The treatment, cure and prevention of neurodegenerative diseases of the brain and cord has entered a new era. One of the driving forces behind the change is modern imaging equipment. Many things that were once hidden are now being revealed.
New imaging equipment, such as CT and MRI brain scans allow physicians to see the brain and cord clearly and up close in phenomenal and unprecedented detail. They can also highlight the arteries and veins and capture blood flow. In addition to blood flow, specialized Cine MRI shows cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flow. It can even show the subtle respiratory movement of the brain and cord. Upright MRI scanners, as seen in the picture, are starting to reveal even more.
Duplex doppler ultrasound is another excellent clinical tool for visualizing arteries and veins, as well as blood flow. Color Coded Duplex Doppler Ultrasound creates realistic looking images in color. Duplex Doppler Ultrasound scans can be used to examine both intracranial, and extracranial blood vessels and blood flow.
As a result of the knowledge gained from the latest imaging modalities, new strategies and surgeries have developed for the treatment and managment of previously mysterious, misunderstood and difficult, if not impossible conditions to treat. Below are summaries of some of the physical medical and chiropractic procedures that are being used to treat neurodegenerative conditons. These methods will also be discussed separately in greater detail on this website as it continues to grow.
Vascular Intervention: The Liberation Procedure
Using a procedure similar to angioplasty, the physician guides a special wire to the target vessel with the help of angiogram x-rays. The tip end of the wire includes an inflatable balloon attached to it. Once the target area is reached the balloon expands, which stretches the walls of the vein. Other on board devices can be added to the wire depending on the pysicians method of choice and circumstances involving the particular case. Some vascular specialists prefer to use stents rather than venoplasty in certain cases.
Thus far the initial results of the liberation procedure have stunned the medical and scientific community. In addition to multiple sclerosis, venous vascular intervention may also be effective for other neurodegenerative diseases.
Neurosurgery: CSF Shunts and Decompression
In addition to vascular specialists, neurosurgeons are continuing to improve methods that are far less invasive and much more effective for evaluating and surgically correcting conditions that cause neurodegenerative conditions such as Chiari malformations and tethered cord syndromes and normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH).
In brief neurosurgeons are using and continuing to improve decompression surgeries, as well as when to use them and for conditions not previously considered as candidates for decompression. Manufacturers and neurosurgeons also continue to collaborate on the design and developement of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) shunts. One of the latest methods uses no mechanical devices but simply redirects CSF around the blockage. Lastly, manufacturers and neurosurgeons continue to improve implantable electrical stimulation devices for neurodegenerative diseases, which have showed promise.
Chiropractic: Specific Upper Cervical
Another strategy that has been overlooked and unjustifiably maligned is chiropractic. More specifically upper cervical chiropractic care. Upper cervical chiropractic treatment has been around for over seventy years, long before the development of the latest spectacular technologies. Since its founding, its founder and other chiropractors, during those decades, reported successful treatment of cases of neurodegenerative diseases.
The new sophiticated imaging equipment simply validates what chiropractors have been reporting and theorizing for a long time. The upper cervical spine is critical to the health of the brain and cord. Consequently, it is vital to health. Hopefully, the new imaging equipment will be used to steer the direction for future chiropractic research that will lead to further advances in the care of the human spine. Care of the spine, especially the upper cervical spine may help to curtail the incidence and severity of neurodegenerative diseases. It may also help to prevent them from occuring in the first place. What’s more, it is inexpensive and, therefore, cost effective.
Specific upper cervical corrective methods are not, by any means, the only method used by chiropactors for orthopedic, neurological or musculoskeletal conditions. The chiropractic profession uses a wide variety of excellent methods to correct the spine. Many others may be useful to include in the care of patients with neurodegenerative diseases. Sacro Occipital Technique (SOT), for example, has a great deal in common with Specific Upper Cervical treatment in principle. In practice, however, it lacks the specificity, inter-examiner reliability and the reproducibility of specific upper cervical for upper cervical treatment. Nonetheless, because of its aims and principally sound methods of balancing the spine and the flow of CSF in the brain and cord it definitely needs further investigation.
Chiropractic: Specific Full Spine
In practice, I preferred a plain flat bench with a simple adjustable headpiece to work on most of my patients. But I also had quite a few different types of special tables for problem cases. One of the tables I used was a flexion distraction table with a completely adjustable headpiece that included side bending rotation, tilt and elevation. It also incorporated what chiropractors call drop mechanisms in the headpiece and tailpiece, as well as a drop away section in the low back. I used the drop away section for pregnant women and patients with herniated discs in the low back. Typically, the pregnant women who got on the table and were able to lie on their belly for the first time in months, would refuse to get off.
Instead of the drop away abdominal piece, the table could alternatively be fitted with an abdominal section that could be twisted to the left or right sides table to accommodate rotations in the spine due to scoliosis curvatures. Among other things, I suspect that spondylosis (degeneration of the spine) and scoliosis (abnormal curvatures of the spine) play a role in neurodegeneative condtions and diseases in many cases. Scoliosis is discussed separately on this website.
There have been many fine chiropractic tables developed and refined over the years for correcting the spine. There was one particular table that was high on my wish list but I never purchased one. It’s by far the most expensive and it’s hard to justify the capital outlay in light of the low reimbursement fees determined and set by number crunchers working for insurance companies.
The table is called a Cox Table. It is probably one of the finest tables developed so far and so is the unique method it was designed for by its developer and inventor, Dr. Jim Cox. Dr. Jim Cox’s office was in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
The Cox Method, no doubt, was influenced by the farm country patients that fertilized the mind of its developer who became one of the professions leading experts on disc problems among other things. The tailpiece of the table was perfectly balanced and would allow the doctor to perform effortless full ranges of motion for flexion, extension, side bending and rotation of the low back, as well as circumduction. It could also be locked into any counterstrain position.
It didn’t stop there though, over the years the table continued to evolve and later incorporated a headpiece for cervical problems similar to the tailpiece used for low back problems. Properly positioned belt restraints on the table were also added to hold the patient in position and prevent slipping while the tail or head piece was moved. The table also allows for sectional or full spine long axis traction, which gently stretches the segmets of the spine. All the features could be set for automatic operation.
Interestingly, the Cox Method of Correction incorporated similar procedures to that of Sacro Occipital Technique, developed by
Dr. DeJarnette, which uses craniopathy and pelvic catergories to balance the spine from top to bottom. SOT is also known in some circles as craniosacral correction. The Cox Method similarly uses CSF(cerebrospinal fluid) pumping procedures. It also uses pelvic blocks to enhance counter straining the pelvis in addition to the counter strain release postions and pumping action provided by the table.
Many neurodegenerative conditons are associated with scoliosis and degenerative conditions of the thoracic and lumbar spine and pelvis. While upper cervical chiropractic methods are essential for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, further benefits can be achieved with Specific Full Spine methods. Special tables, such as the ones above and below should serve as the starting point for future Specific Full Spine care equipment innovations.