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Source: Papers On Health
Often in the case of delicate infants or children,
the bones of the spine fail to have the necessary hardness to bear the
strain which comes upon them, and the spine gets more or less out of
its proper shape. If this softness of bone continues, no amount of
mechanical support, or lying down, will cure the misshapen spine.
Therefore means should be taken by proper diet and nourishment to help
the production of good bone substance in the child's body. The best
bone-making food we know is good oatmeal, as well-boiled porridge
(boiled for two or three hours), or as oatmeal jelly and gruel. Good
air and water are also essential, and such treatment as is described in
article on Children's Healthy Growth. Especially should attention be
paid to constant supply of fresh air to the child's lungs. Windows
should be wide open in all weathers, and if the child cannot walk far,
it should be wheeled out for as long as possible every day the weather
permits. Such supply of fresh air is of vital importance, and the
want of it is frequently the sole cause of disease.
In other cases it is not the bones which are soft, but the muscles and
ligaments which hold the spine in a proper position are defective.
Where the bone is felt to be good-sized and hard, and the surrounding
substance too soft, it is a case of this kind. To proper nourishment,
in this case, must be added proper exercise of the muscles concerned.
Immovable plaster jackets are bad, because they forbid this. This
exercise may best be given by rubbing (see Exercise and Massage).
Gentle rubbing and pressure over the back, with hot OLIVE OIL (see),
will work wonders in such a case. During the rubbing the patient should
lie down at full length. It must also be done so as to be pleasant,
or it is of no use.
See that the patient has plenty of rest, and only as much walking
exercise as is evidently enjoyed. There may be complications with other
troubles--for example, a quick pulse and some fever heat, if the
temperature is tested. That will require to be itself treated with
repeated rubbings of finely wrought lather over the stomach and bowels.
Until you have in some measure subdued this fever, you will not do much
in the way of improving the muscles of the back. In many cases you will
be able to bring the fever down completely, and then you will be free
to exercise the muscles, and so to strengthen them that they will bring
the spine to something like its proper shape. (See Assimilation;
Diet; Digestion; Nerves; Nourishment; Paralysis; Massage.)
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