The study was performed by Yannick Pauli, DC, director of the "Centre Wellness NeuroFit" in Lausanne, Switzerland. Dr. Pauli is a chiropractor specializing in wellness neurology.
"In this pilot study, we used objective outcome measures to evaluate attention in nine adult patients before and after two months of wellness chiropractic care. All patients experienced significant improvement in concentration and 88% normalized parts of the test," explained Dr. Pauli. "Although the results are preliminary and more research is needed, the outcome of the study suggests that patients suffering from attention deficit benefited from chiropractic care."
Research has shown that the ability to concentrate is affected in a number of disorders such as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), traumatic brain injuries, dementia, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.
In the United States, between 1-6 percent of adults and 3-10 percent of children suffer from ADHD. Problems with attention go far beyond the ability to concentrate. Epidemiological studies have shown that individuals suffering from ADHD suffer greater risks associated with daily living such as higher rates of car accidents, increased risk of substance abuse, greater risk of failing school, increased likelihood of divorce and even greater difficulty managing money.
According to Pauli, concentration problems affect all parts of our life and even possibly our ability to heal. Although most people think of attention as the ability to focus on the external world only, new health paradigms indicate that we can direct our attention inward as well. The clinical experience of Pauli and his colleagues suggests that our ability to heal is highly dependent upon the ability of our brain to pay attention to what is going in the body.
"Studies done with people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) suggest that those patients suffer when parts of their brain become deactivated, such as the prefrontal cortex, while others become hyperfunctioning," Pauli noted." Our hypothesis is that this leads to an inability for the brain to pay attention to the body's internal processes, resulting in decreased body awareness and decreased ability to access healing resources. Our study is part of a first attempt to document whether chiropractic care could be helpful to improve attention, and therefore all areas of life that are dependent upon this crucial cognitive function."
Usually, attention deficit is a clinical diagnosis. But to avoid potential subjectivity, Pauli used an objective measure of attention, called a continuous performance test. "It is a computer-based evaluation that objectively measures various parameters of attention" he explained. "This system is also used by some neurologists and psychiatrists to find the exact dosage of medication they are going to prescribe for attention deficit sufferers. Our preliminary results suggest that attention can be improved naturally with chiropractic."
The connection between attention, a process occurring in the brain, and chiropractic, which is generally associated with spinal health, is not readily obvious to most people. Yet, the research emphasizes the direct link between the spine and brain activity.
"As a chiropractor specializing in wellness neurology, I understand that the spine is as much about neurology as it is about biomechanics" Pauli states.
The articulations and the muscles of the spine are rich in mechanoreceptors, which are sensors that send information to the nerve system. "Each time we work with the spine, we activate neurological circuits in the direction of the brain and bring the nerve system into balance," the researcher says.
Pauli also notes that chiropractors affect, in particular, a small part at the back of the brain called the cerebellum. Studies have shown that this structure is involved in attention. "Higher parts of the brain are also dependent upon the proper balance and function in the cerebellum," he elaborated. "If the cerebellum does not function at par, the rest of the brain becomes somewhat clumsy and by activating the spinal receptors and balancing the cerebellum, we help the brain function better."
According to Matthew McCoy, DC, editor of the Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research, "this preliminary study is exciting. It is part of an increasing amount of research suggesting that chiropractic care may be an effective natural choice for people suffering from ADD/ADHD. It offers the possibility of a new option for millions of children and adults that are seeking to manage their conditions naturally."