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Does your family or someone you know have to cope with the consequences of brain injury, brain disorder or learning difficulties?

(Reg. 2005/039339/08)


It can help to improve the quality of life of children and adults living with any of the following disabilities:

A 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; ADD/ADHD; autism; vaccine damage; epilepsy; dyspraxia; head injury; spinal injury; stroke and scoliosis.

Scotson therapy in the UK is proving to be a very effective, drug-free alternative to treating children with attention and learning problems such as ADHD

CONTACT NATALIE 083 962 1914


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 function.

(2) What can be treated?

·         A 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 scoliosis.

·         We also treat spinal injury.

(3) 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.

·         We 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.

By treating the respiratory system in close connection with other muscle groups its aims are:     

·         To improve blood supply, nutrition and nervous response to under-developed muscles and to the connective tissues between the bones.

·         To improve the electrical connection between the brain and the muscular skeletal system.

·         To reduce spinal compaction and improve blood supply to the nerve connections from the spine to the respiratory muscles and the internal organs.

·         To improve the body’s general and cerebral metabolism.

·         To 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 individual.

·         The atmosphere is warm, friendly and dedicated to ensure the teaching is optimum.

(6) How is progress predicted?

·         By photographic and video comparison of your child’s structure and function with the stages of structural and functional change created by normal respiratory development.

·         By extensive structural measurement by which each child’s structure is compared both with its own previous assessment and with normal trunkal growth patterns.

·         By computerised measurement of abdominal and thoracic breathing patterns which are compared both with normal values and with each child’s previous assessment.

·         By 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 results?

·        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 responsiveness.

·        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.

(9) 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.

·        If the blood flow to a muscle is too low the brain has no electrical picture and so no knowledge where to send a signal. 

·        By 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?

·         A poor and unresponsive respiratory system is unable to adapt normally to the stages of sleep.

·         It 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 night’s sleep.

(11) 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.

·         As use of the Scotson Technique progresses, breathing becomes much more responsive to sleep states and children begin to gain a good night’s rest.

(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.

·         By 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.

·         As 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.

·         As 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 cost.

(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 our website.


Charissa Georgiou
Courageous daughter, giggling big sister, loyal friend, Robbie Williams fan,

Our angel!

Nothing written in all the books and brochures can ever really prepare you for parenthood! So you cannot even begin to imagine how parents feel when they are told that their child has a brain injury or brain disorder, be they 1 month or 1 year or 20 years old! Even with the very best intentions of professionals trained to deal with this, families in this situation can end up feeling desperately bewildered, isolated and alone!

Charissa Georgiou was a busy little girl about to celebrate her first birthday when a near drowning changed her life and that of our family forever. The phrase “brain damaged” set a new course that very few people could imagine or even effectively explain. Charissa’s motor function and speech were most severely affected. We were told to follow the conventional routes of therapy, and to be grateful that she was ‘happy”.

“Happy’ was just not enough, and so while we stumbled along this very strange new road Charissa’s grandparents spent many hours researching all the options available for treatment of brain injury. We tried and succeeded with many traditional and alternative treatments. In spite of her enormous challenges Charissa progressed very well, although she hated therapy and screamed through a lot of it! We also learnt that people did not always have honourable intentions when claiming to be able to help! Yet we also met many ‘angels’, many of who are still at her side!

Then when Charissa was about 8 years old she grew really fast, and this sudden growth spurt threw her off course and into a desperately unhappy situation. Nothing worked as it had before because her body was changing. Charissa lost the will to succeed, lost the desire to try and our entire family was caught in this whirlwind of depression and despair.

Then in 2003 we heard a talk by Linda Scotson of the Advance Centre on the UK about a groundbreaking new therapy called Neuro Respiratory Therapy (NRT). (The therapy has now become known as Scotson Technique to avoid confusion with similarly named therapies). Linda was in South Africa due to the efforts of my parents and a few dedicated families and individuals, all looking for more than what was offered in South Africa. When Linda started speaking everything fell into place! When she spoke of her own son for whom she had initiated this therapy it was so much more reassuring – here was someone who had walked a similar path and understood the dangers of creating false hope!

It was a relief to finally realise that Charissa’s deterioration had not been because we had not done enough, or because she had to contend with the arrival of her baby sister, Jade! Nor was it because we had not done enough, not believed enough, not done the right therapy….! The reason Linda gave just seemed so logical – the sudden growth spurt had put demands on Charissa’s body that her respiratory system simply could not cope with!

NRT has shown that the gentle movements of breathing are crucial to the development of muscle and bone structure. With this therapy it is now possible to restore the weak respiratory system of a person with a brain injury or abnormality by using an exercise that is based on the gentle process of breathing itself.

By restoring these respiratory muscles children of all ages are steadily developing normally again! Charissa is a good example. We see how the therapy is systematically changing the deformities of her shoulders, rib cage, and pelvis. Her sitting posture is improving dramatically and while she does still need support, it is becoming less. The slight scoliosis of her spine is gradually reducing! Her speech is improving steadily and she can concentrate for longer at school, where she is coping much better overall.

The wonderful thing is that these changes are permanent. If she has another growth spurt, a huge possibility with her renewed appetite, we now know how to deal with it more effectively! We can go on holiday or leave the exercises when she is ill and know that there will be no loss of what we had gained! I have seen similar changes in most of the children on the therapy, but also improvements in sleeping, vision, swallowing, digestion, and amazingly a reduction in fits and seizures too!

Research is being done into this very new and largely unknown technique. Bradford Universities Physical Therapy department in the UK started a 3-year PhD study in 2002 and the results were published in 2005. (Summary is attached, full report is available).  Linda Scotson herself is completing her PhD study as well. Children and adults with a wide spectrum of disabilities are being effectively treated – Cerebral Palsy, Autism, head injuries, developmental delay, strokes, scoliosis, to name but a few.

Therapists from the UK travel to South Africa three times a year to a centre, which we are busy establishing in Marister, Benoni. During these visits seminars are given, assessments done, new programmes given and training is offered. The wonderful thing about the Scotson approach is that we train parents, caregivers, and grandparents to do the therapy themselves – anyone who can spend 1 – 2 hours per day with the child or adult. The therapy itself is so gentle and mild that the children can watch TV or read a book, or even sleep while it is being done!

The eventual aim is to train local therapists who will work under the guidance of Advance UK. We also aim to develop the centre in Benoni by first establishing a strong foundation through the results that we are carefully documenting. We will eventually also train a group of women to go out into areas where a regular visit to therapists  in any form is very difficult.

As for Charissa, right now she is very busy planning her 14th Birthday (dancing party with BOYS!) and looking forward with hysterical delight to watching Robbie Williams live at Loftus! (She sincerely believes that he is visiting because she once e-mailed him on the website and told him it would be good to visit SA!!!) life is good for the Georgiou's. Don’t other families deserve that same chance?

083 962 1914


Update on Charissa Georgiou

On the 22nd of January Charissa celebrated her 16th Birthday with a lot of excitement and a few tears for the adults as she blew her candle out!  Why the tears?  Well this is the first birthday since her near-drowning accident 15 years back where she has been able to blow out her own candles! To most people that would sound insignificant, but then again we are not most families! Families living with a person with severe disabilities learn quickly to measure life in small steps and to see the positive rather than dwell on the negative.

A 16th Birthday is a special occasion in any young girl’s life, but even more so in Charissa’s case, considering the terrible state she was in just a few years ago. The fact that she is gaining control of her limb movements, blowing out candles, blowing the tippex dry in her schoolbooks, grabbing and grasping anything she can lay her left hand on, and stringing words together in sentences which are sometimes quite clear, are all wonderful developments. Quite remarkable given that her prognosis has always been so bleak!

These developments have been made possible by the Scotson Technique and the dedication of Lisa-Mari Bands, who makes sure that Charissa has her daily Scotson therapy, in between assisting her at her (mainstream) school, and caring to her every need - shopping being one of life’s basic needs according to Charissa!

As a family we reached a point where a major part of our lives was spent driving around between countless therapies, with Charissa’s younger sister Jade having to tag unhappily along. One of the reasons why we chose the Scotson therapy, apart from the amazingly similar progress that all children on the programme show, is the way that it easily becomes part of the family life.

This wonderful therapy can be taught to parents and caregivers and forms part of a daily routine. It is so pleasant for the children, more so because it can be done casually in front of the television or while reading a book. Charissa has books on CD from the Listeners Library, which is a wonderful way of exposing her to reading in our very busy lives! What is more the therapy complements other approaches exceptionally well, so it is not necessary to stop all other therapies. What we have realized is that we were totally overloading Charissa’s already weakened respiratory system. Now that we have reduced the amount of activities she is expected to partake in, her progress has just gone from strength to strength.

This new lease on life has meant that our beautiful daughters can enjoy a better relationship, as Charissa is able to respond and participate more. Whereas before any demands on her would cause Charissa a great deal of stress, which led to discomfort and tears on both sides, they can now share activities. Jade reads stories to her, they have their own little ‘chats’ and giggles when Mom and Dad are out of the room, and they even have normal sisterly fights! Jade, a wise, brave, sensitive little soul, has had the opportunity to grow and blossom into an amazing young girl with her own interests and activities. She plays a mean golf shot, is a diligent scholar and a pleasure to be with. No longer does she have to sit in cars or waiting rooms all afternoon! Jade provides much advice, lots of giggles & a taste of ‘normal’ life! Who knows, we may even be regarded as a ‘normal’ family someday soon!

Natalie Georgiou  - Proud mom of Charissa (16) and Jade (8)

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