Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a controversial diagnosis, as there are no clear objective clinical tests that can establish whether or not a patient has the condition. ADHD belongs to a spectrum of neurological disorders with no physiological basis (no clear lab tests exist) and often include other conditions such as learning disabilities, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or Tourette’s syndrome. Early-onset mania or bipolar mixed state can be difficult to differentiate from ADHD or they may co-exist with ADHD.
To complicate matters with regard to diagnosing ADHD, some kids may simply be at the high-end of the normal range of activity or have difficult temperaments. Poor attention may be caused by altered vision or hearing, seizures, head trauma, acute or chronic illness, poor nutrition, insufficient sleep, anxiety disorders, depression, and/or the result of abuse or neglect. Various drugs (such as phenobarbital) may interfere with attention as well.
Since the 1990s, the number of prescriptions to treat ADHD has skyrocketed 700%, possibly due to the increased awareness of the symptoms associated with ADHD and/or an increase in the diagnoses for ADHD, often demanded by frustrated teachers and/or parents. The classic medical model has embraced the use of Ritalin (methylphenidate) to treat ADHD. For parents who would like to explore other avenues of treatment, what can Chiropractic offer?
In a recent study involving 28 children aged 5-15 years with a primary diagnosis of ADHD, investigators randomly assigned 14 participants to a spinal manipulation (SM) group with conventional care and the other 14 to a control group (conventional care only). The researchers found the patients in the SM group experienced better outcomes based on several assessments and that a larger scale study would be necessary to verify their findings.
Nutrition may also have a role to play in the management of ADHD. In a 2015 study, researchers provided Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (a probiotic) to infants at six months of age and then followed them for the next 13 years. At age 13, six of the children in a placebo group had been diagnosed with either ADHD or Asperger syndrome while none of the kids in the probiotic group had been affected by either condition. The researchers concluded that probiotic use early in life may reduce the risk of neuropsychiatric disorder development later in childhood. We’ll cover this more next month…