Design: Comparison of vertical alignment errors generated using the CRAF in two groups of subjects with neck pain, compared to an asymptomatic control group.
Setting: Two urban chiropractic clinics in the UK.
Patients: New patients with neck pain as the primary complaint classified according to traumatic (n = 26) or insidious (n = 45) onset of their neck pain. Seventeen asymptomatic subjects formed a control group.
Intervention: Subjects were tested before treatment. They viewed a display of a tilted rod on a plain dark background through head mounted video glasses. The task was to use the mouse to align the rod to vertical in the presence or absence of a surrounding frame.
Main outcome measures: Errors in rod alignment measured to an accuracy of 0.5¡ã.
Results: In the asymptomatic group, tilting the frame 15¡ã from the horizontal caused significant errors in alignment of the rod. The mean and range of absolute alignment errors were greater in the neck pain patient groups than controls, although this did not reach statistical significance. Classification of the absolute errors by size, ¡Ü2.5¡ã or >2.5¡ã, suggested a possible association between neck pain and alignment error in a subgroup of subjects.
Conclusion: This pilot study has demonstrated that the CRAF Test provides a practical method for assessing disturbances of the perception of vertical within a clinical practice setting. The results indicate that there may be a subpopulation of patients in which neck pain is associated with reduced performance on this test.
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