Walking tall with a mother's instinct
Acting on instinct that something was wrong with her daughter’s gait, Olivia Cunningham took her to a chiropractor
DAISY CUNNINGHAM was barely a year old when she had her first chiropractic appointment. Her mother, Olivia, knew there was something wrong with her but despite having all the routine developmental checks as an infant, doctors didn’t pick up on an abnormality in her hip alignment. Even when Olivia suggested there might be a problem, she was told not to worry.
But the Laois woman was not convinced and decided to bring her daughter to see Dr Karen Lawlor, a chiropractor who, together with her husband Shane, runs a clinic specifically designed for children.
“I had two babies [Charlie and Daisy] very close together and both of them were delivered by Caesarean section which apparently makes them more susceptible to hip problems,” says Olivia. “So they were both checked after delivery and underwent a hip scan which came back fine. But I noticed that Daisy’s hip seemed to be almost jutting out at one side and when she began walking, it looked like one of her feet was slightly turned in.
“It wasn’t exactly knock-kneed but she definitely had a strange way of walking. When she ran, one leg was slower than the other and when she jumped, one of her hips would sort of swing out to the side. I asked my doctor about it and he said ‘don’t worry, she’ll be grand’, but I wasn’t convinced and even though I felt a bit silly I insisted that he refer her for a scan.
“I knew it would take quite a while for her appointment to come round so as I was seeing a chiropractor myself, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to have Daisy checked out as well.”
Although the mother of two was attending a clinic in Dublin for back problems, she heard the Lawlor clinic in Portlaoise specialised in children and decided to bring her baby there for a check-up. “I was a bit nervous bringing her in for her appointment as she was so small and at the stage where she was afraid of big people she didn’t know,” recalls Olivia. “But the chiropractor was really good with her and could see straight away that there was a problem. She had a load of toys for Daisy to play with and while she was distracted, Dr Lawlor worked on her really gently by massaging her hip and making some small corrections.
“I could see an improvement almost straight away and we went back for a few more appointments until Daisy was finally walking properly and everything seemed to be correctly aligned.
“Dr Lawlor gave me some exercises to do with Daisy at home and they also worked brilliantly – so much so that you wouldn’t believe there was ever a problem with her now.”
The little girl was called for her hip scan after the chiropractic work had begun and the doctor confirmed that there had been a problem with alignment and said her mother was very wise to have acted on her own intuition.
“When I took Daisy for her hip scan, we had already been for a few chiropractic sessions and the issue was almost corrected but the radiographer pointed out that he could see there had been a muscular problem,” says Olivia. “He said that the rolls of fat a baby has on its thighs should line up when the legs are straight and in Daisy’s case, one of these lines was still slightly off.
“I had felt embarrassed when I insisted on getting a second opinion from my doctor but I didn’t want to be told when my little girl was five or six that she had problems walking and it was too late to correct it. The bone specialist who reviewed her scan agreed and said I had done a very good thing as if we had left her hips the way they were, they would have grown that way.
“Daisy is now two and has no problems at all so I am delighted I acted on mother’s instinct and took her to the chiropractor before it was too late.”
Dr Karen Lawlor and her husband Shane treat a mix of children and adult clients at their clinic in Portlaoise. And while the techniques used on both are similar, physical manipulation of babies and children requires an altogether more gentle approach.
“Lawlor Junior Clinic incorporates a number of techniques to gently, yet effectively, treat many conditions which can arise from childbirth and during childhood,” says Lawlor. “And we’ve successfully cared for pregnant women, babies and children for many years.