The Curious Case of the Concussion Chiropractor
Victor Pedro got acclaim and state funding for his unusual method of treating brain injuries. There’s a lack of evidence that it works, and medical experts are outraged. But his patients insist he’s cured them. Here’s how that’s possible.
The Rhode Island Integrated Medicine clinic appears an unlikely spot for medical innovation. And yet people travel from distant places to get treatment here.
It’s a chiropractor’s office in a two-story white house located right off the highway from Providence, in the city of Cranston. The clinic’s neighbors are a half-dozen houses of similar height and siding but in lesser condition. At the nearest intersection are two churches, a gas station, and a boarded-up building alongside an empty lot scattered with trash.
The chiropractor is Victor Pedro, and he says he’s developed a unique and powerful method of treating brain disorders. This includes learning disabilities and neurological issues such as ADD, speech problems, Tourette’s syndrome, vertigo, migraines, concussions, and other forms of traumatic brain injury.
Pedro’s treatment doesn’t involve drugs, surgery, or even brain scans. Instead the chiropractor says he can “stabilize and repair brain function” by putting people through customized audio, visual, and movement exercises — like having them clap in time with a metronome or focus on a grid of squares on a computer screen. Pedro calls his method Cortical Integrative Therapy and says he’s used it to treat more than 1,000 people — both children and adults — since 2000. He claims people often improve during their first day with him.
Many psychiatrists and neuroscientists find it implausible that any single therapy could effectively address so many complex disorders that are notoriously hard to treat. These are medical problems that continue to stump the world’s top neuroscience institutions. Pedro’s method hasn’t been independently validated in peer-reviewed studies. Melissa Jenkins, a neuropsychologist who is an assistant professor at Brown University’s medical school, says that when she looked into Pedro’s work last summer, “all the red flags came…