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Home / Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder & Chiropractic: Literature Review

Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder & Chiropractic: Literature Review

Welcome to the Back to Health Chiropractic Podcast

I’m your host Dr. Marc Dupuis on this show we discuss tips, tools and strategies to improve the health & wellness of you and your family!

Today we are going to discuss a 2015 literature review, titled Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Chiropractic: A Systematic Review of the Literature.  This research review was published in the Journal Pediatric, Maternal & Family Health, in March of 2015.

This topic is so important and timely since Neurodevelopmental disorders include some of the most challenging health issues facing children today, namely, ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). 

The rates of ADD, ADHD and ASD are rising within the global population at an alarming rate, while treatments seem to be sadly lagging behind.  Therefore, any intervention, especially those that are non-invasive & safe that shows promise should be looked at closely.  Despite there being numerous pharmaceutical drugs on the market for these conditions, their results are mixed and side effects are often just as troubling as the conditions they are supposed to be addressing.  

The Summary or Abstract of the review is as follows:
The objective: To provide a comprehensive analysis of the current body of scientific literature regarding the chiropractic management of a wide variety of neurodevelopmental disorders.

The Methods of the Review: A literature search was performed using PubMed, MANTIS, the Index to Chiropractic Literature, McCoy Press, Galileo, and ScienceDirect. Inclusion criteria consisted of full-text peer-reviewed articles written in English as they related to the efficacy of chiropractic management of neurodevelopmental disorders.

The Results: 50 articles were selected.  The results were: 3 Randomized Controlled Trials (RCT), 7 Reviews of Literature, 3 Case Series, 34 Case Studies and 3 Survey/Commentaries.

The Conclusions: The majority of articles dealt specifically with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and attention deficit disorder (ADD)/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and were predominantly case studies. While we believe there is enough evidence to support the use of chiropractic with children who have been previously diagnosed with neurodevelopmental disorders, especially ASD and ADD/ADHD, the chiropractic community should see this as a call to action to provide more research regarding neurodevelopmental disorders.

Given that RCTs (Randomized Controlled Trials) are the gold standard of research, the authors acknowledged that although 3 RCTs supporting Chiropractic care for neurodevelopmental disorders is a great start, we need to fund additional research projects to build upon these initial studies.  

Lets dive deeper into this research review.  Now, what does Chiropractic care have to do with neurodevelopmental disorders?  For those of you not familiar with HOW chiropractic actually works, the answer is quite simple.  The MAIN goal of chiropractic care is to improve brain-body, body-brain communication.  We do that by analyzing the spine for abnormally positioned or abnormally moving spinal segments, known as vertebral subluxations.  Vertebral subluxations are corrected by specific chiropractic adjustments. Because vertebral subluxations, by the stress caused to the surrounding spinal cord and nerve roots, cause nervous system interference, it should make sense that correcting vertebral subluxations reduces nervous system interference and therefore could help those suffering from neurodevelopmental disorders.   

It is important to note: people alway ask, does chiropractic cure this or fix so and so conditions?  The answer is no, chiropractic’s purpose is Not to treat specific diseases, rather chiropractic’s purpose is to do one thing and one thing only: correct vertebral subluxations which enables the body to better do what it was designed to do!  Of course, by helping the body to better do what it is designed to do, this results in improved health & healing which explains why so many health challenges have responded to chiropractic care!  Getting back to this literature review the authors point out;

“With rising incidences of various neurodevelopmental disorders, the likelihood of healthcare professionals encountering them as a presenting complaint in their clinics is just as likely to rise.  With chiropractors serving as portal of entry providers, it is also therefore likely that the practicing chiropractor will encounter such patients.   It is therefore important to understand the possible relationship between chiropractic care and neurodevelopmental disorders.

The evidence presented within this literature review aims to demonstrate the plausibility of chiropractic care as an appropriate healthcare service utilized for neurodevelopmental disorders.  Services provided include spinal adjustments focused on the correction of vertebral subluxation, improvement in joint function, reduction of pain, increased quality of life and levels of independence, as well as management of dizziness, proprioceptive and/or vestibular complaints, and possibly more.”

Some of the key takeaways from the expanded conclusion section of this review are as follows:
If we consider the new research that shows chiropractic adjustments having a direct effect on neural plasticity of the central nervous system (as demonstrated by the breakthrough research paper by Haavik-Taylor published in the journal Clinical Neurophysiology in February of 2007) and other research linking abnormal stimuli to plastic changes within the central nervous system along with the case studies herein which show associated benefits from chiropractic treatment with regards to neurodevelopmental disorders.  The mechanisms by which this could happen appears plausible. Further advances in neural plasticity research may yet reveal stronger connections to chiropractic treatment.

Considering the goal of a subluxation based chiropractor to treat the vertebral subluxation complex, its safety with regards to children based on the Council on Chiropractic Practice Guidelines, and not treating neurodevelopmental disorders specifically, along with the results shown herein regards to the available case files, we believe there is enough evidence to support the use of chiropractic treatments on children who have been previously diagnosed with neurodevelopmental disorders, especially ASD and ADD/ADHD.  We suggest a conservative treatment approach that would focus specifically on diagnosed subluxations within the vertebral column and co-management with other medical professionals to better objectively quantify any changes that may manifest in the presentation of the patient’s neurodevelopmental disorders, which would then add additional strength to the case for future considerations into publication as a case file.”

So there you have it, my summary of the paper, “Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Chiropractic: A Systematic Review of the Literature”

I hope this explains how chiropractic care may help those that are dealing with neurodevelopmental disorders, especially ADD, ADHD and ASD. 

My final point today: Chiropractic care should be considered for those individuals that are dealing with neurodevelopmental disorders.  Research supports co-management of these complex cases including other medical providers.

I hope you found this information helpful, please share this episode with anyone you feel may benefit from hearing it.

This concludes today’s episode of The Back to Health Chiropractic Podcast, where we discuss tips, tools & strategies to improve the health and wellness of you & your family!  Please SUBSCRIBE to this podcast so that you never miss a future episode, also PLEASE SHARE this podcast with ANYONE you feel may benefit from what we covered today.

Finally, Thank you very much for listening and until next time, have a Fantastic Day!


Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Chiropractic: A Systematic Review of the Literature

Cervical spine manipulation alters sensorimotor integration: a somatosensory evoked potential study