It was in 1984 that the journey of upright doctor bagan. That was when I met Dr. Harry Shapiro who was the former curator for the Department of Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, and a leading expert in the design of the human skull, artificial skull deformation and trepination. It was this relationship that put me on a course that I would never have envisioned.

In 1978 I graduated with high honors from Sherman College of Chiropractic with particular focus on specific corrective care of the upper cervical spine, which is the most critical and important area of the spine. The x-ray below is called and open mouth odontoid view, which is used to visualize the upper cervical spine.

 

 

Following graduation I spent several years studying Applied Kinesiology and Sacrooccipital Technique, which includes specific pelvic analysis and corrective care procedures for the foundation of the spine, as well as craniopathy which is the study of the musculoskeletal system of the skull, and cerebrospinal fluid flow in the brain and cord.

It was because of my background in craniopathy that I met Dr. Harry Shapiro through a friend. The doctor became a patient and we had many long conversations regarding the design of the sutures and base of the skull, as well as craniopathy and chiropractic. While Dr. Shapiro was intrigued by basic chiropractic and craniopathy theories, certain craniopathic concepts clearly conflicted with his extensive forensic findings. In particular, he disagreed with issues regarding deformation of the base of the skull and the state of special joints called sutures. Consequently, he insisted that I use the museum to do my own research.

On my first visit to the museum Dr. Shapiro handed me a well used canvas sack with a set of old calipers strapped to the inside. Honestly, I had no idea how to use them. He then gave me an old monogram he had published in 1928 called, “A Correction for Artificial Deformation of Skulls”. That’s how my chance investigation into sutures and the design of the base of the human skull got started, along with the beginnings of upright doctor. It was supposed to be finished in just a few days. Instead it turned into decades.

I spent several years examining hundreds of normal, pathological and artificially deformed human skulls. It was the artificially deformed skulls from former indigenous people of Peru and Bolivia, however, that started me looking into hydrocephalus. Hydrocephalus, in turn, led to normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) and Alzheimer’s which led to Parkinson’s and later to multiple sclerosis. This was the path the upright doctor would follow for the next few decades.

 

 

Early on I recognized the close similarity between narrow angle glaucoma and NPH. Both are related to low pressure drainage issues due to similar causes. The difference is that glaucoma puts pressure on and damages the optic nerve causing blindness. NPH, on the other hand, puts pressure on the brain and causes dementia.

Upright Doctor’s Research Expands

In addition to human skulls, I studied some primate skulls along with bats, whales and giraffes. I was looking for answers and compensatory mechanisms these animals use to control intracranial pressure, and for possible clues as to how humans contend with challenges posed by upright posture. I found an abundance of forensic evidence. Upright doctor was beginning to take form.

I studied bats and their skulls because they spend much of their lives hanging upside down, which causes inversion flows in the brain. What I surmized after studying their skulls is that they probably use the eyes and craniofacial veins to redirect both blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) during prolonged head inversion.

I studied giraffes and their skulls because of their extra long necks. In some of the largest giraffes the arterial and venous columns of blood can be up to nine feet long. This creates tremendous venous back pressure against the brain when they lower their heads to drink. It likewise causes tremendous reversals in flow when the head is suddenly returned to an upright position. What I surmized is that giraffes, like bats, probably use facial veins to redirect venous blood into alternative routes. The largest giraffes have large spaces between the inner and outer surfaces of their skull bones called diploe. They also have accessory horns. The diploe and horns are in perfect locations to serve as alternative venous outlets during changes from upright to inversion and back. The large bump over the nose in the giraffe below is an accessory horn.

I studied whale skulls because when whales dive deep, their heads are pointing down and they’re holding their breath. The water pressure squeezes their chest and abdomen like someone stepping on a closed tube of toothpaste. It would be the equivalent of an extreme Valsalva maneuver in humans. Interestingly, whales use the vertebral venous plexus (VVP)
in the complete opposite way to humans.

Humans use the VVP to help drain the brain during upright posture. Additionally, airplane pilots use G suits along with Valsalva maneuvers to prevent blood from getting pulled out of the brain during rapid steep ascents. Whales, on the other hand use the VVP and Valsalva maneuvers like a G suit to prevent blood from getting squeezed into the brain during deep dives.

Interestingly, one theory suggests that inversion flows, called venous backjets, may play a role in the cause of multiple sclerosis. The back flow of venous blood (inversion flows) into the brain is blamed on incompetant valves in the jugular veins that normally prevent back flow. The vertebral veins, on the other hand, have no valves to prevent inversion flows. In this regard Valsalva maneuvers cause inversion flows and bats, whales and giraffes have developed compensatory mechanisms to contend with inverson flows and Valsalva maneuvers.

 

Upright Doctor Gets Published

My first paper, on the potential role of the spine in venous drainage issues and neurodegenerative diseases was written in 1987. A Google search for “stenosis Alzheimers” will produce an article I wrote for Dynamic Chiropractic in 1990 calling for research into the potential role of venous drainage issues in the brain and Alzheimer’s disease. I subsequently published many other papers on similar subjects, including Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. After three years of additional study, in 1990 I became certified in chiropractic neurology.

In addition to my professional publications, I recently published a book called The Downside of Upright Posture -The Anatomical Causes of Alzheimer’s, Parkinsons’s and multiple sclerosis”, based on more than twenty years of research and where the handle upright doctor came from.

This book is written as a story to make it easier to digest and remember some important and difficult concepts. Stories form what are called episodic memory, which differs from recalling facts, names and places. Recalling exact facts, names, places, dates, etc., is called declarative memory. I discuss both in the last chapter of my book because memory is important to humans and, among other things, memory is often affected in neurodegenerative diseases. Stories stimulate dopamine production, and dopamine appears to play an important role in long-term memory. Dopamine is better known, however, for its role in Parkinson’s disease due to deficiency.

The book was written for lay people, and the millions of people afflicted with these devastating neurological diseases. It was also written for physicians and scientists to stimulate further research and for those interested in physical anthropology, upright posture and the human brain. You can learn more about the book by visiting my page about the book. No one has all the answers to the mystery but we have some new and important pieces that may bring us closer to solving it.

Upright Doctor