Purpose: The goal of the present study was to quantify the high-velocity, low-amplitude spinal manipulation biomechanical parameters in two cohorts of students from different teaching institutions. The first cohort of students was taught chiropractic techniques in a patient–doctor positioning practice setting, while the second cohort of students was taught in a “complete practice” manipulation setting, thus performing spinal manipulation skills on fellow student colleagues. It was hypothesized that the students exposed to complete practice would perform the standardized spinal manipulation with better biomechanical parameters. Methods: Participants (n = 88) were students enrolled in two distinct chiropractic programs. Thoracic spine manipulation skills were assessed using an instrumented manikin, which allowed the measurement of applied force. Dependent variables included peak force, time to peak force, rate of force production, peak force variability, and global coordination. Results: The results revealed that students exposed to complete practice demonstrated lower time to peak force values, higher peak force, and a steeper rate of force production compared with students in the patient–doctor positioning scenario. A significant group by gender interaction was also noted for the time to peak force and rate of force production variables. Conclusion: The results of the present study confirm the importance of chiropractic technique curriculum and perhaps gender in spinal manipulation skill learning. It also stresses the importance of integrating spinal manipulation skills practice early in training to maximize the number and the quality of significant learner–instructor interactions.

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About the Authors

Marie-Pierre Harvey is a graduate student in the Department des Sciences de l'Activité Physique, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières.

Shari Wynd is a professor and Lance Richardson is a recent graduate, both at Texas Chiropractic College.

Claude Dugas is a professor in the Department des Sciences de l' Activité Physique and

Martin Descarreaux is a professor in the Département de Chiropratique, both at Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières.

*This paper was selected as a 2011 Association of Chiropractic Colleges Research Agenda Conference Prize Winning Paper. The award is funded by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners.