Pediatric Chiropractic integrity faces new challenges

Yesterday the BBC reported that the University of Wales is to cease validating “other degrees”.

Accrediting degrees from private colleges has no doubt been lucrative for the Uni of Wales. But it’s also proven to be a slur on expected standards. Early last November the BBC reported on the Uni. of Wales suspending accreditation of degrees from a controversial Malaysian business college. Overseas accreditation was always a risky venture and this debacle led to Leighton Andrews, Minister for Education in Wales to claim that Wales itself had been brought into disrepute. The university he said, had let down Higher Education. The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education ultimately requested that the Uni. of Wales review the entire caper.

The decision places doubt upon McTimoney Chiropractic College, having its degrees approved. This is nothing less than tremendous news for thinking Australians and anyone concerned about a discipline that runs “seminars” designed to lure paying customers into entrusting their child’s health to unproven guesswork. Such as, How to create the ‘It’s normal for children to be adjusted’ mindset with your clinic and your community, or How to have the majority of your patients as children. These are just a couple of the gigs run by RMIT graduate Glenn Maginness of the Mt. Eliza Family Chiropractic Clinic.

All this comes together if we consider that McTimoney College offer degrees in the McTimoney Chiropractic Method, named after the late John McTimoney. These guys are famous for ordering all members to remove their entire websites at the beginning of the Singh libel case because they were veritable cornucopias of bogus claims. McTimoney always knew they were in the business of scamming when it came to claims about children and feared justified complaints. They also hold claims to fame for having atrocious academic standards in “make believe degrees” as espoused by David Colquhoun.

One of the “special” degrees from McTimoney College happens to be in Pediatric Chiropractic. Indeed, to my knowledge the only degree worldwide in Pediatric Chiropractic comes from McTimoney, and is validated by The University of Wales. From this hub radiates the dangerous and unproven practices and claims from the RMIT pediatric clinic – subject to a highly supported request to close it down reported in the BMJ – the greed of people like Glenn Maginness, potentially lethal antivaccination misinformation from Warren Sipser and Nimrod Weiner and the overarching mystical philosophy of Simon Floreani’s Chiropractors’ Association of Australia.

One hopes this abuse of Higher Education will be challenged, given the lack of evidence for chiropractic in general and the total absence of evidence for pediatric hanky panky. You may have heard of the KiroKids franchise chain in Victoria. In which case you’ll be delighted to know that the “course leader” for the Masters Degree at McTimoney is none other than the brains behind the unconscionable KiroKids scam. Not-a-real-doctor Neil J Davies himself. He boasts:

The MSc degree course now offered to the chiropractic profession by McTimoney College of Chiropractic was designed and written by the Course Leader, Dr Neil J Davies in conjunction with a group of leading paediatricians and other medical specialists and chiropractic advisors.

The course was in development for a period of 4 years and in August 2003 it was duly validated by the University of Wales. The course has been so well accepted by the chiropractic profession that enrolment applications have been received from 14 different countries including the United Kingdom.

Davies waffles about Intelligent Neurological Chiropractic. He has not one research paper published. He does have a text book however, and has won the auspicious Fishslapper of the week prize. Given that UK criticism of chiropractic has been scathing of the “new breed” of outright cons if you will, it may be that validation of McTimoney chiropractic degree ceases. This will put a welcome abrupt halt to the growth of one of the most unfortunate exploitations of vulnerable parents ever witnessed. But it goes further than just scamming a gullible public. They not only cause harm to children’s musculo-skeletal integrity and inflict stroke and death through cervical manipulation. By peddling misinformation and indirectly sustaining falsehoods about conventional medicine their status as a one stop shop for quackery is firm.

Consider this from the abstract of Pediatric vaccination and vaccine-preventable disease acquisition: associations with care by complementary and alternative medicine providers:

Children who saw chiropractors were significantly less likely to receive each of three of the recommended vaccinations. Children aged 1-17 years were significantly more likely to be diagnosed with a vaccine-preventable disease if they received naturopathic care. Use of provider-based complementary/alternative medicine by other family members was not independently associated with early childhood vaccination status or disease acquisition.

Pediatric use of complementary/alternative medicine in Washington State was significantly associated with reduced adherence to recommended pediatric vaccination schedules and with acquisition of vaccine-preventable disease. Interventions enlisting the participation of complementary/alternative medicine providers in immunization awareness and promotional activities could improve adherence rates and assist in efforts to improve public health.

Still, we must remember whilst the claims of chiropractic are primarily nonsense, John Reggars, past president of the Chiropractors Registration Board of Victoria and present vice president of the Chiropractic and Osteopathic College of Australasia, is a voice of sanity. Reggars has been scathing toward tactics (presently backed and encouraged by the CAA), used to increase income for chiropractors and. His article Chiropractic at a crossroads or are we just going around in circles, [Archived copy] published in Chiropractic and Manual Therapies, May 2011, is a compelling read.

Reggars claims the “all-encompassing alternative system of healthcare is both misguided and irrational”. And;

“Chiropractic trade publications and so-called educational seminar promotion material often abound with advertisements of how practitioners can effectively sell the vertebral subluxation complex to an ignorant public,” Mr Reggars said.

“Phrases such as ‘double your income’, ‘attract new patients’ and ‘keep your patients longer in care’, are common enticements for chiropractors to attend technique and practice management seminars.” Mr Reggars, who stressed his support for the “mainstream majority” in the profession, also condemned the use of care contracts, where patients signed up to a fixed number of treatment sessions.

“Selling such concepts as lifetime chiropractic care, the use of contracts of care, the misuse of diagnostic equipment such as thermography and surface electromyography and the X-raying of every new patient, all contribute to our poor reputation, public distrust and official complaints.”

“For the true believer, the naive practitioner or undergraduate chiropractic student who accepts in good faith the propaganda and pseudoscience peddled by the VSC teachers, mentors and professional organisations, the result is the same, a sense of belonging and an unshakable and unwavering faith in their ideology.”

Integrity like that of Reggars reminds us that the option of subjecting students to proper education will always come up in this debate. Many will argue that a change at the institutional level will result in professionalism at the clinical level. Yet chiropractic has always had difficulty selling its song as much more than a jingle. It hasn’t just recently gone awry with brats the like of Floreani, Weiner and Davies, all of whom should be vigorously prosecuted for false claims and fraud under the appropriate health act and advertising codes. There have always been crooks and there probably always will be.

It’s not a discipline. It’s a belief system and it peddles subjective faith on so many levels. Many like Reggars have done an admirable job and we can remain thankful for the attempts of the Chiropractic Boards to address complaints. Yet today chiropractors are expected to provide for the new age worried well. In the eyes of so many real disciplines they are not health practitioners. They practice rituals. The superstitious “result” is achieved by so-called “patients” who think themselves into a state of wellnesss – whatever that is.

The very last demographic we need pushed into this anything-goes nonsense are impressionable children. Let’s hope the decision by the University of Wales has far reaching consequences.


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