeleton to hold the
nervous system together. Recent research has pointed to
the participation of the neuroglia in brain function, par-
ticularly in the area of emotional feelings. 5 4
Fig. 1.26 The subject of this topic is the myofascia in the body's
locomotor chassis. But the connective tissue net extends into the
dorsal and ventral cavities as well, to surround and invest the
organs. (Reproduced with kind permission from Williams 1995.)
If we could lift the perineural system intact from the
body, it would show the exact outline of the nervous
system, as every nerve, both central and peripheral, is
covered or surrounded by this system of the perineu-
rium. These coatings speed neural signal transmission
(myelinated fibers transmit faster than unmyelinated
fibers). Many so-called 'neurological' diseases such as
Parkinsonism, polio, diabetic neuropathy, or multiple
sclerosis are in fact problems of the neuroglia which
then interrupt the easy working of the nerves
The perineural cells also have a signal transmission
system of their own, perhaps a more ancient precursor
to the highly specific digital capabilities of the neuronal
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