Chiropractic after a traumatic brain injury?

It is always exciting and validating to see new research published in the field of chiropractic as techniques of scientific evaluation continue to advance. A recent paper published in the Journal of Upper Cervical Chiropractic reports on the positive health outcomes of a young adult with post-traumatic epilepsy undergoing chiropractic care as well as reviews the available literature. We thought this would be a great opportunity to discuss chiropractic care and it’s implications with traumatic brain injuries.

First things first, chiropractic is not about spinal pain! Chiropractic is all about the integrity and function of the master system of he body, the nervous system. The nervous system controls and regulates every function in the body down to a cellular level. Chiropractors are concerned with spinal alignment and posture because when we have malpositions along the spine, this can directly effect the proper function of the nervous system and interfere with the body’s ability to adapt to stress and heal itself. Of particular interest to chiropractors is the where the base of the skull meets the top of the neck, referred to as the upper cervical region. Due to many converging nerves in the area, complex blood, lymph and CSF fluid dynamics, and a close proximity to the autonomic regulating centers of the nervous system, this is the most important region of the body neurologically. Not only is it the most important, but it is also the most delicate. The upper cervical spine has no intervertebral discs, no interlocking joints as in the rest of the spine, and also has a significantly larger range of motion compared to any other joints in the spine. All these factors makes this a vulnerable part of the spine and vital to our health and function to maintain this area of the body in proper alignment and integrity.

With the above in consideration, it makes sense why somebody who sustained a head or brain injury should seek specific chiropractic care. A physical trauma to the head is a very common way to sustain an upper cervical malposition interfering with proper neurologic function, usually referred to as a chiropractic subluxation. It is only by the careful analysis by a chiropractor that this interference can be detected and corrected, simply because there is no other profession that specializes in the detection, analysis, and correction of subluxation.

It should go without saying, this is not the same as looking for high points or stuck joints and cracking them for relief! This about objective indicators of neurologic function before and after a specific adjustment, in order to know not only is this person in need of an adjustment and most importantly was that adjustment successful?!

Anyways, back to the study at hand. As the paper describes, A 19-year-old male diagnosed with post-traumatic epilepsy following a traumatic brain injury six months prior presents to a chiropractor’s office with signs of vertebral subluxation as well as episodes of headaches and dizziness.

Subluxation of the first bone in the neck (Atlas) was identified, analyzed and corrected by an upper-cervical chiropractor. The frequency of seizures began declining with the initiation of adjustments and completely resolved. His headaches and dizziness also improved. He remained seizure free in a 10 year follow-up.

Additional studies in the literature on chiropractic and epilepsy describe patients with head injuries that improved under care. Some literature reviews demonstrate the benefit of upper cervical chiropractic adjustments in managing patients with seizure type disorders. While this case demonstrated an optimal outcome with chiropractic care, more study is always needed in this area.

If you’d like to discuss this study or any others, please reach out! Keep an eye on our weekly blog posts to stay up to date on current trends in chiropractic, research, and discussion of specific conditions. If you have any topics you’d like discussed, please let us know!

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