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Next frontier

Next frontier

September 25, 2017
By Mari-Len De


The brain was the big subject at this year’s Wave conference, held in San Francisco in August and hosted by Life Chiropractic College West.  

Speakers included some of the leading researchers and clinicians in the profession, including: Dr. Heidi Haavik, director of research at the New Zealand College of Chiropractic; Dr. Monique Andrews, neuroscientist-turned-chiropractor and a Canadian; Jeffrey Fannin, PhD, a neuroscientist and brain researcher; and Dr. Ted Carrick, professor of neurology and founder of Carrick Institute. The keynote speaker was Dr. Bennet Omalu, the pathologist who found CTE in the brains of deceased NFL players and sparked international attention to sports concussions. (Watch for my interview with Omalu in the December issue)

One of the most interesting presentations was from Haavik, who discussed some exciting research she has done pointing to the effects of chiropractic adjustments on the brain, particularly on the prefrontal cortex. According to Haavik, this finding has consistently been shown over and over in several research she has done, declaring “beyond a doubt, adjusting the spine changes brain function.” Chiropractors may have known this for a long time, but it has never been put to the scientific test until recently, she added. (Read more about Haavik’s work on her website at

So what does this mean for the profession? Chiropractic scientists have got a lot of work to do in taking this knowledge to the next level with further research and applying this knowledge in clinical practice – in the area of concussions, sports performance and function or stroke rehabilitation, for example.

The effectiveness of chiropractic for musculoskeletal conditions is now without question. It’s time to explore other frontiers the chiropractic adjustment can affect – and the brain seems like the natural next step for chiropractic investigations. Dr. Kim Humphreys, the Canadian-born chiropractor who now heads the chiropractic medicine program at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, has already been embarking on brain research believing this is the next frontier for chiropractic research.

There is already initial progress, thanks to the works of Haavik, Humphreys and other chiropractic research scientists. The work is only beginning and researchers have the opportunity to explore further evidence of the value of this healing art to the health of the world.

I have to commend Life West for developing future chiropractors who are not only committed to the “philosophy” but to the pursuit of an evidence-based practice. At a press conference, Life West president Dr. Ron Oberstein announced the creation of a PhD program in chiropractic research at Life West. “These younger generations of chiropractors that are coming out right now, they are very open and they want to see the evidence.”