A recent study, published in the Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research (JVSR), suggests that chiropractic care may offer significant benefits to children suffering from learning disabilities and dyslexia.
The research was conducted by Swiss chiropractor Yannick Pauli, DC, president of the Swiss Chiropractic Pediatric Association, who specializes in the care of children suffering from learning and behavioral disorders.
'This review critically assessed eight previously published studies involving a total of 160 children,' Dr. Pauli explained. 'Although the results remain preliminary and more research is needed, the evidence strongly suggests that chiropractic care may help various cognitive abilities that are essential to learning.'
Learning disorders and dyslexia affect between three and ten percent of school-aged children in the United Sates. Individuals with these disorders often suffer from low self-esteem, diminished motivation, loss of interest in school and problems in social functioning, and academic difficulties.
Pauli noted that the same areas of neurological dysfunction that can lead to learning disabilities and interfere with learning can also interfere with life skills, sport activities, and family and peer relationships.
'Learning disorders and dyslexia are increasingly recognized as a neurodevelopmental disorder,' he stated. 'Children suffering from those problems have parts of their brain that are not functioning adequately or are even delayed in their development. Among those dysfunctional areas is a small part located at the back of the brain called the cerebellum. The cerebellum plays a vital role in learning. It helps the brain coordinate and integrate the various sensory information, as well as to increase the processing speed of the brain.'
Numerous factors can affect the proper development of the brain, including maternal stress during pregnancy, traumatic birth, poor diet, and sedentary lifestyle.
Pauli stressed that, contrary to popular belief, chiropractic is not restricted to back pain in adults. 'The only source of constant stimulation to the brain comes from the spine and the postural muscles constantly adjusting to the force of gravity,' he explained. 'If the daily physical stresses of life cause misalignments in the spine -- called vertebral subluxations by chiropractors -- the brain is not adequately stimulated. This can cause problems throughout the body.'
He added that chiropractic adjustments, even when no back problems are evident, can improve the function of the spine and strongly stimulate nerve pathways to the cerebellum and other parts of the brain. 'In the case of children, this may, in turn, help brain functions necessary for learning,' he said.
Matthew McCoy, DC, editor of JVSR, commented that 'this study is an exciting first step. It shows the beneficial effect of chiropractic care and may offer hope for thousands of suffering children.'
This study is part of a larger effort undertaken by chiropractors to document and assess the potential benefits of chiropractic care in the field of learning disorders and other so-called mental disorders such as ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorders and even autism.