Research News Staff
Chiropractic Helps Young Autistic Girl

New Research Sheds Light on Chiropractic and Autism

Recent research in the Journal of Pediatric, Maternal & Family Health - Chiropractic reporting on improvement in a 10 year old girl with autism undergoing chiropractic care reveals that chiropractic may play an important role in managing children with autism. The research includes a review of the literature supporting the role of chiropractic in children challenged with autism.

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“Research indicates that minor shifts in the structure of the spine may impact function, suggesting that these structural shifts may be a factor in a number of disorders. Structural shifts may lead to nerve obstruction and could possibly be involved in a host of health problems such as autism and other neurobehavioral challenges” stated Dr. Matthew McCoy, a chiropractor, public health researcher and editor of the journal that published the study. Other chiropractic researchers have reported on similar results and reviews of the scientific research reveal numerous other studies that have shown similar connections. 

McCoy added, “It’s reasonable to suggest that if you obstruct or damage the nerves exiting the spine, the result of the obstruction(s) and/or damage can have far reaching implications on the functioning of the body. Through research reports like this we are finding that correcting these structural shifts reduces nerve obstruction, bringing about marked improvement in children who are experiencing a variety of neurobehavioral challenges.” 

Research is revealing that there is a relationship between abnormalities in the spine, the nervous system, and the brain.  Basic science and clinical research shows that the proper development of the brain relies heavily 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 respond to their environment are tied into spinal biomechanics and their related neurological pathways. 

“It makes perfect sense when you think about it” stated McCoy. “Neurobehavioral disorders such as autism may be related to how the entire body communicates with the brain and the most critical area for this is the spine.” 

Some researchers believe that the increase in the diagnosis of such disorders as autism, ADHD, pervasive developmental disorder, Tourette’s Syndrome, obsessive compulsive disorder and other neurodevelopmental disorders, have their root in a “perfect storm” of abnormal spinal development.    

The child reported on in this study was a 10 year old girl diagnosed with autism, pervasive development disorder (PDD) and explosive outburst disorder (EOD). She had complaints of chronic neck and back pain, head banging, insomnia and uncontrolled behaviors. 

The mother had two kidney infections, anemia, frequent urination, swollen ankles and low blood pressure during the pregnancy. She took Demerol, Lovenox and Heparin during the pregnancy and was bedridden for the last five weeks. The child was delivered via cesarean section, had an Apgar score of 6 and was in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for one week.  The child had reactions to her initial vaccinations including lethargy, she stopped breathing and was hospitalized for four days. She was behind in her developmental milestones. 

The chiropractor examined the child and found abnormal posture, and structural shifts in her neck, mid and low back. These structural shifts can lead to obstruction of the nerves and it is this obstruction, called vertebral subluxations, that chiropractors correct. Following chiropractic care the child was more relaxed, her outbursts ceased, she had a calmer demeanor and her sleep improved. 

The researcher reviewed other studies of chiropractic which demonstrated improvements in autistic patients and called for more research on chiropractic, subluxation and autism.         

Contact Information: 

Matthew McCoy DC, MPH

Journal of Pediatric, Maternal & Family Health – Chiropractic

McCoy Press