Experiences with Spinal Manipulative Therapy

I often find myself thinking about the permeating thought that people come in and out of one’s life with a purpose. This thought touches deeply upon my own faith in God and his ability to guide us towards the best possible outcome wherever life take us at any given point in time. Frequently I remind myself that specific collisions are not always meant for the betterment of myself, but rather perhaps more geared towards the one who seeks for something more. I struggle a lot with making sense of this world, organizing and consolidating into tinier little more digestible packages for my mind and heart to process. However, maybe that’s how I’m able to remain so positive in life, despite the challenges of Cerebral Palsy, by focusing more on trusting my own power to persevere and re-solve whatever perceived problem life throws my direction…

To set you up for the story I’m about to tell, we have to travel back to my childhood. Growing up in a small town has it’s advantages with regard to it’s sense of community. Some of my fondest memories were Wiffle Ball, or Kickball games in the backyard with neighbors down the street. Sometimes we’d also rally around the television to have a Power Pad tournament on the original NES too. There was about 5 or 6 of us all within a couple years of each other and throughout elementary, it made for some great times after school. One day I was introduced to a cousin of my neighbor named Heath. Outside of having one of the coolest Nintendo games I’ve ever seen, Heath seemed a little more aware about the world around him. At the time, I didn’t completely recognize nor see the value in such a future gilded trait, but apparently it was enough to leave a lasting impression. I saw Heath very infrequently and as the years past by the memory of those interactions faded, almost forgotten…

Power Pad

Flash forward until about two years ago. I’m 28 and the close thing to a  ‘Power Set’  I play these days is on the Leg Press. I was set deep in the hole to maximize my range of motion and getting ready for my first attempt at pressing 400 pounds. I was very close to getting this a few times before, but it kept eluding me. Call it the survivor in me, call it the warrior. I looked down at my wristband and thought this would be the day. I was hell bent on my own success… Unfortunately, It wasn’t meant to be. I pushed it too far, and this time bit off a little more than I could chew. I hurt myself, badly. For several days I could not bend at the waist. I was miserable and in agony. I quickly became depressed as mentally I thought my lifting career was over. Physically – well, I couldn’t have thanked my girlfriend at the time enough. She did quite a bit for me. Best of all, she quelled the anxiety and animosity I had against myself in order to seek some professional help. As it’s been said, ‘When you are down to nothing, God is up to something’.

My father had been a great football player back in his prime playing high school, college and even signing as a free agent to the Philadelphia Eagles. He had been introduced to chiropractic care and espoused it’s benefits for as long as I could remember. Having CP, chiropractors in general had always been on my radar due to the different length in my legs as well as having mild scoliosis. Chiropractic treatments used as an adjunct to physical therapy certainly warranted further investigation. Since my injury was specific to the back, instead of seeking the advice of my PCP who didn’t work with too many athletes, the day of finding a good chiropractor came sooner than ever anticipated. Initially, I tried getting in with the same doctor my father saw. No luck there, $ 300 upfront for X-Rays and wouldn’t accept my insurance. I started asking around my gym a bit for recommendations and to my surprise, quite a few dropped the same name – Altland. The name didn’t ring any immediate bells, but it was unique enough in my world that it came with an odd familiarity. I called the number I was given and was set-up with an appointment for the following week.

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After filling out the standard medical history forms and liability waivers the day of, I was taken back to one of the treatment rooms. Prior to the doc seeing me, I was given some percussion massage while laying on my stomach with my head buried into the table. “Hey, I don’t know if you remember me? … but I surely remember you.”, a voice said. OK, that’s not hard, I chuckled to myself. Being blessed with the CP curse, it has provided a heightened perspective to the world around me. I know what it’s like to be both popularized and discriminated against for something beyond my control. I’ve been able to live on both sides of the tracks. Merely due to just who I am, people know me. Sometimes without me really knowing them. He continued to talk. His voice combed the Rolodex of my mind… it was Heath! Wow, I thought. This is crazy. From that moment forward, my mind was at ease. Heath was going to be my new body mechanic and I had complete faith I was in good hands. He educated me on the value of custom orthotics and talked to me a bit about nutrition. What made my initial treatment such a breeze was that we were on the same page. Heath’s insight was refreshing and found his genuine concern for my well-being to be second to none. I had always thought my left (CP side) leg was shorter than my right. To my surprise, my right is shorter due to bearing most my weight on that side causing major imbalance. Compounding that issue, I also have more muscle mass on my right side. This causes my spine to naturally shift causing disc problems effecting my gait and balance. To me, this information was invaluable. Heath taught the importance of stretching daily, especially my hamstrings as they can be notoriously tight for those affected by Cerebral Palsy. Truly an incredible guy who has help me immensely, probably more than I could ever repay. He’s exactly the type of person I find even myself inspiring to be like. That aside, it took about 8 weeks to get feeling close to normal. Since that time, I’ve visited Heath in his office once a month for a tune up both mentally and physically. I didn’t just stop with aligning my spine. Heath has had this innate ability to set my mind right too, providing me an outlet for mental clarity and perspective … the toadal lift!

If you were ever on the fence about chiropractic care for you or a loved one, I say do it. It has been nothing but a rewarding experience for myself. I can honestly say I’ve been overwhelmingly pleased with the results. When your spine is not properly aligned, you could lose more than half of your total nerve and muscle function. Think about what this could mean for those of us with CP… an even greater reduced quality of life. A good qualified licensed chiropractor can treat kids, even pets. With regular treatments, I was finally able to press that 400 pounds and then some. Today, I’m virtually pain free. My overall sense of balance and range of motion has improved. I have better digestion, leading to increased nutrient uptake. Also my tactile hypersensitivity has also been reduced. In my humble opinion, chiropractic care is not junk science. Like with any doctor, do your research and get recommendations. Good and bad doctors abound, my store was worth sharing in the hopes of helping others. Over the course of the next year, Heath has plans to work with me on a new technique which apparently has been touted as a potential “cure” for CP from the pioneer of this method. A bold claim, I know. I am extremely skeptical, but trying to keep and open mind that it will elicit some additional positive effects. The technique centers around optimizing the body’s ability to re-energize, repair and perhaps regenerate both myelin and meninges. As I previously hinted in my post: Eat Your Sprouts!, it is essentially important for all of us, including those affected with CP, to consume generous amounts of vitamins B-1, B-6, B-9, B-12, magnesium, and sulfur along with omega-3 fatty acids, choline and iodine. These nutrients provide the raw building materials needed to insulate healthy myelin, setting the environment needed to lessen the effects of Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, and you guessed it – Cerebral Palsy. So stay tuned, updates to follow.

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One Response to Experiences with Spinal Manipulative Therapy

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