Helping Children with Interactive Metronome: Dr. Steve Alukonis
Apr 01, 2011 06:51PM
● By Diane Carr
Dr. Steve Alukonis is not your run-of-the-mill chiropractor. He could even be called the Sherlock Holmes of health. When patients come to him after they’ve exhausted conventional medical options, he starts asking questions. One of the few board certified Chiropractic Orthopedists in this area, Alukonis offers cutting-edge non-surgical spinal decompression, cold laser therapy, energy medicine, and electrically power-driven adjusting instruments. But more then that – he takes time to investigate with a comprehensive, analytical, approach.
When medications were not helping a child with ADD, Alukonis put on his detective hat and found Interactive Metronome (IM), a brain-based rehabilitation assessment and training program. IM was developed to directly improve the processing abilities that affect attention, motor planning, and sequencing. Alukonis was so impressed with the clinical research and twenty years of positive results, he became a certified provider. Last year he created the IM Learning Center and helped dozens of children improve symptoms of ADD/ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, Asperger’s syndrome, and sensory integration disorders. The program also helps people with traumatic brain injury, cerebral vascular accident, cerebral palsy, non-verbal learning disorder, balance disorders, limb amputation, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.
Symptoms that cause parents to bring their child in include not paying attention, saying things out of turn, can’t settle down, reacts first/listens second, and doesn’t grasp concepts. “It’s not that they aren’t motivated or don’t have the ability. Their brain is not allowing them to do it,” explains Alukonis. His goal is to get their brain to equalize and learn to get on track faster. Listening and reacting improves the sequencing and timing of the brain’s nervous system and the quality of attention improves. “Suddenly, they’re really striving,” he continues. “They want to do better because their brain is changing, adapting, and rewiring.” One of the most crucial discoveries made by IM is brain damage isn’t always permanent. They found the brain has the ability to find and re-grow new pathways.
Kids love the IM program, which is more like a computer game than therapy. It provides a structured, goal-oriented process that challenges the patient to synchronize a range of hand and foot exercises to a precise computer-generated reference tone heard through headphones. The patient attempts to match the rhythmic beat with repetitive motor actions. An auditory-visual guidance system provides immediate feedback measured in milliseconds and a score is provided. The more repetitions, the more accurate they become and the more their brain is able to stay focused.
One profound example of this was a child with a sensory integration disorder where light touch caused pain. He couldn’t get his hair cut because hair falling on his shoulders caused a burning sensation. After IM sessions, the mother conveyed it was the first time the child received a hair cut from an outside person without a struggle. It was also the first time he sat down and read, stayed at the dinner table, and finished a meal.
Another story that touched Alukonis’ heart was a child who came into his office emotionally down, thinking the only reason he was there was because he was a dummy. He was failing school and at the start of testing registered 10% accuracy. After one month’s time, his accuracy increased to 80%. What this means is he did not lose focus 80% of the time while hand clapping and foot-stomping over 1,000 repetitions. Not only was the child proud of himself, his grades improved to A’s and B’s and his self-esteem increased dramatically. “Usually one side of the brain is firing too fast and the other too slow so the child can’t concentrate,” explains Alukonis. “IM gets the slow side to fire faster and the other side to fire slower which ultimately gets them to fire together. Then they’re able to concentrate and comprehend.”
True to his detective nature, Alukonis leaves no stone unturned. He teaches parents how to improve nutrition with diet and/or supplements. He requests blood work or tests for food sensitivities and allergies. “Many patients have discovered sensitivities to gluten, milk, eggs, or soy,” shares Alukonis. “Gluten can cause inflammation in the brain, impede focus, and affect the thyroid.” Medications have their place but Alukonis believes they cannot fix all problems that go along with hyperactivity. “We find it helps in certain areas like sitting still but they’re still not able to get through math or comprehend certain things. IM fills the void and picks up where medications leave off.”
A free consultation determines if the IM program is appropriate. After various tests, the computer relates strong/weak points. Depending on how each side of the brain is working, a protocol for treatment is established. Therapy usually runs two-to-three times per week for about six weeks. Interim assessments are conducted mid-way and at the end to measures improvements. “So far, it’s been dramatic – like night and day,” says Alukonis. “Patients continue until they reach their maximum improvement. Once we get to that point, they don’t return as once it’s fixed, it’s fixed.”
Over the last year, the IM Learning Center has grown tremendously through referrals from parents, doctors, school principals, and psychologists, all who have seen positive results in grades, self-esteem, and motivation. Parents of children treated a year ago say there has been no regression. That is why Alukonis wants to expand. “We would love to extend this to children all over the county and across the state. The results seen in school and the children’s lives are nothing short of a miracle.”
It is obvious Alukonis cares deeply for his patients; he consistently strives to learn new and better ways to help his patients. He believes, “If you fall down seven times, get up eight. I like to live in a positive frame of mind and it has served me well.” He begins his day secure in the knowledge he will help someone have a better day, get out of pain, or improve in school. “Knowing we change lives for the better is priceless. What could be better than that!”
Dr. Alukonis, DC, DABCO is located at 299 N. Orlando Ave., Suite A, Cocoa Beach. For more information, call 321-783-1960 or visit www.spacecoastspine.com.