It was once believed that the brain was incapable of generating new cells. Therefore, the conclusion was that the brain was incapable of healing once it had been damaged, either by injury or by disease. Brain injuries caused by concussions and blows to the head as well as the cognitive degeneration caused by Alzheimer’s, strokes, or tumors, were considered irreversible diseases that were unrepairable by treatment. Currently, much research has been done in the area of brain health. Researchers have conclusive evidence that the brain’s cells do heal and repair themselves. The brains ability to heal is called neuroplasticity.
Neuroplasticity (also called “brain plasticity”) can be defined as the brain’s ability to change, remodel and reorganize for the purpose of adapting to new situations. Despite the fact that the concept of neuroplasticity is relatively new, it is one of the most important discoveries in neuroscience. In short, neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to rewire itself. The neural pathways in the brain are continually altered and fine-tuned, especially in response to new information generated by learning, life experiences, practicing a skill, exercising, and environmental changes. Neuroscience now views the brain and its neural circuits as flexible and capable of changing throughout the course of a lifetime.
The science of neuroplasticity is huge. The brains ability to adapt and rewire can have an effect on many conditions. Not only brain injuries from head trauma like sports concussions, but also cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. In addition, how the brain works and functions within its neural pathways is directly related to and influences depression and anxiety, sensory issues, OCD, autism and addiction.
At present, the most commonly used therapies to repair the brain are: medications, injections, hyperbaric oxygen treatment (this is a game changer), cognitive therapy, and physical therapy to relearn motor and language skills. But new treatment options are also proving effective.
For instance, With the link between the spine and brain evident (the brain sends neural impulses through the spine), researchers have begun to look at how chiropractic may be used as a tool to help preserve positive neuroplasticity. Clinical studies have already begun, monitoring the effects of chiropractic on patients’ abilities to solve puzzles, multitask, and recall memories.
Some studies are already producing exciting findings, including a 3-year study comprised of 100 volunteers, presented at the International Research Symposium held at Sherman College held in South Carolina. The study monitored the mental activity of participants using electroencephalograms (EEG), comparing readings before and after chiropractic adjustments. In an overwhelming majority of readings, brain function showed improvements across the board.
In 2016, a study was published in the journal Neural Plasticity. The study revealed that chiropractic spinal adjustments changes brain function. Not only did the study take a documented look at brain function post-adjustment, it was studied and confirmed by an independent medical researcher. The researchers explained that this is solid scientific evidence that adjusting the spine changes the way the prefrontal cortex of the brain is processing information. It demonstrates that chiropractic care can change the way the brain works and shows that spinal function impacts brain function. One of the most interesting things about the changes observed was that the prefrontal cortex is responsible for behaviors, goal directed tasks, decision making, memory and attention, intelligence, processing of pain and emotional response to it, autonomic function, motor control, eye movements and spatial awareness. The study showed a change in brain function by almost 20% on average. This included significant changes in the prefrontal cortex.
More research is this area is being performed every day. It is exciting to know that chiropractic will have a role to play in the brain’s ability to rewire itself and help people with brain disorders, depression, anxiety, sensory issues and autism. Chiropractic’s positive effect on neuroplasticity will add another benefit to the list of reasons why preventative, maintenance chiropractic care is worthwhile for overall health.
Pregnancy / Prenatal Chiropractic Care Information: Many women ask if it is safe to exercise during pregnancy. All available data shows that regular exercise is beneficial during pregnancy for women who are in the low -risk pregnancy category.
General pregnancy health benefits:
- maintaining a healthy body shape
- regulating weight gain
- improving mental health by boosting a sense of well-being
- better sleep and stress relief
- preventing tiredness
Benefits related to the demands of pregnancy:
- preventing and managing constipation
- relieving back and pelvic pain
- preventing varicose veins
- improving circulatory health
- preparing the body for the immense demands of labor and reducing the risk of long labors and instrumental delivery such as with the help of forceps or vacuum
- reduced risk of preterm delivery
- reducing the risk of gestational diabetes, hypertension and of excessively large fetuses, and of childhood obesity in the offspring
- reducing the chances of emergency Cesarean section
The current recommendation by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) dating from 2015 is for 150 or more minutes of moderate exercise a week, or 20-30 minutes a day.
Any exercise is better than none, so even in those days when pregnancy feels like a miserable condition, the woman should be encouraged to exercise for a few minutes. Most women do drop a lot of their training time, particularly in the first trimester of pregnancy, but many active women pick it up in the second and third trimesters. Pregnancy allows a large range of exercise, including brisk walks, swims, water aerobics, pilates, yoga, and strength building (as long as the weights aren't too heavy). Running and jogging is fine for those who have already been doing so before they became pregnant. However, later in pregnancy, running may become uncomfortable and may be replaced with brisk walks.