A study published on April 10, 2017, in the scientific journal, the Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research, documented the case of a 74-year-old man who showed improvements in function, reaction time, postural stability, and joint position awareness due to chiropractic care.
The study begins by pointing out that the processing of sensory input from one's environment involves combining information from multiple sensory sources into the brain. Sensory processing is most efficient when both central and peripheral sensory organs are functioning properly. Since the nervous system controls all sensory organs, it is imperative that the nervous system be functioning at peak levels for the sensory input to be correct, and the body to formulate a proper response to the input.
The authors note that, as a person gets older, there is a decrease in the ability to properly process sensorimotor information. The result could include a reduction in postural stability, joint position sense, vibration perception and touch thresholds as well as a decrease in simple and complex reaction times.
To test if chiropractic could have a positive effect on the decrease in processing of sensory input, a chiropractic research trial was created. In this case, a 74-year-old man with no immediate symptoms was included in the clinical trial. His joint position sense, reaction time and postural stability were all measured prior to chiropractic care, and recorded as a base-line to be compared against during and after chiropractic.
The man's joint position sense was measured using a computerized Macroderma Proprioception test platform (MTP-2). In this test, the patient is instructed to move their ankle to a specific position, then move it around and return it to the original position. It is then measured and averaged over 20 repetitions. This showed that his pre-chiropractic MTP-2 result was 2.26 degrees.
Reaction time was measured using a Macroderma Reaction Platform MP-3 device which measured how quickly a patient could move their feet into a position in response to a light. After 20 repetitions, the man's average for this test was 1151ms.
The man's postural stability was measured using a computerized balance platform (CAPS). This tested his ability to keep postural position with his eyes closed. Initially, he was unable to keep his balance with his eyes closed during this test.
A series of specific chiropractic adjustments were then performed on the man on a regular schedule based upon the findings of a chiropractic examination. At the 4 week and 12 week period, the man was re-tested for his joint position sense, reaction time, and postural stability.
The man's joint positioning improved from 2.26° to 1.34° after just 4 weeks, and to 1.58° after 12 weeks of chiropractic care. This represented a 30% improvement when compared to his initial evaluation. Likewise, his reaction times improved by 15%, going from 1151ms initially to 1007ms after 4 weeks, and to 984ms after 12 weeks of chiropractic. His postural stability went from not being able to perform the test prior to chiropractic, to where the man was able to keep his balance with his eyes closed during the testing.
In summing up the positive results of this case, the authors stated in their conclusion, This case report documents significant improvements in sensorimotor function in an asymptomatic 74-year-old male receiving chiropractic care. This suggests that chiropractors may have a role to play in caring for older people even if they are asymptomatic.