Gentle Touch, Profound Results: A Logan Pediatric Clinic Success Story

June 5, 2019 -- Born four weeks early, Blake Boyd had a rough transition into everyday life.

Blake spent his first eight days in the neonatal intensive care unit on a feeding tube. He experienced severe acid reflux, causing him to spit up profusely every 20 minutes. His eyes failed to track movement, and he had trouble with simple things, such as turning his head or grabbing for objects.

“He was miserable,” said his mom, Ashleigh Boyd of O’Fallon, Missouri. “He wasn’t sleeping and he just wasn’t responding in ways he should.”

Ashleigh was especially attuned to Blake’s care, as she is an emergency room and intensive care unit nurse. She took advantage of her access to resources, experts and clinical data, “but I wasn’t finding any answers as to what was going on with Blake and how we could help him,” she said.

Some suggested that Ashleigh have Blake evaluated by physical and occupational therapists. But it was Ashleigh’s CrossFit instructor who set her on a path. The instructor told her about Logan University, Muriel Périllat, DC, MS and her specialized work in pediatric chiropractic.

Ashleigh said she was open to conservative care and finding a more holistic approach for her son. Still, she was wary.

“Going in, I was really nervous,” she said, “but after meeting Dr. Périllat, I found that she was wonderful and her demeanor was amazing. I trusted her because of the way she explained things and how she communicated with Blake. She talked to him like a human, and she took action that first day.”

Ashleigh learned that in the case of her son, chiropractic was not about making adjustments, but rather altering his neurological communication system through craniosacral therapy. This approach uses a gentle touch and manipulation to relieve pain and dysfunction. During the first appointment, Ashleigh began to see immediate changes. Blake’s fists, which had been closed tightly for months, opened for the first time. His body, which had been stiff and rigid, began to ease. “I was able to put him in his car seat, and it was the first time he didn’t have a blood-curdling cry,” she said.

Over the next few weeks, Ashleigh and her husband took notice of other improvements in Blake’s health and well-being―his appetite increased, his acid reflux went away, he was able to turn his head both ways and grasp objects with his hands.

As Blake’s condition improved, his appointments decreased from three times a week to once a week. Now, at 7 months old, Blake sees Dr. Périllat every three weeks for approximately 15 minutes.

“I think there’s a misconception among people about chiropractic,” Ashleigh said. “They think it is about cracking and snapping bones, but they don’t realize how the neurological function communicates with the body. Life has been a lot easier knowing this is an option.”

Ashleigh chokes up as she talks about the effect Dr. Périllat and chiropractic care has had on her infant son. She now feels that she can be a voice for others. “Being a health professional for 15 years, I had never seen or heard anything like what we saw in Blake. I can tell you it was scary,” she said. “I’ve always been an advocate for continuing education. Having been through this, I think there needs to be more public awareness, so more lives can be touched and quality of life can be improved.”

Logan University adds pediatrics to chiropractic services

St. Louis area families seeking conservative health care for their children now have access to pediatric chiropractic care through Logan University.

The University’s Health Centers have added pediatric chiropractic as a specialty referral service to address the health needs of infants and youth. Dr. Muriel Périllat, DC, MS, leads the service at Logan’s Montgomery Health Center in Chesterfield, while doctors Allison Harvey, DC and Ashley Lewandoski, DC, provide pediatric care at Logan’s Southfield Health Center in St. Louis and MidRivers Health Center in St. Peters, respectively.

Chiropractic physicians advise parents on a variety of developmental topics and their care assists children through normal growth transitions as well as specific musculoskeletal disorders. For example: newborns may struggle with post-birth musculoskeletal issues and latching-on challenges; young children often require care for posture, spine development and appropriate muscle strength; and youth can suffer pain from falls, repetitive use or sport injuries. Chiropractic care also plays an important role in the care of children with special needs.

“There is growing demand for chiropractic as a conservative health care option for quality of life issues that affect children,” said Clay McDonald, DC, MBA, JD, president of Logan University. “The new service incorporates patient care, family engagement and chiropractic student education in the unique academic teaching environment of the Logan Health Centers.”

In 2000, a survey reported in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics) Pediatrics states that there were about 30 million pediatric visits to chiropractors. By 2009, pediatric chiropractic visits more than doubled to 68 million. The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners’ most recent practice analysis, issued in 2010, found that about 17 percent of chiropractic patients were under age 18 — approximately 7.7 percent aged five years or younger and some 9.4 percent between ages six and 17.

“Working with parents and children to overcome common childhood growing ailments is tremendously rewarding,” said Dr. Périllat. “Applying simple, natural care to support health body and brain development is essential and in high demand for more families every day.” She notes that pediatric chiropractic differs from adult care in that it uses a light touch with low or no pressure.

As with all chiropractic services at Logan, physicians advocate a team approach to patient-centered care, maintaining collaborative relationships with other health care professionals in treating, co-treating and referring patients. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics states, ‘Pediatric integrative medicine involves the integration of complementary and conventional therapies on the basis of the best available data, with the goal of maximizing therapeutic benefit to the patient.’ “No one caregiver or profession has all of the answers, however health care providers can learn from one another, and all health care providers should collaborate in order to best serve the needs of patient,” said Dr. Périllat.

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