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September 2022

J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1988 Apr; 11(2): 89-93.

Chiropractic management of spondylolisthesis with spondylolysis of the pars interarticularis: an example of the single-case study experimental design.

Crawford JP, Noble WJ, Vernon H.

Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, Toronto, Canada.

Case records permeating the chiropractic literature, although claiming success utilizing conservative therapies, often are founded on isolated circumstances rather than scientific data. A detailed examination of such reports reveals a void with respect to definitive and specific approaches for the diagnosis and clinical management of disorders synonymous with chiropractic clinical practice. At best, therefore, such reports are fraught with empiricism, illustrating only the experiences of individual clinicians. The underlying difficulty encountered in reporting information on purely didactic grounds is likely due to the absence of a mechanism by which improvement in biomechanical function may be precisely and adequately quantified. In direct contrast, controlled clinical trials, as in medical research, offer the luxury of statistical clarity as to the selection of one treatment regimen over another. Researchers have indicated that the single-case study experimental design may be of value in chiropractic clinical practice, allowing for the formulation of deductive conclusions derived from each case. To facilitate the process, implementation of both retrospective and prospective aspects are proposed modifications to the general scheme. It is the purpose of this article to employ the concept of the single-case study experimental design, illustrating a condition commonly encountered in chiropractic clinical practice, that of spondylolisthesis. In so doing, we attempt to adhere to the prescribed format, while outlining both the retrospective and prospective aspects, commensurate with such a problem within the clinical setting.


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