Functional Disconnection Syndrome

Here’s one for the faithful: “functional disconnection syndrome.” Let Dr. Kurt W. Kuhn, D.C. and Ph.D. explain:

Functional Disconnection Syndrome is a condition where there is a functional breakdown in the neurological pathways of the body causing the brain and its neural net to function asynchronously, at a decreased frequency of firing or at a functional level that is below that required for higher cognitive and health requirements.

A quick review of the medical literature will find the term “functional disconnections” used for all sorts of conditions that are the affect [sic] of neurological dysfunction. Symptoms ranging from behavioral and learning problems to pain and conditions of reduced general health. Functional disconnections can be caused by genetic, environmental, nutritional, stress, toxins, spinal subluxations and other causes.

Just for grins, I took the challenge. I searched the health sciences databases available via EBSCO, the venerable information management system that says it works with 79,000 publishers. I found one citation referring to “Functional Disconnection Syndrome”; it was a case study describing a psychiatric problem of a 23-year-old woman (Simon, Walterfan, Petralli, & Velakoulis, 2008, Neuropsychobiology, 58).

So, I wasn’t reassured by the paucity of medical recognition of functional disconnection syndrome. Nevertheless, I continued to review parts of Dr. Kuhn’s site, hoping to learn that he could point to some neurological evidence I’d missed or, ideally, tell me how to treat functional disconnection syndrome. Regardless of the answer one might find, it’s worth keeping in mind that chiropractor fees can be tax-deductible; however, one would need to consult your accountant or use a tax estimator to determine the deduction in the US.

What did I learn? Well, I learned that, although one should complete a diagnostic work up first, the way to fix this functional disconnection syndrome is chiropracty, perhaps with concomitant of doses of the Brain Balance Program. One might ask, “Where’s the research?”

Dr. Kuhn refers to his award-winning case study, which I downloaded. The dissertation was submitted to Capella University (a prominent for-profit, online schools) and approved in 2005 by Cheryl Bullock, Julia Bronner, Mark Rossman, and James Wold. The purpose of his study was “to evaluate Carrick’s brain-based model of care when applied to an individual learner who has attention deficit (ADD), attention deficit- hyperactive disorder (AD/HD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and Tourette syndrome (TS)” (p. 89). He employed case study methods, which do not permit causal inference (even though Dr. Kuhn defends it, writing “from a post modernist perspective it is fully legitimate and more suited for some forms of study,” p. 95). He collected data about an individual using an array of measures (neurological soft signs; Tests of Variables of Attention; Connor’s Parent Rating Scale; interactive metronome; California Achievement Test; the patient’s self-reports) over a period of 19 weeks, with a follow-up interview at 129 weeks. Even though (or, perhaps, because) it is not possible to infer that any changes in scores on the measures were the result of anything specific, on pages 133-134 Dr. Kuhn concluded thusly:

Functional Disconnection syndrome can cause behavioral and educational disorders. These disorders can result in lower grades, emotional difficulties and other health problems. More serious conditions may result in learning disorders, AD/HD, OCD, Tourette Syndrome, Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism. Chiropractic neurologists have had clinical success in these conditions and others while using Carrick’s brain-based model of care. In this case study significant quantitative changes in behavior and learning were demonstrated. Additionally there were significant life changing qualitative benefits gained by the subject. It is possible that Carrick’s brain-based model, suitable diagnostic instruments and some of chiropractic neurology’s modalities could be used by educators with the appropriate precautions in the classroom and this could create the logical progression of brain-based learning to brain-based rehabilitation for educators.

The study has some strong points. For example, there is a wide array of measures. I have reservations about many of them, to be sure, but it’s nice when students employ diverse measures. Also, a dissertation with a ten-year follow up is pretty impressive; I wonder whether Dr. Kuhn already had some of the data for the case from many years before he wrote his dissertation. (Perhaps I misread something?)

Even given its strengths, though, it is still a case study. It’s a good thing that the phrases “it is possible” and “could create” are in the final sentence of the conclusions. Meanwhile, when it comes to research about chiropractic benefits, I’ll stand by my earlier interpretation of the meta-analysis by Dr. Paulli and my concerns about Brain Balance therapy.

Dr. Kuhn’s page about FDS and learning and behavioral disorders and page from which I quoted.

2 Responses to “Functional Disconnection Syndrome”

  • I found your website when I was browsing for something unrelated, but this page came up as a top result, your website must be incredibly popular! Continue the good work!

    [Ed’s note: The person posting this comment gave a false address and included a reference for a Web site that is unrelated to this topic. The person claiming to be Essie Vasquez gave an e-mail address for a faculty member at Harvard University and pointed to a site recommending products to enhance eyelashes. I’ve modified the URL to point to the Indonesian location from which the spammer came, but I let the comment stand because, even though I surmise that its sentiment is not genuine, I liked it! Teehee.]

  • We have had great results for our 9 year old grand daughter. The Brain Balance program has helped us so much and made great changes in her behavior and ability to understand and to express herself better.

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