On May 15, 2017, the Journal of Pediatric, Maternal & Family Health published a case study documenting the reduction of epileptic seizures in a four-year-old boy as a result of receiving chiropractic care. The Epilepsy Foundation states that "Epilepsy is characterized by unpredictable seizures and can cause other health problems." They continue, "Epilepsy is a spectrum condition with a wide range of seizure types and control varying from person-to-person."
The study authors point out that epilepsy is one of the most common neurological diseases, with the World Health Organization estimating that 50 million people suffer with this condition worldwide. In the United States it is estimated that 2.9 million people of all ages have epilepsy. Each year, 460,000 new cases are diagnosed in children under the age of eighteen years.
The authors offered a technical explanation of epilepsy by stating, "Seizures occur as a result of abnormal and asynchronous distribution of neuronal electrical discharges in the brain and can result from both increased excitatory synaptic neurotransmission or decreased inhibitory neurotransmission."
In children, frontal lobe epilepsy is the second most common type of epilepsy. The frontal lobe of the brain is responsible for motor functions, voluntary eye movements, speech and language abilities, and social competency. Epilepsy in children is often treated using a variety of antiepileptic drugs. These drugs are not effective in about 20% of the cases and come with a variety of adverse effects including slowed neurological development, decrease in cognitive and executive function, behavior difficulties, and learning disorders.
In this case, a 4-year-old boy was brought to the chiropractor by his mother. The boy had been suffering from daily seizures since birth. His mother was hoping to improve the quality of her son's life by reducing the frequency of his seizures. Shortly after birth, the mother noticed the seizures which seem to occur when her baby woke up from either a nap or deep sleep. The baby boy was later evaluated by his pediatrician and a pediatric neurologist, and was subsequently placed on an anti-epileptic drug. Over the next several months, the medications were changed in a failed attempt to control the seizures. After not seeing results from the medications, the boy was eventually diagnosed with intractable frontal lobe epilepsy at eighteen months of age.
A chiropractic examination was performed which included paraspinal thermography to determine heat variations at the spinal level to help determine when a chiropractic adjustment was needed. After obtaining parental permission, specific chiropractic adjustments were performed to correct vertebral subluxations.
At the second adjustment visit, the mother reported that her son had not had any seizures since receiving his first adjustment. Over a seven month period, the young boy continued to show improvement. His parents reported that they noticed improvements in their son's balance, speech, and a significant decrease in eye rolling. The boy has shown significant improvement in coordination, speech, and overall quality of life. The report noted that his medication has been reduced and the number of seizures the boy was having at the writing of the study had reduced to three to four seizures per week.
In their discussion, the authors point out that this case of chiropractic helping a patient with epileptic seizures is not isolated. "There is a significant body of research regarding chiropractic and seizures. Most are case studies where the chiropractor or patient reports are used to determine outcomes. These studies using chiropractic care show a positive relationship between the use of chiropractic care and the reduction of seizure episodes and associated symptoms."