Family says Massage Therapy Benefits Son’s Rare Genetic Disorder

Chris and his family.

Chris and his family.

The family of a teen diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder says massage therapy has truly benefited their son. Chris was diagnosed with Type III Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI). It is a genetic disorder that characterized by bones that break easily, often from little or no apparent cause.

Globe University-Woodbury massage therapy student Heather Rasmussen treated Chris with massage.

“It is such a wonderful feeling to see how it helped him physically & mentally. He just loves Heather and looks forward to more massages with her,” said Chris’s mom, Jacqui Dahlquist.

According to Chris’s mom, he remains so positive and always has a smile to share with others despite all he’s been through. She adds he is truly a blessing to their family and to all who he has met along the way.

“I loved the massage, I feel so much better and makes my body feel like it can do more!” Chris exclaimed.

Chris’ surgery was canceled and the family is still waiting for a new date.

“Thank you Globe University and especially to Heather!” the family said.

“Massage therapy helps improve circulation and helps to improve internal balance within muscles,” said Denise Radcliffe, massage therapy program chair at Globe University-Woodbury. “A few of the many benefits of massage include pain relief, reduced trait anxiety and depression, and temporarily reduces blood pressure, heart rate, and state anxiety. We are so honored to have worked with Chris and we look forward to hearing more about his journey.”

Chris’s mom provided some information about this disease known as OI.

About Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI):

* Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), commonly called brittle bone disease, is a genetic disorder in which bones break easily, often with little or no apparent cause.  The term “osteogenesis imperfecta” means imperfect bone formation.  Osteogenesis Imperfecta is caused by genetic defects in the structure of type l collagen.

Type l collagen is the major component of the connective tissues in bones, ligaments, teeth and the white outer tissue of the eyeballs (sclera). There are at least four types, I, II, III and IV, of OI that researchers have identified (additional types continue to be identified). The signs and symptoms range from mild to severe. Individuals with Type I (mild) have half the normal amount of collagen, but it is all structurally normal. Those individuals with Types II, III and IV (severe and moderate) OI have structurally abnormal collagen. These defects lead to weak bones that fracture easily. Most cases of OI are caused by a dominant genetic defect. Some children with OI inherit the disorder from a parent.  Some children born with OI have no family history of the disorder. In these children the genetic defect occurred as a spontaneous mutation.  Individuals with OI have a 50 percent chance of passing it on to his or her child. The disorder occurs in one out of 20,000 to one out of 60,000 live births. OI Imperfecta can affect males and females of all races.

  • Type I: This is the most common and mildest form of OI. Bones fracture easily, with most fractures occurring before puberty.  Stature is normal to near normal. Joints are loose and muscle weakness is present. The whites of the eyes usually have a blue, purple or gray tint. The face has a triangular shape and there is a tendency toward spinal curvature. Bone deformity is absent or minimal.  Brittle teeth and hearing loss beginning in the early 20s and 30s is possible.
  • Type II: This is the most severe form. Type II is frequently lethal at or shortly after birth, often due to respiratory problems. At birth there are often numerous fractures and severe bone deformity.  Stature is small and lungs are underdeveloped.
  • Type III: Babies often have fractures present at birth. X-rays may reveal healed fractures that occurred before birth. Individuals with type III have short stature, sclera have a blue, purple, or gray tint, loose joints and poor muscle development in arms and legs. Barrel-shaped rib cage, triangular face and spinal curvature are also characteristic. Respiratory problems are possible and bone deformity is often severe. Brittle teeth and hearing loss is possible.
  • Type IV: This type falls between Type I and Type III in severity. Bones fracture easily with most fractures occurring before puberty. Stature is shorter than average with mild to moderate bone deformity. Sclera are white or near white (normal in color). There is a tendency toward spinal curvature, rib cage is barrel-shaped and face is triangular. Brittle teeth and hearing loss is possible.

Click here to learn more about Chris’s story.