Objective: Most studies on spinal manipulation learning demonstrate the relevance of including motor learning strategies in chiropractic curricula. Two outcomes of practice are the production of movement in an efficient manner and the improved capability of learners to evaluate their own motor performance. The goals of this study were to evaluate if expertise is associated with increased spinal manipulation proficiency and if error detection skills of force application during a high-velocity low-amplitude spinal manipulation are related to expertise.
Methods: Three groups of students and 1 group of expert chiropractors completed 10 thoracic spine manipulations on an instrumented device with the specific goal of reaching a maximum peak force of 300 N after a brief period of practice. After each trial, participants were asked to give an estimate of their maximal peak force. Force-time profiles were analyzed to determine the biomechanical parameters of each participant and the participant's capacity to estimate his or her own performance.
Results: Significant between-group differences were found for each biomechanical parameter. No significant difference was found between groups for the error detection variables (p > .05). The lack of significant effects related to the error detection capabilities with expertise could be related to the specificity of the task and how the training process was structured.
Conclusion: This study confirms that improvements in biomechanical parameters of spinal manipulation are related to expertise. Feedback based on error detection could be implemented in chiropractic curricula to improve trainee abilities in detecting motor execution errors.
Keywords: Chiropractic; Learning; Psychomotor Performance; Spinal Manipulation.