Status of activator methods chiropractic technique, theory, and practice

J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2005 Feb;28(2):e1-e20. doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2005.01.001.


Objective: To provide an historical overview, description, synthesis, and critique of the Activator Adjusting Instrument (AAI) and Activator Methods Chiropractic Technique of clinical assessment.

Methods: Online resources were searched including Index to Chiropractic Literature, EBSCO Online, MANTIS, CHIROLARS, CINAHL, eJournals, Ovid, MDConsult, Lane Catalog, SU Catalog, and Pubmed. Relevant peer-reviewed studies, commentaries, and reviews were selected. Studies fell into 2 major content areas: instrument adjusting and the analysis system for therapy application. Studies were categorized by research content type: biomechanical, neurophysiological, and clinical. Each study was reviewed in terms of contribution to knowledge and critiqued with regard to quality.

Discussion: More than 100 studies related to the AAI and the technique were found, including studies on the instrument's mechanical effects, and a few studies on clinical efficacy. With regard to the analysis, there is evidence for good reliability on prone leg-length assessment, but to date, there is only 1 study evaluating the Activator Methods Chiropractic Technique analysis.

Conclusion: A body of basic science and clinical research has been generated on the AAI since its first peer-reviewed publication in 1986. The Activator analysis may be a clinically useful tool, but its ultimate scientific validation requires testing using sophisticated research models in the areas of neurophysiology, biomechanics, and statistical analysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Leg Length Inequality / diagnosis
  • Manipulation, Chiropractic / instrumentation*
  • Manipulation, Chiropractic / methods
  • Spinal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Spinal Diseases / therapy*