Do changes in multisensory integration occur in individuals with subclinical neck pain with the implementation of a six week chiropractic treatment intervention?


Neck pain is highly prevalent and with research demonstrating that it alters sensorimotor integration (SMI) (Haavik Taylor & Murphy, 2007), it is important to know whether multisensory integration (MSI) is also affected. Proper MSI is critical for efficient execution of daily tasks and it has recently been shown to be altered by neck pain (Karellas et al, 2018). Spinal manipulation improves SMI (Haavik & Murphy, 2011; Lelic et al., 2016) and it is therefore likely that it will also improve MSI. This study sought to identify the effect of a six week chiropractic intervention program on the performance of a simple audiovisual response time task and the event related potentials (ERPs) evoked during task performance. Electroencephalography was recorded as 18 participants with neck pain performed the MSI task at baseline and 6 weeks. 9 participants were randomized to the treatment program and 9 to a non- treatment control group over this 6 week period. Results revealed a GROUP by TIME interaction, indicating a significant increase in overall neural activity in the treatment group from baseline to 6 weeks (P=0.03). Improvements in RT to all stimulus conditions were evident in the treatment group only. The combination of changes observed in task performance as well as increased neural activity levels suggest that treatment may improve response to auditory, visual and audiovisual sensory cues, and enhance overall interaction with the environment for the neck pain population. This study highlights the potential for treatment to normalize multisensory function and prevent maladaptive plasticity.

Acknowledgments: University of Ontario Institute of Technology, the Ontario Graduate Scholarship Fund and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (Discovery Grant).