Glenn Doman - The Man Who Defied Gravity
At Doman International, every device or environment that is given to a child must ultimately be self-eliminating. Our goal is to make a child move independently. This means no walkers, ankle-foot orthosis (AFOs), braces, gait trainers, etc.. In the world of physical therapy, this is still unheard of. And to think that Glenn was teaching this over 50 years ago!
One of the challenges that Glenn faced when helping children with motor problems was the force of gravity.
A child with rigid arms and legs has to work that much harder to get up on hands and knees, take independent steps, or just pull themselves forward when crawling. And the unfortunate truth is that as a child gets older, they get heavier. That child has to work that much harder for each and every step or movement. Ultimately, they lose the battle. That once independent child is now dependent on a wheelchair.
The idea of wheelchairs, at Doman International, is never, ever, ever an end result. Glenn Doman did everything he could to make sure that a child was able to move independently and keep it that way!
But, he couldn’t “turn off” gravity. So how did he ultimately defy it?
The decades that Glenn worked side by side with brain injured children, he developed numerous environments that took advantage of gravity so that a child could easily defy it.
Starting with the Inclined Floor, a child is given the opportunity to learn how to crawl on their belly without gravity constantly keeping them stuck on the floor. By putting the floor on an incline, a child can experiment with their body movements and be successful in crawling forward. Ultimately, they get so good at this that they can start to move on a flat floor surface with ease.
For children who cannot be on hands and knees, or who “bunny hop” to get around, the Quad Device was created. This device slowly puts the child in the perfect hands and knees position to creep. Thousands of children have learned to defy gravity and creep for transport in beautiful cross-pattern due to this simple device.
Glenn’s Ladder, was the ultimate “kryptonite” for gravity. By having a severely rigid child stand under a horizontal ladder, hands over head, it allowed a child to hold their center of gravity just like you and I. Not in front of them or at their sides - over head. It is not easy at first but ultimately, the ladder slowly and gradually goes higher as a child learns to take walking steps. Over time, that child’s rigid heels start to touch the floor. That child’s rigid knees slowly start to lock back. The end result? A child is able to not only stand completely straight, but they can start to take their first independent steps. No walkers, no braces. They not only have harnessed the power of gravity to help them walk but they no longer need their walking ladder.
This is the ultimate end result - complete independence, just like you and me. These environments are just the beginning. There are dozens of devices and environments that teach children to take advantage of gravity. The day a child can “graduate” from a device means that that child has unlocked new abilities that will last. They only needed the device long enough for them to learn how to make gravity their friend.
As important as Isaac Newton’s discovery of gravity was, it was only a matter of time before someone came along and topped it. Glenn’s discoveries and innovations have helped thousands of children defy gravity, defy their diagnosis, and more.