How Technology is Transforming Chiropractic Care
By Dr. Brent Wells
By Dr. Brent Wells
What does a chiropractic clinic and a space station have in common? As it turns out, quite a lot. Key new chiropractic tools are based on technologies that NASA pioneered for successful space exploration. Cool, right?
As innovative medical technologies are being developed, chiropractic care is getting a much needed adjustment. With these new tools, chiropractors are better able to streamline, customize and perfect their care. Let’s take a tour of these latest chiropractic tech trends.
Streamlining clinic administration
Nowadays, health records are going electronic. This is a game-changer for many chiropractic clinics. Instead of time-consuming paper trails, which require a human to organize and store, electronic records streamline all aspects of a clinic. Specifically, electronic health records boost a clinic’s ability to schedule appointments, view complete medical histories, document new conditions and more efficiently bill patients. Getting all this information in one place is great for saving time, but also for ensuring high-quality care.
Another plus of going electronic and having updated technology systems is that tools can “talk” to each other. This interoperability is helpful for administrative tasks, but also for medical ones. For example, when a chiropractor works with a patient, he/she can use a variety of tools that then appear on the screen together to form a more complete diagnosis.
Another key area for chiropractors is getting a precise diagnosis. Several new tools assist in pinpointing painful areas and getting a more complete look at the body. Here are a few of them:
● Nervous system scans: This scanning technology gives chiropractors an inside look into the nervous system, detecting areas of stress and abrupt changes in less than 10 minutes. This type of scan can be used as a baseline to compare the patient’s original scan to other future scans.
● Digital x-rays: Forget the old film-based x-rays. Nowadays, digital x-rays give medical providers an immediate look at areas of the body, saving time and improving image quality. For chiropractors, this could mean getting a look at a patient’s spine more quickly and precisely than before. Often, chiropractors are even able to show patients these x-rays in real time to better inform them of the problem at hand.
● Digital thermal scans: This temperature-based scan allows a chiropractor to check an area of a body and pick up imbalances or changes between appointments.
● Surface EMG: This tool measures the electrical activity along your spine, including nerves and muscles.
● Heart rate variability indicator: Sometimes chiropractors also need to look into your heart. This tool helps them see anomalies in your pulse.
Adjusting with precision
One of the most important treatments at a chiropractic clinic is adjustments. In the past, patients were concerned about the health risks and lack of precision in adjustments. Though these concerns were often unwarranted, chiropractors today have even more control when making adjustments. Several tools give chiropractors a “robotic hand” in making precise, painless adjustments.
● ProAdjuster (for joints):This new tool, based on NASA technologies, is a sophisticated way of giving precise force. Chiropractors use the ProAdjuster to increase/decrease motion in areas that need treatment. In particular, this tool helps unstick joints, especially along the spine.
● Impulse adjuster: This instrument creates a tapping sensation in the area of treatment. Like the ProAdjuster, it gives the exact motion needed to adjust the area and relieve pain. It can be used for joints or other parts.
● Spinal decompression therapy: This technology helps control decompression in an efficient and safe way. Specifically, this tool pulls the spine slowly and controls muscular reactions, while preventing pain.
● Extracorporeal shock wave therapy: Not many patients will need this extreme care, but when they do, this instrument will help create the right level of shock waves. This therapy treats injuries by disrupting tissues and readjusting the area.
Besides adjustments, chiropractors also have new tools to promote healing. Many of these tools are used to stimulate or repair tissues in order to speed up recovery. These tools are distinct from adjustment tools in the sense that they don’t focus on alignment, but rather circulation. Here are the main technologies today:
● K-laser:This laser technology helps stimulate the treatment area by applying red and infrared light. In general, this laser helps tissues repair more quickly and efficiently.
● Ultrasound: These machines are mostly known for imaging, but they can also be used for stimulation. This low-frequency tool can be applied over tissues to boost circulation and elasticity.
● Cold laser therapy: Another laser therapy that uses light to stimulate injured areas. In this case, this light doesn’t generate heat, which helps cellular recovery.
● Electric muscle stimulation:This tool uses electrodes to apply an electric current to the treatment area. Generally speaking, this enhances circulation and elasticity for a quicker recovery time.
Personalizing patient information
Named a top trend for medical care in 2019, wearable technology is great source of information for chiropractors. Specifically, devices such as FitBits and Apple Watches give chiropractors a fuller picture of their patients’ health. Tracking this kind of private, personalized information can both inform a chiropractor’s diagnosis and also help the patient follow an actionable care plan. For example, if the chiropractor notices that a patient with back pain is overweight, he/she may recommend adjustments as well as an exercise plan. At the next appointment, the chiropractor can see how many steps the patient took and what exercise areas still need improvement. Wearable technology makes patients accountable for their own health, while allowing medical providers to make more specific lifestyle recommendations.
Technology is completely changing the chiropractic industry by streamlining and perfecting care. In particular, chiropractic clinics can now easily view complete health records, better pinpoint diagnoses using diverse tools, make precise adjustments, promote healing through specific stimulation and use personalized patient information to inform medical care. These technological advances also give chiropractic the prestige and respect it deserves.
It’s clear: with these new tools, chiropractic care is becoming out-of-this-world.
Dr. Brent Wells is a graduate of the University of Nevada where he earned his bachelor of science degree before moving on to complete his doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College. He founded Better Health Chiropractor Anchorage AK in Alaska in 1998. He became passionate about being a chiropractor after his own experiences with hurried, unprofessional healthcare providers. The goal for Dr. Wells is to treat his patients with care and compassion while providing them with a better quality of life through his professional treatment.