The Chiropractic Alumni are pleased to bring you an update on the Macquarie Chiropractic Alumni Research Fund (MtCaRF). MtCaRF is a fund with a goal of investing in chiropractic research for the long term and very much appreciates gifts and donations of support. We are pleased to share with you the excellent news of the progress of recently funded projects. 

Thanks to the generosity of donors and the fundraising of The Chiropractic Alumni, the first two round of grants have been awarded to five teams of researchers in the Department of Chiropractic at Macquarie University.

Five grants were made possible from MtCaRF over the past two years.  Dr. Michael Swain and his team were awarded $12 000 to undertake a feasibility study on the clinical course of spinal pain in adolescents.  The team is a large Australian and international team of eminent and leading researchers.  Dr. Swain draws our attention to Dr. Laura Montgomery a graduate of the Class of 2012 and is a PhD student on this grant and is an example of the benefit to early career researchers. 

The summary of Dr. Swain’s project is: Spinal pain becomes humanity’s leading cause of years-lived with disability in late adolescence. Health and health behaviours established during adolescence partly determines health status later in life, and one’s risk of developing chronic diseases. Adolescents with persistent spinal pain have more than four-times higher odds of having persistent spinal pain in adulthood than those without persistent spinal pain. Currently, there is insufficient scientific evidence to inform youth, parents and clinicians as to which adolescents with spinal pain are at risk of persistent symptoms. Research on the clinical course of spinal pain in adolescents is needed to inform clinical practice and healthcare policy, and to evaluate new approaches to patient care. This requires a large-scale prospective clinical cohort study. To conduct such a study the feasibility of data collection methods in adolescents needs to be established. The aim of this proposed study is to determine the feasibility of recruiting, retaining and following up a prospective cohort of adolescents with moderate-to-severe spinal pain presenting to primary care (chiropractic practices). Having established the feasibility of prognostic research methods in adolescent spinal pain, this study will position the research team well for large nationally competitive research funding. 

Dr. Swain acknowledged the grant saying that ‘ not only do the grants help support researchers such as himself, they also aid the chiropractic profession in general and the community at large’.  

The second funded project is:

Dr. Chris Burrell and team – Erring on the side of safety: Using an Active Surveillance Reporting System to prospectively identify adverse events at the Macquarie University chiropractic teaching clinics.  The reporting of adverse events is essential to improve patient safety in the chiropractic profession.  Significant outputs include the first report of immediate, longitudinal changes in symptoms after chiropractic treatment and the report of the frequency and severity of adverse events in Macquarie University Chiropractic teaching clinics.  Funded amount $9000.

Dr. Hazel Jenkins and team were the third funded project- Do X-rays for spinal pain in patients receiving spinal manipulative therapy change patient outcomes? A pilot randomised controlled trial.  Many chiropractors believe that X-rays are needed to detect findings that will either contraindicate or change the application of spinal manipulative therapy.  No studies have assessed the effect of X-rays on patient outcomes when patient management includes spinal manipulative therapy. The effect of X-ray use on adverse events after spinal manipulative therapy has also not been examined.  Funded amount $9000.

Project 4 funded in 2022, Dr Benjamin Brown and his team were awarded $12 300 for The ScoliScreen Project – A reliability and validity study.  

Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) is a progressive spinal deformity that develops during the peak growth period of adolescence. If left untreated, AIS can cause pain, postural abnormalities, and impact significantly on self-image and quality of life. In severe cases, costly spinal fusion surgery may be required.

If scoliosis can be identified early, treatment can prevent progression of the disease. Dedicated school screening programs in Australia have been replaced by a national self-detection program. There are no published data on the effectiveness of this program, but anecdotal reports would suggest that there may be a significant number of children and adolescents with scoliosis going undetected.

With the overarching aim of improving the early detection of AIS, we have teamed up with ScoliCare, a leading company in the conservative management of scoliosis in Australia, to investigate the reliability and validity of a web-based application (app) called ScoliScreen for the detection of scoliosis in adolescents. The aim of this research project is to assess the reliability and validity of the methods used in the app. The ScoliScreen app has the potential to become a new tool for scoliosis screening in Australia, offering a simple, scalable, low-cost, user-friendly method of scoliosis screening. But a critical first step is to establish the reliability and validity of this app.

The fifth project was to Dr Amber Beynon, Dr Michael Swain and their team were awarded $11 700 for Young patients and chiropractors’ observation and analysis study (Young-COAST): A feasibility study.

While chiropractic services are commonly utilised by young Australians, the role of chiropractic care in the evaluation, management, and treatment of young patients remains highly contentious. There is a paucity of high-quality research that both describes the clinical characteristics of chiropractic care of young Australians, and the reasons young patients seek chiropractic care. We need to understand which young Australians are seeing chiropractors, and why they are seeing chiropractors. This study aims to inform the design and conduct of a large-scale health services research project that observes the clinical encounters between chiropractors and young patients. This study will establish important dimensions of feasibility (recruitment and data collection methods) that are required to demonstrate capability and track record, which enhance the team’s chances of securing national competitive research funding. Once the nature of young patient and chiropractor healthcare encounters are established in a definitive study, future effectiveness research can be focused, and research evidence can inform ‘best practice’ guidelines and ‘core competencies’ for both graduating and specialising chiropractors.

tCa President Anthony O’Reilly commented “each of these grants have been able to provide our colleagues in research a ‘leg-up’ to commence research in an extremely competitive environment.  Funding from national grants bodies such as NHMRC is near impossible without such early research already completed.  The MtCaRF is almost unique in providing opportunities of this kind.  The imperative of MtCaRF is to continue to fund similar projects into the future.  Your support has made these first projects possible.  It is rewarding to see Australian chiropractors undertaking research locally that will benefit clinical practice and health of the community.”

“From an administrative point of view, we are pleased that 100% of the funds donated are going to these projects as originally intended by tCa and Macquarie University.  We hope that supporters can see the value of their ‘giving back’ to their university.  Hearing the very sincere appreciation from each of the researchers made it feel that the efforts of supporters and tCa was very, very worthwhile.  We can see how MtCaRF is turning out to be more valuable than we imagined.  We look forward to your ongoing support.”

The Chiropractic Alumni are pleased to bring you an update on the Macquarie Chiropractic Alumni Research Fund (MtCaRF). MtCaRF is a fund with a goal of investing in chiropractic research for the long term and very much appreciates gifts and donations of support. We are pleased to share with you the excellent news of the progress of recently funded projects. 

Thanks to the generosity of donors and the fundraising of The Chiropractic Alumni, the first two round of grants have been awarded to five teams of researchers in the Department of Chiropractic at Macquarie University.

Five grants were made possible from MtCaRF over the past two years.  Dr. Michael Swain and his team were awarded $12 000 to undertake a feasibility study on the clinical course of spinal pain in adolescents.  The team is a large Australian and international team of eminent and leading researchers.  Dr. Swain draws our attention to Dr. Laura Montgomery a graduate of the Class of 2012 and is a PhD student on this grant and is an example of the benefit to early career researchers. 

The summary of Dr. Swain’s project is: Spinal pain becomes humanity’s leading cause of years-lived with disability in late adolescence. Health and health behaviours established during adolescence partly determines health status later in life, and one’s risk of developing chronic diseases. Adolescents with persistent spinal pain have more than four-times higher odds of having persistent spinal pain in adulthood than those without persistent spinal pain. Currently, there is insufficient scientific evidence to inform youth, parents and clinicians as to which adolescents with spinal pain are at risk of persistent symptoms. Research on the clinical course of spinal pain in adolescents is needed to inform clinical practice and healthcare policy, and to evaluate new approaches to patient care. This requires a large-scale prospective clinical cohort study. To conduct such a study the feasibility of data collection methods in adolescents needs to be established. The aim of this proposed study is to determine the feasibility of recruiting, retaining and following up a prospective cohort of adolescents with moderate-to-severe spinal pain presenting to primary care (chiropractic practices). Having established the feasibility of prognostic research methods in adolescent spinal pain, this study will position the research team well for large nationally competitive research funding. 

Dr. Swain acknowledged the grant saying that ‘ not only do the grants help support researchers such as himself, they also aid the chiropractic profession in general and the community at large’.  

The second funded project is:

Dr. Chris Burrell and team – Erring on the side of safety: Using an Active Surveillance Reporting System to prospectively identify adverse events at the Macquarie University chiropractic teaching clinics.  The reporting of adverse events is essential to improve patient safety in the chiropractic profession.  Significant outputs include the first report of immediate, longitudinal changes in symptoms after chiropractic treatment and the report of the frequency and severity of adverse events in Macquarie University Chiropractic teaching clinics.  Funded amount $9000.

Dr. Hazel Jenkins and team were the third funded project- Do X-rays for spinal pain in patients receiving spinal manipulative therapy change patient outcomes? A pilot randomised controlled trial.  Many chiropractors believe that X-rays are needed to detect findings that will either contraindicate or change the application of spinal manipulative therapy.  No studies have assessed the effect of X-rays on patient outcomes when patient management includes spinal manipulative therapy. The effect of X-ray use on adverse events after spinal manipulative therapy has also not been examined.  Funded amount $9000.

Project 4 funded in 2022, Dr Benjamin Brown and his team were awarded $12 300 for The ScoliScreen Project – A reliability and validity study.  

Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) is a progressive spinal deformity that develops during the peak growth period of adolescence. If left untreated, AIS can cause pain, postural abnormalities, and impact significantly on self-image and quality of life. In severe cases, costly spinal fusion surgery may be required.

If scoliosis can be identified early, treatment can prevent progression of the disease. Dedicated school screening programs in Australia have been replaced by a national self-detection program. There are no published data on the effectiveness of this program, but anecdotal reports would suggest that there may be a significant number of children and adolescents with scoliosis going undetected.

With the overarching aim of improving the early detection of AIS, we have teamed up with ScoliCare, a leading company in the conservative management of scoliosis in Australia, to investigate the reliability and validity of a web-based application (app) called ScoliScreen for the detection of scoliosis in adolescents. The aim of this research project is to assess the reliability and validity of the methods used in the app. The ScoliScreen app has the potential to become a new tool for scoliosis screening in Australia, offering a simple, scalable, low-cost, user-friendly method of scoliosis screening. But a critical first step is to establish the reliability and validity of this app.

The fifth project was to Dr Amber Beynon, Dr Michael Swain and their team were awarded $11 700 for Young patients and chiropractors’ observation and analysis study (Young-COAST): A feasibility study.

While chiropractic services are commonly utilised by young Australians, the role of chiropractic care in the evaluation, management, and treatment of young patients remains highly contentious. There is a paucity of high-quality research that both describes the clinical characteristics of chiropractic care of young Australians, and the reasons young patients seek chiropractic care. We need to understand which young Australians are seeing chiropractors, and why they are seeing chiropractors. This study aims to inform the design and conduct of a large-scale health services research project that observes the clinical encounters between chiropractors and young patients. This study will establish important dimensions of feasibility (recruitment and data collection methods) that are required to demonstrate capability and track record, which enhance the team’s chances of securing national competitive research funding. Once the nature of young patient and chiropractor healthcare encounters are established in a definitive study, future effectiveness research can be focused, and research evidence can inform ‘best practice’ guidelines and ‘core competencies’ for both graduating and specialising chiropractors.

tCa President Anthony O’Reilly commented “each of these grants have been able to provide our colleagues in research a ‘leg-up’ to commence research in an extremely competitive environment.  Funding from national grants bodies such as NHMRC is near impossible without such early research already completed.  The MtCaRF is almost unique in providing opportunities of this kind.  The imperative of MtCaRF is to continue to fund similar projects into the future.  Your support has made these first projects possible.  It is rewarding to see Australian chiropractors undertaking research locally that will benefit clinical practice and health of the community.”

“From an administrative point of view, we are pleased that 100% of the funds donated are going to these projects as originally intended by tCa and Macquarie University.  We hope that supporters can see the value of their ‘giving back’ to their university.  Hearing the very sincere appreciation from each of the researchers made it feel that the efforts of supporters and tCa was very, very worthwhile.  We can see how MtCaRF is turning out to be more valuable than we imagined.  We look forward to your ongoing support.”

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