There are many different tools required to run a chiropractic office, from chairs and magazines in the waiting room, to computers, tables, and instruments in the examination room. The most important tools allow DCs to provide efficient and effective treatment to each of their patients; however, deciding which tools are best for a specific practice takes research and deep consideration of various factors. For the DC who provides instrument assisted adjustments, one such factor would be whether to use a spring-loaded or electromechanical instrument.
As the name implies, a spring-loaded instrument is one that functions through the force of a spring. Examples of spring-loaded instruments include the Activator I, II, III, and IV. An electromechanical instrument, on the other hand, delivers electrical impulses at precise frequencies to perform adjustments. Examples of electromechanical instruments include the Impulse and the Dynadjust.
There are several questions to answer before deciding upon one type of instrument or the other. First, will it meet your needs as a DC? One of the attractive things about using instruments to deliver adjustments is the fact that they are physically easier for DCs than manual adjustments. Make sure that both a spring-loaded
and an electromechanical instrument will be comfortable to use. Some practitioners find that spring-loaded instruments, which are generally lightweight and very portable, fit better into their workflows than an electromechanical instrument with a cord.
The types of adjustments that you provide and the patient population most often treated are also considerations. Cervical adjustments tend to require less force than lumbar adjustments. Elderly patients generally need gentler adjustments than younger patients, and electromechanical instruments can be set to use less force, which may make them the best choice for DCs who often find they require a lighter touch.
Given that most DCs are busy, the level of training required to provide the best care with each instrument should be taken into account, as well. One study compared the force delivered with an instrument to the force delivered manually and experienced operators and novices using instruments or applying manual force. The researchers concluded that the level of experience did, indeed, have an impact.
The comfort and energy expenditure of the DC, the patient population regularly seen, the types of adjustments provided, and the amount of training required are all important considerations, but there is one other thing that any business owner must think about: price. How much investment will be required to purchase the tool, and how long will it take to earn that investment back? A chiropractic practice is a business and capital investments and budgeting are important to the success of any business.
New techniques and tools can help DCs provide outstanding, effective care to their patients. Choosing which tools to purchase or training to undertake can be difficult decisions. However, looking at the needs of the DC, the needs of patients, and the effect the investment will have on the practice’s bottom line will most likely make reaching a decision much easier.
1Colloca C. Instrument Adjusting’s Mechanical Advantage. The American Journal of Clinical Chiropractic. 2006;(16)3
2Kawchuk G, Li T, Liddle T, McLeod R, Prasad N, Zhu Q. Variability of Force Magnitude and Force Duration in Manual and Instrument-based
Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. 2006;(29)8:611618