There is an ongoing need for therapeutic cervical traction to treat chronic idiopathic neck pain. A device was designed to perform low-load cervical traction (unloading) with the patient in an upright, seated, neutral spine position. A prototype device meeting these requirements was constructed. During subsequent use, several methods for assessing the outcome of such unloading were proposed, including radiographic images, cervical range-of-motion measurements and muscle EMG activity. The prototype and measurement methods were tested on a population of normal subjects. The results demonstrated that the device design is safe and effectively transfers load into the occipital region of the skull. The use of low-load cervical unloading induced lateral rotation and posterior lengthening of the spine. Device refinements were identified. The results demonstrated that the methods described may be safely employed on a patient population.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We would like to thank Gary Williams for his assistance with computer equipment and programming, Judy Degnan for taking the radiographs, Monica Mahre for helping to obtain needed approvals and supplies, and Spinal Designs International for sponsoring the project through its matching grant program with Minnesota Technology, Inc.
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