Many Doctors of Chiropractic become intimidated with the idea of working with children and often shy away from offering their services to this very needy population. Frequently, chiropractors do not care for children because the child cannot verbally express itself. Other doctors of chiropractic avoid caring for children because the assessment tools they use for adults are not applicable with children. The assessment of children for chiropractic care may seem to be a bit more subtle than that of the adult; however, once the skills pertinent to the care of children are mastered, the rewards are memorable and bring a whole new level of satisfaction to our practices.
The following suggestions are starters to lead you toward a successful relationship with the child, the parents and yourself, as a practitioner.
• Use an entrance form that is designed particularly for children. Pertinent questions are history of mother’s pregnancy, birth, nursing, sleeping and eating patterns.
• Make notations of physical, emotional and chemical stressors that the child has been exposed to.
• Take careful note of how the mother explains the case to you. Listen, not only to her verbal language; be conscious of her body language as well.
• If both parents are present, look for consistency in feelings and opinions.
• Ask about the whole family’s lifestyle: diet, employment, other siblings, schedules and note the stress levels of each one.
• If the child is an infant, hold it to get a good assessment of its sensitivity to touch, resistance to movements, fussiness and discomforts.
• Observe spinal tension, torsion, arching or fixed deviations to determine dural stress.
• Incorporate postural assessments in your exam relevant to the child’s age and development.
• Utilize specific motion and muscle palpation of the infant’s spinal segments to allow you to locate key areas of segmental spinal stress.
• Incorporate cranial examinations for asymmetry and distortions.
Providing quality care for children is a rewarding experience. I encourage all chiropractors to seriously consider caring for more children in their practices.
Dr. Jeanne Ohm instructs internationally on the topic "Chiropractic Care for Pregnant Women and Children." She is executive coordinator of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association and can be reached via their website at www.icpa4kids.com.