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ADHD - Case Study

Instead of going into great depth of a topic and discussing broad concepts, I am going to focus on a single study I came across this week and summarize the highlights. This is slightly different from past “Speaking of the Spine” editions because previously there has been a lot of quality evidence supporting the conditions and themes whereas today we are exploring one pilot study which investigated the effects of chiropractic adjustments on oculomotor control in children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Oculomotor control is often dysfunctional in children with ADHD, meaning they have short jumps of eye movement away from their intended target (1). This dysfunction is caused by a couple things: poor processing speed, sensory filtering, working memory, sensorimotor integration and executive function (1). However, all of those issues can be linked to a problem in one area, the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is the area of the brain that is responsible for coordinating signals from all different areas of your body, processing them, and then integrating the information to perform higher ordered tasks (2). Because of these oculomotor problems, kids’ ability to process visual information can be complicated and make simple reading tasks extremely challenging.

Before we discuss the results of the study, it is important to note that this was a pilot study, meaning its goal was to measure the feasibility of a study of this nature. However, this should not completely discredit what was found from the research but limit the ability to make a wide generalization since the study had limitations, particularly a small sample size of thirty children.

The study utilized computer software called the “Eye Tribe Tracker” and measured the eye movements of the participants as they read a sentence. Then the participants were split into two groups, the control group which would partake in various neck movements as their treatment and the adjustment group which would be analyzed for spinal dysfunction throughout their entire spine. Next, the participants of the study were seen for a one week follow up. At the follow up, the participants in the adjustment group demonstrated a large and significant decrease in the time it took for the kids to read the sentence (1). There were a few other secondary measures that data was collected for, but none of them displayed a big enough difference to be clinically significant. Adjustments can be responsible for the decreased reading time because of the influence adjustments have on the prefrontal cortex, which is the location of a problem area in patients with ADHD (1). This study shows promise for a larger more in depth study to be done and gather more information of adjustments and their effect on kids with ADHD. If you have any questions relating to this study feel free to reach out and Dr. Kennedy would gladly talk through them with you.


  1. Cade A, Jones K, Holt K, Penkar AM, Haavik H. The Effects of Spinal Manipulation on Oculomotor Control in Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Pilot and Feasibility Study. Brain Sci. 2021 Aug 6;11(8):1047. doi: 10.3390/brainsci11081047. PMID: 34439666; PMCID: PMC8394036.

  2. Miller, E. K. (1999). The prefrontal cortex. Neuron, 22(1), 15–17.

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