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One of the most incredible experiences I have had was the first time I saw a newborn get adjusted. It was several years ago, in Durango, and the infant was 3 days old. She was not eating or eliminating anything and had a mucus-filled nose. The new parents were beside themselves with angst. I went with my husband, also a chiropractor, for a home visit.
The baby was having some difficulty breathing when we arrived. Jay placed the infant on her mother’s belly and began to assess her little nervous system. He determined that her atlas-the first vertebrae in her neck- was impinging the flow of information from the brain to the rest of her body. In addition, her sacrum was slightly rotated…both likely due to her delivery into this world. He lightly adjusted her pelvis and her cervical spine. Much to her mother’s delight, she began taking milk immediately, her nose began to discharge a fair amount of mucus, and within two minutes her bowels moved.
It is not uncommon for children to suffer what we refer to as subluxation at birth. Vacuum extraction, forcep delivery, epidural, c-sections all are contributing factors to children brought into this world with spinal misalignment. Where this becomes an issue is left unaddressed, the resulting symptomatology becomes elusive from a medical perspective; chronic ear or sinus infections, reflux, torticollis, constipation, stomach ailments, difficulty nursing, and the list goes on. Left to father time, we can often correlate such challenges as tonsillitis (chronic), irritable bowel, scoliosis, what we commonly call attention deficit, hyperactivity, inability to focus, behavior issues; the list is endless.
Witnessing the transformation of the child I described above in Durango and the resulting change in the family within minutes of the adjustment reiterated the power of the intelligence within each of our bodies to function optimally…when the obstacles that may inhibit that intelligence are removed.
The role of chiropractic care in both adult and child is to restore balance to the nervous system: the brain, the spinal chord and all the related structures. Any number of what the body views as overwhelms may result in a nervous system that is fascilitated. Physical overwhelm, such as a birth trauma, mental or emotion overwhelm, or chemical such as a vaccine or drug reaction all impact the way a being or body operates and functions in their environment.
An infant or child has a much greater ability to simply and easily clear the trauma from their system if adjusted. Not clearing the nervous system can result in habituated patterns that become imbedded in the structure or system and are more challenging to clear quickly and easily. A child’s musculoskeletal system, the means in which the nervous system is addressed in chiropractic care, is more flexible and pliable, softer and generally quite receptive to a chiropractic adjustment. Rarely is an adjustment painful to a child. I have found, however, that the release of gas in a joint capsule can startle a child, or parent, if not addressed with them beforehand as part of the educational process involved.
Chiropractic care differs from massage in that an adjustment affects the nervous system while massage deals with soft tissue structures, lymph or organs. Massage is a wonderful tool and a great way for parents to bond with their children and quite theraputic when done via a certified massage therapist. It does not, nor does physical therapy, address the nervous system. Massage is also of great benefit to a pregnant mother in relaxing the tissues and body in preparation for birth. Massage, coupled with adjustments to insure freedom of the pelvis for movement before and during deliver and the ever-critical component of the free nervous system, encourage a wonderful birth process. Home birth, due to its very design and nature, encourages a less stressful process, both for the mother and the child, and can result in a freer nervous system simply by the lack of interventions that place stress on the babys system.
Most chiropractors that work with children take additional educational programs through the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association. Modules are designed specifically for assessing and adjusting infants and children, and for such specialized techniques as the Webster Breach Technique which is utilized for a pregnancy that is breech in late term to assist the body in turning the baby without manipulating the fetus to do so.
Fortunately, research is becoming more prevalently published and more accessible for parents who have a question about the efficacy, safety and the need for pediatric chiropractic care. Two excellent websites with prolific links to journal articles and published research are www.icpa4kids.com and www.icapediatrics.com.
Chiropractic’s intention is to keep your Nervous System clear. We have no way of knowing what symptoms will be relieved as a result of the nervous system being brought to dynamic equilibrium or optimal function. What we can say with certainty is that we are better off clear and free in the spinal column and the nervous system.
Children respond quickly to a free and clear system. If you have witnessed a room full of children, playing, laughing, enjoying the moment, there can never be a doubt as the role of a nervous system functioning optimally, and an innate intelligence left to play in a field of dreams.