OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to assess the prevalence, distribution, severity, risk factors of, and response to musculoskeletal injuries to the low back, hand/wrist, and neck/shoulder among chiropractic students while receiving and/or administering adjustments/manipulation while attending a chiropractic college.
METHODS: The study was an epidemiologic survey of chiropractic students at all levels of training (n = 890) at one chiropractic college. A self-administered anonymous 3-paged questionnaire was used. The questionnaire was divided into sections for collecting data separately on injuries associated with receiving or administering chiropractic adjustments
RESULTS: The response rate was 64.3% with 62.6% male respondents. The overall prevalence of injuries sustained in college was 31.5%, 44.4% of which was exacerbations of prior complaints. Injuries from receiving adjustments/manipulation were most prevalent to neck/shoulder (65.7%), whereas hand/wrist injuries were most common when administering adjustments (45.6%). The risk difference among students receiving adjustments was 81.6/1000 neck/shoulder injuries, and the etiologic fraction was 76.6%. The risk difference was 170/1000 hand/wrist injuries with etiologic fraction of 96.5% among students administering adjustments. Diversified, Gonstead, and upper cervical adjusting techniques were perceived to be the most injury-related.
CONCLUSION: Some students enroll in a chiropractic college with preexisting injuries that can easily be exacerbated. Others sustain new injuries of moderate severity from receiving and administering adjustments. Potential risk factors may include height, body mass index, and nonexercising. The risk factors and mechanisms responsible for the high levels of hand/wrist injuries need further examination. This research identifies an important need to design a comprehensive and logical protocol to prevent injury to chiropractic students.
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