Balance and Movement and The Effect
of Chiropractic Care
Utilization with the Elderly, Cerebral Palsy, the Athlete
and the General Population
Chiropractic care reverses maladaptations in sensorimotor integration
and improves motor control
A report on the scientific literature
Mark Studin DC, FASBE (C), DAAPM, DAAMLP
William J. Owens DC, DAAMLP
Sensorimotor is defined as our ability to feel and move. With infants, Piaget, the renowned researcher, categorized the first 2 years of an infant’s life as the sensorimotor stage. "During this period, infants are busy discovering relationships between their bodies and the environment. Researchers have discovered that infants have relatively well developed sensory abilities. The child relies on seeing, touching, sucking, feeling, and using their senses to learn things about themselves and the environment. Piaget calls this the sensorimotor stage because the early manifestations of intelligence appear from sensory perceptions and motor activities" (Anderson, n.d., http://facultyweb.cortland.edu/andersmd/PIAGET/sms.html).
As we develop and our nervous systems have acquainted us to our surroundings, we need the neurological "hookups" to remain intact to function optimally and pain free. In addition, our sensory and motor systems need to work in tandem in order for us to function normally.
To further break it down, our sensory system is part of the nervous system that consists of receptors that receive stimuli from both our internal and external environments. These receptors, such as the ones located in our fingertips, sense external stimuli, such as hot or cold, or what we feel. An internal receptor may be found in the tendons (connect your muscles to your bones) and lets you know what your joints are doing, such as are my fingers sensing if they are relaxed or in a fist. The sensory system is also controlled by the brain that processes what we feel.
Pain is part of the sensory nervous system and to the surprise of many, pain is an important component to protecting yourself. Without pain, you could get seriously hurt, such as by keeping your finger on a hot stove too long or touching a sharp object too heavily and cutting your hand. Internally, pain is a warning sign that an organ or system is "sick" and alerts you to seek medical care.
All pain receptors are free nerve endings, meaning they only bring information to your brain and function as the "pain receptors." There are three types of pain receptors; mechanical, thermal and chemical. They are found in skin and on internal surfaces such as the coverings of the bone and joint surfaces. "Deep internal surfaces are only weakly supplied with pain receptors and will propagate sensations of chronic, aching pain if tissue damage in these areas is experienced. Pain receptors do not adapt to stimulus. In some conditions, excitation of pain fibres becomes greater as the pain stimulus continues, leading to a condition called hyperalgesia [commonly known as, "WOW, that hurts a lot!"]" (Global Oneness, n.d., http://www.experiencefestival.com/a/Pain_-_Physiology/id/597137).
Your motor system is what allows you to move, maintain your posture and control your muscles. The motor system is controlled through nerves similar to the sensory system and like the sensory system, has a controlling element in the brain.
Functional tasks are defined as those things we do in our lives. Answering a telephone, putting a key in a door lock or picking up a fork to eat are all examples of functions. These functions, just like Piaget described in infants, are how we have a relationship with our body and the environment and require an integrated motor and sensory nervous system. Every functional task that we do involves both the motor and sensory components of our nervous system and while performing these tasks, we are protected by our ability to perceive pain.
Due to the development and integrategration of the world around us necessary to complete every task in our lives, as we get older, postural disturbances can arise and negatively affect how we integrate the sensorimotor information we are receiving both internally and externally and lead to significant balance disorders. Lord and Ward (1994) reported that, "All of the sensory, motor and balance system measures showed significant age-associated differences" (http://ageing.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/23/6/452). This means that as one gets older, his/her sensorimotor system often fails to integrate the internal and external environment as it once could.
A research study by Taylor and Murphy (2008) concluded that chiropractic care reverses maladaptations in sensorimotor integration and improving motor control. The study suggests that spinal dysfunction may lead to muscle specific alterations of the brain’s ability to process motor control. The "real-life" implications of this finding affect every facet of our lives and every person. Whether it be an older person who is starting to exhibit balance disorders, or a cerebral palsy victim who struggles on a daily basis with the simple tasks of life or a world class athlete looking to increase his/her fine motor skills just 1/10 of 1%, the results of chiropractic care can be dramatic.
From the clinical observation of Dr. Mark Studin, a co-author of this article and a practicing chiropractor for 30 years, "This now gives scientific evidence and validation to what patients have been sharing after receiving chiropractic care. The most common comment from patients post care is, 'I perceive my surroundings more acutely and feel straighter.'" Dr. Studin continues, "Although I have heard this from every age group, my first patient was a cerebral palsy patient who stated that without getting adjusted he could barely function. With care, he walked to and from the office, a distance of 3 miles."
These studies, along with many others conclude that a drug-free approach of chiropractic care is one of the best solutions to increase integration between the motor and sensory systems of your body. To find a qualified doctor of chiropractic near you, go to the US Chiropractic Directory at www.USChiroDirectory.com and search your state.
1. Anderson, M. (n.d.). Sensorimotor stage. Jean Piaget's Theory of Development. Retrieved from http://facultyweb.cortland.edu/andersmd/PIAGET/sms.html
2. Global Oneness. (n.d.). Pain - Physiology. Retrieved from http://www.experiencefestival.com/a/Pain_-_Physiology/id/597137
3. Lord, S. R. & Ward, J. A. (1994). Age-associated differences in sensori-motor function and balance in community dwelling women. Age and Ageing. Retrieved from http://ageing.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/ abstract/23/6/452
4. Taylor, H. H. & Murphy, B. (2008). Altered sensorimotor integration with cervical spine manipulation. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 31(2), 115-126.
Increased Balance, Movement
& Kinematics as a Result of Chiropractic Care
A research conclusion that affects rehabilitation patients, athletes, balance disorders and increased production in the workplace
A report on the scientific literature
Mark Studin DC, FASBE (C), DAAPM, DAAMLP
William J. Owens DC, DAAMLP
"Much chiropractic research has been devoted to determining the effects of chiropractic care on various symptoms and disorders such as low back pain, neck pain, and headaches. In addition, some basic science research demonstrates that these disorders (particularly low back pain) are related to perceptual and behavioral changes in individuals ranging from reduced proprioception to changes in muscle recruitment patterns to altered kinematics" (Smith, Dainoff, & Smith, 2006, p. 257).
"Proprioception (pronounced /ˌproʊpri.ɵˈsɛpʃən/PRO-pree-o-SEP-shən), from Latin proprius, meaning "one's own" and perception, is the sense of the relative position of neighbouring parts of the body" (Wikipedia, 2010, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proprioception).
"Proprioception doesn't come from any specific organ, but from the nervous system as a whole. Its input comes from sensory receptors distinct from tactile receptors — nerves from inside the body rather than on the surface. Proprioceptive ability can be trained, as can any motor activity" (Anissimov, 2010, http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-proprioception.htm).
"Without proprioception, drivers would be unable to keep their eyes on the road while driving, as they would need to pay attention to the position of their arms and legs while working the pedals and steering wheel. And I would not be able to type this article without staring at the keys. If you happen to be snacking while reading this article, you would be unable to put food into your mouth without taking breaks to judge the position and orientation of your hands" (Anissimov, 2010, http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-proprioception.htm).
"Kinematics is the study of motion and the forces required to produce it. This includes the different forces at work during the movement of a single part of the body, and more complex movements such as running and climbing" (NASA, 1999, http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/history/shuttle-mir/references/glossaries/science/sc-gloss-g_m.htm).
"Chiropractic research has looked mainly at movement control from neurophysiological and biomechanical perspectives. This research has shown that chiropractic affects several factors that influence movement control. For example, reductions in resting muscular tone (quantified by surface electromyography in prone posture) have been documented following adjustments, as have improvements in muscular strength. In addition, reaction times to a complex mental rotation task have decreasedwith adjustments. A recent review of the neurophysiological effects of spinal manipulation identifies experimental evidence that spinal manipulation influences proprioceptive primary afferent neurons from paraspinal tissues. Spinal manipulation also affects how pain signals are processed, possibly by altering the central facilitated state of the spinal cord. In summary, the available biomechanical and neurophysiological data indicate that spinal manipulations can affect the motor control system" (Smith, Dainoff, & Smith, 2006, pp. 257-258).
"Kinematic changes following chiropractic have also been noted…findings by Smith also indicate that coordination and balance changes result from chiropractic adjustments. A recent study using magnetic resonance imaging has shown that spinal adjusting produces movement at the zygapophyseal joints of the spine, thus revealing biomechanical effects of chiropractic" (Smith, Dainoff, & Smith, 2006, p. 258).
In designing a model for studying human movement time (MT), we look at accepted scientific principles and laws for standardization of evaluation. "There is at least one immutable rule for interface design and movement that we know about, and it's called Fitts's Law. It can be applied to software interfaces as well as Web site design because it involves the way people interact with mouse or other pointing devices. Most GUI platforms have built-in common controls designed with Fitts's Law in mind. Many Web designers, however, have yet to recognize the powerful little facts that make this concept so useful" (Microsoft Corporation, 2010, http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms993291.aspx).
"The basic idea in Fitts's Law is that any time a person uses a mouse to move the mouse pointer; certain characteristics of objects on the screen make them easy or hard to click on. The farther the person has to move the mouse to get to an object, the more effort it will take to get to. The smaller the object is, the harder it will be to click on...It means that the easiest objects to locate and target are the ones closest to the mouse's current position and that have large target spaces. Fitts wrote several papers describing these findings, with significant mathematical rigor, expressing in formulas how you can measure the impact of different velocities, distances, and target sizes on a user's ability to click on objects" (Microsoft Corporation, 2010, http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms993291.aspx).
Results of Chiropractic and Movement Time
"All participants in the experimental group had significantly improved movement times following spinal adjustments compared with only 1 participant in the the control group. The average improvement in movement time for the experimental group was 183 ms, a 9.2% improvement, whereas the average improvement in movement time for the control group was 29 ms, a 1.7% improvement" (Smith, Dainoff, & Smith, 2006, p. 257).
Implications of Increased MT Time Based on Chiropractic Care
MT is one of the most important variables influencing the way we control our movements. It can affect athletes, Parkinson’s patients, and balance disorder patients. It can increase productivity at work and influence every other facet of our lives that increased movement can help. What business wouldn’t want a 9.2% increase in work productivity where movement of your body is required for production? What balance disorder patient wouldn’t want a 9.2% increase in balance? What sprinter wouldn’t want 9.2% of their time taken off without the use of performance enhancing drugs?
While many see chiropractic as an effective modality to relieve back or neck pain, this study along with many others, see chiropractic as the solution to many interrelated issues in health, work, sports, rehabilitation and the workplace. This study along with many others concludes that a drug-free approach of chiropractic care is one of the best solutions to increasing your body’s ability to function better. To find a qualified doctor of chiropractic near you go to the US Chiropractic Directory at www.USChiroDirectory.comand search your state.