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Dynamic Chiropractic – May 5, 1997, Vol. 15, Issue 10
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Dynamic Chiropractic

A Bright Light from Africa -- Technikon Natal

By James Brantingham, DC, CCF

COf all the places one would expect significant chiropractic research to spring from, Africa would not, from my former point of view, be that place. And yet here in Durban, South Africa, Technikon Natal will be submitting 15 studies to the World Chiropractic Congress in Tokyo, Japan, the majority of which are blinded, randomized, controlled studies of chiropractic care, including:
  • comparing manipulation to mobilization in the treatment of neck pain;

  • chiropractic adjustments compared to massage in the treatment of tension headache;

  • chiropractic adjustments delivered to one side of the neck, compared to chiropractic adjustments delivered to both sides of the neck in the treatment of neck pain;

  • for the treatment of low back pain, McManis traction with adjusting, compared to adjusting only.

  • chiropractic adjustments with cervical exercises, compared to chiropractic adjustments alone in the treatment of neck pain;

  • chiropractic adjustments in the treatment of diabetes;

  • chiropractic adjustments in the treatment of nocturnal enuresis.

Technikon Natal, a state funded tertiary institution, is a cross between an American state college and university. I have taught as a full time lecturer in Technikon's department of chiropractic for three of the four terms in 1996. I am proud and excited to be apart of this college, which I believe will have a profound effect on the profession over the next 15 years. Many of the first controlled trials in the treatment of extremity problems are currently being planned here. I hope to be a big part of it all.

Being subtropical, Durban, South Africa is warm and balmy and, as many people have said, much like Florida. Durban is a port and a vacation/beach resort. My 12-year-old son has taken up surfing, and is down at the beach three to four times a week. My wife and I have become addicted to certain Indian foods, like samoozas and spicy curry dishes. For Americans coming to South Africa, there are a few things to get used to: driving on the left side of the road; no screens in the windows; saying, "I'll see you just now" instead of "I'll see you later"; saying "cheers" or "cheerio" for goodbye; keeping the fork in the left hand; that kids are required to wear uniforms to school; and that tea outranks coffee.

Many South Africans speak about their country as a mix of first and third world countries, but my family here in Durban essentially feels that we are living in a first world modern city. We have all the electronic products, and there's a mall next door that you could hardly differentiate from one in the U.S. Despite this, I feel a desire on the part of South Africans to become a "part of the world." They are very concerned with "coming up" to world wide standards, especially European, American, and Asian. In my opinion, our chiropractic college goes far beyond some of the other world's colleges in the requirement that students study, develop, and conduct research prior to being licensed and allowed to use the term "doctor."

Although I support the training in research methodology and science that some other chiropractic colleges are providing (and which the Technikon provides too), the difference in students actually doing research, as compared to reading about research, is comparable to reading about chiropractic adjustments, versus performing them.

Most students come straight from high school. The programme runs over five years, with an additional year of postqualification clinical experience and community service required by the registering (licencing) statuary council. Our practitioners receive a master's degree in technology, chiropractic or M.Tech.(Chiro), which then allows them legally (like Britain's medical degrees) to assume the title of doctor. I do think there will be some conflict over the years with some of the "philosophical" chiropractors who believe the research here at the "Tech" is "medical," and that we are just a bunch of "medipractors." Well, what's new? But here students are asking questions:

  • Is it better to adjust into fixation, or out of fixation?

  • Is it better to adjust both side of the neck?

  • Is McManis better than intermittent traction?

  • Are frequent light adjustments as efficacious as infrequent, forceful adjustments?

  • Can we decrease the need for medication in diabetics, asthmatics, and enuretics?

  • What is the best chiropractic adjustment(s) for shoulder impingement syndrome?

  • Can chiropractic foot adjustments relieve metatarsalgia or plantar fascitis, as well as metatarsal pads or "low dye" strapping technique?

  • Are cervical adjustments with exercise superior to adjustments alone?

  • How does adjustment of the wrist compare to adjustment of the wrist, elbow, shoulder and neck in the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome? I could go on. Some of these questions have tentative answers.

Since the majority of our research has been accepted for poster and platform presentations, we will be presenting this data at the World Federation of Chiropractic Conference, June 5-8 in Tokyo, Japan. See you there.

James Brantingham, DC, CCFC
Lecturer, Dept. of Chiropractic
Technikon Natal

Editor's note: DC has presented previous articles on Technikon Natal, including:

  • "Chiropractic Education in South Africa," an interview with Mario Milani, DC, chairman of the Chiropractic, Homeopathic Assoc. Health Professions Council of South Africa, a government regulatory body appointed by Parliament (Sept. 1, 1993 issue).

  • "South Africa's Technikon Natal: An Adventure for Chiropractic Educators" by Lee Arnold (Aug. 15, 1995 issue).

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