By Dr. Donald Epstein
“Life changing” is not a term usually associated with chiropractic, but it is a truly appropriate description of the odyssey that began twenty-one years ago when I earned my chiropractic doctoral degree. My guideposts along the way were the very people who entrusted their well-being to my care. My experience with thousands of patients and hundreds of thousands of chiropractic adjustments has revealed predictable and reproducible patterns in the healing process that have forever changed my concepts of health and wellness. (See 1994, The Twelve Stages of Healing, Epstein, Donald M., New York Library)
As use of my Network method of chiropractic evolved and became widespread, so did word of the profound changes associated with it. “Network Chiropractic” stimulated the curiosity of the academic community, particularly scientific researchers at the University of California, Irvine. Their recently completed study of Network results is believed to be the largest ever to address such a broad spectrum of health and wellness indicators. This pioneer project has prompted additional studies and articles in peer-reviewed publications.
Study findings have also served to put Network Chiropractic on the official “map” of medical and other health practices with established health benefits. Researchers Dr. Robert Blanks, Dr. Tonya Schuster, and Marnie Dobson studied data from over 2,800 US and overseas patients receiving the Network form of chiropractic care, and found that 76% reported wellness changes in four broad categories of measured health assessment, and 59% reported improvements in their overall quality of health. Remarkably, patients found themselves enjoying wellness improvements after just 4 – 12 weeks.
A major milestone in the development of the Network method was achieved twelve years ago. A man I’ll call Jim used to visit my office for chiropractic spinal adjustments. He wanted relief from hip pain. As I learned in both my formal academic training and in my clinical observations, the body can more effectively regulate healing and improve health and well-being if tension is taken off the brain, spinal cord and nerves. I therefore applied gentle corrective forces (i.e., adjustments), to Jim’s spine to enhance the communication between his brain and body cells.
When Jim started seeing me, mothers and children in my waiting room actually tried to distance themselves from him because he seemed so intimidating and unfriendly. He never smile and it seemed difficult for others to even breathe deeply in his presence.
After several visits I noticed his spinal musculature was more relaxed, his posture was less rigid and he was less bent forward. His range of motion was improved and his natural respiration was starting to gently restore flexibility to the spinal bones in his lower back and between his shoulders . . . even his neck movements appeared for the first time to be in sync with his body.
Though his body was clearly becoming healthier, Jim would still point to his hip and say, “Nope, Doc; it still hurts: I’m no better.” But all around him things were changing. Instead of being feared and viewed as a “mean” person, Jim was starting to laugh, play and joke with the children and others in my waiting room. One day he actually asked to stay in my office to practice magic tricks for the children who came in for after school adjustments.
Jim was so focused on his hip pain (which was soon relieved), he appeared unaware of the major healing that was taking place. During an office visit I decided to ask his nine year old son what he liked best about his daddy since he had started getting chiropractic adjustments. Jim’s son thought for a moment, looked at his father and said, “Daddy stopped hitting me, and he stopped punching mommy!” As Jim responded by embracing his son, I realized the magnitude of the healing that had taken place. I now know that this was a major turning point in my own journey of discovery.
If I had been concerned with Jim’s pain symptoms alone, I would have concluded, as Jim had at first, that he was not benefiting much from my care. But, as Jim, his son and I had all observed, Jim’s life had in fact changed significantly. Inspired by the global increases in health and wellness I observed in Jim – and thousands of others since – I’ve continued to develop the network method, which is known as Network Spinal Analysis.
Health is more than a simple composite of biomedical indicators such as physical symptoms and improved physical functions. Based on study findings, we can now say definitely that health also includes the way a person relates to the world; health includes how somebody responds to stress physically, mentally and emotionally; health includes the ability to make spontaneous constructive life, health and wellness decisions. Finally, we now see that health also includes the ability to listen to one’s own inner voice, and take increased responsibility for controlling one’s own destiny.