Saturday, January 13, 2007

NOT Science

The West Australian's MIND&BODY supplement for Tuesday 9th January 2007 warns parents that "Therapy begins in the womb".

For some children, chiropractic management begins in the womb. The manipulation is used, with varying reports of success, to move babies out of the breech position in the uterus.

Note that warning, "with varying reports of success", that indicates that a perceived effect probably has less to do with causal correlation than wishful thinking. Another chiropracter warns that it doesn't work "in 100 per cent of cases". What per cent does it work in then? What studies have been done to prove this "effect"?

Parents are also strongly urged to have their newborns given a checkup by chiropracters.

The Chiropracters Association of WA recommends that every newborn has a check-up to see if their spine needs adjusting after childbirth. Dr Grant said 30 to 50 per cent of babies might require some spinal adjustment after birth. [...] Chiropracters argue that abnormal biomechanics of the spine can interfere with the child's developing nervous system. Subluxation is the chiropractic term given to this altered nerve function. Dr Grant said though the cause of colic, or irritable baby syndrome (IBS) had not been proved, a chiropractic adjustment often resulted in its symptoms, such as sleeplessness and constant crying, subsiding.

More than such a remarkable ability to "heal" already self-limiting conditions such as IBS, chiropracty can also apparently cure learning disabilities, using the remarkable NOT (neural organisation technique). This appears to EoR to be something like NOT science, NOT plausible and NOT proven.

Chiropractic treatment is also being used in WA to treat children with disabilities, including cerebral palsy, autism and learning disabilities such as ADHD and dyslexia. [...] [The NOT] system had given some insight into how to put a body back together once it had become disorganised. The technique involves a combination of manipulation, applied kinesiology and cranio-sacral therapy.

While EoR frankly remains bemused by "disorganised" bodies (do the internal organs slide out of place? EoR certainly knows of (equine) chiropracters who claim to put slipped pelvises and other bones "back into place") he remains reassured that the marvellous chiropracters can put it all back together again. A bit like Meccano, he presumes.

NOT is obviously very powerful, being not just one woo but three together. The magical applied kinesiology with its ability to spot far more allergies than a trained allergy specialist (via an unproven effect), craniosacral therapy with its ability to cure all ills by light presses on the skull (via an unproven effect), and chiropracty with its ability to convince parents that their children are doomed unless their invisible subluxations are remedied as soon as possible (and usually as often as possible for the rest of their lives).

NOT gives many of the signs of quackery, as evidenced by claims on the Australian NOT site that it can cure a vast range of conditions, including allergies, ADD/ADHD, dyslexia, scoliosis, immune disorders, endocrine and circulatory disorders, head injuries, women's hormone problems, hypertension, phobias and "Emotional Stress Clearing". Furthermore, the "discoverer" of this technique, Dr Carl A Ferreri (that's "doctor" in the chiropractic sense) is said to have:

discovered many things, not previously known about how the human body works.

That's certainly two signs of quackery: that the therapy cures a huge range of (unrelated) conditions, and that the therapy is based on information that has been suppressed or is unknown to orthodoxy.

Strangely, it's also noted that Dr Ferreri recently suffered a stroke and then was hospitalised for a triple bypass operation. Why do these alternative practitioners who all claim to have such powerful paradigm-busting therapies always opt for real treatment in real hospitals? Can't they cure themselves? What's wrong with their magics? EoR is reminded of the homeopath who advertised in a recent edition of Nova by saying she is back at work after spending some lengthy time in hospital for an (presumably homeopathically-resistant) unstated condition.

Be prepared for some serious alternative biology and uberwoo if you undertake reading Dr Ferreri's explanation:

The treatment protocols are then designed to specifically organise or reorganise a disorganised central nervous system. A disruption of the natural balance within these previously synchronised processes will cause a change in the electromagnetic field in various parts of the body. This EM change can then be measured, analysed and treated. Homeostasis is then restored to the body by activating combinations of the known reflex systems, acupuncture meridians, muscle spindles, magnetic energy, cranial and spinal bone balances and nutrition which control these systems. The key to the success of this treatment protocol is that it recognises the need for the specific organisation and integration of all systems within the body. The body is a totally integrated biological and energetic entity where everything affects everything else in one way or another and as the old song goes, the "head bone" is really connected to the "foot bone". It is impossible to treat one part of the body without affecting or causing stress or change somewhere else in the body. The list of conditions treated with this method almost reads like a pathology book because it is so diverse.

But not, of course, stroke or heart problems, apparently. The above mentioned page is worth visiting, however, for its series of pictures of Dr Ferreri performing his magic tricks. EoR is particularly fascinated by the image of him "correcting pterygoid muscles" where one hand is gently laid on the patient's forehead, while the other hand, incredibly, appears to be fondling the patient's crotch. Why do so many "manipulative" therapists feel such an urge to realign energies and resolve blockages by fondling the patient's genitals? Could this explain why the largest number of complaints against alternative practitioners (at least in Australia) is for "inappropriate touch"?

Chirobase points out the main danger with this therapy:

I recommend against using any chiropractor who claims to diagnose problems throughout the body by testing the strength of the arms. The systems that rely on this test are potentially dangerous because they use misinformation to guide patients away from appropriate medical care.

Though there are also other dangers that the West Australian fails to mention:

NOT came to public attention in 1988 when chiropractors subjected children to it in a "research" program sponsored by school officials in Del Norte County, California. For five months, dozens of children from age four to sixteen, with epilepsy, Down's syndrome, cerebral palsy, dyslexia, and various other learning disorders, were "treated" by having their skull compressed with viselike hand pressure. The children were also forced to endure painful thumb pressure against the roof of the mouth and finger pressure against their eyes. According to news reports, the children struggled, cried, and screamed as they were forcibly restrained. One reportedly experienced his first seizure when his eye sockets were "adjusted." Some of the children became violent, explosive, rebellious, uncontrollable, and lacking in self-motivation and drive. In 1991, a jury ordered Ferreri to pay $565,000 in damages to seven children and their parents who had filed suit for physical and emotional pain related to the treatment. Two other chiropractors involved in the case settled out of court for a total of $207,000.

The West Australian includes a remarkable testimonial about a child who, it is argued by her mother, was transformed by NOT into a "different girl". EoR is somewhat confused by her condition, however. The article states:

Five-year-old Kaliesha Martin has dx cerebral palsy, an acute condition caused by a lack of oxygen during her birth, which left her with severe disabilities including difficulty swallowing, eye-tracking problems and a lack of co-ordination.

"Dx cerebral palsy"? You see what happens when a "doctor" reads a Doctor's notes? They go on their merry way applying the woo without a clue. EoR expects chiropracty to be equally as valuable dealing with the severe forms of dx headache, dx ingrown toenail and dx gullibility.

1 comment:

  1. Liz from I Speak of Dreams. Larry Silver wrote about Dr. NOT some time ago, and how his treatment for learning disabilities is useless. Summary and link here.


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