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Get Ahead Kids - Vol. 5, No. 3- May/June 2013

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The "Little Brain" Plays a Big Role

By Dorte Bladt D.C.

Luke came to see me at my chiropractic practice recently - he was a real live wire. A gorgeous, happy four year old, who never stops! Mum and Dad were not too concerned: "He's a real boy. Great at sports, very strong; he just doesn't like to sit still." That was definitely evident!

As we talked more it became apparent that Luke's activity level did cause a bit of trouble; he never wanted to sit still and listen to storytime at pre-school or take part in painting or craft activities.

He wouldn't sit still to eat, watch a movie or play with toys. With 'big' school next year, the preschool had recommended that Luke come to see me for a check- up.

My suspicions were quickly confirmed as we started assessing Luke, but what the assessment showed was a huge surprise for Mum and Dad. While Luke was very good at running, jumping, kicking and catching, when we slowed his activities down, Luke did not perform well at all. He could not balance on one foot; he couldn't walk on his heels and couldn't coordinate marching on the spot. These are all signs that Luke's cerebellum, in the bottom part of his brain, was not working as well as we would like.

The cerebellum is the 'little brain' which controls the big brain. The cerebellum receives information from the senses about where we are in space, what our muscles are doing and what we are seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling and tasting.

The cerebellum decides what sensory information is sent on to the rest of the brain as well as to which part of the brain.

The cerebellum is involved in the following body functions:

  • Fine movement coordination
  • Balance & equilibrium
  • Muscle tone

The cerebellum is crucial for short-term memory, attention, impulse control, emotion, higher cognition and the ability to schedule and plan tasks. Cerebellar dysfunction has been documented in dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD, autistic spectrum disorder and schizophrenia.

The great thing for Luke is that chiropractic adjustments help the cerebellum function better by stimulating the nerve information which travels from the spine to the cerebellum. Sure enough, as we worked with Luke over a period of time, carefully and gently adjusting his spine, his cerebellum and behaviour started to improve.

The first thing Luke's parents noticed was his sudden interest in playing with his Lego. He could actually enjoy quietly playing by himself for several minutes. He then started being able to watch a whole program on the TV. The preschool commented that he took part in the quiet activities, and the fridge at home filled up with his colourful artwork. How exciting!

As well as chiropractic adjusting, we showed Luke some games to play at home with his sister. Games like playing blind statues: moving around the room with his eyes closed, and freezing like a statue at certain intervals. He also practiced standing on one leg, both with his eyes open and eyes closed.

Balance is controlled by information coming from your eyes, inner ear and special sensors in your neck. All that information has to be coordinated for you to be able to balance and not feel giddy. When you close your eyes, the cerebellum has to work a little bit harder to keep you balanced, so it is great exercise for that part of the brain.

Research shows that cerebellar dysfunction, if left uncorrected, continues to cause problems with learning and behaviour as children get older. Dr. Biedermann, a German surgeon who is also a manual therapist, has shown that the dysfunction in the spine which causes the cerebellar problem is often caused by a difficult or a very fast birth. Initially the baby may have symptoms such as colic, reflux, fussy breast feeding and poor sleep. If the spinal problem is not corrected by a chiropractor at that time, these symptoms will settle with time.

If the spinal problem is not addressed, the cerebellum continues not to function well and the symptoms change to learning, concentration and behaviour problems in school-age children.

It is therefore very important to get to these cerebellar problems as early as possible, before they cause learning delays, coordination trouble and self-esteem problems. We want our children to feel capable, competent and confident, to like school because it is fun and learning is easy. We want them to be successful and full of life. Just like Luke is now.

Signs of Cerebellar Dysfunction

  • Poor balance
  • Poor coordination
  • Difficulty performing rapid alternating movements
  • Rapid involuntary movements of the eyes

About Dorte Bladt

Dorte specialises in posture and spinal health. She checks your spine to assess if the bones, muscles or ligaments are working properly and will gently, safely and naturally correct it to allow the body and the nervous system to function better. Dorte also provides advice on which exercises would be beneficial as well as which position to sleep, stand and sit in for the best possible posture.

More Information

Dorte Bladt
Doctor of Chiropractic

Family Chiropractic Centre Charlestown
2 Lincoln St, Charlestown NSW 2290
P: 02 4942 4842


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