New Research on Chiropractic, Epilepsy & Seizures
Recent research reporting on improvement in a 22 year old young woman undergoing chiropractic care reveals that chiropractic could play an important role in managing brain related neurological disorders such as seizures and epilepsy. The research, reported in the Journal of Upper Cervical Chiropractic Research, discussed a case of a young woman diagnosed with epilepsy whose problems completely resolved following chiropractic care. Epilepsy is a recurrent disorder marked by abnormal electrical activity in the brain.
“Research is revealing that there is a relationship between abnormalities in the spine, the nervous system and the brain” stated Dr. Matthew McCoy, a chiropractor, public health researcher and editor of the journal that published the study. “Basic science research shows that the proper development and function of the brain relies on proper structure and movement of the spine from an early age.”
Research has shown not only that the developing brain relies on normal structural integrity and joint movement, but that complex neurochemical communication and pathways involved in helping humans to adapt to their environment and even to “feel good” are tied into spinal biomechanics and their related neurological pathways.
“It makes perfect sense when you think about it” stated Dr. McCoy. “The brain constantly needs and wants to know where our body is in space. If there is interference with the neurological communication between the spine and the brain all sorts of malfunctions can occur.”
Researchers studying the connection between chiropractic and neurological disorders believe that these types of functional disorders have their root in abnormal spinal development.
“There are very important functional relationships between the spine and the brain that if disturbed can result in a host of problems with how the brain functions” remarked Dr. McCoy. According to McCoy “The nervous systems need the constant stimulation of movement in order to develop and function properly. Abnormal position or movement of the spinal vertebra can develop and this can lead to nerve interference. It is this interference, called vertebral subluxations, that chiropractors correct.”
The woman reported on in the study experienced daily headaches and seizure activity occurring approximately every three days, and lasting for periods varying from several minutes up to an hour. Previous to chiropractic, she had been treated with anti-convulsant medications for seizure activity and other medications for migraine headaches. The patient reported that her frequency of seizures and headaches remained unchanged.
She eventually sought chiropractic care and was examined for upper cervical vertebral subluxations using precise x-rays and measures of her nervous system function.
After 13 adjustments over less than one month to reduce the subluxation in her upper neck, her headaches and seizures resolved. The patient also completed the Quality of Life in Epilepsy patient survey (QOLIE-89) prior to beginning care and after about one month. The QUOLIE- 89 is one of several validated patient reported outcome measures to assess patients with epilepsy.
Her first QOLIE-89 survey had an overall score of 29.2 compared to a mean score of 67.90, indicating she had a relatively low quality of life. The QOLIE-89 completed following her first phase of care reported an overall score of 80.7, an improvement in her overall score of 51.4 and 12.2 points higher than the mean. According to a study published in the journal “Epilepsia” a change of +/- 13 is considered a significant change.
The authors call for more research on the effects of subluxation reduction on seizure activity and epilepsy.
Matthew McCoy DC, MPH
Journal of Upper Cervical Chiropractic Research