Dr. Stephan Cooper, a 2004 graduate of Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC), was honored for his research efforts during the Association of Chiropractic Colleges/Research Agenda Conference (ACC/RAC) held in Washington, D.C. March 15-18. The work titled, "The impact of spinal manipulation on lower extremity motor control in lumbar spinal stenosis patients: a single-blind, Phase-I randomized clinical trial," was awarded a second place prize by National Chiropractic Mutual Insurance Company. The collaborative effort on the study by Cooper, the designer of the study, Dr. Steven Passmore, and others, focused on determining an "objective measure of performance in spinal stenosis patients."
According to Cooper, the subject matter was timely, given the rapid growth in the number of spinal stenosis cases in aging populations. After being examined by an orthopedic surgeon who determined they were not surgery candidates, individuals taking part in the study were given a Fitts task, which objectively measured the performance of their lower limbs. The participants were then randomized to a group that received a round of manipulative therapy, or to a control group that received no treatment. Cooper was the treating chiropractor for the study.
The results showed a "normalization" of the Fitts task pattern among those who were adjusted, versus those who received only reassurance and no manipulative therapy. The impact of this research will likely be the basis for additional studies in this area.
"Although the results are preliminary, they open up other interesting avenues of research on the topic of spinal stenosis and therapies we have to offer," Cooper said. "Clinically, I have been seeing many more cases of spinal stenosis in my practice, and that number is only projected to grow as our population ages. This makes this research both important and timely. However, more work needs to be done."
Cooper has been committed to research since his days as a student at Cleveland. Since that time he has continued to work on a variety of projects with Dr. Mark Pfefer, director of research at CUKC.
"I had always felt the importance of research in making us better healthcare providers," Cooper said. "I've also felt that if we, as chiropractors, do not get involved in research -–be it in writing case reports, being involved in clinical trials, or simply reading the research – others will do it for us, without us in mind."
Cooper went on to say that research is important for chiropractic in the current evidence-based health care environment.
"Every company that wants to stay cutting edge puts significant resources into research...computers, cell phones, cars, televisions, MRIs...all of these cutting edge technologies are the result of substantial research," Cooper said. "Chiropractic research can make what we do better. Why wouldn't we all want to do better for our patients and our communities?"
Cooper practices at Spectrum Health Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.