Chiropractors often employ special tools to assist in the treatment of clients. There are various adjustable tables and chairs, massage implements, and electrical devices. One special tool that can be used for therapy and adjustment is the Activator.
What is an Activator?
The Activator Method Chiropractic Technique concerns both a chiropractic adjustment method and a special device, developed by Arlan Fuhr. It replaces or complements the manual spine and joint manipulation. The Activator is a “mechanical force manual assisted (MFMA) instrument” used for people who might require a “softer chiropractic treatment technique”. It is a spring-loaded, hand-held instrument, and gives off up to “0.3 J of kinetic energy in a 3-millisecond pulse” so that the vertebrae are moved, yet uninjured. The Activator Method Chiropractic Technique (AMCT) is performed by doing muscle tests on a patient and determining the lengths of the patient’s legs. This is done in order to see where the vertebrae problem might be located. Some studies have even suggested that the technique “may be as effective as manual adjustment in treatment of back pain”.1
Who Needs the Activator?
Typically, the device might be used on small children or the elderly, people for whom a traditional manipulation might have too much force. The patient lies on their belly, and the tension knob is adjusted on the tool. The device is applied to the appropriate regions needing adjustment, and the chiropractor squeezes the device to engage the instrument.2
Activator vs. Traditional Adjustment
Research has shown the Activator to be very effective in chiropractic adjustment. It is the “second most-widely used chiropractic technique”, now used in about 70% of chiropractic offices. Dr. Fuhr has become famous for “bringing instrument adjusting to the chiropractic profession”.3 Activator Methods International, Ltd. (AMI) has provide chiropractic treatment since 1967. AMI has published over 100 papers on their treatment, with support from the National Institute of Chiropractic Research. The technique is even covered by Medicare.4 In terms of research, the Activator has clinical trials and “hundreds of clinical and scientific peer-reviewed papers”. AMI has also received grants from the National Institute of Health.5 Most people may be familiar with the traditional manual spinal manipulation that makes the “popping sound as the bones are realigned”. The tool is different in that it makes a “precise adjustment with only a light clicking sound from the instrument”. In manual manipulation, the patient needs to be repositioned. With the device, the patient can stay in one face-down position. Some patients who require a gentler adjustment, or who cannot move into different positions, may prefer or require the Activator methods.6 No one adjustment method is perfect for every person, but the Activator is another helpful tool that is available in chiropractic treatment.