The Effect of Chiropractic Treatment on the Reaction and Response Times of Special Operation Forces Military Personnel: Study Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial
James W. DeVocht, Dean L. Smith, Cynthia R. Long,
Lance Corber, Bridget Kane, Thomas M. Jones and
Christine M. Goertz
Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research,
741 Brady St,
Davenport, IA, 52803, USA.
BACKGROUND: Chiropractic care is commonly used to treat musculoskeletal conditions and has been endorsed by clinical practice guidelines as being evidence-based and cost-effective for the treatment of patients with low back pain. Gaps in the literature exist regarding the physiological outcomes of chiropractic treatment. Previous pilot work has indicated the possibility of improvements in response time following the application of chiropractic treatment. However, it is unknown whether or not chiropractic treatment is able to improve reaction and response times in specific populations of interest. One such population is the U.S. military special operation forces’ (SOF) personnel.
METHODS: This study is a randomized controlled trial of 120 asymptomatic volunteer SOF personnel. All participants are examined by a study doctor of chiropractic (DC) for eligibility prior to randomization. The participants are randomly allocated to either a treatment group receiving four treatments of chiropractic manipulative therapy (CMT) over 2 weeks or to a wait-list control group. The wait-list group does not receive any treatment but has assessments at the same time interval as the treatment group. The outcome measures are simple reaction times for dominant hand and dominant foot, choice reaction time with prompts calling for either hand or either foot, response time using Fitts’ law tasks for small movements involving eye-hand coordination, and brief whole body movements using the t-wall, a commercially available product. At the first visit, all five tests are completed so that participants can familiarize themselves with the equipment and protocol. Assessments at the second and the final visits are used for data analysis.
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DISCUSSION: U.S. military special operation forces’ (SOF) personnel are highly motivated and extremely physically fit individuals whose occupation requires reaction times that are as quick as possible during the course of their assigned duties. A goal of CMT is to maximize the functionality and integration of the neuromusculoskeletal systems. Therefore, chiropractic treatment may be able to optimize the capacity of the numerous components of those systems, resulting in improved reaction time. The objective of this study is to test the hypothesis that CMT improves reaction and response times in asymptomatic SOF personnel.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT02168153
Registered on 12 June 2014.
KEYWORDS: Biomechanical assessments; Chiropractic manipulative therapy; Reaction times; Response times; Special forces