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Chiropractor Presents Cervical Spine Biomechanics Research at International Orthopaedic Conference

22 Mar 2012


BARCELONA, Spain – Christopher J. Colloca, D.C. presented his team’s original biomechanics research at the 12th Annual Conference of the International Society for the Advancement of Spinal Surgery (ISASS) in Barcelona, Spain on March 22, 2012. The research is a culmination of the work of a multi-disciplinary research team that he assembled combining his specialty as a chiropractor and biomechanist  together with the expertise of orthopedic spine surgeons, biomedical engineers, and histopathologists, from Australia, Belgium, Canada, and the USA. The paper being accepted for platform presentation at the prestigious orthopedic conference is further testimony to the success of the collaboration.

The paper entitled, Quantifying Biomechanical Alterations of Cervical Disc Degeneration: An in vivo Spinal Stiffness Assessment Methodology, presented the team’s first results of its inquiry to the cervical spine at the Adelaide Centre for Spinal Research (ACSR) in (Adelaide) Australia. In the study a validated degenerated disc model in sheep was used to determine if differences in spinal stiffness existed between normal and degenerated cervical spine discs. This research provides the unique opportunity to examine spine biomechanics in living subjects, as opposed to ex vivo studies conducted on cadaveric specimens. Significant differences in spinal stiffness were observed in animals with cervical disc degeneration with the examiner blinded to the subject groups. The work is currently being prepared for journal submission.

The group’s previous research has focused on the lumbar spine where their instrumentation was validated and numerous clinical conditions have been examined. Lumbar disc degeneration, muscle hyperactivity, ligament injury, spondylolysis, the effects of an interspinous implant have all been compared to normal conditions and published in a variety of scientific journals such as Clinical Biomechanics, European Spine Journal, The Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology, The Journal of Biomechanics, and Spine among others. Concerning his research, Dr. Colloca stated, “I wanted to have our research presented at the very highest level medical scientific conferences so we could receive constructive criticism prior to publication. It’s helpful for the chiropractic profession to have the technology that we’re developing stand up to the scrutiny of the medical community. That’s how you do it in the medical device arena.”

The ability to objectively quantify spinal motions is of great interest to not only chiropractors, but to anyone who examines the spine. Dr. Colloca explained, “For years, chiropractors and physical therapists have used motion palpation during clinical assessments of their patients. The problem, however, is that our own kinesthetic senses aren’t good enough to detect normal from abnormal, which is why the reliability studies are so poor with the qualitative motion palpation techniques. Using a sensor mounted inline with a stylus, using an instrument we can probe the spine and quantify its stiffness using numbers that are reliable and valid. I think that this truly will be the future of physical examination not only in chiropractic, but across healthcare disciplines from PT to Orthopedics.” The research was generously supported by the International Spine Research Foundation (INSPIRE) through grants from CBP Nonprofit, Inc., and The William M. Harris Family Foundation. For further details visit www.helpinspire.org.

Citation: Colloca CJ, Gunzburg R, Szpalski M, Freeman BJ, Afifi M, Moore RJ.  Quantifying biomechanical alterations of cervical disc degeneration: an in vivo spinal stiffness assessment methodology. 12th Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery (ISASS). Barcelona, Spain, March 20-23, 2012:46. Download the Press release in PDF



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