What Happened to Superman?
By: Dr. Eric McKillican, DC, FICPA, LCP
If you can remember the 70s and 80s than you can remember Christopher Reeve as Superman, big as ever, on the big screen. Then on that fateful day in 1995 Superman would be no more, he had broken his neck and was paralyzed. Christopher Reeve a 41 year old man was thrown off his horse and broken his neck, the top two vertebrae shattered; he instantly became an air vent quadriplegic. The injury to his spinal cord at the level of his second cervical vertebrae caused a tragic neurological disconnect between his brain and his body; every cell, organ and system in critical shut down. Such a tragic accident, to such an iconic individual, but what can we learn from his story?
First, it’s important to look at superman’s response. Christopher Reeve had dreams and hopes; the focus of recovery was his driving force. With stem cell research and spinal cord injury research in its infancy, he had to do whatever he could to ensure his body stayed as healthy as it could. He used many types of physical therapy to work on muscle strength and flexibility. He used nutritional therapy to make sure every cell in his body had the nutrients needed to grow stronger. But that wasn’t enough, with such neurological disconnect, his body only grew weaker. While he did make miraculous recovery from the point at which he started, his body was nowhere near the iconic image we all remember as “Superman.” It didn’t matter how much exercise he did or nutrients he consumed, as long as the injury to his spinal cord was blocking the message from reaching his cells, organs and systems his body would not function properly.
The reason I use Christopher Reeve’s story as an example, is because the interference to his nerve system was major, causing major problems. However did you know that we too can have interference to our nerve system? OSHA reported that by age 11 we have endured over 7000 minor injuries (slips, falls, bike crashes, balls to the face) nothing as major or noticeable as Christopher Reeve, but in no way would I classify interference at any level as minor. Injury to the head, neck or spine can cause a subluxation (sprained neck), resulting in partial nerve interference. The spine and nerve system have an intimate relationship, if the spine losses its alignment it can cause a partial disconnect between the brain and the body. The same is true, as with Christopher Reeve, it does not matter how much exercise or nutritional supplementation you use, if there is any neurological disconnect the body will not function or rebuild to the best of its ability.
Finally, Christopher Reeve’s story is tragic and extreme but it carries a massage about the disconnect between brain and body. I use the above story to emphasize the importance of maintaining a properly aligned spine and functioning nerve system. Even Christopher Reeve understood and stated, “If you injure your neck you can injure every organ in your entire body” and stated, “I now know how fragile our existence truly is.” Don’t wait for the injuries to build up and the neurological disconnect to get to the point that symptoms of dysfunction have begun. Be proactive in life, everyday do what you can to move toward health and strength and away from sickness and weakness.