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Chiropractic Research Review

Three-Dimensional Force Data in the Analysis of Spinal Manipulation

In chiropractic education and practice, manual forces play an important role in the qualitative evaluation of force characteristics. However, the dynamics behind the application of external loads to the body have not been thoroughly investigated, particularly with respect to three-dimensional (3-D) force measurements taken at the interface between the patient's skin and the chiropractor's hand.

Ten healthy subjects were recruited for this study, designed to collect 3-D force data by direct measurement during cervical, thoracic and sacroiliac adjustments performed by two chiropractors.

Both chiropractors used the same diversified technique on all subjects, without any specific instructions regarding preload and peak load.

Results showed that 3-D force components were significantly greater than matching 1-D perpendicular force components, and significantly different between adjustment levels, suggesting different kinetics of adjustment techniques.

The authors conclude: "Direct 3-D contact force data seem to have the potential to contribute to chiropractic research because of a more complete description [than 1-D force data] of this biomechanical aspect of daily practice. ... Results can not only be used to characterize techniques and practitioners within chiropractic, but also to serve as a teaching tool in learning the highly complex motor skills necessary to perform spinal manipulation effectively and safely."

van Zoest GGJM, Gosselin G. Three-dimensionality of direct contact forces in chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics November/December 2003;26(9):549-56.

Chiropractic Research Review

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