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October 2008

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Chiropractic Plays Role in Helping U.S. Men's Olympic Water Polo Team Win Silver Medal

An article appearing on the Market Watch on October 2, 2008 by the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress highlighted the role chiropractic played in helping the US water polo team bring home a silver medal. The US team were underdogs and attribute much of their success to chiropractic.

Dr. Terry Schroeder is the coach of the US Olympic water polo team.  He was also the captain and medal winner for the US in the 1984, 1988 and 1992 Olympics.  He is also a chiropractor and uses his professional abilities both as a coach and a chiropractor to help his team excel. Schroeder was such an amazing athlete himself, that his body was used as the model for the male bronze statue in front of the LA Coliseum.

Merrill Moses is the current goal keeper for the U.S.A. Men's Water Polo team. In the article, he gives the chiropractic care he received from his coach/chiropractor, Dr. Schroeder much of the credit for the team's ability to perform.  He stated, "I can honestly say that without chiropractic, many Olympic athletes would not be able to perform to their potential.  We take such a pounding on our bodies, especially in water polo, because it's a contact sport. I like to get a chiropractic adjustment everyday just to keep my body healthy."

In addition to Dr. Schroeder, there were also four practicing Olympic Committee team chiropractors in the Olympic Village caring for the various athletes. Schroeder was inducted into the U.S.A. Water Polo Hall of Fame in 1998.  The article notes that he is credited for turning this team around by encouraging teamwork and vigorous training only months prior to the Beijing Olympic Games.

Schroeder drew on both his professional chiropractic knowledge as well as his experience as a two-time Olympic silver medalist and team captain in water polo. "Athletes know that the difference between winning and losing can be a matter of fractions," says Schroeder. "When looking for that edge, chiropractic often makes all the difference." He concluded, "I believe that chiropractic is going to continue to be of growing importance in the Olympic world."

Dr. Schroeder has also been a career role model for Moses the current team goal keeper. The article notes that he plans to follow in his coach's footsteps by attending chiropractic college and earning his Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree.

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Stress From Economy Affecting Health

Several articles appeared in the news warning of the harmful health effects from the stress of the current economic conditions. One such article on October 8, 2008 from WebMD noted that a recent study showed that 80% of Americans said that the economy was a significant source of stress in September, up from just 66% in April of this same year. The article notes that the increased stress is taking it's toll on everyone, but that older women seem to be affected the most.

The study's executive summary, conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA), and published on October 7, 2008 states that, "Nearly half of Americans report that their stress level has increased over the past year, with as many as 30 percent rating their average stress levels as extreme."  Money and finances were the highest two concerns that the study showed were creating stress.

Katherine Nordal, PhD, a psychologist and APAs executive director for professional practice, commented, "With the deteriorating economy dominating the headlines, its easy to worry more about your finances than your health, but, stress over money and the economy is taking an emotional and physical toll on America, especially among women." Dr. Nordal went on to warn, "Many say they are handling their stress well. Yet, people report more physical and emotional symptoms. If Americans continue to experience these high levels of stress for prolonged periods of time, they are at risk for developing serious illnesses.

The study did note that Americans are aware of the dangers of stress, noting that 86 percent, "recognize that stress increases their likelihood of becoming sick and has a very strong negative impact on a variety of conditions including depression, heart attack or stroke, high blood pressure, cancer, obesity and insomnia." Unfortunately, many people either do not know how to help their stress, think they are managing their stress well, or believe they have no control over it.

Dr. John Maltby, president of the International Chiropractors Association noted that chiropractic is one of the more effective ways to deal with the stress created by these trying times.  He commented, "The most profound result of stress is the functional and physical effect it has on the nervous system.  This is where chiropractic can play a key role. By removing physical irritation to the nervous system brought on by stress, the body is better able to cope on all levels. Stress is a cycle.  It creates spinal and nerve system problems, and is made worse by the nerve system problem stress creates.  The role of chiropractic is to break that cycle by correcting the physical component of this problem, known as subluxation."

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Chiropractic and Immune Function - A Literature Review

An article in the September 30, 2008 issue of the scientific periodical, the Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research reviewed multiple previous studies to correlate the effect chiropractic care has on the immune system. The article goes into detail explaining the numerous scientifically shown connections between the function of the nervous system and the immune system.

The study authors report that, "Recently the focus of science has shifted from viewing the nervous and immune systems as separate entities to recognizing that the brain utilizes specific pathways to the immune system for the purposes of guiding, controlling and modulating the immune response." In essence, the study authors note that many authorities consider the nervous system and the immune system to be actually one system in the body.

The article documents that many connections between the nervous system and every aspect of the immune system, including discoveries made back in 1945 when it was noted that even the bone marrow, which creates important cells for immunity, has a rich and vast nerve system supply.

Study authors note that nervous system dysfunction can cause immune system dysfunction.  This is the avenue that allows chiropractic to have a significant impact on immunity. They note, "Subluxations are disturbances in the nervous system, which can cause increased or decreased activity of the sympathetic nervous system." They added, "Chiropractic adjustments correct subluxations which are disturbances in the nervous system."

By describing in detail the various mechanisms the nervous system controls and coordinates the immune system, the study authors conclude that interference to the nervous system in the form of subluxations will have an adverse effect on immune function. They stated in their conclusion, "The nervous system and the immune system have such a multitude of connections that they could correctly be referred to as a single system. The nervous system senses damage, infectious agents and foreign bodies with the help of chemical releasing immune cells and deals with these problems by deploying different types of immune cells to carry out specific procedures. Disturbances in the nervous system (subluxations) diminish the ability of an individual to sense and repair damage and combat infection, cancer etc. directly, resulting in diminished health."

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No Cold Medicines for Kids Under 4

The above headline comes from an October 8, 2008 Associated Press story and starts off by noting that drug companies are changing their recommendations related to giving cough and cold medicines to children under the age of four.

The change in recommendations by the drug companies came after pressure from pediatricians, consumer groups and lawmakers, who were asking the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban such products for children under the age of six. Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research said, "The number one cause of problems is children getting into medicine for accidentally ingestion. We at FDA support these voluntary actions."

Baltimore's health commissioner, Dr. Joshua Sharfstein added his arguments in the AP article by stating, "There is no evidence that these products work in kids, and there is definitely evidence of serious side effects." He continued,  "The 2- and 3-year-olds are definitely the highest risk."

Dr. Laura Herrera, a Baltimore family practitioner and mother of two also added her concerns in the article by noting, "The best thing a parent can do is comfort their children. Keeping them as comfortable as possible is certainly better than giving cough and cold medicines."  Dr. Herrera a mother of a 6-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old son, neither of whom have gotten cold medicines, went a step further by suggesting that parents should not give the medications to older children either. "They feel like they're doing good by giving these medications, but in some cases they could be doing more harm than good."

Some lawmakers have gotten involved in the argument and are asking for stronger action by the FDA. Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut said he will continue to pressure the FDA for an outright ban on the drugs for children under the age of 6. He said, "While I'm pleased to see that the drug companies are voluntarily taking some steps to ensure the safety and well being of our children, I am disappointed that the FDA has not followed the recommendations of its own advisory panel."

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Heavy Bags Can Cause Spinal Problems in Adults

There have recently been a number of articles about the problems children can have from carrying heavy school bags.  But from the September 27, 2008 issue of the Canadian publication, the North Bay Nugget, comes a story warning adults about the perils of carrying heavy bags. This article from New Canada and the Ontario Chiropractic Association warns that adults are also susceptible to spinal injuries from bags that are too heavy.

The article starts off by noting that according to Health Canada, 80 per cent of Canadians will suffer from back pain in their lifetimes. They note that things such as heavy laptop bags, briefcases and even handbags can take their toll on peoples backs, necks and shoulders.

To help spread the message, the Ontario Chiropractic Association (OCA) has started a new public relations campaign with a new slogan, "Pack it Light. Wear it Right". Part of this program involves some simple strategies to prevent spinal problems from poorly packed, or over packed bags.  These include:

  • Choose the right size: Use bags appropriate to your body size and that feature wide, adjustable and padded straps that evenly distribute the load. It's also important to select a bag made of light-weight material, such as canvas or vinyl. For luggage, choose a bag with wheels and that is not heavy when empty.

  • Pack it light: Reducing the weight you carry in common, everyday bags is key to avoiding injury. Make time to check your bag each time you use it to ensure you are only carrying essential items. Remember to pack the heaviest items on the bottom and distribute items in side pockets as well.

  • Wear it right: For bags with two straps, ensure you use both and tighten to minimize movement and jarring. For bags with one strap, cross the strap over your body to distribute the weight more evenly.

  • Smart lifting:When lifting can't be avoided, do it in increments. Make sure to hold the load close to your body, bend your knees and avoid twisting your back.

  • Change it up: Try changing your purse or wallet for work versus social outings. If you're popping out to lunch during work, just carry your essentials in your pocket, rather than carrying your entire purse with you.

  • Exercise: Regular exercise, such as walking, swimming or bicycling, will help the body stay conditioned and can help prevent injury.

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Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans

On October 7, 2008 the US Health and Human Services Department (HHS) issued guidelines for exercise and physical activities for Americans. The new guidelines say that adults should get at least two and a half hours a week of moderate aerobic physical activity, while children and adolescents would benefit from an hour or more of physical activity a day.

Perhaps the strongest argument for activity comes from the (HHS) release on these recommendations when they state, "Regular physical activity reduces the risk in adults of early death; coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, colon and breast cancer, and depression. It can improve thinking ability in older adults and the ability to engage in activities needed for daily living."

Health and Human Services Department Secretary Mike Leavitt said, "Its important for all Americans to be active, and the guidelines are a roadmap to include physical activity in their daily routine. The evidence is clear, regular physical activity over months and years produces long-term health benefits and reduces the risk of many diseases. The more physically active you are, the more health benefits you gain.

James O. Hill, PhD, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado, stated his approval of the guidelines when he said, "Where I'm at is 'the more is better.' I think it's fine. I think now we just help people understand how to get there and how to increase physical activity."

The HHS recommendations were specific for various ages and groups in our society and include the following:

  • Children and Adolescents -- One hour or more of moderate or vigorous aerobic physical activity a day, including vigorous intensity physical activity at least three days a week.

  • Adults -- Adults gain substantial health benefits from two and one half hours a week of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity, or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous physical activity.

  • Older adults -- Older adults should follow the guidelines for other adults when it is within their physical capacity.

  • Women during pregnancy -- Healthy women should get at least two and one half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week during pregnancy and the time after delivery, preferably spread through the week.

  • Adults with disabilities -- Those who are able should get at least two and one half hours of moderate aerobic activity a week, or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week.

  • People with chronic medical conditions -- Adults with chronic conditions get important health benefits from regular physical activity. They should do so with the guidance of a health care provider.

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