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Chiropractic & Stroke Recovery

Again this week we will look at another way chiropractic can impact patients through their body-brain connection. Two recent studies looked to see the impact chiropractic spinal adjustments could make on patients who have previously suffered strokes. The first study focused on the effects a single session of chiropractic care could have on stroke patients’ brain activity by looking at an EEG (electroencephalogram) while stimulating their median nerve (1). With stroke, upper extremity function is often affected and recovery predictions are frequently measured by the rate of both sensory and motor (movement) impairments (1). Because of the connection between chiropractic’s goal of changing the nervous system and better stroke recovery correlated with a better functioning upper limb, the researchers set out to see the results. Patients who had suffered strokes of both ischemic and hemorrhagic forms were split into two groups: one that received a sham (fake) adjustment then waited for a period of time before receiving a real adjustment to dysfunctional spinal segments and the other group flipped the order of procedures, adjustment first, fake second. The patients had EEG readings both before and after each procedure where their median nerve was stimulated and sensory ability was measured via the EEG. The results showed that a single session of chiropractic spinal adjustments increased cortical brain activity related to the sensory function of the upper limbs (1).

The second study sought to look at the effects of long term chiropractic adjustments in stroke patients. The participants were split into two groups: group one received regular physical therapy and sham adjustments and group two received the regular physical therapy plus chiropractic adjustments (2). Each group was seen at least 3 times a week for 4 weeks and received the usual physical therapy regimen for stroke patients and then either their fake or real chiropractic adjustment depending on which group they were assigned to (2). To measure their results, researchers took readings for several different tests including a motor function test, a quality of life survey, the time it takes for a patient to get up from a seated position and move, as well as the time it takes to go from sitting to standing (2). These tests were performed pre-treatment, at the end of the 4 week treatment period and again 4 weeks after the treatment. The results of the study found that there was a statistically significant improvement in motor function in the real chiropractic adjustment group at the end of the 4 week treatment program compared to the fake adjustment group.

Like last week, it is important to note the limitations of these studies. Both studies took patients with more than a single type of stroke, so this could affect the results of the study in either direction. Also, the number of participants was roughly 50 in each study, not as wide scale as one would like. That being said, it is great to see the differences these stroke patients were able to achieve under chiropractic care. In addition to this, the manner in which these patients were treated in each study is important. Participants were analyzed and treated the same as any other patient whether they have experienced a stroke in the past or not (1,2). This is profound as there then could be further research done on asymptomatic people and measuring their motor function and brain activity following chiropractic care.


  1. Navid MS, Niazi IK, Lelic D, Nedergaard RB, Holt K, Amjad I, Drewes AM, Haavik H. Investigating the Effects of Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation on EEG in Stroke Patients. Brain Sci. 2020 Apr 27;10(5):253. doi: 10.3390/brainsci10050253. PMID: 32349288.

  2. Holt K, Niazi IK, Amjad I, Kumari N, Rashid U, Duehr J, Navid MS, Shafique M, Haavik H. The Effects of 4 Weeks of Chiropractic Spinal Adjustments on Motor Function in People with Stroke: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Brain Sci. 2021 May 21;11(6):676. doi: 10.3390/brainsci11060676. PMID: 34064209; PMCID: PMC8224305.

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