It was a gathering of five people in an office in Pueblo, Colorado that led to a surprisingly new understanding of the relationship between brain function and health. It started with a rather simplistic statement which drew a quiet exchange of eye contacts within the group. There are times in life when the breakthroughs of an abstract concept statement make all involved just stop and question some patterns of our beliefs. This was one of those times.
The simple statement, “I think the Chiropractic adjustment works because it changes brain wave patterns!” stopped all conversations within the group. I was the only chiropractor in the group and have made this statement, I had ventured into the expertise region of two others group members. This may not seem like such an extraordinary statement to make but you have to consider the implications. Two of the group were Psychologists who had spent the last 25 years focused on EEG brain wave research and its application to clinical practice. Chiropractic had not been included in these studies. The open-mindedness of Drs. Byers and Long led to a three-year-long gathering of pre and post Chiropractic adjustment EEG brain wave scans to test the validity of my statement. What we discovered rocked both our worlds.
Our first step was to do a “Null Hypothesis”, which means to prove that the adjustment has no effect on the brain wave patterns. We continued to see massive changes in the EEG post adjustment so that theory was discarded. The next step was to determine if there was any particular pattern that showed change after the adjustment, such as an increase in Alpha brain wave production. What we saw was something altogether different from what we expected. 300 hundred EEG scans later we realized the Chiropractic adjustment had a profound effect on brain function.
The Chiropractic theory has been based on a neurological foundation of vertebral misalignments (called vertebral subluxation) putting pressure on the spinal nerve roots and has reigned since the profession’s beginning in 1895. The profession has spent over 100 years in defense of this theory even though it has never been able to move past the theory level. Today the influence of science on society demands that we have supported proof of a theory for it to hold any credibility. This proof is lacking for the Vertebral Subluxation nerve root pressure concept and because of this, has placed the profession at a crossroads.
There is some confusion that develops at this point. There are factors within the profession that view any shift away from vertebral subluxation (VS) as a direct challenge to the Chiropractic profession itself. The primary defense offered for the VS theory is the years of great results, some of them almost seeming miraculous, yet there is no research that supports exactly how these results are gained (past the spinal adjustment).
Two other issues not addressed in the VS theory are how the vertebral misalignment came into being in the first place and how the various Chiropractic techniques that don’t physically address the vertebral fixation get the same level of patient responses.
These are questions that the profession should have been addressing throughout the years but didn’t. Instead, we have ended up with part of the profession reducing Chiropractic to pain relief, another part to joint mechanics, and the third sticking fast to the unproven vertebral subluxation theory.
What this new knowledge does for the profession
That one moment in the office in Colorado provided a great opportunity for the Chiropractic profession. It gives us a new way to look at the power of the adjustment and can act as a unifying force across the profession. No matter where you currently stand in the three divisions of the profession, I ask you to just stop and consider the value of this new insight to you in practice and the support of Chiropractic. Here are 10 critical points for your consideration.
Point 1. There are now 5 research papers that support the effect of chiropractic adjustment on brain function. I continue to check for new research and what is most interesting is that other health professions are doing some of the chiropractic supportive research.
Point 2. This brings us back to the concept that Chiropractic is not based on the premise of the treatment of disease but rather on improved neurological function.
Point 3. As the practice of medicine, which is based on the treatment of disease (so named by the classification of signs and symptoms) and therefore requires billing codes for these diseases or illnesses is in a different classification from the field of Chiropractic.
Point 4. Stressors, including mental, physical, electromagnetic, and chemical create overloads to the processing resources of the CNS, resulting in the establishment of inappropriate cortical patterns and limbic system responses.
Point 5. The role of stress and its relationship to CNS function as the cause (including trauma) of vertebral subluxations is established.
Point 6. The adjustment (including all technique approaches) acts as a sensory neurological pattern interrupt which in turn allows the CNS to reset to a more appropriate pattern. All technique approaches used in Chiropractic get results. The more specific the technique application is directed to the neurological needs of the patient, the better will be the results
Point 7. The influence of chiropractic adjustments based on sensory stimulation makes sense to the other health fields.
Point 8. There is no need to change your technique if you are getting the results that satisfy you. The majority of chiropractors use a combination of different techniques in their practice. The reason to apply a different technique can be clarified by the patient’s neurological response.
Point 9. The NeuroInfiniti instrument was specifically designed to provide objective central nervous system function and responses for Chiropractic practices.
Point 10. This subtle shift in the intent of Chiropractic care brings us full circle to the fact that the care we offer has a much broader scope of practice than simply pain reduction or improved joint mechanics. This aligns with the original intent of the profession and will open the value of your service to your community.
Today there are Chiropractic offices around the world that have made the shift from the spinal model and an outdated theory to Brain-Based Chiropractic. The results in these offices are staggering. Letting go is not easy, but I can tell you that if you grasp the power and the potential of the information in this short article, you will join those in that group of 5 and that moment of quiet realization that something grand just happened.