THE SCOTSON TECHNIQUE (Neuro Respiratory Therapy)
(1) What is it?
From treatment results of a large number of children from all parts
of the world who have been coming to us since we opened in September
2002, the Scotson Technique is emerging as a unique, predictable,
deeply restorative rehabilitation therapy for children and young
adults with brain injury. The technique aims to provide a
restorative pattern of developmental improvement by addressing core
weaknesses within the muscular tissues of the respiratory system
which affect trunkal structure, metabolism and motor and cognitive
(2) What can be treated?
broad spectrum of disabilities caused by brain damage or brain
abnormalities in which poor respiration can be consistently
identified as an underlying pathology; for example: cerebral palsy;
microcephaly; floppiness; development delay; learning disability;
autism; vaccine damage; epilepsy; dyspraxia; head injury; stroke and
also treat spinal injury.
Where is it?
Our centre, The South African Institute for Scotson Therapy is
situated in Marister Agricultural Holdings in Benoni, close to the
R21 highway and Johannesburg International Airport.
also offer training and seminars in Cape Town and Windhoek.
(4) What does it do?
The Scotson Technique first seeks to reveal and address the
frequently ignored but complex weaknesses of the thoracic and
abdominal respiratory muscles that are a hidden cause of structural
and functional abnormalities and the broad range of symptoms
associated with brain injuries.
treating the respiratory system in close connection with other
muscle groups its aims are:
improve blood supply, nutrition and nervous response to
under-developed muscles and to the connective tissues between the
improve the electrical connection between the brain and the muscular
reduce spinal compaction and improve blood supply to the nerve
connections from the spine to the respiratory muscles and the
improve the body’s general and cerebral metabolism.
steadily create better and more normal structure and more normal
movement and understanding.
(5) What happens at Advance?
Advance/SA Institute for Scotson Therapy is a teaching Institute for
parents. Families attend together with their children. Parents
become students learning all the essential practices to continue the
restorative work with their children at home for an approximate 2
hours per day, 6 days a week.
Three, 5-day return visits are made in the first few years, after
which the frequency and duration of return visits become more
The atmosphere is warm, friendly and dedicated to ensure the
teaching is optimum.
(6) How is progress predicted?
photographic and video comparison of your child’s structure and
function with the stages of structural and functional change created
by normal respiratory development.
extensive structural measurement by which each child’s structure is
compared both with its own previous assessment and with normal
trunkal growth patterns.
computerised measurement of abdominal and thoracic breathing
patterns which are compared both with normal values and with each
child’s previous assessment.
3 dimensional computerised spinal probe measurements looking at the
dimensions of the spine and its relation to the shoulder and pelvis
girdles and comparing these both with normal values and to each
child’s previous assessments.
(7) Why does The Scotson Technique show step-by-step restorative
Every cell in the body is dependent upon oxygen delivery by the
blood for its health and function. Cells make up tissue and tissue
makes up organs, including the muscles and brain. The technique
copies the effects of respiratory pressures against the tiny
sphincter muscles that “pulse” blood flow into the smallest blood
vessels in the microcirculation.
The technique pays careful attention to the metabolic balance
between the individual child’s developing respiratory capacities and
the increasing demands made on his or her respiratory system as
muscular and connective tissues improve in strength and
The Technique is based on a coherent explanation of the far reaching
central role respiration plays in human development and the evidence
for the extensive but often subtle reduction in respiratory strength
and responsiveness after brain injury.
(8) Why is the technique different?
The technique is directed towards building a predictable, steady and
permanent restoration of increasing levels of normal function.
The focus is first upon weakness in the respiratory system which is
viewed as a serious barrier to the brain’s restorative potential.
Respiratory development is seen as crucially underpinning the
development of trunkal structure, posture, movement, speech, vision,
digestion, understanding and general health and the neurological
capacities on which these all depend.
Over time the results aim to provide the necessary enhanced
foundation for the child’s more normal future development.
What about the brain damage?
The brain has tremendous potential to overcome brain injury.
However, to do so the brain must be able to receive a clear
electrical picture from the body tissues involved in day to day
activities such as movement, vision, speech. This electrical picture
has been found to depend on blood flow more specifically the
movement of red blood cells and the transport of minerals across the
cell membrane which makes each cell into a little battery.
the blood flow to a muscle is too low the brain has no electrical
picture and so no knowledge where to send a signal.
increasing blood flow through the micro circulation the Scotson
Technique seeks to gradually restore the electrical activity of
weak, immature muscles and connective tissues so that the brain can
gain and begin to react to an enhanced electrical picture of the
child’s muscular skeletal system.
Cerebral blood flow must be able to shift quickly about the brain to
meet the varying metabolic demands of sensory motor and cognitive
activity. The results of the technique suggests that it allows the
brain to respond more quickly to these varying metabolic needs.
(10) What about sleep?
poor and unresponsive respiratory system is unable to adapt normally
to the stages of sleep.
is particularly difficult for the respiratory system to adapt to the
demands of dream sleep. Because of this, brain injured children
often wake up when they begin to dream.
The technique allows breathing pattern to change to support sleep
states, giving children (and their families) an increasingly good
What about intelligence?
Dream sleep, or rapid eye movement sleep is thought to improve
memory and to eliminate unnecessary information. It may well be
essential to the motor and cognitive development of the normal
child. As children using the Technique sleep better their
intellectual function improves.
Also, intellectual ability depends upon the brain’s ability to
process new information, including the ability to co-ordinate
breathing with metabolic demand (the tissue’s need for nutrition as
a result of activity). Improved breathing may help to improve
oxygen availability to the thalamus and the reticular system brain
structures close to the respiratory centres thought to influence
breathing and to be involved in processing incoming and outgoing
information so that it can be memorised and stored for later use.
use of the Scotson Technique progresses, breathing becomes much more
responsive to sleep states and children begin to gain a good night’s
(12) How soon can I expect changes?
Metabolic and structural changes accumulate into functional change
with increasing hours of therapy. Small changes tend to be evident
within the first 2 or 3 weeks of therapy.
After 3 months identified structural abnormality has reduced and
functional change begins to show.
6 months photographic comparison indicates the clear changes in the
rib cage, abdomen, shoulder girdle, neck and spine, which are
forming the foundation for continued functional change.
the strength of the respiratory system increases, the effect of the
child’s increasing height and weight ceases to create an extra
overload on the respiratory system.
From this point the child’s own breathing and spontaneous movements
begin to interact to make a positive contribution towards its more
normal growth and development.
you continue to work with your prescription you will become aware
that many of the previously chronic symptoms of brain injury such as
poor digestion, acid reflux, poor sleep, head lag, constipation,
seizures and so on are now in the past. The respiratory foundation
for more normal movement and developmental abilities will have
substantially emerged and you will be encouraged by the continued
observation of steady change. Changes increasingly bringing your
child’s structure and function nearer to the structure and function
of the normal child. After 3 years with Advance you can expect to
have become the perfect therapist for your own child, and if
necessary can continue therapy under minimal guidance and at minimal
(13) Is there outside monitoring of results?
Yes. Bradford University Health Sciences Department began a 3 year
PhD study on Advance’s work, results and scientific basis on
November 1st 2002. Their Interim Report can be found on