Making the Connections
In the past, when chiropractic patients needed to be assessed for potential neurological issues, there was little choice for referral other than a medical neurologist (and typically a surgeon). While that may have been the perfect choice for some patients, many times patients are not offered anything short of surgery or physical therapy.
In an introduction to the NeuroLIFE Institute, Dr. Guy Riekeman offered visiting chiropractors an overview of what functional neurology is and how it can help their practices grow in volume, in effectiveness, and in respect. Unlike chiropractic care for serious neuro-structural issues within the spine, in all but the most serious cases, functional neurological care is relatively quick – sometimes resolving issues in a single visit and seldom lasting more that two weeks. Best of all, functional neurology offered care is explained and delivered in a way that’s perfectly coordinated and congruent with our chiropractic principles and the care that they’re receiving.
What’s more, NeuroLIFE can provide doctors with the training to perform simple tests that take no more than 4-5 minutes, and can detect the presence of conditions that suggest the need for a more thorough neurological examination and referral to functional neurology.
Listen to Dr. Riekeman’s introduction, in the video below, and learn how chiropractors can work together with functional neurologists and, with the upcoming 100-hour course, learn how to augment your practice – and even better serve your patients – with functional neurology testing and the protocols for providing basic care.
A full transcript of the video is provided below the video.
We have prepared for you one of the most exciting sessions that I’ve ever participated in and that has to do with how functional neurology can apply in your practice. At Life University, we came up with a vision statement that starts off with a line that says, Our goal is to maximize the expression of people’s potential.
We think people have more potential for health – for compassion, for relationships, for forgiveness, for living in balance with their environment than what they’re expressing right now – at life University. Our goal is to help people realize that potential.
The second statement within our vision statement is that we believe that all organic systems in the universe, including the planet itself, are a self-developing, self-maintaining and self-healing system and that these systems work best when they’re free of interference. And of course, we’re human beings, we know that the system primarily responsible for how the organism functions internally, and how it relates to its external environment, is the nervous system.
In fact, we had a number of major conferences on the campus, in the area we call our Octagon, which is our think tank. And the first five years we were discussing vitalism, it became very obvious to us in this discussion of vitalism and its application to health care policy, that we were going to have to have a conversation about the nervous system. And so, we brought in neurophysiologists, neurologists, chiropractic functional neurologists, anatomists – and they sat in a room for a number of days having a discussion on the nervous system and they prepared a document and the executive summary said that we are our nervous system, in essence. Exactly what they said was that every single structure in the human body is there for one reason and one reason only and that’s to keep our nervous system alive and healthy.
So… as it goes through its process of conscious evolution in life. And so, we know that how the nerve system functions is how the organism is able to function, adapt, survive, and move forward in its environment. For example, we know that the nervous system is where we experience relationships, where our memory is, our consciousness, our growth and development. I know people all the time say, “I am in love with someone and I just feel it with all my heart.” Well, your heart doesn’t really fall in love; it’s an area in your brain. We may experience it in various parts of our body but it’s our brain that’s having this experience that we call being human. So, we are our nervous system and we know that there are interferences that can occur to the nervous system. When they do, they always produce three things: abnormal function, diseases, and infirmities – and ultimately reduce quality and quantity of life.
I just remember Superman, Christopher Reeve, fell off his horse. Because of the damage to his nerve system, he had malfunction in his body; in fact, some areas of his body, as we all know, didn’t function at all – what we call paralysis. He also wound up getting diseases that he wouldn’t have gotten had he not damaged his nerve system and therefore affected his immune system. In fact, on his death certificate it says he died of pneumonia. Something that you and I would probably easily fight off but his immune system was so compromised due to the damage to the nervous system that he couldn’t fight it off. And I don’t think anyone would disagree.
The quality of his life and certainly the length of his life, the quantity, was reduced because of damage to his nervous system. Nerve system damage in varying degrees always produces abnormal function, diseases, and infirmities and reduced quantity and quality of life. And finally, we know that there are three interferences to the nerve system. Physical traumas, everything from subluxation to concussion to falling off a horse and breaking your neck, to chemical and environmental toxins, pesticides in our food. Mercury in the fillings in our teeth. Mercury in the binders and vaccines, mercury in fish, etc. And then finally emotional stresses, whether it’s someone seeing their best friend blown up in a roadside bomb in Iraq or an eight-year-old girl perhaps being sexually abused. These traumas, emotionally, are recorded in our nervous system.
So, at Life University our goal with all of our programs is to find a way to reduce these interferences so the organism can be the self-developing, self-maintaining, self-healing organism that it can be and ultimately express more of its potential. Tonight. what we want to talk about is the relationship of chiropractic and functional neurology from a neurology standpoint. So, given all of that, I would say to you, if there were no listings in the Yellow Pages for, say, chiropractors; we had to either go in the section on neurology or the section on orthopedics, which section would you choose?
And I think today we’re well aware that chiropractic is about neurology. Our interest in the spine is because it affects neurology but if it was your nose it affected neurology we’d be more interested in your nose. So, when it all comes down it, it isn’t the spine of the business card or the crooked pen that makes a difference. It’s the nerve system and so the nervous system becomes of critical importance to us. Let me give you my own case.
I played basketball growing up through high school and college. And of course, back in those days, when you messed up your ankles (which I did hundreds and hundreds of times – micro-tears, some of them significant tears, two broken ankles on one side, three on the other) and of course, back then, they just kind of tape you up and sent me out to play the next night. And because of the tearing of the lateral ligaments, especially my ankles, in my thirties I would just shift my weight – in a movie line, for example, waiting to get into the theater – and instead of my ankles signaling my brain and catching me, I would just fall down, and over the years my ankles continued to degenerate until eventually my tibia wasn’t even above my talus any longer and I finally got to where I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t get 25 yards across the clinic or across the campus and was in a wheelchair.
And when I go to the airport to get to a seminar, I had to be taken in a wheelchair through the airport. They couldn’t replace ankles back then; hips and knees, yes, pretty simple joints in comparison. But all those tiny bones in the ankle – very, very complicated and they finally figured out how to do it. I was watching them, researched it for about five years with phenomenal results. And finally, it became public and I believe, according to my surgeon who did the operation on me, I was the sixth person in the southeast to have an ankle replacement. It took me a year; it took four surgeries, two on each ankle, one to rebuild all the muscles and ligaments, to straighten out the heel by cutting it off and realigning it to align the toes, et cetera.
And then the actual procedure to replace the ankle, with recoveries in between all of those, so literally it was a year of surgeries. And when I walked out with the cast on that last bit of recovery, it was the first time since I was in seventh grade that I could walk without pain. It was an amazing thing. But think about this: for almost 50 years of my life I had either no or inappropriate proprioceptive feedback coming from the lower part of my body. And so, there are areas in my brain that just literally, because they weren’t getting information, didn’t function, [they] weren’t coordinated and doing what they needed to do. So what had happened was, I had started to get tremors – what people would probably call early signs of Parkinson’s. I’s pick up a glass to drink it when I get about to this point, my hand would start to shake.
And so, I was getting adjusted, getting chiropractic care. But again, there were areas of my brain that weren’t functioning because of the trauma to the lower part of my body. And so I went in and they examined me. [During your tour of NeuroLIFE] you’re going to see some of the things they used to do that examination but one of them that I recall was wearing the VNG goggles. It’s a set of goggles you put on; you look at a computer screen and you see a dot move across the computer screen. And I was required to follow the dot for four minutes and I have to tell you, it was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do. I couldn’t stay focused. I wanted to go sleep in the middle of this four-minute exercise but I forced myself to stay there, stay conscious, stay calm, cognizant of what was going on.
And then at the end, they look on the computer and their first comment to me was, they said, “I bet you’re tired all the time.” I said, “I am; all the time.” They said, “I bet you can’t read a couple of page report without falling asleep.” And I said, “I used to read three to six hundred books a year and now I can’t read two pages without falling asleep in a book.” And the reason was, they showed me on the computer where my eye was. And then they showed me where the dot was and literally where I saw the dot was not where the dot was. It was over here. So all day long, with everything in my life, my eyes are constantly doing this, trying to bring my environment into focus.
And it’s one of the most tiring things for your brain that you can imagine. And so they laid me down and one of the experiments – or [rather] one of the tests – that they did on me, the exams, was I was lying on my back on a chiropractic adjusting table, had my shoes off, my toes pointed up; I couldn’t see them from my perspective. And they would either push my toe down, up, or leave it the same. And I had to tell them, it’s down, it’s up, it’s the same. So you figure there’s three options on each toe, potentially that’s 30 options. And I’ll tell you – and I’ve told them since – I guessed on almost every one of them.
In fact, the only reason…I thought I was getting one of them, I could feel – slightly – where their fingers were touching the toe. And I figured if I’m feeling on the bottom of my toe, then they’re obviously pushing that up. In actual fact, I missed over – I got three right and 27 wrong, if you will. And then they showed me what they’re doing because I thought they were doing just little subtle moves on my toe. They literally were bending my toe as far my toes as far as they could go in both directions. That’s how little appropriate information I had coming from the lower part of my body.
They adjusted me. They immediately did the exercise again and I got 15 out of 30 correct. Because we know that adjusting the spine affects how our brain functions, how our nerve system is working. But I also…knew that I had to get my brain, that had not been working for years, functioning correctly.
And so they gave me a series of exercises to do, which I did for four minutes every hour on the hour through the course of my day, with my computer, and literally, literally, not only did the tremors stop, my balance came back, but I could feel a whole different level of function because of chiropractic and functional neurology. We have seen some of the most amazing cases and of course the most famous one, perhaps, is when Sidney Crosby came had massive, massive damage to his vestibular brain due to two major concussions in Tampa Florida during the playoffs one year and he had tried everything. And nine months later he retired from the NHL. This kid who was the most valuable, youngest most valuable player player ever in the NHL.
He was having migraine headaches, he couldn’t skate, couldn’t see the puck, for all intents and purposes, when he was on the ice, had lapses in memory, all the signs that we would have with a concussion but his brain did not reorient and so he wound up at Life University and our functional neurology center. And with some of the equipment, again you’re going to be seen in this session [referring to a NeuroLIFE Institute “Neuro Night” tour], he was literally back on the ice within a week, announced his come back on ESPN shortly after that. Then it hit Sports Illustrated and he talked about his experience at Life University and our phones literally, literally shut down for three days because of the quantity of calls coming in from people around the world seeking help that they had been unable to find in any other format.
So, in the [Neuro Night] session, you’re going to learn how to use the information to know when patients need some help beyond chiropractic, in the area of the nervous system, in a way that’s perfectly coordinated and congruent with our chiropractic principles and the care that they’re receiving. We have a lot of specialists in our profession. But we don’t use them very effectively. I know when I went to the hospital for my ankles, the doc looked at my ankles and if he thought I had a problem or potential problem with infection, he sent me down the hall. There was a specialist there, the specialist saw me and sent me back to the original doctor. If he thought I had something else going on, he’d send me to a specialist, that specialist would see me for a while, then send me back because of their expertise. Then send me back to see him as he took me through this process of care.
Somehow in chiropractic, I don’t know if it’s because we’re so individualistic or because we think we’re so great at what we do that a lot of times we think, well, if the patient didn’t respond the way we thought they should in our office, we ship them off to the medical community. And of course, when they get there, we know with the opioid crisis as a metaphor, these people are going to be drugged, cut on, and very unsuccessfully in that process. And so in chiropractic we need to start learning how to refer within our profession to people that have specialties. For example, I was it was a great chiropractor. Every now and then I would come up against a case in pediatrics, a kid that was autistic, a kid that needed special attention.
And there are people that have studied three years, post-graduate courses in these areas, and I can send them or get advice from them about how to take care of these children and provide better care. And so, one of the things we’re going to talk about is how do you use functional neurology with specialized, difficult cases. We, for example, get a lot of the Navy SEALs coming in to see us at the functional neurology center, the NeuroLIFE Institute here at the [Midtown] Vital LIFE Health Centers, these people have tremendous problems, not only massive concussions but physical problems that are also related to the emotional traumas they’ve gone through fighting in the Middle East. And so, we have one, for example, that came in and he just, his brain was so affected that he could not remember things even in the short term.
His wife would literally send him to the store and give him a very short list: pick up some eggs, milk, and some butter – and he would get to the store and not even remember why he came to the store, much less remember what he was supposed to pick up. And he’d sit in the car and literally, literally, he cried because he knew he had to call up his wife and ask her again what he was doing, why he was there, what he was supposed to get. It’s amazing to see the people with care, and it always starts with chiropractic adjustment, and then the work we do with functional neurology. And within two weeks, all of that was taken care of. He was back and had his life back. We saw a man, for example, we see people also from the Amish community come down from Ohio, literally as a tribe of people. So, they don’t want to take drugs and they’re looking for other options.
And I remember there was one man, he’d had a stroke, and for two years he had not been able to lift his arm away from his side. He couldn’t pick up a spoon, couldn’t move it, couldn’t hold the pencil, literally couldn’t do anything. And his goal – and it’s amazing how sometimes we think, gosh…someone has to be able to run a marathon in order for us to say things have been successful. But his goal was literally to be able to touch his nose. He hadn’t been able to move that arm in two years. And I remember the last day before he left we had it on tape. He brought his arm up and he started pulling his arm up like this, which he hadn’t done in two years, and was able to touch his nose and literally everybody in the room cried.
So there are some amazing things that we’re doing with these difficult cases that can support what we’re doing in adjusting in our offices. And then, you know, sometimes there are some steps between chiropractic and medicine.
And functional neurology is that first step and sometimes even if we have one working here there’s a neurologist in our building that found phenomenal results with chiropractic and he sends all of his patients to chiropractors first before he does more dramatic therapies with them. And so you need to look at this as a continuum of care, not chiropractic or medicine, but how we can use some of the understanding we have of the nerve system and specialties in our field with these difficult cases. And then of course I’m sure all of us in our practices have had to deal with work comp and personal injury cases. And as we know insurance companies deal with us strictly on the most recent episode and symptomatology and once that’s gone, they think that the patient is back in in full force. And of course, we know that isn’t true and especially in today’s world we know that when someone has a whiplash injury, for example in a personal injury case, a lot of times they have serious rattling of their brain, concussion.
And even though the symptoms may not show up for years down the road, they need to be examined for these things. And so, there’s a way that we can, in functional neurology, test and know when their brain is working correctly and back to normal or whether, even though it may not be grossly symptomatic, there are problems still in the brain. Then there are people that also need to just sort of reorient like I did, what we called neurological re-integration movement. We need to get certain areas of their brain working correctly so that they are moving and functioning and adapting in their environment more successfully.
And then of course, we see a lot of children with ADHD, children with dyslexia, children with autism. In fact, this neurologist that’s going to be moving into our building, actually came to the functional neurology center – we get a lot of neurologists here to see what we’re doing because all they have in their pocket is drugs. And so they see patients getting well with chiropractic and functional neurology. And so, this neurologist came in, it wasn’t unusual to us. Later we found out he was really coming in to find out why this was quackery. And he’s actually the head of neurology at one of the hospitals here in Georgia. And the first day he came in there was an autistic child in the corner.
You couldn’t approach him, couldn’t talk to him, couldn’t touch him. The next day when he came in, the kid was running around the office high fighting everybody in the office and he said, boy, something important and magical is happening here. So, we see a lot of kids, especially kids with developmental problems and sometimes parents don’t see these things. In our work with the Atlanta birth center here we’ve seen children that, six months, a year later – we like to examine them at six months and a year, just to make sure they are developing correctly. But we have one child that was born and everything seemed to be OK and then they started noticing that at a year, a year and a half, he couldn’t eat and digest solid food. And so, they brought him in and our functional neurologists and chiropractors examined him and they noticed that with the issues he had, that his arm had didn’t leave his right side ever.
And the parents had never noticed that. They went home that night, pulled out pictures going all the way back to his birth and they noticed that his arm had never left his side. So we were able to see things that the parents couldn’t see. We were able to, before they went a medical route, get him under chiropractic care, use functional neurology in a matter of weeks he was taking in solid food, digesting food, et cetera. So, we see a lot of children.
And then on the other end of the scale, we see high performance athletes who are coming in here, for example, they don’t have a problem, they’re not trying to prevent a problem. They’re trying to increase their reaction times with the support we can give them to the nervous system.
Baseball players, for example, that come in – they’re going to have to stand in front of a pitcher throwing a baseball at them between 80 and 100 miles an hour from 90 feet away. And…they’ve discovered that the person has to make a decision about swinging when the ball is 18 inches out of the pitcher’s hand. They’re not waiting until it gets close to the plate tp make that decision; they have to make that decision within literally about a foot or two of the ball leaving the pitcher’s hand. Their ability to have a nervous system reacting quickly and intuitively, innately, is critical and so we see a lot of athletes who are looking for high performance. So, we’re developing a number of programs for people to participate in.
First, there’ll be a Master’s program offered through Life University, a two year program that will be online with some residency on campus. We’re also developing, we’ll be starting at the end of this year a 100-hour certificate course, which is a very practical kind of course on how you can use functional neurology in your practice. And for this session we’re going to be spending a couple of hours talking about how you can examine patients and know when they need functional neurology and how to refer patients to the functional neurology center here for a short amount of care. And then they come back to your practice. So. We’re going to get into it in just a few moments. Functional neurologists are going to be working with you. We’ll be talking about the theory behind it. We’ll be looking into how we handle various cases and patients and then they’ll be talking to you about the materials and exams that you can literally do in four or five minutes in your practice, when you see someone and you can examine their nervous system and see how they’ll function.
In our functional neurology center, we do not have patients necessarily, or very few, that come in on a regular basis. This is not like that kind of chiropractic office. Patients that are in this area that do that, they get their chiropractic care in our area at the Vital LIFE health Center. But the functional neurology area is generally used for patients anywhere from a visit to two weeks at a time. So, what you won’t lose when you send a patient to the function neurology center is, you won’t lose a patient. They’re here for a short period of time for some special work and then they come back to you with all of their records and the information so that you can follow through on their care back in your practice. What you will gain is respect of the patient; what you will gain is prestige that this is part of our profession and part of your practice; what you will gain is the trust of people that you’re doing the best that you possibly can for them. Here at Vital Atlanta, we have a lot of services; we think it’s a health care system of the future.
We have a birthing center that is run by the Atlanta Birth Center. They’re able to see children obviously on a prenatal basis, sensitive care, and then provide them something other than a hospital birth, for a sensitive birth with family participating. We have a chiropractor available to them at every one of the births for both the moms and the children. And we have a package, if you will, that when people come and want their children and their prenatal care done at the Atlanta Birth Center, they can get all of their chiropractic care, have us available at the birth, and then also have us check their child at six months and a year after that in functional neurology to make sure they’re developing correctly. We have a family psychologist that works with us at Vital Atlanta. A lot of people are having difficulty getting pregnant a lot of people have lost children. And so, they work with families in these kinds of situations.
And then we have a naturopathic physician that works here. When we look at someone that’s taking a lot of meds, obviously in chiropractic, we don’t take people off drugs but we have people that can help us analyze that and move them off drugs. So we have this beautiful facility to take care of people not only at birth, but their families ,and throughout the early part of their life. And then on the chiropractic side, we have chiropractic care and functional neurology. We have some beautiful classes in kinesiology and positive thinking. There are educational classes for patients in our practice. It is literally, literally, the place that we can take care of people from birth to 101, not only for most of their initial intensive care problems but their corrective care issues as well, as being part of their lifetime wellness care.
And in those rare cases when something is needed beyond that, we have a neurologist that always supports chiropractic. And then ultimately in the background, of course, as always the medical community, where they should be when everything else has failed and we’re in an emergency situation. Last comment, and then I’ll let you get busy. The other day we had a call come down from the Atlanta Birth Center and they said we have a woman that is in labor, 23 hours, the baby is not rotating, stuck up in the pelvis. We think we might have to transport her over to the hospital. Of course, we know that means C-section. We also know, based on research today, that C-section means the next time she gets pregnant the placenta grows into that scar tissue. And I just read an article in California; it’s an epidemic that the state is trying to work on, women who are bleeding to death because when the placenta pulls away the second time after a C-section, they can’t stop the bleeding.
Anyway, they said, we may have to ship her to the hospital. And they said, can you come down and check her? She had not been in the chiropractic care, so one of our doctors, Bryna Waters, went down, checked her out, adjusted her atlas, did some of the Webster maneuvers with her, and within about 30 to 45 minutes, the baby is out. Mom and baby are OK. We checked them chiropractically. This is the office of the future. Same people with chiropractic care from birth throughout the course of their lifetime. And being the person that they go to for their health advice, even when necessary, to go into other fields and other professions and emergencies. This is what we think is the future of chiropractic.
Thank you. Have a great evening and enjoy and learn and we’ll see you the next time around.