Chiropractic Care for Children
The first issue to address is “What does a chiropractor treating children do?” Essentially, we do two things: firstly, we detect joint dysfunction of either the spine or the arms and legs. Secondly, we assess the status of the nervous system. Joint dysfunction (subluxation) is important because of the effect it has on the function of the nervous system. The nervous system will not function properly if joint dysfunction is present within the body. An analogy often used is that joint problems affect the nervous system, much like trying to drive a car with the hand brake fully on. It is fully possible to get somewhere, but it is hard work and parts wear out quicker!
Our job at Clinic 27 is to establish normal function of the nervous system by restoring normal function to joints of the body. This then permits the body to grow and develop as it is meant to do. With babies and children, we are mainly dealing with problems relating to neurological development or developmental delays.
In order to answer this we need to look at how the brain and nervous system develop. Development and growth of our brain and nervous system is dependent on sensory input. The technical term for this is afferentation. We get our sensory input from our eyes, ears, taste, touch and proprioception. Proprioception is all the information and messages going to the brain from joins, muscles and ligaments. Proprioception provides a massive and continuous barrage of messages into the brain via the spinal cord. 90% of the total sensory input into the brain comes from the spine and associated structures, especially the upper cervial spine which has the greatest density of nerve receptors.
The sensory input stimulates the cells of the brain to form connections, or pathways, replicate and develop the architecture of the brain, Sensory input is so important that without sufficient sensory input your brains start to make it up and we start to hallucinate, But an even more serious effect is that prolonged decrease in sensor input can result in failure of the brain to develop, causing mental retardation.
The importance of sensory input and the growing brain was graphically shown by documentaries during the 1990s, which showed orphans in Romania who were found to be mentally retarded purely because of a lack of sensory input.
What does spinal joint dysfunction do?
Spinal joint dysfunction will produce altered neurological function. This means that spinal joint function will alter sensory input. Because of this, spinal joint dysfunction and the resultant change in neurological function will affect brain development. A good example of this occurs with babies with flat heads.
The flat head is mainly due to joint dysfunction in the neck, and recent research has found that about 40% of these babies, if untreated, will have learning difficulties when 7 years old; their brain development has been affected. This compares with the normal incidence of 7% of children experiencing learning difficulties. The flat head responds extremely well to chiropractic treatment in the first year of life.
Our job as chiropractors, is to detect the joint dysfunction, along with the effect this is having on the nervous system and sensory input, then we correct the joint dysfunction in order to produce normal neurological function and sensory input. By correcting the joint dysfunction and permitting normal sensory input, optimal brain development will be possible.
What is the best way to treat this?
An important part of the management of any of the problems we see, is after we have restored normal sensory input by correcting the joint dysfunction, the child will need help with stimulating the nervous system by increasing the desired sensory input. This can e achieved by programs such as Gymbaroo.
Gymbaroo is an important follow on from the treatment we can provide, and the child will do very well as a result of the combination. However a child with joint dysfunction and impaired sensory input will not respond or progress well, no matter how much work is done to provide lots of sensory stimulation. This is because the joint dysfunction is distorting the sensory input, so the desired parts of the brain are not adequately stimulated. It is a bit like trying to drive a car with the hand brake fully on. Hard work!
Extremity joint problems can also affect development!
Often a baby or child will have difficulty doing one particular thing, or does not start to do something, such as rolling. In these cases, there is often a problem with one of the joints, such as the shoulder joint, and the joint problem causes pain with certain activities, and this stops the baby or infant from doing that particular activity.
In these cases there is often a very quick response once we have corrected the joint problem. It is common for babies and infants with this type of problem to roll or crawl or walk within 24 hours of the first treatment, sometimes within a couple of hours. In such cases, there has not been a significant impact on brain development, the joint problem is local and it is the resultant pain which limits progress.
As chiropractors, we are uniquely placed to be able to identify and correct these types of problems and their effect on the nervous system and neurological/ brain development.
We may be able to help if your baby or child has…
Recurrent ear infections
Attention deficit hyperactive disorder (AD/HD)
Get in touch with us today through the Contact Us form.