Massage & Bodywork

SEPTEMBER | OCTOBER 2019

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"I played with Junior. He was an amazing man and an amazing football player." What's hard, Williams says, is that even with an ever-expanding list of NFL players significantly impacted by concussions, 1 "no one is talking about a cure or a treatment. They talk about protection, but that doesn't help players at the end of their career or those who are retired." He believes this is the group of men who have been forgotten. "What happens is guys (with CTE) start to experience the diminishment of their mental acuity. They see that it will only get worse … and not wanting to put yourself or your family through that. It's unfortunate." But Williams says what he's certain of is that craniosacral therapy can help. By increasing the movement of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), blood, and interstitial fluids, and by reducing inflammation throughout the brain and body, craniosacral therapy has brought relief to those suffering for decades with symptoms of CTE. "Letting people know there are ways to receive treatment where you can start to imagine a future when things can get better." That's how he sees the place for CST and what it can offer. PROVIDING HOPE Having experienced the beneficial impact of CST for himself, Williams wanted to expose others to the work. That's when the Ricky Williams Foundation and the John E. Upledger Foundation partnered to create intensive programs for football players diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome. The project came together quickly, with Williams inviting former players to participate, and the Upledger Institute providing therapists to deliver the work. A handful of football players came from around the country to join the week-long intensive. They all just wanted to feel better. The results? Data gathered from these intensives showed the subjects had statistically greater improvements in pain intensity, range of motion, memory, Ta k e 5 a n d t r y A B M P F i v e - M i n u t e M u s c l e s a t w w w. a b m p . c o m / f i v e - m i n u t e - m u s c l e s . 119 Because of his belief in the ability of CST, Ricky Williams trained as a craniosacral therapist. Here, he's giving some CST time to his wife, Linnea. For more info on craniosacral therapy or the Upledger Institute's concussion program, visit www.upledger.org. cognition, and sleep after a week of CST and other adjunct therapies. 2 But Williams had his own markers of success. On one of the last days of the program, the players and therapists went out for dinner and a drink. The jubilant group ended up on the dance floor, Williams recalls. One of the players told Williams it was the first time he'd been able to lift his arms for years. But beyond the physical, Williams saw something in his brothers that told him this program was valuable. After a week of intensive CST therapy, participants had found something that had been lost. "All the guys left with hope. They invested a week of their lives and they saw it generated a tangible, real change in their sense of well-being and their hope for a future of feeling well," he says. "For me, the one thing that became really important was the word hope." For Williams, that's all the proof he needed. Notes 1. For a list of NFL players who have been diagnosed with CTE, some posthumously, go to: https:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_NFL_players_ with_chronic_traumatic_encephalopathy. 2. G. Wetzler et al., "Craniosacral Therapy and Visceral Manipulation: A New Treatment Intervention for Concussion Recovery," Medical Acupuncture 29, no. 4 (2017): 239–248. Karrie Osborn is senior editor of Massage & Bodywork magazine.

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