The Life & Passion Of Viola M. Frymann
To parents of the children she helped, she was known as a miracle worker. To her students who came from Osteopathic Medical Schools from around the world she was a mentor, a master teacher, and a leader. To her colleagues across the country, she is an internationally recognized researcher, scholar, and pioneer. To the Osteopathic Physicians of California in the 1960s she was a savior - single-handedly lobbying the legislature and taking her case to the Supreme Court when California refused to license new Osteopathic Physicians.
To her detractors, which there were many, she was a medical heretic, who used “unproven methods” to produce seemingly medical miracles where others had failed. With almost no money or political base, she succeeded in achieving a landmark California Supreme Court decision and reversing a plan to eliminate the practice of Osteopathy in the United Sates –a plan which the mainstream medical associations had spent millions of dollars to implement.
Declared a “Living Treasure of Osteopathy” Dr. Viola Muriel Frymann is quite literally the most famous Osteopath in the world. However, despite having personal meetings with the Pope, heads of state, entertainers, and royalty from around the world she never sought, fame, fortune, or notoriety. Moreover, her whole life was dedicated to improving the lives of children. Known for her pioneering work in the Osteopathic treatment of "difficult to treat" childhood conditions her life passion was the establishment of a Center that would meet the needs of all children. The Center would particularly focus on those with special needs. It would serve as a model of holistic care for professionals from around the world.
Trained as a medical doctor in post-war London in the 1940s, Dr. Frymann quickly became frustrated by the inadequacy of the medical system. She decried and objected to the way patients were treated as if they were their disease. While at the same time, the patients’ emotions, belief systems, and spirit were completely ignored. She was appalled at the overuse of medicines and their many toxic side effects and knew there must be a better way.
She hearkened back to the time when she was 4 years old and her father was found to have tuberculosis. Under the care of an osteopathic doctor, who used osteopathic manipulation and prescribed a vegetarian diet (a dietary perspective she endorsed throughout her life), her father got better.
“Osteopathy changed the health of my family.” VIOLA M FRYMANN
After an injury from ballet dancing she had set her goal on becoming an Osteopath. However, in post-war Europe Osteopathic training was unavailable. For this reason in 1946 after going through six years of medical school including a medical/surgical residency and one year as a resident in Homeopathy at the Royal Homeopathic Hospital in London, Dr. Frymann applied to the College of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons in Los Angeles. Because of her medical degree (BMS) and the fact that she had completed two residencies (homeopathy & medicine/surgery) she was not required to complete many of the basic medical courses at the Osteopathic College. As a result, she spent the free time visiting local Los Angeles Osteopaths to learn about the practical hands-on approach to osteopathic medicine. She also explored the Osteopathic library studying the early Osteopathic writings. After graduation, she maintained a family practice for a number of years. However, in the 1950s she had a life changing experience.
DEATH OF HER CHILD
With the birth of her son Paul she endured severe hardship and his eventual heart wrenching death. The birth of her son was very prolonged, difficult, and traumatic. The child cried inconsolably, had feeding difficulty, and uncontrolled vomiting. In 1949 she sought consultation from the top doctors in San Diego. She investigated every conventional and alternative but nothing seemed to help. Unexpectedly, despite her best efforts the infant died in her arms.
Bewildered and traumatized by the death of her first born child she searched for answers. While at the College of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons in Los Angeles she had heard about a controversial and revolutionary expansion of Osteopathy being promoted by a Minnesota Osteopath named William G. Sutherland. This treatment approach had been dismissed by her teachers at the Osteopathic College because of the claim that Dr. Sutherland could feel movement between the sutures in the skull. In 1950 Dr. Sutherland moved his practice to California and Dr. Frymann decided to take his two week basic course.
MEETING DR SUTHERLAND AND STUDY OF CRANIAL OSTEOPATHY
During Dr. Sutherland’s Denver course in 1952 she heard a lecture that changed her life and Osteopathy forever. Dr. Sutherland described in exacting anatomical detail the consequences of a traumatic birth that would lead to the exact symptoms experienced by her young son shortly before his death. Unaware of Paul’s death Dr. Sutherland described the symptoms that the mother would experience, as well as the symptoms of the child and the specific osteopathic procedures that would alleviate the condition. Dr. Sutherland’s description exactly matched the symptoms she had with her child. However, he had not been afforded the benefit of cranial osteopathic treatment. Dr. Frymann was convinced that if these techniques had been applied to her child, his death would have been prevented.
Although at first she had trouble feeling any movement in the head at all, over time with repeated visits to Dr. Sutherland’s home in Garden Grove, California she began to recognize the small, almost imperceptible, movements of the skull. She said it took her 6 years before she really began to feel all of the skull's motions.She soon discovered these cranial bone movements had far reaching effects to many of the most basic life processes.
After applying the principles and techniques of Dr. Sutherland and seeing the near miraculous results in patients, Dr. Frymann became convinced of the effectiveness of Dr. Sutherlands approach. She studied with him intensely during the last years of his life. He realized that the optimal effect of his approach would be for the benefit of children (Dr. Frymann’s passion) and vowed to teach her everything that he had learned. Dr. Frymann in turn was determined that no child should needlessly suffer from the consequences of birth trauma that could effectively be treated with Osteopathy.
CRANIAL OSTEOPATHY & DR FRYMANN’s RESEARCH
Dr. Frymann became a specialist in cranial osteopathy. As she explains it, the brain has an inherent, subtle, motion within, as does the entire body. Every muscle in the body is attached directly or indirectly to the skull and spinal column. Gentle hands-on manipulation of the skull, which consists of movable, beveled plates of bones, can affect the12 pairs of cranial nerves, which in turn can heal vital functions, from respiration, to vision, to digestion—really the whole function of the body.
In 1963, Dr. Frymann published the first scientific research documenting the consequences of osteopathic birth trauma in 1250 infants. Although she found as much as 80 percent of infants had significant birth trauma, she noted that nearly 10% of babies had such severe trauma that if untreated would result in the life-threatening symptoms experienced by her son, a condition previously unrecognized by mainstream medicine. She is well known for stating that it is no more normal for a child to vomit or spit up after a feeding than it is for you or I to vomit after eating.
Dr Frymann’s research showed specific signs and symptoms were associated with osteopathic diagnosis of cranial trauma (called cranial somatic dysfunction). These included:
EXCESSIVE SPITTING UP OR VOMITING
DIFFICULTY IN LEARNING TO SUCK EFFECTIVELY
CRYING EXCESSIVELY OR INCONSOLABLY
THROWING THE HEAD BACK OR ARCHING OF THE SPINE
PREFERRING TO STAND IN THE LAP RATHER THAN SIT
Later symptoms included:
In 1971 she published the first article in the medical literature scientifically documenting (with the use of force transducers) the subtle, almost imperceptible movement of the human skull. In 1992 she published a landmark three year study documenting the effectiveness of Osteopathic Medical Management in Children with both neurologic and medical problems. This particular study suggested that after three months of osteopathic treatment, children gained a three year improvement in neurodevelopmental age using standard developmental testing instruments.
In 2003 with the help of state of the art advanced bio-impedance and ultrasonography equipment in Russia she was able to show how specific osteopathic cranial techniques altered blood flow and resulted in functional changes within the brain itself. Part of this 2003 research took place in the former Soviet Union, a country that has been influenced greatly by Dr. Frymann’s work.
INVOLVEMENT IN FOUNDING OF RUSSIAN SCHOOLS
In 1992, as a part of “Perestroika” a team of 15 doctors, government officials, and medical students from St Petersburg ( formerly called Leningrad, U.S.S.R.), came to study with Dr. Frymann. They had met her earlier when she lectured at the G.I. Turner Scientific and Research Children’s Orthopedic Institute in Leningrad in the former Soviet Union.
The Russian doctors and surgeons were unfamiliar with Osteopathy and highly skeptical of her claims. When Dr. Frymann was chosen by the American Osteopathic Association to represent Osteopathy in a US-Sovietscientific exchange there had been difficulty in translating “Osteopathy” in Russian. It was inadvertently translated as “orthopedics.” This was the reason for her lectures at a pediatric orthopedic hospital. As a whole orthopedic surgeons- irregardless of their country of origin--- are not the most open minded individuals when it comes to new ideas.
However, given the circumstances they were also among the most qualified to understand the complex anatomical relationships that encompass osteopathy. During her visits to the Orthopedic hospital, the Russian doctors presented her with their most difficult cases. One such case was well known by hospital staff and thought to be untreatable. The child was a 4-year-old boy whose arm was severely deformed. Before she saw him, the child had a band of connective tissue instead of a bone in his arm. The orthopedic doctors felt that there was very little that could be done for this child. Dr. Frymann treated this child several times and noted that the child had begun to make very slight movements with his hand.
She explained that the vital force, the inherent therapeutic potency would bring health to the tissue in this child.
After Dr. Frymann’s treatment the child began to have even greater motion in his arm and hand. Several months after Dr. Frymann had treated the child, an X-ray was performed. To the Russian doctors utter amazement new bones were being formed in that band. Needless to say, the Russian doctors considered this “marked improvement.”
Dr. Vladimir Adrianov said,
“She impressed us greatly.”
As a result Dr. Frymann conducted many seminars in the now Russian Republic which eventually led to the formation of Osteopathic Schools throughout Russia and Ukraine. The first school was in St. Petersburg. The first students (and eventually first professors) were from this initial group of surgeons. Osteopathic Medicine is the fastest growing healthcare system in the Russian Republic and Eastern Europe.
THE MIRACLE DOCTOR OF LAST RESORT
Nationally and internationally, she became famous as the doctor who will treat children labeled hopeless by everyone else. Dr. Frymann would say,
“You get tremendous reactions from children if you give them a chance to develop everything they’ve got. I just permit them to be everything they can be. I tell children, ‘You are the one who does the healing, not me. All I do is open the door and let it happen. Parents come in and ask, 'Do you think my child will ever walk?' I tell them I don't know. They are troubled because a doctor is supposed to know. But I say we will wait and see what he or she is capable of doing, and what his inward healing forces are able to manifest."
Dr. Fymann’s work has helped many disabled children to take their first wobbly steps, severely brain-damaged children feed themselves and a baby cease hours and hours of endless crying for the first time in her life.
DR FRYMANN’S PHILOSOPHY
Parents who bring their children to the Osteopathic Center for Children – usually after they have exhausted all other treatments – talk of miracles.
One parent said
“The care is far superior to anything our son has received from any other doctor .”
Although osteopaths can prescribe drugs and perform surgery if needed, most, such as Frymann, prefer manual manipulation or the body.
According to Dr. Frymann:
“The medical profession today only deals with disease and not with health, instead, osteopathsare trained to treat the entire patient and not just a disease or symptom. Osteopaths believe that the muscles, bones and joints are interdependent parts of the body, and if one part is disturbed or damaged, the other parts will not function properly. Hands-on manipulation of the body, nutrition, and integrative modalities, are preferred to drugs and surgery, although osteopaths can prescribe drugs and perform surgery if needed.
“What scientific medicine doesn’t address today is the function of motion within the body, although it is extremely logical and extremely scientific. There is movement within the brain and we know that movement is being translated through the whole body right down to the feet. Contractions of an especially arduous labor during childbirth can damage a newborn’s brain. Also,some of this to the “gadgets” of increasingly technological birth are causing these problems …. natural birth is the “ideal” for babies.” VIOLA M FRYMANN
OSTEOPATHY FOR CHILDREN
Parents are encouraged to bring their newborns in for a structural evaluation immediately after birth. Dr Frymann believes that if young mothers would do that, we would prevent so many problems later on for that child.
Dr. Frymann teaches that children don’t set limits for themselves-the adults in their lives do that for them.
“The most damaging thing we can do to anybody is lay our expectations on them. According to conventional medicine, there is no hope for some of the children I treat If you take away hope, what have you got? I don’t consider the children I see to be handicapped. They see life as it is, and if they can’t do something one way, they’ll do it another. It makes their chances of progress so good.”- VIOLA M FRYMANN
Dr.Frymann did not worry about the opinions of the mainstream medical community. Her only concern was helping children reach their optimum potential.
“I want to see that every child that needs care, gets care so that they can reach the optimum of their potential ….The Osteopathic Center for Children was founded for that purpose. ” VIOLA M FRYMANN
AWARDS AND HONORS
Dr. Frymann has received many awards and is considered a living legend of osteopathic medical leadership by her peers. Awards have included: Andrew Taylor Still Medallion of Honor, the highest honor of the American Academy of Osteopathy; the William G. Sutherland Award of the Cranial Academy; Honorary Doctorate of Science in Osteopathic Medicine from the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific; Osteopathic Physician of the Year from the Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons of California (OPSC); the Philip Pumerantz Medal for "Distinguished Service and Extraordinary Commitment to the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific and the Osteopathic Medical Profession" and life membership in OPSC for "the sacrifices and labor of love in bringing the osteopathic profession back from extinction."
Dr. Frymann is a founder of the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific of the Western University of Health Sciences. She is a emeritus professor at many of the colleges of osteopathic medicine in the U.S. as well as colleges, universities and institutes throughout the world inclduding France, Italy , Canada, Switzerland, Belgium, England, China, Japan, Latvia, Russia, Australia and Denmark. She has conducted Clinical Research, in Osteopathy in the Cranial Field, with the Academy of Science of Russia. She has served as President of the Cranial Academy and Osteopathic Physicians & Surgeons of California. She served on the Board of Governors of the American Academy of Osteopathy.
OSTEOPATHIC CENTER FOR CHILDREN
In 1982 she founded the Osteopathic Center for Children (OCC) which became her undying passion and culmination of her life’s work. She maintained a family practicein La Jolla ,California overlooking the beautiful Pacific ocean for many years. As her practice became increasingly focused on the special needs of children, it was her vision to create a Center dedicated to children. She wanted it to also be a teaching Center for medical students and physicians who could come and learn the special techniques, for the osteopathic treatment of children. Initially, the Osteopathic Center for Children was a part of the College Of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific - a medical school she helped to found.
She also created Osteopathy's Promise To Children a non-profit foundation that would help support the OCC, facilitate research, and conduct educational courses for physicians.
As time progressed and more and more students and physicians came fromacross the world, The Osteopathic Center for Children became a non-profit center independent of the medical school.
In 1998 the Center expanded to a larger, robust facility in central San Diego where it remained for 14 years.
The OCC is concerned with the treatment of all children including those for whom the primary consideration is prevention of suboptimal health, as well as those with deep and complex problems who seek to reach the optimum of their potential. The Center in partnership with Osteopathy’s Promise to Children provides continuing education courses for M.D., D.O., and D.D.S. The Center also serves as a training site for physicians and medical students who are interested in the unique approach to osteopathy developed by Dr. Frymann.
Dr Frymann retired from active practice in 2013 but kept a deep passion for continuing the work that she started at the Osteopathic Center for Children. Dr. Frymann, asked Dr. Shawn K. Centers to continue the work of treating children in need at the Osteopathic Center for Children. Dr. Centers trained with Dr. Frymann for over 20 years and continues Dr. Frymann’s legacy of osteopathic cranial care for children. Dr Frymann's own legacy is continued by all the physicians that she trained from around the world and all the patients that she treated. He legacy, philosophy, and techniques are especially embodied and embraced by the physicians that work at her signature facility in San Diego ---The Osteopathic Center San Diego. These physicians include in addition to Dr. Centers, Dr. Theresa Cyr, Dr. Hollis King, Dr. Michael Kurisu, Dr. Jake Flemming, Dr. Roger Mignosa, and Dr. Ching Chen. In addition Dr. Frymann's legacy especially continues on in the foundation she established to support the work of OCC, Osteopathy's Promise to Children, and in the many faculty who teach and make up its training programs.
On January 1, 2015 Osteopathic Center San Diego opened its doors housing the Osteopathic Center for Children and Osteopathic Medical Associates. This facility is the culmination of Dr. Frymanns dream with state of the art green technology which creates an environmentally friendly as well as environmentally safe environment for sensitive children. Today, the Osteopathic Center for Children along with the Osteopathic Center San Diego continues the legacy started by Dr. Frymann by continuing to see children and families from across the world, teaching Dr. Frymann's techniques to future generations of doctors, and continuing her research.