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Women's Magazine, June 2000
Boulder, Colorado.
by Erin L. Elster, D.C

Originally named in 1980 by the American Psychiatry Association, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) (also commonly referred to as Attention Deficit Disorder) is a behavioral disorder characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Recent research, correlating head/neck trauma and the onset of ADHD, suggests proper correction of an individual's neck injury can alleviate ADHD symptoms. In fact, positive results have already been achieved using IUCCA Upper Cervical Chiropractic, a new health care technique incorporating modern computerized technology.

Head/Neck Trauma Linked To The Onset Of ADHD

Medical literature has established the link between head/neck trauma and the onset of ADHD. According to a November, 1999 study in Radiology, when a child experiences a severe blow to the head-in a car, ski or bike accident, for instance-the head/neck injury may cause the onset of ADHD. The study showed that within a year of injury, twenty percent of kids developed ADHD. Medical research has focused upon dopamine as the primary neurotransmitter (brain chemical) involved in ADHD. (Children and Adults with ADHD, 1999) Dopamine pathways in the brain link the basal ganglia and frontal cortex (brain centers) contributing to behavior. When an individual's upper neck is injured, a bundle of nerves (the superior cervical ganglion) may be irritated. Because one of the main functions of this nerve bundle is to control blood flow to the brain, irritation of these nerves may cause altered brain blood flow resulting in dysfunction of brain centers controlling behavior.

How Do Children Develop Spinal Problems So Early In Life?

In children and newborns, a common cause of neck injury is birth trauma, especially during precipitous delivery, prematurity, breech delivery, and forceful traction (forceps) births. (Journal of Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 1969) Even during the gentlest of births, presentation of the baby's head through the birth canal requires physical pressure exerted by the mother, possibly forcing the baby's neck to twist or bend. Often during the delivery, the practitioner will pull or twist the head to assist with the delivery, compounding the problem.

As children grow older, the common tumbles and falls of childhood increase the risk of injury to the upper cervical spine. Injuries can also occur as children begin sports such as gymnastics, soccer, skiing, or bike riding. As a result of neck injuries, children can experience many symptoms besides ADHD, such as neck pain, back pain, chronic infections, headaches, asthma, and allergies, to name a few. The proper correction of the child's neck injury can improve or eliminate many of the above named symptoms.

ADHD Statistics

According to the American Psychiatry Association, ADHD afflicts almost five million Americans, mostly young boys. One to three percent of the school-aged population has been diagnosed with the full ADHD syndrome, while five to ten percent has a partial ADHD syndrome. Many ADHD individuals also suffer from associated disorders, such as anxiety or depression. (Children And Adults With ADHD, 1999)

Diagnostic Criteria For ADHD

The ADHD diagnosis, based solely on an individual's behavioral history, is made when a practitioner detects six out of the nine characteristics listed below. No definitive diagnostic test (lab test, blood test, physical exam, or psychological test) exists for ADHD. The two most prominent subtypes of ADHD, as defined in the American Psychiatry Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, are as follows:

ADHD- Inattentive type is defined by an individual experiencing at least six of the following characteristics: fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes; difficulty sustaining attention; does not appear to listen; struggles to follow through on instructions; difficulty with organization; avoids or dislikes requiring sustained mental effort; often loses things necessary for tasks; easily distracted; forgetful in daily activities.

ADHD- Hyperactive/impulsive type is defined by an individual experiencing six of the following characteristics: fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat; difficulty remaining seated; runs about or climbs excessively (in adults may be limited to subjective feelings of restlessness); difficulty engaging in activities quietly; acts as if driven by a motor; talks excessively; blurts out answers before questions have been completed; difficulty waiting in turn taking situations; interrupts or intrudes upon others.

Adults And ADHD

The majority of adults with ADHD have been described as experiencing symptoms similar to those suffered by children. They are often restless, impulsive, impatient, inattentive, and easily distracted. They have been described as experiencing problems with stress intolerance leading to greater expressed emotion. Within the workplace they may not achieve vocational positions or status commensurate with their intellectual ability. (Children and Adults with ADHD, 1999) The ADHD diagnosis in an adult is dependent upon careful assessment of an individual's history of childhood, academic, behavioral and vocational problems.

Ritalin Facts

The administration of Ritalin, or similar stimulant drug, has been the ADHD treatment used by many medical doctors. Unfortunately, Ritalin can be a dangerous and highly addictive drug. It is classified as a schedule II controlled substance, the same rating given to cocaine, opium, and morphine.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Ritalin's side effects include stunting of growth, depression, insomnia, nervousness, skin rash, anorexia, nausea, dizziness, headaches, abdominal pain, blood pressure and pulse changes, and Tourette Syndrome (a neurological condition characterized by body tics, spasms, screaming obscenities, and barking sounds.)

How IUCCA Upper Cervical Chiropractic Corrects ADHD Symptoms

An accurate assessment of an individual's upper cervical spine (upper neck) is necessary to determine whether a neck injury has caused ADHD symptoms. A practitioner of IUCCA Upper Cervical Chiropractic examines an individual's cervical spine during a spinal exam using computerized digital infrared imaging (a non-invasive, painless, computerized scan of a patient's spine) to monitor neurophysiology and specific x-rays of the upper neck to view the injured vertebrae. If a neck injury is found, specific adjustments are performed by hand to correct the misaligned vertebrae in the upper neck.

IUCCA u pper cervical chiropractic care works by correcting irritation to the central nervous system, the original cause of ADHD symptoms. Misalignments in the vertebrae of the upper cervical spine cause irritation to nerve pathways traveling between the brain and spinal cord and to the blood vessels traveling to the brain. By correcting the vertebrae in the upper neck, ADHD symptoms can be improved or eliminated.

Dr. Erin Elster is an IUCCA Upper Cervical Specialist and practices in Boulder, Colorado. Dr. Elster treats children and adults with many chronic conditions including migraine headaches, spinal pain, multiple sclerosis, vertigo, asthma, allergies, and recurring middle ear infections, to name a few. She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and Palmer College of Chiropractic, Iowa. Questions about Upper Cervical Chiropractic should be directed to Dr. Elster at (303) 442-5911 or browse her web site, www.erinelster.com.


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