Redefining Moments

Insights that Change Destiny:

Part 1

Donny Epstein, D.C.

Early in my chiropractic practice, three events forever shifted my professional trajectory. These events would lead me to explore the reorganisation of my patients’ spines in relationship to their lives, and to formulate concepts about the fundamental relationship between structure, behaviour and perception. Moreover, they would set the stage for a very powerful research agenda, having broad implications for the chiropractic profession and consumer, as well as for the academic community and public at large.

The First Event

In 1984, a very angry and anti-social patient with persistent back pain came to my office. My clinical assessment showed continuing improvements. In addition there were marked changes in his demeanor. He was friendlier. He began telling jokes. (Although they were not funny, it was a start!) One day, he even asked if he could use the reception area at lunch break to practice magic tricks for the children who came to the office after school.

While it was evident he was displaying healthier behaviours, attitudes and perceptions, I did not have specific outcomes or communications to link his changes to the spinal improvement I was seeing. When I remarked to him about changes I’d noticed, his response was quick, “No doc, I’m still the same; it hurts right here”.

His son joined him at the office one afternoon. Astute observers that children are, I asked little Tommy what he liked best about his daddy since he began visiting my office. Tommy thought for a moment and replied, “He stopped hitting me and punching mummy in the face”. Father and son embraced, and the father cried for the first time in over a dozen years, not even having shed a tear at his parent’s death.

Little did I know, Tommy’s response would inspire my clinical and personal direction from that day forward.

I decided that the presence or absence of pain was not as powerful an indicator of health or healing as social science indicators: function, personal perception, changes in beliefs, expressiveness, compassion, greater emotional acuity, more positive social interactions and behaviours, compassion and healthier choices for one’s self and one’s relationships. Inspired, I further studied the nature and assessment of health and wellness. As a result, years later I helped design the largest study to date of Chiropractic patient’s self-reported wellness, health and quality of life.

As this research project progressed, and while examining other biomedical and social science research, I came to understand that the doctor may know what disease or condition a patient may present with, but only the patient/practice member knows if he is well. Wellness is indicated by the patient’s belief about his health and quality of life. In this way wellness is measurable and a predictor of lifestyle, behaviour, and quality of life. This is no doubt an important area for future research.

The questionnaire used in this Wellness study became the basis of patient-reported assessment in Network Spinal Analysis (NSA) Care. These assessments were then correlated with the corresponding sensory motor spinal strategies, through increasing organisational levels in NSA care. The longer the care, the greater the increased level of self-reported wellness, constructive behavioural change, life perception, and healthy lifestyle changes were seen.

The Second Event

A rather introverted, frail-looking woman presented in my office with two progressive autoimmune disorders. I asked if she had experienced any personal violation when she was a teenager because her spinal patterns suggested that she was still living in such a defensive posture. She answered “no” to my question. During a session in which a gentle, sustained contact was taken on C5, she began to thrash and punch me. She vomited and then jumped off the table and began to scream, “Get off me!” Having moved away to dodge the vomit, I was not even near her at the time.

This was the first time I had experienced an individual’s retracing of a traumatic event. Shortly afterwards she sat opening and closing her hands, a gesture she previously had extreme difficulty doing. Sobbing in relief and joy, she thanked me for setting her free.

A few visits later, she remembered being raped by her stepdad. However, she expressed gratitude, believing this experience had unconsciously guided her to be a social worker. Interestingly, she worked on a rape hotline. Many visits and massive spinal structural and behavioural changes later, she reported that she had forgiven him. I provided care for her until she moved out of state. In those 4 years her autoimmune disorders remained “in remission”.

This event happened before the concepts of psychosocial stress, trauma, and body-mind unity were popular. Although shocking at the time, in retrospect this experience led me to explore spinal tension patterns, emotions, and spinal and neural integrity subsystems In time, from my growing understanding, the Epstein model of spinal and neural integrity was formulated. My desire to help refine spinal reorganisational strategies was now fully fueled.

Spine after spine I worked towards more energy efficient, consistent, and reproducible spinal strategies. A decade after my graduation from Chiropractic College the first appearance of what came to be known as the “Network Wave” was witnessed.

The Third Event: Producing the Network Wave will appear in the next issue.

References 1 – Blanks RH, Schuster TL, Dobson M. A Retrospective Assessment of Network Care Using a Survey of Self-Rated Health, Wellness and Quality of Life. Journal for Vertebral Subluxation Research Volume 1, Number 4 , 1997, p.15-31 2 – Schuster TL, Dobson M, Jauregui M, Blanks RH. Wellness lifestyles I: A theoretical framework linking wellness, health lifestyles, and complementary and alternative medicine. Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine. April 2004;10(2):349-56. 3 – Schuster TL, Dobson M, Jauregui M, Blanks RH. Wellness lifestyles II: Modeling the dynamic of wellness, health lifestyle practices, and Network Spinal Analysis. Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine. April 2004;10(2):357-67. P 4 – Epstein D. Theoretical Basis and Clinical Application of Network Spinal Anaylsis (NSA) and Evidence based Document, rev. xi. Longmont, CO: Innate Intelligence: 2005.

Dr. Donny Epstein is the founder and developer of Network Spinal Analysis, Somato Respiratory Integration and Reorganisational Healing. He is the author of “Healing Myths, Healing Magic”, “12 Stages of Healing”, and “The Boomerang Principle”, and most recently,” The Somato Respiratory Integration Workbook”.

For more information about Donny Epstein, Network Spinal Analysis Care, and Reorganisational Healing visit



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