ADHD is currently the most common mental health disorder affecting children today. With the levels of diagnosis reaching epidemic proportions research on the cause and treatments for ADHD are at the highest levels they have ever been. Most of those studies focus on medications for treatment with the most common medication being stimulants like Ritalin. These drugs do not come without significant side effects to the children taking them and only address symptoms, not the potential causes of ADHD.
This case study is different for two reasons.
One this study was on an 8 year old boy who had been diagnosed with a form of ADHD called inattentive type ADHD. This type is characterized by a child that has difficulty focusing and staying on task but doesn’t exhibit the hyperactive portion common in most cases. These cases are very important as they tend to be misdiagnosed more frequently. Since the child with inattentive type ADHD isn’t bouncing off the walls they are more likely to just be told they have learning disabilities and that is why they can’t do the work.
Second the study isn’t looking at medications for treatment; it looked at the benefits of Chiropractic care on a child with ADHD. Chiropractic adjustments are a safe, natural treatment method that addresses how the body, and specifically the nervous system, functions so that the body can heal naturally.
In this child’s case he was struggling with school work and had difficulty focusing and following directions, particularly in English. He also had difficulty relating to other kids and would have frequent outbursts if he thought other kids were making fun of him. He had already been to other Doctors for his condition and was on prescription medications to try and help him for seven months before coming to the Chiropractic office. The mother brought him into the Chiropractor to try and find an alternative treatment as he wasn’t doing any better on the medications and was already experiencing side effects like nausea, heart palpitations, and a lack of appetite.
His Chiropractic evaluation started, as they all should, with an evaluation of his spine. The goals are to determine how the spine moves and what it looks like structurally to find any subluxations. Subluxations are misalignments of the spine which decrease the normal nervous system flow to the body and its tissues and organs. This child’s exam revealed he had subluxations, or misalignments, in his neck right up top where the spinal bones meet the skull, in his lower neck, mid and low back. When they looked at his overall posture his head was tilted to the side and shifted forward over his shoulders, and his ribcage was shifted to the side instead of lined up over his hips. X-rays showed that the normal curve which should be present in his neck was significantly reduced.
Due to these findings he was placed on an initial corrective Chiropractic program involving adjustments to his spine to allow it to function and move properly. The goal is to restore normal motion and alignment of the spinal bones which reduces the interference with the nervous system. After just his second visit his mother started to note improvements in his mood. The child was re-evaluated after 3 months of care and had improvements in the subluxated areas of his spine and in his overall postural shifts. His mother reported he also improved in all of the areas that had caused him to be diagnosed with ADHD notably in mood swings, social interaction, temper, energy and immune function. In fact his mother stated “A complete turnaround in mood. [He] has made lots of friends and is not having any social difficulty .He is smiling and laughing and appears ‘normal’ now. We have yet to see how well his grades are affected, but he is staying in class and keeping up with work and expectations!” She also stated he now actually enjoys going to school.
This is not the first research paper to show the benefits of Chiropractic care on a child with ADHD. From this study and the others done there are some possible reasons why Chiropractic care was able to help. When the spine is subluxated and shifted structurally, notably the loss of normal curve in the neck, it puts strain on the spinal cord and the nerves as they exit the spinal canal. This irritation of the spinal cord and nerves disrupts normal function of the brain and can interfere with ability to concentrate. It can also make the child fidgety giving the hyperactive component of ADHD. Reducing this irritation to the nervous system through Chiropractic adjustments allows the brain quiet down and function properly.
It’s as simple as that!
By Dr Scott Szela
Ref: A. Vertebral Subluxation Res. Sept. 15, 2014