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Open Access Review

Does postural sway change in association with manual therapeutic interventions? A review of the literature

Alexander Ruhe12*, René Fejer3 and Bruce Walker1

Author Affiliations

1 School of Health Professions, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia, Australia

2 Praxis fuer Chiropraktik Wolfsburg, Wolfsburg, Germany

3 Research Department, Spine Centre of Southern Denmark, Hospital Lillebaelt and University of Southern Denmark, Middelfart, Denmark

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Chiropractic & Manual Therapies 2013, 21:9  doi:10.1186/2045-709X-21-9

Published: 4 February 2013

Abstract

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 decreases in pain intensity.

Keywords:
Center of pressure; Postural sway; Manual therapy; Intervention