The principle aim of this study was to determine the effectiveness of chiropractic manipulative therapy in the treatment of children with hyperactivity. Using blinds between investigators and a single subject research design, the investigators evaluated the effectiveness of the treatment for reducing activity levels of hyperactive children.
Data collection included independent evaluations of behavior using a unique wrist-watch type device to mechanically measure activity while the children completed tasks simulating school-work. Further evaluations included electrodermal tests to measure autonomic nervous system activity. Chiropractic clinical evaluations to measure improvement in spinal biomechanics were also completed. Placebo care was given prior to chiropractic intervention.
Data were analyzed visually and using nonparametric statistical methods. Five of seven children showed improvement in mean behavioral scores from placebo care to treatment. Four of seven showed improvement in arousal levels, and the improvement in the group as a whole was highly significant (p = 0.009). Agreement between tests was also high in this study.
For all seven children, three of the four principal tests used to detect improvement were in agreement either positively or negatively (parent ratings of activity, motion recorder scores, electrodermal measures, and X-rays of spinal distortions). While the behavioral improvement taken alone can only be considered suggestive, the strong interest agreement can be taken as more impressive evidence that the majority of the children in this study did, in fact, improve under specific chiropractic care.
The results of this study, then, are not conclusive, however, they do suggest that chiropractic manipulation has the potential to become an important nondrug intervention for children with hyperactivity. Further investigation in this area is certainly warranted.
Giesen JM, Center DB, Leach RA J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1989 (Oct);12 (5):353-363