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Neurological Rehabilitation Facilitated by Acupuncture and Chiropractic

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LEXINGTON Neurology provides an inclusive and descriptive base that encompasses several serious health problems faced by today’s patient. These domains include disorders of the spinal cord, the peripheral and autonomic nervous systems, the cerebellum, vestibular, and basal ganglia systems, muscular/ neuromuscular junction receptors, sensory and neuroendocrine systems, as well as neuroanatomy neurophysiology dilemmas. Chiropractic and acupuncture protocols have worked synergistically to assist in the complementary care of the following neurological problems: foot drop, vertigo and balance problems, movement difficulties, visual disturbances and eye fatigue, memory and concentration challenges, dystonia, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, post stroke rehabilitation, ADHD and learning disorders, peripheral nerve injuries, neuropathies, radiculopathies such as numbness and pain from traumatic injury.

Chiropractic therapy has become an integral part in aiding neurological problems by applying principles found in Functional Restoration Rehabilitation (FRR). Chiropractic neurology recommends treatments known as afferent stimulation. This includes the use of elements in our physical environment that are non invasive and non surgical. Chiropractic adjustments, brain exercises, light, heat, water, sound, and electrical stimulation are some examples. Concepts started by FRR in the 1970s are commonly used in the modern chiropractic practice. Chiropractic methodology has assisted many patients to break out of the depression and disability of previous intractable pain. FRR concepts and principles are fully described and referenced by Robert Gatchel PhD in his MMPI Disability Profile in Spine Dec.1, 2006.

Two certifying chiropractic neurology boards fully describe complementary chiropractic involvement in the diagnosis and treatment of neurological problems. These are the American Chiropractic Neurology Board (ACNB) and the International Board of Chiropractic Neurology (IBCN). Both of the boards involve extensive post graduate education and examination beyond the regular chiropractic educational degree.

Acupuncture has provided well documented results in reducing neurological pain from several diagnosed illnesses. Trauma, infection, nerve degeneration, exposure to toxic chemicals, shingles and diabetes are some of the many conditions producing neurological pain. Specific point stimulation by acupuncture needles release neurotransmitters and opioids to reduce painful, sensitive areas. Acupuncture activates nerve receptors that block pain signals. Electrical stimulation of the needles alters the bodys electrical system and allows a transfer of material and electrical energy to restore biochemical and physiological balance to the damaged tissue. This is referred to as “the restoration of Qi.” An acupuncture treatment to specified points will restore the proper flow of the excessive or deficient Qi. This reduces the amount of recovery time in many conditions. This information is studied and incorporated by all properly trained acupuncturists and described clearly in a recent article by Glenn Hensle L.Ac of Newport, California.

Extensive research in acupuncture’s effect on neurological dilemmas and diagnoses is found in Acupuncture Therapy for Neurological Diseases by Dr. Ying Xia of Yale University School of Medicine and Drs. Xiaodong Cao, Gencheng Wei, and Jieshi Cheng of the Shanghai Medical College of Fudan University. Val Hopwood and Clare Donnellan in their book Acupuncture and Neurological Conditions also provide a spectacular view into a similar evidenced based approach to acupuncture’s positive effect. Both treatises provide clear clinical options from a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Western medical perspective.

A most recent study published in the Journal of the American Society of Neurorehabilitation suggests that acupuncture provides “statistically significant benefits in physical functioning and recovery when used as an adjunct to conventional stroke rehabilitation measures.” This was a study initiated by a grant to the Emperors College of Traditional Oriental Medicine five years ago. This was a study conducted at the Daniel Freemans Rehab Center of inpatient stroke rehabilitation in Los Angeles. This study rests alongside an estimate by the American Heart Association that there are between 500,000 – 750,000 strokes in the U.S. each year resulting in 150,000 deaths.

Thus, a sincere effort to elucidate complementary therapies for neurological problems is a societal imperative.


Dr. Charles Metzker, DC, CAc is a licensed/ certified chiropractor and acupuncturist. He can be reached at his Lexington practice (859) 268-4111.