Introduction: A neurological component, which includes an autonomic component, is assumed to exist within the condition known as vertebral subluxation (VS). High tech methods of autonomic assessment (e.g., heart rate variability) are typically used only periodically (e.g., every 6 or 12 visits). Lower tech methods of autonomic assessment such as skin temperature measurements are sufficiently convenient to use on all patient visits. As an additional option for autonomic assessment on all patient visits, this study introduces a new and potentially valid method of autonomic assessment that uses radial pulse variability.
Methods: Thirty-two participants were examined with: a) regular heart rate variability, using the standard deviation of normal-to-normal beats (SDNN) and b) novel pulse rate variability procedures. The novel methods are based on four manually palpated radial pulse measurements taken within a two minute period which in turn were subjected to five different methods of calculation.
Results: Two predictors emerged as having the strongest association with SDNN in this study. One, which is already established as a valid biomarker, is pulse rate mean. The other predictor, which is novel, is the pulse rate mean minus the difference between maximum and minimum pulse rates.
Conclusion: Chiropractors may have a new option for assessing autonomic function on every patient visit in the form of low-tech radial pulse rate variability. Further outcomes research with a random sample of patients is indicated as a next step in this study. Link to PDF version
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