Objective: Doctors of chiropractic (DCs) use manual cervical distraction to treat patients with neck pain. Previous research demonstrates variability in traction forces generated by different DCs. This article reports on a training protocol and monthly certification process using bioengineering technology to standardize cervical traction force delivery among clinicians.
Methods: This longitudinal observational study evaluated a training and certification process for DCs who provided force-based manual cervical distraction during a randomized clinical trial. The DCs completed a 7-week initial training that included instructional lectures, observation, and guided practice by a clinical expert, followed by 3 hours of weekly practice sessions delivering the technique to asymptomatic volunteers who served as simulated patients. An instrument-modified table and computer software provided the DCs with real-time audible and visual feedback on the traction forces they generated and graphical displays of the magnitude of traction forces as a function of time immediately after the delivery of the treatment. The DCs completed monthly certifications on traction force delivery throughout the trial. Descriptive accounts of certification attempts are provided.
Results: Two DCs achieved certification in traction force delivery over 10 consecutive months. No certification required more than 3 attempts at C5 and occiput contacts for 3 force ranges (0–20 N, 21–50 N, and 51–100 N).
Conclusions: This study demonstrates the feasibility of a training protocol and certification process using bioengineering technology for training DCs to deliver manual cervical distraction within specified traction force ranges over a 10-month period.
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