We often get the question, “But, do these kids also have back pain?”. While the answer may be “yes” or “no,” the deeper question here is “Why does a child need a chiropractor?”. There are many reasons why you may come for a consultation but equally, there are many reasons why you may bring in your child/children to the chiropractic office as well. Many of them even start just before they are born, as their soon-to-be mom comes in for care. We see kids of all ages, as in our office we focus on how the spine interferes with the function and development of their nervous system. In this blog post, we will focus on a specific condition due to which many parents bring their child in to see the chiropractor.


Functional Disconnection Syndrome


Functional Disconnection Syndrome (SDS) is a term used by Dr. Robert Mellilo in his book “Disconnected Kids” to describe the condition in which areas of the brain, especially the two halves or hemispheres, don’t communicate properly as a result of an electrical imbalance. Therefore, the brain cannot function as a whole. The result is that a child with a brain imbalance may have exceptionally good skills associated with higher functioning areas of the brain, and poor skills associated with the underactive areas of the brain.


“In order for the brain to function normally, the activities in the right and left hemispheres must work in harmony, much like a concert orchestra. When a certain function can’t stay in rhythm, it can throw the entire hemisphere off key, so the other side tries to tune it out. This can cause disharmony to such a degree that the two sides can no longer effectively share and integrate information. The brain becomes functionally disconnected.”


The infrastructure of the nervous system is highly complicated. The left hemisphere, for example, is responsible for activating the muscles of the right side of your body. Whereas your muscles are activated by a specific center of control in your brain, the fine-tuning and coordination of these movements is controlled by another part of the brain. You can clearly see how important it is for the overall coordination of your body for all of these areas of the brain to be perfectly synchronized.


The left and the right hemispheres are also associated with different functions and traits. The right side of the brain is the more emotional side and is very good at picking up non-verbal communication. It also senses and feels the whole body, its position in space, and it registers information from the environment through the special senses. Where the right brain creates a bigger picture, the left brain focuses on the details. The left brain controls the small muscles and the fine motor skills. It turns the different sounds of letters and syllables into language and it is overally the linear and logical brain.


In another blog post we will go more deeply into the interplay between both sides of the brain, but for now it is good to realize that when one side of the brain is underactive or overactive, this will directly affect a multitude of these functions related to the imbalanced hemisphere.


How does this happen to kids?


We are born with about 100 billion brain cells, and yet this is only about 25 percent of the weight of what a full-grown adult brain will weigh. Just like any other organ in the body, the brain cells, called neurons, will grow but more importantly, they will make countless connections with other neurons so they can communicate with each other. During the early years of brain development, from the womb to young adulthood, the two different sides of the brain don’t grow in the same pace. From the womb and right after birth, the right side of the brain starts to grow first. This is the typical “observation phase” where the infant explores its environment and learns how to use their body. Around the age of three, the focus switches to the left side of the brain. Now, the toddler gets into the famous  “why” phase. They now develop language skills and start to investigate the details of the world around them. The focus in the stages of brain development that follow continues to swing left and right in a perfect rhythm and timing, building new neurons and pathways and strengthening others as the brain regulates and finely tunes each new behaviour.


How can we monitor this process?


Many moms are aware of the developmental milestones that paediatricians check to monitor the growth and development of their new-born baby. These are simple measurements like the child’s weight or height, the presence and absence of what is called “primitive reflexes,” and the typical milestones like picking up the head, crawling and walking. But what do these milestones mean for the developing brain and nervous system of your child?

Mellilo explains:


“Every biologically important event, from the recognition of a mother’s smile or a father’s voice to sitting, crawling, walking and talking, is the result of new connections, producing electrical excitation between neurons within the synaptic loop. The Kodak-moment milestones that parents anxiously await are markers of synaptic development and signs of normal neural growth.”


In the greater process of brain development, one new skill leads to another new skill and there is a planned sequence to it within an expected timeline. All new skills are built on the skills the child has already acquired, therefore no skills should be skipped. When milestones are skipped, this means that some connection was not yet made neurologically. If a child is not exposed to the proper stimulation at the right time, neurons that were supposed to create new connections and thus set a new milestones miss their moment. When this happens too often or during critical times in the development of the brain, it may disrupt the brain’s natural growth pattern leading to a slowdown in a key growth area. This causes the side of the brain, having missed the connections, to slow down whilst the opposite side stays on track.


The brain cannot perform at optimal speed if it is not synchronized


The consequences of a developing brain that is not synchronized is that the child may fall behind the pack. Mellilo states: “Proof now exists that this communication problem is responsible for a myriad of behavioural, social, and learning difficulties.” With chiropractic care we can remove interference on the nervous system and interrupt maladaptive neurological patterns. Together with simple homework exercises we can help the brain of the child to reconnect and integrate !! …


We at the Chiropractic Institute see children with spinal issues, neurological problems, or merely for the sake of a regular check. Call us to find out how we may help you and your child/children.