Designed For Hope: How Chiropractic Honors The Health Already Within Your Child – page 2

AUTHOR // Nick Spano, DC

What about specific recommendations? Don’t chiropractors give people something more than a guideline for taking care of their children? Yes, we try to help our patients understand how a general principle would apply in a given situation. But our recommendations are more likely to fall into the category of “teaching someone to fish” rather than “giving them a fish.” A different kind of doctor said it this way, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go…” That doctor was Ted Geisel— Dr. Seuss—from his book, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! We don’t want to replace the mantra, “Listen to your doctor” with “Listen to your chiropractor.” We would rather teach our patients the principles that will guide them in making their own decisions, and then say, “Now, listen to your heart!”

I don’t think that it’s a surprise to anyone to hear that the one of the most important keys to healthy kids is exercise. Yes, exercise will burn calories and help them maintain or lose weight, but just as important, it will properly mold the connections to their brains. When children jump, run or play, they are creating new connections in their brains that will not only determine whether they will be healthy, but can help forecast their whole outlook on life!

Interestingly, many studies have already been done concerning the aging process as it affects adult wellbeing. Baby boomers represent a large segment of our population who are attempting to find a way to turn back the clock, or at least slow it down. Much of that research strongly suggests that the brain and body are malleable; they grow and change according to the stimulus that we provide. That is good news for adults and seniors, but it is even better news for those who are just starting out in life, who are just beginning to form those connections between body and brain. In fact, there is an entire field of science dedicated to longevity. Most of us are aware of some of the benefits that have been discovered in recent years through those efforts. But only a few are aware of research into the changing brain, and of something called “neuroplasticity” that intersects with our interest in the aging process and yet applies to a child’s brain. Chiropractor Gary Easter, D.C., explains it as follows:

We are living in the golden age of neurological research. Since the early ’90s, our understanding of brain function has grown by leaps and bounds. For instance, we used to think that the brain you are born with is the brain you are stuck with, and no new neurons were ever added. Now we know that we add new neurons our entire lives and new connections between them as well. This process, called neuroplasticity, is driven by input, mainly sensory input. Of all sensory input, the one thing we can sense 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, is gravity and its effects on muscle and joint receptors. This input is called proprioception. The largest source of proprioceptive input is the spinal column and related structures.

As the brain develops, this proprioceptive input is matched with input from the eyes and vestibular canals in the ears to develop a spatial map of our body in its environment. This forms the basis of motor development skills: rolling over, sitting up, crawling and walking. Once we have reached the level of walking upright, we have laid the foundation for cognitive development and speech starts.

The brain further develops hemispheric specialization for certain skills, such as speech in the left hemisphere and interoception on the right.

Understanding the process of brain evolution, growth and development allows us to help people with neurological problems that don’t respond well to traditional medical interventions. In the case of kids with ASD it means finding the parts of the brain that are not functioning well, and stimulating neuroplasticity in those areas with specific input, including chiropractic adjustments. These stimulate the proprioceptive system, and by process of developmental wiring, the whole brain to some extent. This stimulation, combined with nutrition to enhance brain fuel delivery and remove inflammation, helps to increase the rate of neuroplasticity to increase the function of the under-functioning brain areas.

Many of the same mechanisms that help restore function in an aging brain or in someone who has suffered a stroke are similar to the things that shape the developing brain of a growing child. When it comes to the study of the central nervous system, the concept of neuroplasticity suggests exactly what the word implies—brain development is more like plastic than it is like concrete. The brain can be formed and molded by a stimulating and nurturing environment, even more so during the growth and development of a child.

So what does that have to do with health and chiropractic? Apparently everything!

When the motion between two vertebrae is restricted due to a misalignment, movement signals are reduced to the brain. Those signals are essential for normal brain function and development. Some believe that movement signals coming from the spine may be the most important information required by the brain. The subluxation (misalignment) is a bottleneck for the constant sensory traffic that normally provides these signals. The “language” of exercise and movement is translated by the brain as your desire to live and thrive. Ignore a vertebral subluxation and you are telling the automatic part of your brain that controls the rest of your body that its services are no longer needed. Chiropractic helps restore the sensory traffic to and from the brain by correcting vertebral subluxations.

The truth is that most people have settled for a life by default rather than life by design. For adults, getting the body back in touch with the brain is actually the second step to living life more fully. The first step is knowing that it’s possible. It is the way that life begins, and it is the way life is designed to be lived.

Chiropractic works with a respect for your child’s innate potential, helping to restore the spinal pathways to and from the brain and guiding your family toward what it means to live according to nature’s design. The medical profession may not even “believe” in design. Your chiropractor wants to stand alongside of you and encourage your children to live up to their personal potential. We don’t ask ourselves how we are going to fix your kids—because, frankly, we don’t think that they’re broken. We ask ourselves what has gotten in the way of your child’s natural ability to express his or her birthright for health. And we are certain that each child has more potential than even you, as their proud parent, has ever fully known.

Our goal as chiropractors is to help parents transfer their trust in doctors, drugs and other therapies, that all come from the outside-in, and place that trust in nature’s potential that comes from the inside-out! “Developing an attitude of unlimited potential starts with the parent. One of the greatest attributes a child can possess is the belief that they have potential,” says family counselor Elaine Olson. “But a child will only believe about himself what his parent believes about him.”

A pediatric chiropractor is trained to help you look for those things that have interfered with your child’s optimal function. Chiropractors don’t just believe that your child has unlimited potential— our job is to unlock it. And that’s why, when you ask a chiropractor about your child, you will be pleasantly surprised by hope!