Rebuilding Sidney Crosby’s brain

A little-known treatment by a Canadian-born chiropractor to the stars may be the key to his comeback

Rebuilding Crosby’s brain

Fred Vuich/Sports Illustrated

Ted Carrick is listening to Sidney Crosby’s heart. The NHL superstar is strapped into a computerized rotating chair that has just spun him like a merry-go-round. It is, as Carrick likes to tell people who visit his lab at Life University near Atlanta, one of only three “whole-body gyroscopes” in the world, and it’s integral to his work as the founding father of “chiropractic neurology.” He uses it to stimulate certain injured and diseased brains.

Crosby, who plays for the Pittsburgh Penguins and has been famously sidelined with a concussion since January, is Carrick’s newest patient, and this day in August is the first time they’ve met. Carrick leans in close, his balding, tanned head looming inches from Crosby’s face, and rests the stethoscope on his chest. “Let’s make sure you’re not dead.”

Satisfied, Carrick turns to the others in this cramped blue room, who include Crosby’s agent Pat Brisson, trainer Andy O’Brien and several chiropractic neurologists or studentsin- training wearing white lab coats. “He’s fine,” Carrick says. “It’s going to be good.”

Nodding to his colleague Derek Barton, who usually operates the lab equipment, Carrick signals to restart the gyroscope—with one difference. This time Crosby will be turned upside-down while he is also spun around. He hasn’t experienced this dual action yet.


Barton and Carrick discuss the appropriate speed setting the gyroscope. Then Barton enters Carrick’s directions into a computer that controls the gyroscope (chiropractic neurology uses no drugs or surgery), and tells Crosby to keep his head pressed against the back of the black cushioned seat. Crosby, wearing a grey T-shirt, black shorts and white ankle socks, scans the crowd on the other side of the clear plastic cylinder surrounding the machine. The door clangs shut. Above it, a stack of red, yellow and green lights shines while 10 high-pitched beeps signal the gyroscope is about to start. Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!

A low hum floods the room as the gyroscope begins its 20-second “montage” of rotations. With each flip, Crosby grips the black handles flanking his thighs, his face reddens and his jaw clenches. Before long, the gyroscope, called GyroStim, winds down. “Perfect,” Carrick concludes.

As the chair returns to its starting position, Carrick approaches the gyroscope, opens the door, steps in and stands in front of his patient. 6 2 “Still there?” he asks, as he plugs the stethoscope back into his ears. He listens to Crosby’s heart again, and checks his eye movements. “That’s much better,” Carrick informs Crosby. “Just sit there for a sec. Relax for a bit.” Carrick asks him a few questions, and then surmises, “That’s good. That’s good!”

Inside the Pittsburgh hockey arena, known as the Consol Energy Center, Sidney Crosby is sitting behind a long table littered with microphones and audio recorders. His name is typed in bold black letters on a white sign. But Crosby needs no introduction. On this day, Sept. 7, nearly 100 journalists, camera operators, publicists, agents and team executives have convened for a rare press conference updating his health status. Ray Shero, the Penguins’ general manager, sits to his left. On the end, farthest from Crosby, is Michael Collins, a neuropsychologist who has been treating him for months. And at Crosby’s right hand is Ted Carrick.

It’s only been weeks since they were in Georgia together, and 249 days since Crosby sustained the first of two head shots that caused his concussion. That hit, which happened during the annual Winter Classic on New Year’s Day, was a blow unlike any the hockey world had ever experienced: the best player since Wayne Gretzky was suddenly knocked out of the game indefinitely because of an invisible injury: no blood on the ice, no cracks on any X-rays and no way to know how bad was the damage done.

And yet Crosby has turned concussion into the most highly visible of sports injuries. Since January, Google searches of “Crosby” and “concussion” have moved in tandem as hockey fans in Canada, the United States and as far away as Finland, Sweden, Germany and the United Kingdom try to make sense of what has happened to their favourite player. Scientists, doctors and equipment makers have used Crosby as a talking point to raise awareness and as a case study in the complexity of concussion. One group at the University of Ottawa has gone so far as to reconstruct Crosby’s first head shot to see the link between hits, helmets and brain-tissue stress. The NHL is embroiled in a polarizing debate over fighting in hockey—how to keep it in, but make it safe?—and whether it contributed to the deaths of three players in the past six months. And nervous hockey parents everywhere are reconsidering whether their children should keep playing. How Crosby recovers will help them decide.

Maclean’s obtained exclusive access to the lab where Crosby saw Carrick, and learned about his unique methods of treating brain injuries. While the details of Crosby’s personal health data remain private, over the course of two days, the magazine was granted access to a range of information about the treatments used on patients, including him. During that time in late September and early October, an astonishing assortment of patients came through the clinic. A wealthy businessman and his son. A prominent NFL player. An NHL rookie and a teenage girl, each with a concussion. An aging biology teacher who’d had a stroke. A boy with brain damage sustained after a van ran him over. A middle-aged physician who’d lost his ability to talk or walk after a tick bite. In every case, Carrick ran through a version of the same evaluation, exercises and equipment he used on Crosby. “We saw something like nine MDs, neurologists, cardiologists,” says one patient’s relative. “I’ve seen nothing that compares to this.”

Nor had most of the people at the press conference now bracing to hear about Carrick’s involvement with Crosby. Staring out from behind gold-rimmed eyeglasses, Carrick surveyed the fidgety strangers. “Good day, people. I’m here because Sid asked me to be here to discuss with you some of the things that have been going on in his life over the last little while.”

But Carrick’s statements were more puzzling than clarifying: he took “a different type of approach” to brain injuries, one that looked at “physicality” and involved “specific measurements” to “make a very good diagnostic impression of what was happening in Sid’s brain.” Carrick alluded to Crosby’s compromised spatial awareness—“areas of space were not in an appropriate grid to where he would perceive them”—and described how he had fixed that. “We were able in our lab to quantify this, and then to develop strategies that allowed us to basically build him a new grid,” Carrick declared. “So at the present time he is able to embrace strategies with a new system where everything is in line.” And then he added: “It’s Christmas, I think, for Sid Crosby and for the people that care for him. And it’s a very good start.”

When question period finally arrived, the only thing any reporter could think to ask Carrick specifically was: “The Christmas line—I was a little confused by what that meant, so if you could maybe elaborate on that, please?”

For whatever vague or bewildering comments were made during that 40-minute press conference, a singular message came through loud and clear: Sidney Crosby was getting better, and this man, Ted Carrick, was a big reason.

Carrick started out as a chiropractor, but has since developed an encyclopedic understanding of the brain. But what Carrick practises goes far beyond alignment and adjustments or conventional medicine. He is a self-made man: Carrick invented his discipline, and then founded an educational institution, the Carrick Institute for Graduate Studies, devoted to growing it. He lectures and practises around the world, and has legions of earnest students and loyal graduates. Today, 2,700 individuals in the world are board-certified to practise chiropractic neurology or functional neurology, a related field that permits pharmacy and surgery and draws professionals from other backgrounds too.

The method used by Carrick and his colleagues is notably different from the current “rest and wait” approach endorsed by an international consensus group, which recommends patients refrain from any physical or mental activities until all symptoms have disappeared. Then they slowly reintroduce activity, but if symptoms resume, they revert to the “rest” stage again. Carrick encourages his patients to rest immediately after the injury occurs, but then incorporates stimulation into the treatment, based on a “thorough neurological exam” that pinpoints their particular problems or symptoms as well as what brain functions are most viable. The stimulations might include eye or balance exercises, multi-tasking activities or body rotations. “We tailor our treatments very specifically to the individual,” says Carrick. “When we have an area that’s not working right, we look at other areas that can compensate for that if we need to, or we look at mechanisms to make those areas work right.”

The wait list to see Carrick can be as long as three years, though in some cases, such as with Crosby, patients can be expedited. By the time they met in Georgia, the reality of what Crosby could lose if he didn’t get better soon was abundantly and uncomfortably clear: his career, his endorsements, the adoration of an entire nation. Yet in many ways, the NHL’s golden boy was just like many people stuck in a concussion vacuum where conventional medicine can’t readily cure the injury, leagues can’t easily curb it from happening and patients and their families can’t know how long symptoms will last and what life will be like once they’re gone, if they ever do go.

However strange and sickening that first day of treatment was for Crosby, it proved encouraging enough that he continued seeing Carrick for the whole next week. They’d meet as early as seven in the morning, and they’d go as late as six at night, says Carrick, running through a circuit of high-tech equipment and low-tech exercises in the lab and at the local hockey rink. By the time Crosby travelled back to Pittsburgh, Carrick says, “he was better than, you know, super-normal.” The Penguins’ medical team, who have been overseeing Crosby’s recovery, also saw an improvement: they ran computerized tests called IMPACT to compare his current neurocognitive abilities with what they were before the concussion. The results: not quite “super-normal,” but “the best we’ve seen” since Crosby got hurt, as Collins said at the press conference. (He declined interview requests.)

“Carrick had a very prominent role in Sidney’s current recovery status,” Brisson, Crosby’s agent, told Maclean’s. “He progressed extremely well under Carrick.” Just 10 days after the press conference, Crosby joined his teammates on the ice for the first day of training camp. Three-and-a-half weeks after that, Crosby was cleared for contact—the final step before returning to play. Now, after nearly a year of nagging symptoms that have included fogginess, light-headedness and nausea so paralyzing Crosby couldn’t drive or watch TV, and after a slew of setbacks each time he pushed too hard while exercising or skating, the greatest hockey player of this generation is verging on a comeback—perhaps because of a relatively unknown therapy he received at a relatively unknown university from a relatively unknown man who isn’t even a medical doctor.

Come what may, Carrick has set out to do what no amount of time or rest or other expert has managed to accomplish so far: rebuild Sid’s brain.

It’s just before 8 a.m. on the first Saturday of October. Carrick is about to give a four-hour lecture on chiropractic neurology at Life University in Marietta, Ga. He is standing beside a massive screen displaying the first slide of his PowerPoint presentation. It shows the Carrick Institute coat of arms, which features bees because “they represent work and continuous diligence as a team,” says Carrick, and the motto “seek wisdom” in Latin because it “is something that I have always ascribed to.”

The slide also lists Carrick’s professional titles, which include affiliations with Life, Logan and Parker universities, and president of the American Chiropractic Association’s Council on Neurology. After his full name, Frederick R. Carrick, there are several acronyms signifying various credentials—60 letters in all, mostly unrecognizable.

A large man stands in front of the slide, and the crowd hushes. John Donofrio, president of the chiropractic neurology board, introduces Carrick by describing the first time he heard him speak. “I was there for one hour when I said, ‘My whole life is now changed forever,’ ” says Donofrio. “He has no idea, okay, of how much of this world he has touched.” Carrick “basically is what D.D. and B.J. were back in the 1900s,” he says, referring to the Palmers, father and son, who founded the field of chiropractics. “He is really the father of chiropractic neurology.”

Carrick was born on Feb. 26, 1952, in Toronto, and raised in Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg—wherever work took his father, a career soldier with the Princess Patricias Canadian Light Infantry who fought in the Korean War. After finishing high school, Carrick says he “had a calling” to join the Princess Pats too, and served in Cyprus. While on leave in the Bahamas, he met his future wife, a New Englander on vacation. After three years in the army, Carrick quit. “I was really going to do it forever, except that I thought that I might be able to help people more in health care.”

The decision to pursue chiropractic rather than medical school was a “very calculated coin toss,” says Carrick, because, as a lifelong martial artist (he still does karate), it seemed more in line with his preference for natural means of healing and well-being. Carrick was also “more impressed” with the chiropractors he talked to than the medical doctors. “I like to do things with vibrancy,” he says over lunch at a Middle Eastern restaurant near his lab. “Not death and dying.”

Carrick wed in 1973, and after he graduated in 1979, the couple moved to New Hampshire to set up his practice. Over the years, he developed a clientele that included patients from overseas with “everything from strokes, low back pain, dystonia—you name it, I saw it,” recalls Carrick. “People would come to me when other things failed.” Carrick keeps on hand a state of New Hampshire resolution “honouring” his clinic in 1988 for “its contribution to the quality of human life and performance,” and for his ability “to afford his fellow man great relief from physical pain and disability.”

By the mid-1990s, Carrick and his family had relocated to St. Cloud, Fla., and he obtained a self-designed Ph.D. from Walden University in what he calls “brain-based learning.” Around this time, he gained attention for bringing comatose patients out of their vegetative states using stimulation. A program that aired on PBS, entitled Waking up the Brain: Amazing Adjustments, described Carrick as a “remarkable healer and teacher.”

As Carrick’s practice has grown, so too has the Carrick Institute, which is headquartered in Cape Canaveral. Since the mid-’80s, it has evolved from teaching partnerships between Carrick and a few chiropractic schools into its own educational entity specializing in “clinical neurology.” It has more than a few dozen faculty members who teach courses such as “neuron theory and receptor activation” and a three-part series on “vestibular rehabilitation.” To become a chiropractic neurologist requires three additional years of studying, a residency and board certification exams.

Despite the buzz surrounding this burgeoning field, many people outside it aren’t sure what to think. Before the press conference in September, Blaine Hoshizaki, professor and vice-dean of the University of Ottawa’s school of human kinetics and director of the Neurotrauma Impact Science Laboratory, had never heard of this specialty, despite his extensive work in concussion research. He found it “strange” that a medical neurologist wasn’t included in the Crosby press conference, and is hesitant about Carrick’s approach, saying, “I’m not sure you want your chiropractor as your guide to the new frontier.”

Dr. Kevin Gordon, a pediatric neurologist in Halifax, finds Carrick’s approach intriguing and perplexing. “Are specific exercises targeted at particular parts of the brain likely to change the way in which the brain works? It is a possibility,” says Gordon, a professor at Dalhousie University. Still, he isn’t convinced. “The question is, what’s the science behind these interventions?”

This isn’t Carrick’s first brush with cynics: in 2007, he was the subject of online debate over his credentials and credibility on the website Chirotalk: The skeptical chiropractic discussion forum. “These people are chiropractic haters,” says Carrick now. He gets frustrated that the field is dismissed offhand. “It’s like saying, ‘Hey, what do you think of this curling iron?’ Well, I’m bald. I can’t tell you anything about it. It doesn’t mean it’s bad.” He’s also inflamed by any suggestion that his work is wacky. “To characterize what we do as some fringe science is crazy,” he says. “We don’t have Kool-Aid. We don’t have a little fire. We’re not dancing around naked. There’s no pins in the dolls, and there’s no dolls.”

In fact, Carrick argues that all of his diagnostic techniques, exercises and equipment, excluding the gyroscope, are used by medical doctors too. “There’s nothing we do that is different from anybody else. But the combinations that we do, the frequency that we do it, are often different,” he says. “If you can imagine, you’ve got some eggs, you’ve got some flour, you’ve got some sugar, you’ve got an oven, you’ve got a ramekin, you’ve got some butter. But your soufflé isn’t as puffy as mine,” Carrick continues. “We just put in our recipe a little bit different.”

One thing Carrick says skeptics fail to mention when comparing his methods to the current “rest and wait” approach, which is what Crosby adhered to during most of his recovery, is that “the gold standard people had him for eight months, you know?” he says. “That’s the gold standard, right?”

Before Crosby goes in the gyroscope, Carrick learns more about what problems he’s having. That involves another machine, the “computerized assessment of postural systems,” or CAPS. In a small white room, Crosby stands in his skates on a black foam platform while wearing sound-dampening headphones. Carrick and his colleagues surround him in case he gets unsteady; his agent and trainer watch from the doorway.

Crosby’s only objective is to stand still while his eyes are closed and his head points to the left, to the right and to the ground for 25 seconds at a time. Three sensors inside the platform detect motion and transmit the data into a system that calculates his stability and what is described as his fatigability ratio.

“Tuck your chin down to your chest,” instructs Barton, who is running the system. “And close your eyes.”

Crosby obliges. Carrick, standing nearby, responds with encouragement: “That is so helpful to what we’re going to do for you. Just putting those skates on there gives us exactly the information we wanted to get,” he says. “Now we’re going to fix it for you.”

So begins a week of tests and exercises based on Carrick’s neurological exam of Crosby. Standing in front of him, Carrick pulls from his pocket a red-and-white-striped cloth ribbon called an optokinetic nystagmus strip. He moves it horizontally in front of Crosby’s eyes to check how smoothly he can track the stripes as they go by. Other times Carrick flicks his thumbs in front of Crosby to gauge how quickly and accurately Crosby targets objects. Occasionally Crosby lies on a chiropractic table while one of Carrick’s colleagues transmits high-frequency currents into the tympanic membrane in his ears. They put on graphite conductive gloves that are connected to a machine, and insert their thumbs in his ears. Often, Crosby does eye exercises on an iPad that challenge him to stare at a dot or follow a moving pattern.

Sometimes Crosby has to stare at or track red or green laser-beam dots as they appear or move across a wall. For this test, called videonystagmography, or VNG, he sits on a dusty-rose upholstered metal chair like those found in a banquet hall. He is wearing a pair of black goggles with cameras in each lens that transmit live video of his eyes onto a laptop. Carrick, the lab team and Crosby’s agent and trainer watch as two eyeballs dart from dot to dot or glide from side to side. After one such session, Crosby sees the footage of his own eyes.

As the days go on, Carrick incorporates ice time into the treatment. His colleagues have set up a mini lab in an office inside a nearby arena. Canadian and American flags hang at one end. Half a dozen local hockey players have been recruited to practise with Crosby, and it is easy to pick him out. After running through shooting and skating drills—dozens of pucks are strewn across the ice—Crosby is scuttled into the makeshift lab for more tests.

Crosby, who has on a black jersey like the Penguins wear, takes off his white helmet. He is dripping with sweat, breathing heavily and chugging from a cold bottle. Except for Carrick standing in front of him waiting to do the thumb test, it is easy to imagine that this is the same Crosby that fans have come to idolize. He puts down his drink and begins the eye exercise. Carrick catches a glimpse of the old Crosby too: “The reflex is back there, which is great.”

After their time in Georgia, Carrick says he set an alarm on Crosby’s iPad to go off every hour, reminding him to do various eye exercises. Since then, Carrick says he hasn’t seen Crosby, but they have been in frequent contact. “He’s excited about getting back into the game,” says Carrick, “and hopefully things will continue to go very, very well for him.”

Even medical professionals such as neurologist Kevin Gordon acknowledge that Crosby’s recent progress has been promising. “You’re dealing with a remarkable case report that says this holistic approach with multiple interventions has made somebody with a severe concussion improve on a time course which would seem remarkable compared to how they were recovering before,” he says. But Gordon is cautious about what this means for the future. “Is it going to change his ultimate recovery? We can’t tell yet. Is he completely recovered? We don’t know yet.” Having researched and treated concussions for many years, Gordon says that “if indeed this is the solution, then there are a lot of people this needs to be standardized and developed for. We can’t ignore it. But we have to study it.” At Life University, Carrick and his colleagues have begun a 400-person study to determine whether the gyroscope does improve balance. But he is also emphatic that because his approach is so patient-specific, it is difficult to study. “If you hurt your brain, I’m probably going to treat you differently than this person here. It’s hard to design a study like that, because studies like to say we’re going to give you this drug and we’re going to see what happens,” says Carrick.

For those close to Crosby, all that matters now is whether he is well enough to get back in the game. And there is only one person who can ultimately make that call: Crosby himself. “It’s like a race-car driver. The car could be fixed, the tires are perfect, the pipes are good, but if the driver isn’t mentally prepared to go 250 mph on the track, it outweighs” any expert opinion, says Brisson.

On one of his last days in Georgia, Crosby did another round of VNG. As the testing wrapped up, Carrick responded with unabashed enthusiasm about Crosby’s recovery: “This is so exciting for me,” he told him. “But for you and your brain, I mean, it’s perfect. We shouldn’t test you anymore, just send you home.”

And Carrick did just that. Crosby returned to Pittsburgh, to his team, to his fans, to the same rink where less than a year ago he was skating toward the best season of his life. He’s traded his white helmet for a black one, signalling he can take contact again. He’s goading his teammates into hitting him so he can prove his toughness—as much to himself as to them or to the world, which is analyzing his every move. In this way, nothing has changed: he is still the one hockey player everyone watches. Sidney Crosby is home, indeed.

There’s only one question left: when the time comes, will Sidney Crosby play as if he was never gone?




Rebuilding Sidney Crosby’s brain

  1. “isn’t even a medical doctor” . . . . nice.

    How about you give some credit where credit is due – to the Chiropractor.

    • I agree-
      MD: 4 years undergrad, 4 years medical school
      DC: 4 years undergrad, 4 years chiro school

      kind of an ignorant statement by the author

      • MD: 4 years undergrad, 4 years medical school, 5 years residency
        You accidentally forgot that last part while exposing the ‘ignorance’ of the author.

        Not to mention, if someone studied leprechaunology for 8 years to earn a doctorate that wouldn’t mean that leprechauns exist – it would only mean that they wasted 8 years and thousands of dollars of tuition.

    • I think that was part of his amazement. Not so much a knock on Chiropractors. “Come what may, Carrick has set out to do what no amount of time or rest or other expert has managed to accomplish so far: rebuild Sid’s brain.”

  2. What a Joke, no telling what people with money will spend it on.  How about…. it had nothing to do with Sid’s recovery….just time and his program that was already in place.  Now kids with concussions will think they need a ride in the upside down gyroscope to mysteriously ‘heal” a concussion.  Treating strokes too???  I ‘d like to see a few studies on this gyroscope.

    • If you read the full article, you will learn that the Gyroscope chair was more part of the assessment, and only a small part. Helps with gauging the fluid in the inner ear that assists with balance among other things.  There were also eye exercises, tone stimulation and various other components of  treatment that are used by various specialist, for treating different disorders, but not necessarily in the context that Carrick applies them.  Great article. 

    • I would suggest you to look for information before giving your personnal opinion on a subject you clearly do not understand. This is no gimmick, it it a revolutionnary approach within the scope f functionnal neurology.

    • Ignore him folks- when and if, God forbid, Mr. Sick of gimmicks experiences an injury or trauma that the vast majority of doctors have no clue how to help with, maybe he’ll open his mind.

  3. As Einstein put it “Condemnation without investigation is the highest form of ignorance”
    Just perhaps there are no “sickly gimmicks” but rather, some careful consideration and use of the evolving knowledge in neurology.  Since when is thinking outside the box a negative trait.
    Open your minds people to possiblities that do not only exist within the realms of the MD’s office.
    If they had all the answers then we would not need to search elsewhere after they come up empty handed.

  4. The medical care that treated his acute injuries stablized his health.  For many people this would be enough.  Dr. Carrick’s care involoved retraining the neurologic pathways that were damaged.  This is the concept behind all the occupational and physical rehab programs for catastrophic brain and spinal cord injuries.  In this case a very highly educated Doctor and clinical neuroscientist set up a very intensive program that clearly made significant changes to his brain function.  This could have been done by any Neurology based spinal rehab facility, but it wasn’t.  It was done by a Doctor of Chiropractic who has spent years developing a successful treatment protocol. 

    • Clearly made significant changes to his brain function….how do you know?  Gyrostim is not a successful protocol, maybe a great placebo, which could change the brain function.  But i’m sure they don’t advertise…”Gyrostim,an expensive reliable placebo”

      • So Crosby, his agent, and those in close relation with him see enough improvement since starting with Carrick to give credit but you read an article and immediately pass judgement.  I’m sure you understand the entire treatment protocol and reasons behind it. 

        • This is the hallmark of pseudoscience and quackery – proponents offer proof in the form of testimonials without providing any scientific data. Why no data? because it doesn’t exist. If Carrick has figured out how to wake the comatose or “rebuild brains” he has a DUTY to publish this information so it can be properly evaluated. 
          Those who are not trained in science or science-based medicine will have a hard time accepting this as decisions made in day-to-day life are highly dependent upon testimonials. Which restaurant to go to, which auto mechanic provides the best service – these decisions are usually made based on recommendations by our peers or word of mouth. But how do we know what is really true? Science. When it comes to chiropractic neurology the science just isn’t there.

      • Just go to http://www.carrickinstitute.org and get educated on the subject. What many don’t know is that Dr. Carrick (also applying his neurology training) took a high ranking French official…pehaps he was the country’s vice president (can’t recall exactly) but he got him out of a coma (after every medical procedure to do so failed).
        That’s NO placebo!

      • This article is not my only knowledge of the subject.  This case has been reviewed in other sources.  The gyrostim is a small component of the therapy.  Many of the techniques are so low tech as to be amusing.  Like actually observing him on the ice and retraining his vestibular system.  Even his medical team agrees that significant changes were made in a relatively brief treatment period.  Do you know the difference in training to be a DC, DO, or MD? How about how many years of training Dr. Carrick put in to become a Board certified Chiropractic Neurologist? I assume not.

        • So he is doing vestibular rehab, sounds like he is practicing PT, not Chiro.  I am well versed on the requirements of DC, DO, and MDs, Who certifies you in chiropractic neuro?  Is that even recognized as a healthcare specialty?  I looked at the website, filled with testimonials about curing autism, adhd, etc, not really double blinded RCTs there.

          • The specific discipline is Functional Chiropractic Neurology, specific diplomat status known as D.A.C.B.N.  Yes it is recognized as a healthcare specialty.  Just because you don’t know something it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.  There’s plenty of studies out there already published OR being published, regarding such treatments.

            1. You didn’t even read the article carefully for what GyroStim is for, thinking it’s part of the treatment

            2. You did not have the knowledge of what it is before you start criticizing it.

            3. You only believe in double blinded RCTs, but totally denies the fact that Sid as improved “significantly” under Carrick’s care, not to mention, you did NOT recognize the fact that all those M.D., and Neurologist’s so called “already-established double blind RCT treatments” didn’t help Sid significantly.

          • That he improved DURING the chiro care could just as well mean it slowed the progress, without double-blind studies.  See OZ above.

          • The gyrostim is part of the treatment – I googled the gyrostim website and it is used to treat balance problems for children and “athletes with concussions”.  It seems to me people with vertigo are treated in a similiar way with a table that spins….

          • Sorry….wrong about the vertigo treatment – the table doesn’t spin but the patients are moved into different positions….oops!

          • A chiropractor, using a functional neurological approach, is somehow PT now?  Give credit where credit is due.   A doctor of chiropractic helped fix that biggest hockey superstar in this generation.  Good enough for Sidney Crosby, the Pittsburgh Penguins, and their medical staff, but not good enough for anonymous poster sick of gimmicks.  Quit being a troll.

          • After reading the comment above I visisted the GyroStim website. I read through every page.

            are no testimonials on any of the pages in the GyroStim website.  There
            are no references to autism or adhd, let alone curing them.

            what I did find:  the company which manufactures GyroStim has other
            products  — one of those is EDUCATIONAL SOFTWARE that teaches children
            to handwrite.

            Here’s what’s interesting about that—On THAT
            website there actually are testimonials—from elementary school
            teachers talking about how children faced with autism and ADHD have
            found success at learning to handwrite with this software.

            NO mention of cures anywhere, on EITHER website.

            spinning chair and software–hard to confuse, yet, it would appear that
            “Sick of gimmicks” got a click or two ahead of himself and didn’t
            realize he wasn’t on the same website.

        • It can take twice as much time to be expert in Voodoo or Witchcraft.  If Sydney had eaten eye-of-Newt, or drank bat wing soup at the same time, what would be the conclusion?  The gyro therapy MAY have contributed, but there is nothing but anecdotal evidence in this case,

          • Yes. Every Chiropractor I have encountered WANTED to be an MD by first choice, but somehow did not make the medical school cutoff scores.

          • Ahahahaha Ralph, sure, sure.  Crosby gets helped by a chiropractor and here you come in with your anecdotes of how “every” chiropractor wanted to be and MD.  DCs are holistic minded and body-based.  They’re not even close to being the same.  It’s like suggesting that someone wanted to be hockey player, but really wanted to be a ballerina.  Get over yourself.

          • Absolutely not! Why would someone want to be an MD? So they could pretent to the average public that they know something??? …. Take this potion and come back in 6 weeks if it still bothers you. Then we’ll try some other potion. Thets what they got you brain washed into thinking that that is a scientific approach. Trial and error anyone. BS is more like it.

            Get a brain. Think for yourself. Don’t be too blissfull …. Ignorance is written all over you

          • WOW!  Really? 

            Please share a citeable source for your claim.

            AND BTW-

            What does your …ahem….”assertion”  have to do with the topic at hand…… Crosby’s progress under Dr. Carrick? 

          • Miracles happen every day , maybe every moment but who gives credit where credit is due, how many of us say , oh I guess I was just lucky ?? I think Sidney knows who healed him and through whose hands it was…

      • I wonder what you base your comments on? In addition to Life University, the GyroStim is also in use at the Mayo Clinic and the United States Air Force Academy — clearly institutions that do not put their time, money and resources in to pursuing placebo effects. Perhaps you should visit the GyroStim website before commenting further? 

    • If he were actually a neuroscientist he would have published something in the peer reviewed literature, which he has not.

      • This is the only argument that opponents have to the treatment protocol and it is ignorant and closed minded. Why is the idea that something holistic and non invasive working to treat these disorders a bad thing only because there is no “published” research? People should be glad that there is a new way to treat disorders of this type and that it doesn’t require the use of drugs or surgery or a boat load of money. The issue isn’t that there is no science to back the therapy it’s that we haven’t developed a deep enough understanding of how our bodies and brains work to quantify or qualify why this treatment yields the results it does.

  5. Let’s hope this treatment works for Sidney and that its potential failure not discredit both Dr Carrick and the Chiropractic profession.

    • He is back on the ice playing hockey.  How can the treatment fail?  Dr. Carrick didn’t perform a miracle the concussion occurred, the damage is there, but he is functioning better than he has in months.  Perhaps he will get hi again, have another concussion, perhaps even worse because of additive damage.  This is not a failure its life.  Perhaps he won’t be as good as he was last year.  Also not a failure. I am not sure that Dr Carrick represents chiropractic in general anymore than Dr. Oliver Sacks represents Family Practice physicians.

    • So with this logic, since no MD, Neurologists, and basically the entire medical team were able to help Sid, shall we discredit the entire medical profession?   

    • The treatment has already “worked” in the sense a) he did better in his neurocognitive tests (conducted by non-chiropractors) and b) was able to return to the ice symptom free and exert himself to pre-concussions levels and c) has been taking contact in practice now for over a week.   Without Dr. Carrick none of the above would be occurring presently.

  6. “The wait list to see Carrick can be as long as three years, though in
    some cases, such as with Crosby, patients can be expedited.”

    Because he’s a professional hockey player? Or because he has money? Either way, sad that without either you’re left at the back of the line.

    • No it’s not sad, it’s free market, capitalism. None of these people are forced to go to Carrick, it’s a choice. His business is a priviledge, not a right. Crosby and the Penguins are willing to spend a lot of money and, obviously, Carrick will take it along with all of this great publicity he’s receiving!

      • In other words, sad. You’re absolutely right, this is capitalism defined. It’s just a shame that thousands of others struggling with the same problem as Crosby don’t have the same opportunity to get healthy simply because they don’t have money. I’m not hardcore anti-capitalism. But I do draw the line at healthcare. You can’t put a price on your health? Yes you can, and this is a perfect example.

    • Isn’t it great that so many people are improving with treatment at Dr. Carrick’s facility that he has more potential patients than he can treat?  Perhaps the answer is to train more practitioners.  Perhaps the MD’s that have co-opted spinal manipulation should learn what he is doing and copy him too.  Isn’t it sad that there are so few facilities to treat these patients? Which is odd since I see physical therapy and rehab centers all over the place.  Every major tertiary care center provides acute care to spinal cord and brain injuries and yet, patients need to travel to Georgia to get effective rehabilitation.  Is that Dr, Carrick’s fault? Or is it just maybe that the medical paradigm doesn’t really work well for these patients?  I suspect that Mr. Crosby was fit in quickly for three reasons: his injuries were acute enough that he was still capable of dramatic improvement, his treatment was expected to be intensive but brief, and possibly Dr. Carrick saw the opportunity to demonstrate on a larger stage the benefits of his protocols.  I doubt that Dr. Carrick charged Mr. Crosby more than his other patients for services rendered and I doubt that insurance covers his services in most cases, as such the money becomes a non issue.

    • I think you are missing the point.  Dr. Carrick and the inventor of the machine, Mr. Maher “fit” Sid Crosby in because he is a high profile person who can get them a lot of positive publicity about the treatment IF it is successful.  That results in eager study participants and sales of machines.  It doesn’t leave people at the back of the line at all….in fact, it does the opposite.  It ensures proper testing of the machine, ensuring that it does what Dr. Carrick claims it does and it makes the machines widely available to everyone who is suffering from brain injuries rather than just the few that Dr. Carrick can treat for money at his clinic in the US.

      • If the result is more people getting help for their suffering, then I think that’s fantastic. I don’t think I buy into the altruistic assertions on the doctor’s part (let’s be honest, getting them publicity and sales is their primary goal). BUT if the end result is better care for more people like you say, well the ends justify the means and I can buy into that. Let’s hope that’s the case.

    • First of all, let’s be very clear—- Crosby’s personal money has nothing to do with this.

      Get real for a minute!-  Sid Crosby directly impacts the income/livelihood of thousands! …..ie. stadium hot dog/beer venders, hotels, restaurants, souvenier venders, parking lot owners……..etc.

       His presence and performance on the ice  provides livelihood for thousands!   

      Shame on you! 

  7. Sick of gimmicks

    The gyroscope chair is a very valid and, in my opinion, ingenious way of assessing the vestibular system.  Dr. Carrick is to be commended not condemned for broadening our understanding of concussions and introducing a novel, functional way of rehabbing them.  

  8. creative interpretation of existing neurophysiology, starting at the end of traditional rehab for a serious concussion, patient has confidence in practitioner and high expectations (“it costs a lot/is hard to get an appointment : he must be good”); check brain sciences research from the last 2 decades and you need not look further for the improvements Crosby had.  Carrick just repackages existing neurophysiology and brain sciences, gives it what he seems to believe a “new” interpretation and twist, and VOILA: a revolutionary approach.  I checked his website: anecdotes, anecdotes, self-referenced material…….nothing more.  A good example of at best, lack of understanding of the human brain, or a serious case of tunnel vision; at worst, an excellent example of the “bad” chiros who can always be trusted to come with the “newest” and “revolutionary” approaches. 
    Yet, over the many MANY years of extraordinary claims from some chiros, NO solid evidence (other than pretty stories) have come to light. Autism, brain damage, otitis media, blindness etc etc – not shred of real evidence to find.

    All Carrick needs to do, is begin to read “The brain that changes itself” (Doidge) and The tell-tale Brain” (Ramachandran) and he’d pack up his bag of tricks…..Oh wait, I guess he won’t read those…

    • Then why didn’t the treatments by the medical experts work?  He had the best in concussion specialists, how could he not have high expectations with them?  What a weak argument.  Don’t you think that all the MDs and specialists who had him before looked at the brain sciences research from the past 2 decades?  You are questioning their clinical skills and experience?  Give me a break.

      Also, as recently as 30 years ago chiropractors were being ridiculed for using adjustments back and neck pain.  Chiropractors and patients were adamant that it “worked” but were ridiculed because it wasn’t conventional.  Now every profession wants to do spinal manipulation.  MDs, PTs, even veterinarians.  I wonder why that is?  Times change and what was heresy yesterday can be the norm today.

      There is nothing factual in your post.  You are speculating (ranting, really) with all your personal interpretations and spins.  The fact remains: Sidney Crosby made significant progress using a chiropractic approach to neurology.   Sidney said it helped.  The tests done by Penguins’ medical staff said he improved.  Dr. Carrick fixed Crosby and you’re giving him advice?  Ok there…  One more thing:

      Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence

    • Perhaps if more high profile athletes like Sidney Crosby undergo the treatment with good effect, the machines will be in demand and there will adequate machines and participants available for proper studies. 

      • The machine wasn’t the main aspect of treatment, it was part of the assessment.  It’s the treatment approach which is novel.

        • I am not sure that is correct.  If you read chirochic’s link regarding the inventor of the machine, you will find that he used it to TREAT his daughter’s brain injury, not to assess it.  Basically he invented the machine so he would not have to roll her around manually 900 times a day….that sounds like treatment to me.

          • My understanding is that is was part of the assessment, maybe part of the treatment plan, but that a lot of other modes of therapy were used besides the gyrostim.  Either way, looks like a novel new way of doing rehab.

          • I googled Gyrostim – it is definitely a treatment for people with balance issues including “athletes with concussions”.

  9. So lets say this chiropractor manages to get Crosby back on the ice… What happens with the next hit?

    • Let’s take out chiropractor and put medical doctor in that sentence.  Does it make any more or less sense?  Chirochic already explained in his/her post above.  The literature states that once you get concussed once, you are more prone to another one, regardless of therapy.  The point is when Crosby plays an NHL game, it’s really mission accomplished.  Sad to see so many people unable to think outside the box…

  10. Interesting link to a story about the inventor of the GyroStim.  Caution, it is a bio that does not have any explicit research connected. Why? Because you can’t do the research before the tool is invented.  I am sure that the three facilities using the GyroStim are collecting initial data and setting up trials.

  11. bravo!!!

  12. This is not exactly ground breaking stuff.  I am  a chiropractor, and we were exposed to neuro-oriented rehab in school and our clinic placements.  It’s something that most DCs are trained to do, but opt not to.  At the same time, most MDs, PTs and OTs can put together the same functional rehab plans.  This guy just got famous by having fancy apparatus to do simple tasks.

    • Find it hard to believe Sean that no one of the Penguins’ medical staff and the University of Pittsburgh would try the “conventional” vestibular rehab approaches.  Are you familiar with Dr. Carrick’s work?  The gyrostim is cool, but the brilliance behind the who deal is the treatment plan devised by Dr. Carrick.  I really hope Crosby one day goes into detail about the various treatment modalities that Carrick used.  

  13. he will be back….

  14. Bah! I wish I could get the magazine in England. All I know is Crosby has improved, he’s healING and getting better. Bottom line, for his personal sake that’s what matters, being on the ice and probably still having a long career is a bonus. I look forward to seeing him play. Doesn’t matter what routes have been taken to heal him, the end goal is still the same :).

    • Could you not get it digitally or subscribe digitally?  I agree Robert, the end goal is still the same and Crosby is getting better.  The only thing that upsets some people is that a chiropractor was responsible for getting him past his concussion plateau.  They think chiropractors are quacks who don’t know anything about anything and are “fake” doctors and  have no expertise on anything.  This article clearly shows that premise to be false.  

      Chiropractors are good in a specific area of medicine (neuromusculoskeletal/physical medicine) are some medical doctors and physiotherapists are turning red in the face because they thought there was no way chiropractic care was legitimate for anything and chiropractors weren’t healers of any sort.  Manual and manipulative therapy, expertly used by chiropractors, can really add a whole other dimension of healing in injury rehabilitation.

      Chiropractors always asserted that proper nervous system functioning was key to health.  Chiropractic neurology is a functional approach to “rebuilding” (the better word for the article would have been “recalibrating”) the brain.  It assesses for “dysfunction” in the brain, (i.e. dysfunction where there is no actual tissue damage at this point, but the system isn’t working/functioning as intended) and the joints of the body.  Sometimes, an injury can lead to inhibited communication between the brain and the injured structure. That explains decreased performance.  Now, imagine, one side of the brain is receiving normal input (left side of body is fine/uninjured) but the right side is receiving less input because of a right sided injury.  This mismatch between right and left firing patterns persists even after the injured tissue is “healed”.  The MRI looks normal (brain or injured part body) but it’s not working right.  Carrick’s approach is what part and side of the brain isn’t working well and using stimulation techniques, including adjustments, on that one side.  Other things that stimulate specific areas of the brain such as music, creative writing, etc… are used in addition to traditional exercises.  It’s quite amazing actually.  This is definitely worth studying and researching in detail because if it works consistently (and the waiting list for Dr. Carrick suggest he is helping a lot people) then it opens the door for true innovation in rehabiliitation by studying the chiropractic approach to health care.

  15. Congrats to Sid on his recovery, and to Dr. Carrick for his work.  I am so happy for more people to learn about Functional Neurology and it as a potential option for treatment option for them and their loved ones.  

    It’s great to have Sid back on the ice!

  16. Quote me the placebo controlled scientific study and the name of the periodical that published that suggests there’s any value in whatever he’s doing.   Sounded like more “liberation therapy” to me.  I guess asking for “peer reviewed” is kind of pointless because his peers would be other chiropractors.  Sidney Crosby has lots of cash and nothing much to lose.  But either did Steve Jobs.  It never hurts to be skeptical.  Chiropractic was invented in the eighteenth century by a grocery stock  boy.

    • Eddie is a troll, who can’t stomach the fact that a chiropractic doctor helped out the world’s most famous hockey player.  Eddie, in the 18th century, MDs were using leeches to heal and hadn’t learned about sterilization yet.  Chiropractic in the 21st century is not the same as it was in the 18th century, just like medicine.  You do realize that Carrick’s work on Crosby was proven to be effective by the Penguins’ medical staff (non chiropractors)  I guess Dr. Mickey Collins, PhD, Crosby, Ray Shero, Crosby’s agent and the Penguins medical staff isn’t good enough for Eddie.  Get a grip.

  17. Tjis has lead to many discussions re head hits in hockey.Back when no helmets etc. players had more respect for each other.Perhaps we can get back to the era when one can play hard but respectfully,Less high sticks etc.

  18. Why do you think Dr Carrick has a three year waiting list? Because of his success via placebo? Do you know any other doctors with a three year waiting list? I don’t.

    Crosby is but one of thousands of patients Dr. Carrick has helped. He doesn’t get the easy cases. He gets the difficult and impossible cases. Neurology is extremely complicated and applying the knowledge of it to improve brain function takes years of advanced study. What Dr Carrick does is apply his knowledge. Like any doctor. The difference is that he has a great depth of knowledge of the human brain and has spent decades refining techniques to improve it’s function.

    I invite you to learn more about him and what he has done. If you can, take one of his diplomat courses in Neurology. I’m sure once you’re better educated in Neurology, you’ll be able to comprehend why he is using different sensory stimulus to fire specific nerve pathways to affect specific parts of the brain at different stages of rehab. What makes him so great and why he has success where others fail is because of his knowledge and how he applies it, not the initials behind his name.

    • To add to Dr. Ts comments, for the lay person, is that rather than using drugs or surgery, Carrick has developed specific protocols that include sensory and motor stimulation for certain “inhibited” or non-functioning parts of the brain while decreasing stimulation to “overstimulated’ parts which are compensating for the injury.  It’s worthy of more study, but the holistic application of neurology just made it to big show.  Skeptics on this forum are continuously trying to discredit chiropractic despite the fact that modern chiropractic developed a legitimate scientific beachhead (ignored by critics).  Bravo to Dr. Carrick, to Mr. Crosby and to all involved in the rehabilitation of a once-in-a-generation athlete.

  19. What’s on the cover of the issue with the rest of the article in? The latest in my library is the university ratings one.

    • Crosby is on the cover.  It came out either today or yesterday.

      • Thank you.

  20. let’s hope that Carrick and Crosby find ways to make Crosby better.  It would be such a shame, esp for Crosby, to lose out on the hockey career that seemed so promising thus far.  Good luck to them both.  Here’s hoping this unconventional treatment is as good as it seems.

  21. Let me set you straight. As a relative who has watched the Maher family aggressively deal with their daughter’s severe CP, Kevin Maher has made loads of adaptive equipment in his child’s behalf. It is OTHER people who come to him wanting to buy, copy, or reproduce what they have witnessed being an overall quality of life improvement. Some stuff he just makes and donates. Other things like the GYROSTIM you can’t just make and donate when you are a regular guy working a job. So these kind of inventions to be produced to public or private demand need to be paid for–and they have been by NIH, the Mayo Clinic, and the US Air Force Academy. Nobody is selling a gimmick. If Dr. Carrick sees the benefit of it’s use, and wants to revolutionize care off of one man’s invention, and has the means to mass produce this product–than so be it. But don’t you ever discount the love, grit, devotion and determination of this father to make his daughter’s life better by attaching it to profit motive. Who cares if this invention strikes gold? It’s well deserved, and has obviously changed his daughter’s life, and it’s looking like some others–for years. Mr. Maher could shut it all down right now because his child has already been served. It’s not for him to nail down the “how come”–but he’ll patiently share, and allow whatever testing necessary to forward the progress of brain injury. Too bad I guess that traditional medical pathways didn’t discover this gem first–I guess the sour grapes taste better. Bottom line–Mr. Maher only invents. The outcomes are marketing themselves, and naysayers in their justification can wait for the clinical trials and analysis. Meanwhile, the line is forming because some folks like what they see. It’s a machine–not a magic bullet. And no one pitches it like that–so lose the jaded eye of cynicism and jealousy. Encouraging results are encouraging.

  22. i would to be a part of Carrick,s study . to feel normal again or even to walk properly would be great .lets hope the N.H.S takes note of this . if could save millions of people with brain injury their lives, family, friends jobs and the country millions of pounds in the long run.

Sign in to comment.