Chiropractic Research Update

Children with ADHD have significantly disordered eye-tracking, something Dr Alice Cade, Chiropractor, noticed in her practice.  Their eyes jump around and have more forward and backwards movements (saccades) when trying to read. What Dr Cade also noticed was that with chiropractic adjustments children’s eye-tracking improves.  Co-ordinated and smooth eye tracking is vital in learning to read, and children with ADHD often suffer from poor reading abilities.  This may be one of the factors that lead them to worse educational and job outcomes and a poorer quality of life.  
As a part of her master’s degree Dr Cade has designed a study that aims to investigate the relationship between a single session of chiropractic and eye-tracking control in children with ADHD. This study has been co-funded by the Australian Spinal Research Foundation and the CCNP. In the study Dr Cade will test 30 children in a randomised controlled crossover trial in the next few months.  The ethics application is being processed, we have the equipment ready and we are raring to go!
Dr Aisha Strand, Chiropractor, is leading the autism study at the Centre for Chiropractic Research as a part of her master’s degree. This study will investigate the effects of chiropractic adjustments on sensorimotor and multi-sensory integration in children with ASD. Children with ASD have clear social interaction issues, however, they seem also to exhibit dysfunctional motor learning and control (poor balance, dyspraxia, poor handwriting skills, clumsiness or difficulty avoiding obstacles, frequent delay in reaching motor milestones (often by several months) and difficulty with postural control).  Some people with ASD never reach the same level of motor control as an adult without ASD. 

Interestingly, there seems to be an association between the level of motor dysfunction and the severity of social autistic symptoms. Some suggest that these motor control impairments seen in ASD may be a result of disrupted sensorimotor integration (SMI) and abnormal multisensory integration (MSI).
The ASD study we are conducting is in the final stages of development. There has been a lot of background research taking place, brainstorming and going back to the drawing board to ensure that we can identify the best outcome measures to use. One aspect that has been considered of high importance during this process is to include at least one measure that is clinically relevant for chiropractors.  To identify an outcome measure that is simple enough to perform in practice, yet robust enough to be used in research, and of course reflects changes in central sensory processing. The aim of this is to make the translation of research into clinical practice an easier process for Chiropractors who provide care for children with autism.
When completed these studies will help us to better understand how chiropractic care affects sensorimotor and multisensory control in children with neurodevelopmental disorders. The support of the CCNP has been vital to allow us to conduct these projects.