Hyperkinesis (Hyperactivity)


    Overactivity in children (and adults) is a condition which has been snowballing since World War II, today it is a relatively common condition. No ones knows exactly how many children are classified as hyperkinetic. Authorities vary from a high figure of approximately 5,000,000 to a low of around 1,000,000. Undoubtedly there are many children who are hyperkinetic but have never been diagnosed. There are specific reasons for the alarming increase of hyperkinesis in children, as we shall see during our discussion of this condition.
    The hyperkinetic child is not just an overactive youngster who cannot be controlled by his parents because they lack parental authority and disciplinary ability. The hyperkinetic child is actually at a neurologic disadvantage because of one or more physiologic reasons.
    There are many characteristics that distinguish hyperkinetic children. Some have several or most of these characteristics all the time; others display only a few of the characteristics. There is yet another variation; some hyperkinetic children show considerable aggression or other symptoms during one part of the day; yet they are very loving and calm at another time.
    Boys are more often hyperkinetic than girls, at a ratio of approximately 8 to 1. There is usually no familial pattern to the condition; in fact, rarely is more than one child in a family involved even though there may be siblings.
    Hyperkinesis is often related to learning disabilities, although the hyperkinetic child usually has a normal or above normal IQ. The correlation with learning disabilities comes from the child's inability to concentrate and perform adequately in a classroom environment. Ultimately, if the hyperkinesis is left untreated he will fail in school, even though his IQ is normal or above average.
    The hyperkinetic child can often be distinguished from one who has poor parental guidance by the characteristics of the hyperkinesis. Of course, before a child can be diagnosed as hyperkinetic he must be evaluated by professional who works with the condition. Observing a child for the following characteristics will help determine whether professional consultation is necessary.
    1. Movement is consistently excessive for the activity being accomplished. The child's hands and legs are constantly moving; he has a tendency to rock and dance, with constant wiggles and jiggles. This overactivity is sometimes seen in very early life when the child beats his crib, knocks his head, and/or heavily rocks his crib.
    2. Aggression toward his peer and parents is the child's nature. He is compulsive in his disruption of other's activities; when obviously causing an interruption, he cannot be diverted from the action. He has a compulsion to touch everything and everyone. His acts of aggression are often dangerous to his own safety, but he is incapable of recognizing the danger.
    3. Unpredictability. It is difficult to determine how the child will react in specific situations. He is impulsive and may react differently at different times. He is highly excitable, especially when something does not go as he wishes.
    4. Impatience. The hyperkinetic child has many demands which must be met quickly. He sometimes cries for no apparent reason and becomes frustrated very easily.
    5. Short attention span, with inability to concentrate. The hyperkinetic child rarely completes a project, and his capability of sitting quietly through school, meals, or TV programs is very limited, even though he may be enjoying the activity. For example, the child may enjoying a TV program but he cannot sit still and watch it. He gets up, moves to another chair, sits down on the floor, goes back to his original seat - continually moving about throughout the program.
    6. Very poor coordination. The child is often considered clumsy and inattentive to what he is doing; however, closer observation shows that he cannot coordinate the right side of his body with the left. Buttoning clothes and generally dressing is difficult; he has difficulty in writing and drawing because his eyes and hands fail to function together; he is poor in sports, such as catching and throwing a ball. He will frequently bump into objects.
    Poor coordination extends also to the thought processes. The child may mean one thing and say exactly the opposite. He may be told to do something, yet he does exactly the opposite. This is not failure to obey, but confusion within the thought processes.
    7. Poor sleep habits. The child is usually a restless sleeper who does not want to go to bed. He will wake often through the night. Many hyperkinetic children cannot get enough sleep for their bodies needs.
    Many children diagnosed as hyperkinetic have been given medication to bring the condition under manageable control. There are two types of medication used - stimulant medication, which paradoxically reduces the child's activity, and tranquilization. Sometimes, both stimulants and tranquilizers are used on the same child.
    As found in applied kinesiology diagnosis, there are three basic reasons a child is hyperkinetic. When one or more of these causative factors is found and subsequently treated, the return to normal of hyperkinetic children is exceptionally good without the use of drugs.

Neurologic Disorganization

    There are specific steps of development through which the nervous system must go in order to function at an optimal level. This development takes place step-by-step throughout the maturation of the baby and young child.
There are stages during which bilaterality - the two sides of the body working together - is developed, and finally the stage of right or left dominance. This correlates with right handedness or the left-handedness of the body. Sometimes there is interference with these stages of development, causing the two sides of the body to fail to function satisfactorily together and develop ultimate dominance.
    When there is inadequate neurologic organization, there are many factors of dysfunction which can contribute to hyperkinesis in a child. His eyes may fail to function together normally to transmit a visual image to his brain for correct interpretation. This can cause difficulty in perceiving his environment, resulting in constant confusion in the child. His extremities may not work together when walking, running, catching a ball, and generally orienting his body in space. Neurologic disorganization may also develop after an injury or a severe illness. The symptomatic picture is very similar to that of poor development of nerve organization in the first place.
    When neurologic disorganization is present, the nerve messages within the body are confused; consequently, they are interpreted incorrectly by the brain. For this reason, children with this problem will often say the exact opposite of what they mean, or do the opposite of what they are told. The term "switching is often applied to this nerve condition because of the characteristic switching nature of the nerve messages.
    The child who exhibits characteristic clumsiness, inability to button a shirt, doing opposite of what is intended, and poor reading and writing should be considered potentially neurologically disorganized.

Blood Sugar Handling Stress

    Another common cause of hyperkinesis is the inability of the child's body to maintain blood sugar at an optimum functioning level. This is especially important when you consider that the nervous system - especially the brain - is extremely dependent on normal blood sugar level for optimum function.
    Blood sugar levels fluctuate with meals and the type of activity being done by the individual. Because of the constantly changing levels, there are times when this child's blood sugar level is good and other times when it is poor. This is the child who is hyperkinetic during one part of the day and functions better during another part of the day. Mood changes usually accompany the activity changes.
    Blood sugar levels are regulated by glands within the body; they are also very dependent upon the type of diet eaten by the child. Treatment usually consists of nerve and energy control of the glandular system, and probably dietary changes.

Food Additives

    Some children are extremely sensitive to certain food additives. This sensitivity is probably genetic in nature, which is why some children are so sensitive and others are not. Food coloring and preservatives are the additives most commonly involved in hyperkinesis. It can be determined through an applied kinesiology examination if the child is sensitive to these items. The child will usually improve rapidly after these items are removed from his diet; it is amazing to see how quickly he goes back into hyperkinesis with even a slight dietary indiscretion.
    Treatment of hyperkinesis with applied kinesiology techniques usually produces favorable results in a very short time. You must remember, however, that even though the physiologic reason for the hyperkinesis is removed within a few weeks or a few months, the child is still not completely free of the problem. Time is required for total health to be reestablished because the initial damage cause by hyperkinesis is still present. For example, if the child was very aggressive toward his peers on the playground, they will still expect him to be the same unrelenting bully he was previously. Consequently, they will react to him and he will probably retaliate. Until a new rapport is established in this situation, there will still be problems although the proper steps for ultimate correction have been taken.
    It is important to treat hyperkinesis as early as possible in order to avoid the many ramifications of the condition. Children do not usually "grow out' of hyperkinesis. The untreated hyperkinetic child is the juvenile delinquent today and the adult who cannot adjust ti society tomorrow.


JIM BARTLEY, DC DIBAK is a Chiropractor and Applied Kinesiologist practicing Applied Kinesiology in central and Bend, Oregon who treats conditions such as Sports Injuries, neck pain, back pain, headaches, shoulder problems, elbow problems, knee pain, ankle pain, foot pain, orthopedic conditions, TMJ jaw or temporomandibular joint problems using natural Chiropractic healthcare and Applied Kinesiology