Improvement in Symptoms of ADHD and Functional Outcomes with Chiropractic

A study published in the Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research on April 27, 2014, documented chiropractic care helping four children with ADHD. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Medline Plus website, “Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a problem of not being able to focus, being overactive, not being able control behavior, or a combination of these. For these problems to be diagnosed as ADHD, they must be out of the normal range for a person’s age and development.”

The rate of ADHD in the population continues to rise at an alarming rate with the NIH noting that the diagnosis of ADHD has increased an average of 3% per year from 1997 to 2006. The increase has continued with the NIH reporting, “The percentage of children with an ADHD diagnosis continues to increase, from 7.8% in 2003 to 9.5% in 2007 and to 11.0% in 2011.”

The study authors state that medical treatment for children with ADHD commonly consists of stimulant medication in addition to psychotherapy. The medications, however, carry some serious side effects according to the study. “Common adverse effects of stimulants include nausea, upset stomach, decreased appetite, insomnia, and headache. More rare adverse effects include motor tics, irritability, mood lability, hallucinations, growth defects1 (decreased height), epilepsy, seizures, psychotic symptoms, sudden death, liver failure, suicide-related events.”

In this case series, four children between the ages 8 to 12 years of age were brought to a chiropractic clinic for help with their symptoms of ADHD. All four children had been previously diagnosed with ADHD by a medical doctor and were suffering from either inattention or impulsivity, or both. Three of the children were on prescription medication for ADHD, and the fourth was previously on medication.

The children received chiropractic examinations which included digital postural assessment, surface paraspinal electromyography, infrared paraspinal thermography, heart rate variability and spinal range of motion analysis. A standardized ADHD symptom questionnaire, completed by the child’s primary caregiver, was used to measure the symptoms of their ADHD. Each child received specific chiropractic care based upon their individual examinations and analysis.

The study showed that each of the children improved under chiropractic care. The authors then combined the data into the following results:

  • Impulsivity/Hyperactivity decreased in regularity by 23.8%
  • Impulsivity/Hyperactivity decreased in severity by 24.1%
  • Inattention decreased in severity by 15.8%
  • Combined regularity and severity of symptoms decreased by 21.0%
  • Total Dysfunction rating decreased by 17.3%

In their discussion, the study authors commented, “The results of this case series seem to indicate that Chiropractic care improves patient outcomes and prognosis in the management of ADHD in both medicated and unmedicated children.”

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