Understanding Pediatric Chiropractic Care
Chiropractic Physician Dr. April Lee’s Approach to Family Health Care
April Lee, DC
Cathy Catanese Photography
“My primary goal is to offer a comprehensive approach to family healthcare,” states Chiropractic Physician Dr. April Lee, the owner of Bluewater Chiropractic Wellness Center. Because her practice attracts many families, she quickly recognized her special interest in studying chiropractic for mothers before, during and after pregnancy, as well as children from infants to teens. Lee’s passion for family-based practice and pediatrics has driven her toward becoming a diplomate of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA).
Lee says, “Seeing a chiropractor soon after birth is crucial for baby and mother in order to check for subluxations,” which is the term chiropractors use to describe vertebrae that are either misaligned or not moving correctly, resulting in nervous system dysfunction. “No matter what type of delivery occurs, trauma can occur to the mother’s or baby’s spine and pelvis during the birth process. Typically, we see an issue within six to eight weeks after delivery, during which babies may develop colic, acid reflux, difficulty feeding or other symptoms,” explains Lee. “My goal is to prevent these issues from occurring, which is why getting a newborn into an ICPA chiropractor as soon as possible is absolutely crucial.”
Because infants cannot describe how they feel and X-rays are not typically taken, pediatric chiropractors receive extensive training in diagnostic analysis during their diplomate training. The newborn treatment plan is made on a case-by-case basis. “If I find that all is well, then I simply recommend check-ups at the baby’s major milestones, such as crawling and walking. However, if I discover signs of a serious issue, then I recommend further treatment,” Lee explains. She adds that adjustments for infants usually involve the amount of pressure equivalent to pressing an index finger on a closed eyelid.
As babies grow into toddlers, Lee advises regular spinal check-ups to evaluate for proper development of the head, neck and spine and to correct any misalignments caused by the bumps and bruises of learning to crawl and walk. The chiropractic approach holds that the effects of subluxations on the nervous system may be linked to a variety of concerns, such as a weakened immune system, chronic ear infections, digestive dysfunction or respiratory disorders.
For school-aged children, receiving regular quarterly checkups enables the chiropractor to notice issues like scoliosis and poor postural habits early and nip them in the bud, preventing future complications, illnesses and pain. “Because all nerves travel through the spine, scoliosis can affect the function of our organs. Complications like asthma, abnormal menstrual cycles or digestive dysfunction may develop later in life,” says Lee.
“Too much time spent in the sitting posture, working on computers and playing video games hinders a child’s nervous system, because we are created to move, not to be sedentary. The abnormal posture causes the tightening of certain muscles and the weakening of others,” Lee explains, adding that she advocates the use of a standing or adjustable work station and a gym ball or special cushion for sitting, which forces the engagement of the core muscles. “The more motion the spine has, the healthier the entire body will be,” she says.
Bluewater Chiropractic offers to check backpacks every fall to evaluate the proper weight and size for students and hopes to empower parents to know what kinds of issues to watch for in children. “Periodically check your child’s posture and do not wait for your child to develop symptoms, instructs Lee. “With the child standing, parents are able to determine if their child’s hips, shoulders, ears and head are level. If not, there may be problems that a chiropractor should examine. For student athletes, especially those in collision sports, we recommend checking them at least once per week during season to evaluate for changes to their spine or nervous system.”
“It’s an absolute joy for me to watch children grow up with chiropractic care in our office,” says Lee. “My staff and I feel like we are all a big family, and I know our patients feel the same. Knowing that I made one child’s life happier and healthier through the benefits of chiropractic is why I do what I do.”
Location: 4400 Hwy. 20 E., Ste. 207, Niceville. For more information, call 850-897-1177 or visit BluewaterChiropractic.com.
Lauressa Nelson is a contributing editor for Natural Awakenings magazines throughout the country.