In my office (and most Upper Cervical Chiropractic offices) we go to great lengths to determine if someone actually needs an upper neck adjustment on that particular day. The goal is to hold adjustments for long periods of time so the body can repair itself and function normally. We use a thermal scanner, posture checks, and a few other things. How the patient feels that day etc. doesn’t factor into the decision-making. Clinical information is what you have to rely on to avoid making mistakes.
Having said all of that, years ago I had two young men that almost made me think I could throw out all of the clinical assessments and base my decision on one thing. Whether I knew they were in the office or not once they came in the door. If I didn’t know they were there, almost 100% of the time their upper neck was in alignment, and didn’t need an adjustment. If I thought we were being attacked by pirates, then you could almost count on them being out of alignment. Both had been diagnosed with Asperger’s and ADHD, and the difference in their behavior on adjustment vs non-adjustment days was remarkable. On the non-adjustment days, they would walk in, grab a book from the kids section, and sit down and read. On the adjustment days, they would be talking very loudly (or basically yelling), and couldn’t sit still at all. I still went through all the assessments to see if they were in alignment or not, but as far as I remember, the behavior was never wrong in telling me what needed to be done.
We tend to think of learning, focus, and attention as purely a function of the brain, and if someone is a slow learner, can’t focus, and has attention deficit, it is a in brain function. The reality is, sensory input from the body and spine plays a huge role in learning and development. Sensations from hearing, vision, taste, smell, touch, pressure, and movement provide the input to the brain. The brain then uses this information to control movement, awareness, and learning. The more varied and interactive the sensory input a child experiences—the greater the potential for intellectual growth, the ability to focus, and clearer brain function.
Research has shown us that the same areas of the brain that are responsible for movement, are also involved in higher-level learning. Higher-level learning would be things like logic, creativity, and decision making. If these areas of the brain are properly stimulated by proper movement, these areas of the brain develop as children grow.
The spine plays a critical role in the sensory input from movement. The upper neck has a large percentage of the receptors involved in sending movement information to the brain. Since they control the position of our head, (more importantly our brain) they have much more input. If the upper neck is out of alignment this input will be incorrect, which can lead to lower stimulation of the brain, and/or processing issues.
Have you heard the phrase, garbage in garbage out? It is a bit of an oversimplification, but if those top bones aren’t moving properly due to misalignment, they will send bad information to the brain. If the brain gets bad information to process, it is very difficult for it to function properly. This can lead to processing issues. Things like ADHD, behavior issues, many of the symptoms of autism etc., can be generated due to this processing error. An ADHD child has difficulty processing all that is going on around them, due to this error, and suddenly the brain is overloaded and they bounce from one thing to another and struggle to focus. An Autistic child may not want to be touched because the brain doesn’t properly process the feeling and pressure of touch.
How common is an upper neck misalignment in children? A group of German medical doctors analyzed the x-rays of 1,000 children, and found 80% had a misalignment of the top bone in the neck. They linked this misalignment to a number of childhood issues, like ear infections, seizures, ADHD, and others.
That doesn’t mean all cases of neurodevelopmental issues are coming from the neck being out of place, but it is pretty easy to rule it in or rule it out. It takes about 30 minutes in my office for me to determine if the upper neck is a contributing factor in these types of conditions. If we determine that the upper neck is misaligned, there won’t be any twisting or cracking of the child’s neck. We use an extremely precise and gentle technique, which returns the upper cervical spine to it’s proper position, and allows the brain and body to communicate properly, allowing normal processing to occur.
Dr. Lee Angle
Dr. Lee Angle is originally from southern West Virginia. After having his life changed through Upper Cervical Care he chose to pursue it as a career. He has been practicing Upper Cervical Chiropractic for over nine years. Dr. Angle previously worked as a certified personal trainer. This background allows him to educate his patients on proper movement and exercises to speed their recovery and enhance their Upper Cervical Care.