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Biomechanical studies of spinal manipulative therapy (SMT): quantifying the movements of vertebral bodies during SMT

By Julianna Gál, Walter Herzog, Gregory Kawchuk, Phillip Conway and Yuan-Ting Zhang


The relative movements between vertebral bodies T10 and T11, and T11 and T12 were measured during clinical-type SMTs to T11 in unembalmed post-rigor human cadavers, using embedded stainless steel bone pins and high speed cinematography. Significant relative movements between target and adjacent vertebrae occurred primarily in sagittal and axial rotation during the thrust phases of the SMTs. The relative positions of the vertebral bodies were compared at similar force levels, before and after the rapid thrust phases. The sagittal angles between T11 and T12 following the SMTs, were significantly different from their pre-thrust values. Two non-invasive methods (surface markers and uni-axial accelerometers) were compared to the invasive bone pins, in order to assess their suitability to accurately measure posterior-anterior translation. The results showed that both non-invasive techniques significantly underestimated the absolute movements of all vertebral bodies during the SMTs. The relative posterior-anterior translations using the non-invasive techniques however, were not significantly different from those determined from the bone pins

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