Is There a Better Way to Heal Your Child’s Brain?

Functional neurology can help children with learning and developmental issues. Dr. Guy Riekeman of Michigan’s CLS Functional Neurology Center explains.

If you are the parent of a child with learning or developmental disabilities, you may feel at a loss as to the best way to help your child move beyond their issues. Maybe you have tried traditional therapies and have now reached a standstill. Or, you may want the opportunity to try a new drug-free approach.

A unique approach to healing is exactly what motivates Dr. Guy Riekeman, founder of the Functional Neurology Center at Chiropractic Lifestyle Studios in Royal Oak, Michigan. “We are our nervous system,” says Dr. Riekeman. “Every one of our organs is devoted to supporting the nervous system. When the nervous system isn’t functioning properly, it affects your entire body.”

A unique approach to healing

Riekeman notes that while the nervous system is susceptible to damage, it is also adaptable to therapies. This is known as “neuroplasticity.” 

“Repairing the nervous system is the first step towards many other kinds of healing. Since children have developing nervous systems, evaluating them is important to understand where the issues are,” he says.

There are many things that can affect our nervous system negatively, says Riekeman. “It comes down to three key areas: physical trauma, such as a concussion or spinal injury; environmental toxins, such as cigarette smoke or pesticides; and heavy emotional stresses.” All of these can subtly or significantly impact a child’s learning and developmental capabilities. 

The journey to wellness at the CLS Functional Neurology Center involves identifying and addressing what the interferences may be. “We may do blood work, check children’s diets and other vitals to see how the nervous system may be affected,” says Riekeman.

Two innovative technologies: RightEye and the GyroStim

“Our entire goal at the Functional Neurology Center is to decide what part of the nervous system has been damaged and what resources we should use. Every child is unique and that’s how we approach their therapies. There is no one ‘silver bullet,’” says Riekeman.

Chiropractic Lifestyle Studios Dr. Guy Riekeman explains the brain has the ability to heal

One innovative evaluation used by Dr. Riekeman’s team is called RightEye. This technology assists in diagnosing and treating issues related to eye movement or balance. These are factors that may be affecting a child’s ability to read or participate in physical activities, says Riekeman.

“RightEye technology is able to measure eye movements to a minute degree and how those eye movements are coordinating with the brain. The eye connects directly to the brain so any problem with those connections or the brain itself may affect a child’s learning, especially reading issues..”

A cornerstone of the therapeutic arsenal at the CLS Functional Neurology Center is the GyroStim, a state-of-the-art piece of equipment that represents a leap forward in the treatment of neurological disorders. The GyroStim utilizes controlled motion to stimulate the brain, enhancing the brain’s ability to rewire itself. 

“Our clinic is only one of 12 unique spinal/neuro centers with a GyroStim in the world,” says Dr. Riekeman. This groundbreaking therapeutic device came from the personal journey of Dr. Riekeman’s friend and colleague, Kevin Maher. When Maher’s daughter was diagnosed with severe cerebral palsy, he was inspired by evidence that getting her in motion was helping her to improve and develop. Based on his research and commitment, the GyroStim was born. Kevin’s daughter went on to complete a PhD in Psychology.

The GyroStim’s integration into the center’s treatments has been incredibly effective, says Riekeman. “We have the ability to adjust rolls, rotations and speeds precisely to the needs of each individual’s brain,” Riekeman explains. This capability has made it instrumental in treating a wide array of conditions, from concussions to developmental delays. 

The GyroStim gained fame when NHL star Sidney Crosby used it to recover from what was thought to be a career-ending vestibular brain injury. “Doctors thought he would never recover but therapies from the GyroStim had him back on the ice in weeks. Shortly after he went back to the NHL his team won a Stanley Cup,” says Riekeman.

Functional Neurology Center success stories

“We have so many examples of ways that functional neurology can help kids,” says Riekeman. “We’ve had children jump up two or three reading levels after being evaluated with RightEye. We had a child who lost the ability to speak following a concussion in a hockey game. In eight weeks, we had him speaking perfectly again. 

Chiropractic Lifestyle Studios facilities
Photo Credit: Chiropractic Lifestyle Studios

We treated another child with severe autism who exhibited behaviors such as screaming, an inability to sit still and who was afraid to communicate with people. He learned to sit calmly and interact with others to the point that he was hugging people when he left the office. He proudly told his mom recently that he was talking to other people.The list goes on.”

According to Dr. Riekeman, the center’s mission is clear—to restore function, facilitate development and give children and their families the ability to live a full life. “We’re not just about treating trauma,” says Riekeman.

The broader mission

From offering free evaluations for children between 0-5 years to conducting comprehensive pre-concussion evaluations and treatments for young athletes, the center is committed to early detection and intervention.

One of the most moving personal stories Riekeman remembers is when he heard from a 15-year-old Canadian girl who had been a multi-talented athlete before suffering a severe head injury. “This young woman knew the story of Sidney Crosby. She asked me: ‘Do you think you could give me my life back?’” recalls Riekeman. 

“People think that once you have an injury or problem with your brain or nervous system, that’s it, there’s no hope. That’s not what we think. We believe in the brain’s ability to heal and we want to give people their life back.”

For more information about how functional neurology can help your child visit chiropracticlifestylestudios.com

Jenny Kales
Jenny Kales
Content editor Jenny Kales has been in the business of writing for more than 20 years. A natural storyteller, she loves helping Metro Parent clients tell their stories in a way that resonates with their audiences.

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