Award winning research fellow from the Centre for Chiropractic Research, Dr Kelly Holt, was accorded the Delegates Award at the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia (CAA) Annual Conference.

The award, which was voted on by the conference delegates, was presented to Dr Holt following the Research Symposium that was held during the CAA’s Annual Conference, 17-18 October, at the Pullman Albert Park Hotel in Melbourne, Australia.

The recognition was given to Dr Holt for the research paper he presented that was entitled “Chiropractic Adjustments Alter Sensorimotor Integration in the Prefrontal Cortex: A Brain Source Localisation Study”.

The research project was a collaborative study between the Centre for Chiropractic Research at the New Zealand College of Chiropractic and universities in Denmark, Canada, and Australia. In the study, the researchers investigated what changes occur in the way the brain processes and integrates sensory information following chiropractic care, and where these changes take place in the brain. The study was conducted at Aalborg University Hospital in Denmark and involved 19 participants with low-level pain or spinal problems using a crossover design. This means the participants were seen twice during the study and were adjusted by a chiropractor during one visit and they received a movement control intervention during the other visit.

What the research team found was that a single session of chiropractic care in subclinical pain patients alters sensory processing in the brain, particularly within the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for behaviour, goal-directed tasks, decision making, memory and attention, intelligence, processing of pain and emotional response to it, autonomic function, motor control, eye movements, and spatial awareness.

This is really interesting because it may explain why chiropractors report such a wide array of changes in their patients when they get adjusted, ranging from how they feel through to how well they can pay attention or control the way they move their muscles.

The researchers are now working on further studies in this programme of research that aims to find out how chiropractic care improves function and enhances human performance

As part of the award, Dr Holt received a $2000 prize that was sponsored by the Australian Spinal Research Foundation.