Press Release: NZ Chiropractors Association
Chiropractic care may have a role to play in assisting those who display a poor proprioceptive function say researchers at the New Zealand College of Chiropractic, who are developing a scale to measure what they have dubbed ‘Klutz Syndrome’.
Proprioception is the ability of your brain to sense the relative position of your body parts in space, and the ability to move your body accurately and precisely without having to look at what you are doing. Without accurate proprioception you would not be able to drive a car as you would need to constantly look at what your arms and legs were doing.
According to Dr Heidi Haavik, Director of Research at the New Zealand College of Chiropractic: ‘When proprioceptive function is impaired, for instance not knowing precisely where your arm is when your eyes are closed, you are more likely to be clumsy and accident prone. We know that chiropractic care assists brain function in many ways, one of which is proprioceptive function and this improves the accuracy of the internal brain map so your brain knows accurately what is going on all the time.
‘We are developing a dysfunctional sensorimotor integration scale, or I suppose you could call it a ‘clumsiness scale’. With this, the higher your reading on the scale, the more likely you may need to be adjusted by a chiropractor.’
Dr Haavik explains: ‘We felt it was fitting to highlight this work during Brain Awareness Week. In the past ten years our researchers at the College and research collaborators aboard have objectively demonstrated that chiropractic adjustments can change aspects of nervous system function including the way the brain controls muscles, responds to sensory stimuli and controls limb function.’
In a review published in the Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology last year Dr Haavik and Professor Bernadette Murphy from Canada provided an overview of the growing body of research on the effects of spinal manipulation or adjustments on sensory processing, motor output, functional performance and sensorimotor integration. The review looked at studies using somatosensory evoked potentials, transcranial magnetic brain stimulation, and electromyographic techniques to demonstrate neurophysiological changes following chiropractic interventions.
Dr Haavik explains: ‘This work contributes to the understanding of how an initial episode of back or neck pain may lead to ongoing changes in input from the spine which over time can lead to altered sensorimotor integration and poor control of spine and limb muscles. This may exacerbate the problem and cause it to become chronic.’
Brain Awareness Week is a global campaign to increase public awareness about the progress and benefits of brain research. Brain Awareness Week also aims to increase community awareness of the potential for improving the long-term health of the brain through lifestyle changes and risk-reduction strategies.
 Haavik H, Murphy B. The role of spinal manipulation in addressing disordered sensorimotor integration and altered motor control. J Electromyogr Kinesiol (2012), doi:10.1016/j.jelekin.2012.02.012
For further information on the New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association visit www.chiropractic.org.nz