Study design: Literature review
Objectives: The objective of this literature review was to determine if postural sway changes in association with manual therapeutic interventions and to investigate whether any changes occur in healthy individuals or in association with pain intensity.
Summary of background data: Improving postural stability has been proposed as a goal of manual therapeutic interventions. So far, no literature review has addressed whether there is supportive evidence for this and if so, what factors may be associated or causative for observed sway alterations.
Search methods: Seven online databases (PubMed, MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, Web of Science, ScienceDirect and the Cochrane library) were systematically searched followed by a manual search of the retrieved papers.
Selection criteria: Studies comparing postural sway derived from bipedal force plate measurements in association with a manual therapeutic intervention, ideally compared to a control group.
Data collection and analysis: Two reviewers independently screened titles and abstracts for relevance, conducted the data extraction and the risk of bias assessment which was conducted using the RTI item bank. A descriptive analysis was conducted as the heterogeneous study designs prevented pooling of data.
Results: Nine studies of varying methodological quality met the inclusion criteria. No direct comparison of data across the studies was possible. There was no evidence that manual interventions lead to a change in postural sway in healthy individuals regardless of the body regions addressed by the intervention. There was some indication that postural sway may change at follow-up measurements in pain sufferers; however, this may be due to variations in pain intensity rather than resulting from the intervention itself.
Conclusions: There is no conclusive scientific evidence that manual therapeutic interventions may exhibit any immediate or long-term effect on COP excursions. Any changes in sway may be attributable to ecreases in pain intensity.
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