Dr. Robert Melillo believes balancing the brain hemispheres is the key to breakthrough for kids suffering with developmental and learning disorders. So convinced is Melillo that he is launching Brain Balance Centers across the country.
“When I started witnessing the rampant increase in children taking Ritalin in the early 1990s, I decided to find out what the problem was,” says Melillo, who first began exploring the hemispheric concept in 1990.
Melillo admits his first instinct was to blame the rise in ADHD cases on pharmaceutical companies peddling prescription medicines to beef up their bottom lines. So he launched an investigation. He talked with pediatricians, but none could tell him what was going on in the brains of these Ritalin-taking kids. He talked with educators. Schoolteachers confirmed the problem of hyperactivity, but couldn’t offer him any insights as to the cause of the problems.
“I realized nobody knew what was really happening—that was the problem,” Melillo, whose three children were under 6 years old at the time, recalls. “I dove into researching this, and it has become my obsession for 15 years now.”
Obsession is an accurate word. Melillo has already written four textbooks on the topic. His research uncovered a hemispheric relationship between conditions like ADHD, dyslexia, autism, Asperger syndrome, Tourette’s syndrome and various learning disabilities and processing disorders.
“There isn’t much difference between ADHD, autism, Asperger’s and Tourette’s. The exact same areas of the brain are involved,” Melillo says, explaining that he has grouped these disorders into what is referred to as Functional Disconnection Syndrome. “The only difference is between ADHD and dyslexia; one involves the right side of the brain and the other involves the left side of the brain.”
Melillo’s first test case was the 3-year-old son of a chiropractor. Doctors diagnosed the boy with mild autism. He had never uttered a word. Within three weeks of applying Melillo’s hemispheric treatments, the parents came to his office in tears of joy because the boy was beginning to speak. “As a young parent relating to other young parents,” he recalls. “This just blew me away.”
Melillo’s success treating that 3-year-old left him with what he felt was a moral obligation to conduct a more in-depth study on the hemispheric connection, but it was inconvenient. Melillo was running a large practice and had little time to explore an entirely new discipline. That’s when he had an epiphany that changed the course of his career: If he didn’t do it, then who would? The lives of suffering children were literally in his hands. So he kept researching and conducting case studies.
Chiropractic neurologist Ted Carrick, D.C., Ph.D., is one of the instigators of Melillo’s passion. Carrick is the founder of the Carrick Institute for Graduate Studies in Cape Canaveral, Fla., which offers programs in clinical neurology. Author of “Neurophysiological Implications in Learning,” Carrick has been an active brain researcher, teacher and clinician.
“Dr. Carrick has had a tremendous influence on me professionally,” Melillo says. “The first time I saw him lecture, he blew me away. He was doing things I never saw anybody in our profession do, like picking up heart murmurs. We started out as teacher-mentor, now we are the best of friends.”
In 2001, Carrick asked Melillo to develop courses in hemispheric treatments of ADHD and related disorders so chiropractic neurologists could get equipped to deal with the epidemic of neurobehavioral disorders. Melillo has trained more than 1,000 professionals on how to use his method since 2001. However, there is a challenge to the widespread adoption of the brain balance methodology: practicality. Chiropractors have struggled to integrate the methods into their practices. The solution was to raise awareness. The solution, in part, is Brain Balance Centers.
As its name suggests, the Brain Balance program’s goal is to correct a fundamental imbalance between the two hemispheres of the brain. That imbalance contributes to a communication breakdown that results in a range of negative symptoms and behaviors. The Brain Balance Achievement Program trades drugs, medical procedures and psychotherapy for custom programs that integrate physical and cognitive exercise with dietary change and chiropractic adjustments.
Specifically, the program blends physical (sensory and motor) activities with educational and behavioral methods to achieve optimum brain and body function. The program improves each function individually and then progressively integrates the rest of the brain functions. Brain Balance Centers typically works with children from kindergarten through ninth grade and requires a strong commitment from both parent and child.
“The program is based on objective measurements rather than function or symptoms,” Melillo explains. “We do a combination of different things with the children one hour three times a week. Sometimes they get an adjustment, but they don’t always need full adjustments. Our activities are based on what we see going on with the child.”
Melillo reports life-changing results in his patients. Take Carolyn Ortiz, for example. Her son, Christopher, was diagnosed with ADHD at 6-and-a-half years old. The neurologist insisted on medicating the child, but his parents chose to find another route. That route was Brain Balance Centers. “Christopher was hyperactive, impulsive and having problems focusing and behaving,” Ortiz says. “We have seen remarkable changes. He is now calmer, more focused, more cooperative. He listens better and he’s less impulsive.”
Bella Pisano was born healthy, but her developmental milestones were delayed. Doctors gave her mother, Cara, little hope that her baby would be normal after doctors began pointing to the possibility of genetic diseases. Pisano brought Bella to Brain Balance Centers for treatment. “The changes were instantaneous,” she recalls. “She began to speak. She moved with more fluidity and she expressed her needs.”
Melillo knows there’s much more work to do. Four Brain Balance Centers, in Georgia, California and New York, are not enough. He is moving aggressively to launch up to 10 new facilities next year in the United States and Europe. The way Melillo sees it, his hemispherical approach is raising awareness for the chiropractic profession’s ability to deal with brain disorders in children. The American Chiropractic Association’s Council on Neurology is also actively communicating and educating the profession about the importance of neurology to the overall treatment of chiropractic patients.
“Brain balance disorders are the single biggest problem facing society. Think about the future. What’s going to happen with these kids in another 10 or 15 years if we don’t help them?” Melillo asks. “That’s what Brain Balance Centers is about. I realized this concept wasn’t going to take off unless we developed an organization model to go along with the treatment model. It’s a moral obligation.”
For more information, visit these websites to learn more about Dr. Melillo and Brain Balance Centers: acatoday.com or brainbalancecenters.com
Each hemisphere of the brain has specific functions, and a wholly functioning brain is necessary to achieve maximum executive functioning. The “secret” of the Brain Balance™ process is to determine the exact areas of the brain that are deficient and to work to improve those areas, thus getting both hemispheres working together. Most of the current protocols seek to strengthen the strong side of the brain, thus making the imbalance even greater.
Brain Balance uses a multimodal approach—sensory/motor, cognitive and nutritional/allergy elimination. Sensory input is what drives the brain to organize and develop—this is called “neuroplasticity.” Cognitive works with the executive functions of the brain and is dependent on sensory input. Brain allergies can create “short-circuits” to the normal function of the brain. No program is complete without dealing with allergies, and with allergies come nutritional deficiencies, which must be dealt with as well.
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