Brain Function/Emotional Health

While biomechanical dysfunction is usually viewed as a causative or contributing factor in the patient’s problem, it is itself a consequence of the imperfections in that person’s total adaptation, which is visible in posture. That adaptation, which is visible in posture and locomotion, is, to the discerning clinician, eloquent expression of the patient’s total personality and view of the world and of self. It is no semantic accident that “posture” and “attitude” apply to both the physical and psychological domains. Given the unity of body and mind, posture and attitude reflect the history and status of both and help in determining where and how the body framework is vulnerable.

Peer Reviewed Publications:

1) Somatic dysfunction, osteopathic manipulative treatment, and the nervous system: a few fact, some theories, many questions. Irvin M. Korr, Ph.D. Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, Feb 1986 Vol. 86, no. 2 pp. 109-114.

2) The effects of spinal manipulation on the intensity of emotional arousal in phobic subjects exposed to a threat stimulus: a randomized, controlled, double-blind clinicaltrial. Peterson KB. JMPT Nov. 1997;20(9), pp.602-6.

  • This study was done at a community college. Using muscle testing a spinal segment was found to be associated with an emotional response. Students were then adjusted while exposed to a fearful stimulus. It was found that the adjustments reduced the level of anxiety. Each student’s heart rate and report of fear was taken before, during and after viewing a “phobogenic stimulus” (fear evoking item ex. spider). Spinal adjustments were performed while the student was experiencing fear. After the chiropractic adjustment, the phobic test was performed again.
  • The researchers reported: “spinal manipulation significantly de-creased the intensity of emotional arousal reported by phobic subjects.”

3) Chiropractic medicine for rejuvenation of the mind. Academy of Chiropractic Medicine Gorman RF, 8 Budgen Street, Darwin, Australia, 1983.

  • Gorman, an ophthalmologist with an interest in migraine, worked with Eric Milne, M.D., a general practitioner who had an interest in spinal manipulation. They discovered a wide range of physical and psychological conditions responding to chiropractic care and believed that most people are suffering from decreased brain functioning due to decreased flow of blood to the brain and that chiropractic spinal manipulation could relieve this problem. They feel that many people are functioning with diminished mental potential or are disabled by “mental illness, which has a simple physical cause.” The cause they refer to is a restriction in blood flow to the brain because of vertebral misalignment that creates stress on the vertebral arteries.

4) Changes in brain function after manipulation of the cervical spine. Carrick FR. JMPT, Oct. 1997;20(8), pp.529-45.

  • The brain was mapped before and after chiropractic care (to the cervical spine) in 500 adult volunteers. The volunteers were divided into six groups and underwent “specific manipulation of the second cervical motion segment.” Blind spots are found in everyone and the size of the blind spot is an indicator of brain function. A larger blind spot indicates less cortical summation (less input from other areas of the brain). It was found that, in volunteers, an adjustment on one side of the neck in-creased blind spot size while an adjustment on the opposite side decreased it. “The results support the hypothesis that cortical-response maps can be used to measure the neurological consequences of spinal joint manipulation.”
  • Comment (tk): This is very exciting work which, as our technology continues to evolve, will give us a window into observing how brain activity changes as a result of spinal care.

5) Brain SPECT findings in late whiplash syndrome. Otte A, Mueller-Brand J, Fierz L. Lancet 1995; 345:1512-13.

  • Using Technetium-99m hexanethylproplyrnrsminr oxime single photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT), they found that 6 of 7 patients with non traumatic cervical pain had parieto-occipital hypoperfusion. In 24 patients confirmed by independent observers to be suffering from cognitive disturbances after whiplash injury, all had parieto-occipital hypoperfusion compared with 15 normal control subjects.

6) PET and SPECT in whiplash syndrome: a new approach to a forgotten brain? Otte A, Ettlin TM, Nitzsche EU, Wachter K, Hoegerle S, Simon GH, Fierz L, Moser E, Mueller-Brand J. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 1997;63:368-372.

  • From the abstract: Whiplash associated disorders are a medicolegally controversial condition becoming increasingly worrisome to the western world. This study was designed to evaluate perfusion and glucose metabolism in [the] whiplash brain.
  • Comments: Whiplash patients have traditionally reported a number of symptoms that are related to brain function – i.e. loss of memory, vision changes, emotional changes. This study involved six patients suffering from whiplash syndrome and 12 normal controls. They gave everyone chemicals that reveal brain function when viewed by specialized equipment (PET and SPECT) which is similar to a CAT scan for the brain. In the patient group, there was “significant hypometabolism” or decreased brain function and hypoperfusion or de-creased blood in the parieto-occipital regions on the right and left side compared to the control group. However, most revealing was the authors’ statement as to the possible cause of the brain changes after they ruled out direct injury to the brain and brain structures: “It is hypothesized that parieto-occipital hypometabolism may be caused by activation of nociceptive afferent nerves from the upper cervical spine.”

7) Effect of osteopathic medical management on neurologic development in children. Frymann VM, Carney, RE, Springall P. Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, 1992; 92:729-744.

  • Author’s abstract: For 3 years, children between 18 months and 12 years of age, with and without recognized neuralgic deficits, were studied at the Osteopathic Center for Children. Their response to 6 to 12 osteopathic manipulative treatments directed to all areas of impaired inherent physiologic motion was estimated from changes in three sensory and three motor areas of performance. Neurologic performance significantly improved after treatment in children with diagnosed neurogic problems and to a lesser degree in children with medical or structural diagnoses. The advances in neurologic development continued over a several months interval. The results support the use of osteopathic manipulative treatment as part of pediatric health care based on osteopathic medical philosophy and principles.

8) Are radiographic changes in the thoracic and lumbar spine of adolescent’s risk factors for low back pain in adults? A 25-year prospective cohort study of 640 school children. Spine. 1995; 20:2,298-2,302.

  • This is a study of 640 14-year-old children followed from 1965 through 1990 to determine risk factors for the development of low back pain in adulthood. Low back pain occurred during the growth period and family history was both associated with an increased risk. The lifetime reverence for back pain was 84% for this cohort. The proportion of subjects having radiographic abnormalities was 36% and yet this was associated with an increased incidence of back pain in adulthood. Interestingly, the investigators did find an increased incidence of mental problems such as fear or depression in the group of patients with radiographic changes in the T11-L2 area.

9) A retrospective assessment of network care using a survey of self-rated health, wellness and quality of life. Blanks, RHI, Schuster, TL. JVSR Vol. 1 No. 4, 1997.

  • From the abstract: The present study represents a retrospective characterization of Network Care, a health care discipline within the subluxation-based chiropractic model. Data were obtained from 156 Network offices (49%) practitioners participation rate) in the United States, Canada, Australia and Puerto Rico. This was a survey of 2818 patients of 156 Network chiropractic offices. Results indicated that patients reported significant positive perceived change in al four domains of health, as well as overall quality of life. The evidence of improved health in the four domains (physical state, mental/emotional state, stress evaluation, life enjoyment), overall quality of life from a standardized index and the “wellness coefficient,” suggests that Network Care is associated with significant benefits. These benefits are evident from as early as 1-3 months under care, and appear to show continuing clinical improvements in the duration of care …with no indication of a maximum clinical benefit.

10) Monocular visual loss after closed head trauma: immediate resolution associated with spinal manipulation. R. Frank Gorman. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. Vol. 18, No.3, June 1995.

  • The author, a medical doctor discusses the relationship between spinal health and blood supply to the head. From the paper (p.310) “ I hold the opinion, based on two decades of dedication to the intricacies of the ‘Cervical Syndrome’ and from a person al experience of 6,000 spinal manipulations done under anesthesia, that concentric narrowing of the visual fields indicates that the child has inferior brain function, which is a serious detriment in both the child’s internal and external environment.”

11) A pilot study of applied kinesiology in helping children with learning disabilities. Mathews MO, Thomas E, British Osteopathic Journal Vol. X11 1993; Ferreri CA (1986)

  • “All of the children in the treatment group made significant gains in IQ scores. An average increase of 8 Full Scale IQ points and 12 performance IQ points was obtained. Most children showed significant gains in visual perceptual organization. Some made significant gains in other important skills such as short-term auditory memory. Significant improvements were observed both at home and at school with regard to motivation, attitude and performance.”
  • Reports from treatment included: “Dyslexia teacher says he no longer needs help.” “No more thumb sucking.” “Asthma much better on the whole.”

12) Automated static perimetry in chiropractic. Gorman RF. JMPT 1993; 16: 481-487.

  • Author’s Abstract: A 44 year old housewife presented with non-specific bilateral visual field loss. This visual disability disappeared immediate to pan-spinal manipulation under anesthesia. Later, on review, the presence of a unicular visual defect was detected by quantitative static perimetry. Further examination revealed no pathology in the eye or brain to explain its occurrence, suggesting that is was due to microischemia of the optic nerve.
  • Intervention and outcome: The unicular scotoma recovered immediate to further spinal manipulation under anesthetic, only to recur on two further occasions, each time to disappear immediate to spinal treatment.
  • Conclusions: This case history demonstrates that spinal manipulation may dissipate microvascular spasm in the brain: even in branches of the carotid arterial system, which is not directly related to the spine.

13) Effects of chiropractic treatment on blood pressure and anxiety. Yates RG, Lamping DL, Abram NL, Wright C. JMPT 1988;11:484-8.

  • In this patient-blinded, assessor-blinded, placebo-controlled study, the authors state that the data “lend support to the hypothesis that chiropractic manipulation of the thoracic spine significantly reduces blood pressure in patients with elevated blood pressure.” Both systolic and diastolic blood pressure decreased significantly in the adjusted group. No significant changes occurred in the placebo or control groups.

Case Studies:

1) Two cases of spinal manipulation performed while the patient contemplated an associated stress event: the effect of the manipulation/contemplation on serum cholesterol levels in hypercholesterolemic subjects. Peterson, K.B, Chiropractic Technique, Vol. 7, No.2, May 1995.

  • Neuro-Emotional Technique (N.E.T.) is a fascinating technique to clear out physical correlations to emotional stress (called neuroemotional complexes by N.E.T. practitioners) in the body. The developer of N.E.T., Scott Walker, D.C. was inspired by Chinese medicine, particularly how acupuncture meridians related to spinal levels and emotional states. He then developed a system that correlates meridians to spinal levels. His analysis technique uses applied kinesiology to locate areas of emotional complex. The following case study documents the results of a single NET intervention on each of two women suffering with well documented hypercholesterolemia Baseline serum cholesterol levels for both patients averaged approximately 300 mg/dl and 227 mg/dl respectively. These results occurred between 2 and 5 months after the NET intervention. A 9 month to 1 year follow up test revealed that serum cholesterol levels had risen back to the original range.

2) Case #3 13-year-old with headache, depression, poor appetite, nausea, general muscular weakness, dizziness and sensitivity to light and noise.

3) Case reports in chiropractic pediatrics. Esch, S. ACA J of Chiropractic December 1988.

  • A 13 day old with a history of respiratory difficulty since birth (home birth, uncomplicated). Infant had difficulty nursing due to “stuffiness.” Upon presentation patient was in considerable pain, wearing dark glasses and ear plugs to compensate for increased sensitivity to sound and light. One week beforehand he had been injured in a football game collision. Medical doctors had given the child pain killers. Patient was hospitalized in traction for two weeks with no improvement.
  • Chiropractic examination: X-ray (Davis series) of the cervical spine showed right lateral displacement of atlas with right rotation of C-2. Following initial adjustment the patient could ride home without wearing his sunglasses and for the first time in two weeks expressed an interest in food. He returned the next day saying he felt, “The best I’ve felt in six weeks.”

4) Monocular scotoma and spinal manipulation: the step phenomenon. R. Frank Gorman, Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 1996; 19:344-9. Dr. Gorman discusses the brain blood flow/spinal column relationship.

  • From the abstract: Objective: To discuss a case history wherein microvascular spasm of the optic nerve was treated by spinal manipulation.
  • Clinical Features: A 62 year old man who developed a scotoma in the vision of the right eye during chiropractic treatment.
  • Intervention and Outcome: Spinal manipulation treatment was continued with total resolution of the scotoma. The rate of recovery of the scotoma was mapped using computerized static perimetry. These measurements showed that significant recovery occurred at each spinal manipulation treatment, producing a stepped graph.
  • From the conclusion: This case history suggests that spinal manipulation can affect the blood supply of localized areas of brain tissue. More important is the converse implication, that microvascular abnormality of the brain is caused by spinal derangement. Dr. Gorman noted that each spinal manipulation resulted in a ‘stepped graph.’ (hence the title).

5) The effects of chiropractic treatment on students with learning and behavioral impairments due to neurological dysfunction. Walton EV. International Review of Chiropractic 1975; 29:4-5,24-26.

  • Of the twenty-four learning impaired students, half received chiropractic care and the other half, who were either on medication or receiving no treatment at all, were used for comparison. The case histories that follow were obtained from the records of the students who received chiropractic care and appeared in “Chiropractic Effectiveness with Emotional Learning and Behavioral Impairments”.

Case Histories:

  • Case C 91: a high school student who was failing three subjects, with a history of failure, low morale, discipline problems, poor coordination, and a long history of clinical and medical treatment. After chiropractic care the student was passing all subjects, highly motivated, showing improved coordination and able to participate in athletics. All medications were dropped.
  • Case C 92: a high school student on 20mg. Ritalin and on Dilanton. She was non-motivated, negative, passive, nonverbal, and failing in school work despite placement in special classes. After chiropractic adjustments the student was taken off Ritalin, began talking and expressing herself, and showed improved reading comprehension and reading speed.
  • Case CE 92: an elementary student who was extremely hyperkinetic, irritable, and he had severe behavior problems at home and school. Grades were marginal to failing. Although the boy was only 8 years old, Ritalin had been increased from an initial 5mg. to a total of 70mg./ day with steadily diminishing results. (70mg. approaches danger level as a dosage). At the conclusion of chiropractic care, the Ritalin had been entirely discontinued and coordination was improved to the extent that the student became an able Little League ball player. His attitude was excellent, grades were up an average of one letter grade, and the student was considered free of all limiting factors. Behavior at home and school was exemplary.
  • Case CE 101: an elementary student. This student was marginally passing his courses. There was a four year history of marginal accomplishment in school. He was nervous, underweight and suffered from insomnia. Medication was briefly tried but the student’s emotional control became poor and he frequently wept. The medication had to be discontinued. After chiropractic care there was a marked reduction in nervousness and great improvement in emotional stability. His mother reported that his appetite was now normal and he began enjoying school during the last month.
  • Case C 93: a high school student. Initially on heavy dosages of medication, non-motivated with a long history of clinical evaluation and treatment. The girl was failing most school subjects, marginal in others, and withdrawn. After chiropractic adjustments, her self-confidence improved; she was passing all subjects. All medication was discontinued after four months of treatment. A vocational goal was established.
  • Case CJ 95: a junior high school student. He was hyperkinetic almost from birth and had a traumatic early developmental history with suspected neurological problems. Although of above average intelligence he was passing only two subjects, both marginally. He was starting to become a discipline problem, making little or no effort in school. After chiropractic care, fine and gross motor coordination improved markedly. He began taking an interest in athletics and played Little League on a team that placed third in the state. Effort and motivation improved to the extent that plans to send him back to a lower grade were dropped and he was promoted. Reports at the third week of school indicated that his academic progress was excellent after a late summer remedial program.
  • Case CE 102: an elementary student who had been diagnosed by numerous clinics as minimally brain damaged, retarded and/or suffering from neurological dysfunction. He also suffered from severe emotional problems. After chiropractic he showed great improvement in self-confidence. He began to take part in public speaking in school. Mental ability tests indicated that the student was at normal grade level except for deficiencies in reading.