The Benefits of Chiropractic Care for Kids’ Minds, Bodies, & Spirits
An interview with Dr. Samantha Potrzebowski, Precision Chiropractic, Roswell, GA
The benefits of chiropractic care for adults are becoming increasingly widespread. Many of us have utilized it for chronic pain, or after a car accident, sports injury, or rough night of sleep. Regular chiropractic adjustments have been shown to help with everything from headaches to osteoarthritis pain to athletic performance.
But we often forget to take advantage of chiropractic for our children, and we miss out on a huge opportunity to strengthen our kids’ immune systems, improve their sleep, enhance their physical and neurological development, and even boost their mood and overall behavior.
We recently sat down with Dr. Samantha Potrzebowski of Precision Chiropractic, located just down the street from our office in Roswell. Dr. Sam received her Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Life University in Marietta, and she has special training and a huge passion for working with kids. She was kind enough to let us pick her brain about the many physical, mental, and emotional benefits of chiropractic care for infants and children of all ages.
Tell us about your practice. What led you to specialize in treating children and to receive advanced certifications in pediatric care?
We are a family-based chiropractic office located in Roswell, GA that proudly serves kids of all ages (including infants), moms, dads, grandparents- really the whole family! Before even attending chiropractic school, I knew I wanted to work with kids, which really shaped my education. I sought out additional training in pediatrics, which allowed me to become both Pediatric Certified and Webster Certified through the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association after 200+ hours of post-graduate training. From there, we have continued to immerse ourselves in pediatric training that grows our knowledge in the areas of brain development, sensory processing, and developmental challenges. Our office works closely with children who experience symptoms of or have been diagnosed with ADHD, dyslexia, anxiety, Autism, learning disabilities, and more. With two siblings that have different developmental challenges, this is a subject I hold near and dear to my heart, and I am honored to be a part of these kids’ healthcare team.
What are the physical benefits of chiropractic care for children?
Chiropractic care is a great way to physically support the body. We often see children with complaints that feel typical to chiropractic care- headaches, neck/back pain, and scoliosis. In addition, a lot of our kids involved in sports have their knees, ankles, shoulders, elbows, and wrists evaluated.
But, we also see kids who come in to maintain their stellar level of health. Especially as our kids’ bodies grow, it’s incredibly important to maintain healthy spinal alignment. Our bones, specifically our spine and hip bones, create the foundation for the stability of our “home,” aka our bodies! And if your kids are anything like mine is, they’re so physical- playing at the park, jumping off of whatever they can find, doing somersaults across the floor, riding bikes, etc. It’s no wonder their little spines can become misaligned! Chiropractic adjustments allow a gentle, effective and most importantly a safe way to shift the spine back into its proper alignment to keep their “foundation” strong.
How have you seen chiropractic care boost kids’ brain development and cognitive function? How can it support kids with ADHD, Autism, PANS/PANDAS, and other neurological disorders or learning disabilities?
Most patients start out in our office with the misconception that chiropractic care is purely about spinal alignment. Of course spinal alignment is important, but one of the main reasons why we focus so much on spinal alignment is because the spine has such a close relationship with the nervous system. Because so much of our nervous system is housed within the spine, misalignments can put added tension on the nervous system. In the same way a guitar doesn’t perform at its best when its strings are tuned too tightly, our body has a hard time adapting to its environment when the nervous system is too tense.
Disruption in the nervous system can contribute to “sympathetic dominance.” This is that “fight or flight” reaction you experience when you’ve been in danger. If you’re driving down the road and a car swerves towards you, once you get yourself to safety you’ll probably notice that your heart is racing, you’re breathing heavily, and you might feel a little on edge or anxious afterward. This is your sympathetic nervous system, or your fight or flight, kicking in. It’s a fantastic response by your nervous system working to keep you safe, but you certainly don’t want to get stuck in that state.
Sympathetic dominance happens when your nervous system gets stuck in a state of fight or flight. It can lead to symptoms such as anxiety, loss of focus and attention, difficulty with memory, sensitivity to light/sound, digestion troubles, and sleep disturbances to name a few. Adjustments work to restore a healthy balance within the nervous system by removing added tension, making it more adaptable to its environment and less likely to get stuck in sympathetic dominance. Do we treat anxiety, focus and attention issues, and sleep challenges? No. But, we are able to adjust the spine and help the nervous system regulate which in turn can allow some of those challenges to subside or even resolve.
In addition to spinal alignment, our office also evaluates for primitive reflexes and looks at different areas within the sensory system such as the visual system, vestibular system (balance), and proprioceptive system (where our body is in space). In healthy brain development, primitive reflexes should integrate or go away by 12 months of age. The presence of primitive reflexes beyond 12 months old and/or challenges within the sensory systems can lead to difficulty with handwriting, reading comprehension, balance, coordination, emotional regulation, speech, poor posture, and poor hand-eye coordination. Once evaluated, our team creates a specific brain-based therapy program to specifically stimulate different areas within each child’s brain, allowing their brain to build new or reinforce existing neural connections, supporting the development of new skills or the strengthening of old skills. This can translate into improved academics, social skills, and physical coordination.
So many kids are struggling with mental health challenges right now. How can chiropractic care help with emotions and mood regulation?
It all stems from the idea of nervous system regulation. Think of your nervous system as a bucket- with each stressor that presents itself, whether that stressor be physical, emotional, or chemical in nature, a drop of water is added to your bucket. At some point, without any selfcare, your bucket will quickly overflow. Quick to anger, feelings of depression and/or anxiety, tantrums, and difficulty with transitions are all an expression of an overflowing bucket. By keeping the nervous system at a healthy tension through tonal chiropractic adjustments, we are allowing the body to process those stressors a little easier- smaller drops are added into your bucket so to speak. With the added physical support that adjustments provide, we’re also dumping some of the water out of your bucket at each visit. We’ve seen time and time again that chiropractic care is a great piece of the puzzle when it comes to emotional regulation and can be an incredibly beneficial way to support mental health.
As we prepare for another school year, what are some ways parents can help prime their kids’ brains for learning?
I could talk about this for hours! But let’s keep it simple- My top 5 ways to help prime our kids’ brains for learning include:
- Getting adequate sleep– Our bodies need rest! Kids are exposed to stimulation all day long and need a break to rejuvenate so they can perform again the next day. Sleep of course gives the body time to rest, but is also a time for healing! A well-rested brain and body is more likely to perform better with tasks that require memory, attentiveness, and problem-solving skills. School-aged kids should be getting roughly 10 hours of sleep each night- some more, and some less depending on the kid.
- Eating a well-rounded diet– Food is a way to fuel our bodies but can also have a negative impact on our health, depending on what you choose to consume. High-sugar diets have been linked to hyperactivity, emotional challenges, impulsivity, and aggression. Here’s the reality- nobody is expecting you or your family to eat a perfectly well-rounded meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But if you can make a conscious effort to replace sugary breakfast foods and snacks with foods high in protein and healthy fats, it’ll be a change worth making!
- Taking supplements that support brain health– Study after study link the importance of Omega-3 Fatty Acids to brain development. There is also research to suggest that children and adults diagnosed with ADHD have lower levels of Omega-3s in their cells, which can also contribute to hyperactivity and impulsivity. Supplementation is an easy way to make sure you and your kids are getting enough Omega-3s on a regular basis.
- Activating the brain through cross-crawl activities– Cross-crawl activities are some of my favorites because they activate so many different areas of the brain and require so many of the sensory systems to work together which is exactly how we function in everyday life! An easy cross-crawl exercise would be to stand upright with arms extended towards the ceiling. Bring the right hand to meet the left knee, return to the starting position, then switch to bring the left hand to meet the right knee. Perform 20 repetitions of this exercise every single day for the rest of the summer! It’ll keep the brain activated and engaged, and keep it ready for learning!
- Get them adjusted!– By now I hope I’ve expressed the importance of adjustments for everyone, including our kids who are working hard and learning new information every day. With a regulated nervous system, we can see improvements with emotional regulation, focus and attention, and improved quality of sleep, all of which support an easier learning environment.
Making changes can feel completely overwhelming. I encourage you to start small. Make one change, and once that change becomes a part of your standard routine, simply make another! As parents, we all hope to see our kids thrive. These simple changes can support their journey to becoming the best version of themselves!
Precision Chiropractic is a tonal chiropractic office based in Roswell, Georgia. Our purpose is to provide a comprehensive program that strengthens the nervous system by focusing on proper spinal alignment through the correction of tonal shifts, in addition to improving weaknesses in the brain. Precision Chiropractic serves people of all ages with a variety of health conditions. Learn more at PrecisionChiroGA.com.