Tensegrity Structure Icosahedron

How Does The Cranial Vault Retain Stability During Growth? – ‘Tensegrity’ has the answers

Continuing our look at the function of the dural membranes and RTM, researcher and Osteopath Graham Scarr’s paper ‘A model of the cranial vault as a tensegrity structure, and its significance to normal and abnormal cranial development’ proposes a novel understanding of the integrated and dynamic relationship of the bones and membranes.

This model helps to explain how the skull vault bones maintain sutural patency, while preventing early fusion (cranio-synostosis):

“Tensional forces in the dura mater [and suture] have the effect of pushing the bones apart, whilst at the same time integrating them into a single functional unit …Cells of the dura mater respond to brain expansion and influence bone growth, allowing the cranium to match the spatial requirements of the developing brain, whilst remaining one step ahead and retaining a certain amount of autonomy.”

Scarr also alludes to the possibility that the development of positional plagiocephaly may be explained by this model. Seeing as at seven weeks old the prevalence of positional plagiocephaly may be as high as 22% understanding this model is highly relevant to practice.

If this is the first time you’ve come across the concept of tensegrity, Tom Myers, author of Anatomy Trains explains the basics of how the human body is not a compression structure like a building, it is far more dynamic.

Our upcoming 5-day course provides more information on the anatomy and function of the Reciprocal Tension Membrane, and it’s integration within the OCF concept


A model of the cranial vault as a tensegrity structure, and its significance to normal and abnormal cranial development
Scarr, Graham
International Journal of Osteopathic Medicine , Volume 11 , Issue 3 , 80 – 89


Prevalence, risk factors, and natural history of positional plagiocephaly: a systematic review.
Bialocerkowski AE1, Vladusic SL, Wei Ng C.
Dev Med Child Neurol. 2008 Aug;50(8):577-86. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8749.2008.03029.x.


Tensegrity Icosahedron Picture

By Bob Burkhardt [CC-BY-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons