Answers to Questions about Chiropractic:
Does a Child with Cerebral Palsy
Need Subluxation Correction?

Samuel Homola, D.C.

Question

A child with cerebral palsy (CP) has been diagnosed with "cervical, thoracic, and lumbar subluxations." The chiropractor says that the child's condition is related to microtraumas associated with not having muscular control of his head and body while being transported, periodically subjecting him to bouncing around in a car or wheelchair. At this time, there is no other way to transport him without putting him in postural-stressed positions that predispose him to conditions causing the subluxations.

Based on the information above, which is described by the chiropractor as causing a high degree of structural distortion and dysfunction of the spine, the chiropractor is recommending non-force chiropractic adjustments of the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine three times a week for four weeks in a "supportive care" program. After four weeks, he will be re-examined to determine progress and stability.

At this time, our benefit does not allow for chiropractic care for children under the age of 16. The child in question is thirteen years of age. Is chiropractic treatment of children with CP an acceptable practice in the medical community?

Answer

The "subluxations" you describe reflect a metaphysical concept that has no basis in reality. Although massage, manipulation, muscle stretching, and other physical treatment methods might help relieve symptoms caused by spastic and contracted muscles, there is no reason to believe that children with CP would have "cervical, thoracic, and lumbar subluxations" that need be corrected with chiropractic adjustments. Treatment of such "subluxations" is typically endless, as determined by "periodic evaluation."

Since CP is a lifelong condition, assistance and guidance by physical therapists and vocational rehabilitation specialists would be helpful in developing maximum independence and future potential. But there are no "subluxations" that can be corrected or prevented with "non-force chiropractic adjustments."

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Dr. Homola is a second-generation chiropractor who has dedicated himself to defining the proper limits on chiropractic and to educating consumers and professionals about the field. His 1963 book Bonesetting, Chiropractic, and Cultism supported the appropriate use of spinal manipulation but renounced chiropractic dogma. His 1999 book Inside Chiropractic: A Patient's Guide provides an incisive look at chiropractic's history, benefits, and shortcomings. Now retired after 43 years of practice, he lives in Panama City, Florida.

This page was posted on August 27, 2002.