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Applied Kinesiology (AK) is a controversial practice of using manual muscle-strength testing for medical diagnosis and a subsequent determination of prescribed therapy. It purportedly gives feedback on the functional status of the body. AK is a practice within the realm of alternative medicine and is therefore different from "kinesiology," which is the scientific study of human movement. AK is generally considered a pseudoscience.Kimball C Atwood, IV, MD. Naturopathy, Pseudoscience, and Medicine: Myths and Fallacies vs Truth, MedGenMed. 2004 Jan–March; 6(1): 33.AK draws together many similar therapies. It attempts an integrated, interdisciplinary approach to health care. Dr. George J. Goodheart, originated AK in 1964.Profile of Goodheart Subsequently, its use spread to other chiropractors,Chiropractic Techniques. American Chiropractic Association. physical therapists, dentists, and a few medical doctors. In 1976, the International College of Applied KinesiologyInternational College of Applied Kinesiology was founded.
History In 1964, Dr. George J. Goodheart, a chiropractor, invented Applied Kinesiology through his interpretation of Muscles: Testing and Function written by two physical therapists Kendall and Kendall.Frost, Robert, Applied Kinesiology: A Training Manual and Reference Book of Basic Priciples and Practices, p. 4, North Atlantic Books, 2002. available online Applied kinesiology has been documented to be used by chiropractors, naturopaths, physicians, dentists, nutritionists, physical therapists, massage therapists, and nurses of various stripes.Applied Kinesiology, American Cancer Society, May 23, 2007. available online
Basics Applied kinesiology is, according to its believers, a system that evaluates structural, chemical and mental aspects of health using manual muscle testing along with conventional diagnostic methods. Treatment modalities relied upon by its practitioners include joint manipulation and mobilization, myofascial, cranial and meridian therapies, clinical nutrition and dietary counseling.AK practitioners monitor muscles and then they determine if a stress is what they consider to be "on line". AK patients have their muscles tested by a practitioner in many different positions, although the arm-pull-down test (or "Delta test") is the most common. Typically during the arm-pull-down test, AK patients lie down and raise their dominant arm. Next, the AK practitioner instructs the patient to resist as the tester exerts downward force on the subject's arm. The tester subjectively evaluates not the force exerted by the subject to determine the strength of the muscle, but the "smoothness" of the response. A smooth response is sometimes called 'a strong muscle' and a response that was not appropriate is sometimes called 'a weak response'. This is a figure of speech and not about muscle strength. However, the arm-pull-down test is considered by the International College of Applied Kinesiology (I.C.A.K.) to be a very poor form of muscle testing. The arm-pull-down test involves so many different muscles that no specificity as to the muscle with the problem can be ascertained upon testing.Applied kinesiologists believe that "imbalances" are associated with a lack of smoothness in the muscle response. So after a muscle shows a 'weak' response (i.e. a non-appropriate response) the practitioner attempts to restore the balance. After some form of treatment is applied by the practitioner, the test is re-administered to evaluate the success or failure of the treatment of the imbalance.
So-called "nutrient testing" is used to examine the response of a patient to various tastes and smells. For example, the practitioner might place a particular substance under the subject's tongue; if the muscle tests weaker than without the substance, then that substance is considered "harmful". Instead of sublingual testing, some practitioners have the subject simply hold a substance or place the substance near a particular organ. Some AK practitioners go as far as to hold a sealed container of the substance to be tested on the forehead, chest, etc. and then perform the test. The practitioner may also have the subject touch a particular body part with the opposite hand. For example, to "localize" testing to the heart, the subject would place a hand over the heart. A subsequent strong arm muscle test would then suggest to the practitioner a healthy heart, while a weak test would suggests a problem. Another commonly used technique in AK is to have the subject wear colored glasses (blue, green, red, etc.) and perform the muscle monitoring while wearing each color of glasses. The color that causes the greatest perceived smoothness of reaction gains might be a color that is in some way beneficial to the client. There are many tests believed to reveal information about the subject's condition.Because nearly all AK tests are subjective, observer bias cannot be avoided. Since there is no evidence-based confirmation of the effectiveness of the process, some have described AK as a form of quackery. The AK practitioner applies the pressure, but this practitioner is also the one who decides if one push is stronger than another. In the skeptical view, this sets up a conflict of interest: the AK practitioner will benefit if AK is perceived by the client as effective, but the AK practitioner is the one who actually determines how effective the practice has been, because he or she subjectively applies pressure to the patient's muscle or muscles. This weakness in the AK system allows for the possibility of fraudulent practice.
Science, skepticism, and AK There are now several websitesAK research and literature compendium that display much of the Index Medicus Peer-Reviewed research papers regarding applied kinesiology. These websites contain |url=http://www.chiroandosteo.com/content/15/1/11|format=|accessdate=2007-11-30 "When AK is disentangled from standard orthopedic muscle testing, the few studies evaluating unique AK procedures either refute or cannot support the validity of AK procedures as diagnostic tests. The evidence to date does not support the use of muscle testing for the diagnosis of organic disease or pre/subclinical conditions." papers on AK and academic kinesiology, many of which do not specifically address AK, but are related to manual muscle testing. These papers range from 1915 (Journal of the American Medical Association, with a paper called "A method of testing muscular strength in infantile paralysis" by Martin EG, Lovett RW, to 2006 from Journals like Physical Therapy, The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, and the ''Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology. Proponents of AK cite evidence about the methods, clinical efficacy, and neurologic rationales of applied kinesiology examination and treatment.Literature. However, many studies of Applied Kinesiology have failed to show clinical efficacy. For example, muscle testing has not been shown to distinguish a test substance from a placebo under double-blind conditions, and the use of applied kinesiology to evaluate nutrient status has not been shown to be more effective than random guessing. Some scientific studies have shown that applied kinesiology tests are not reproducibleFriedman MH, applied kinesiology - double-blind study, prosthetic dentistry 1981,42:321Garrow JS,kinesiology and food allergy, BMJ 1988,296:1573Lüdtke R,test-retest-reliability and validity of the kinesiology muscle test,complementar ther med,2001,9:141Pothmann R,Evaluation of applied kinesiology in nutritional intolerance of childhood,Forsch komplementärmed klass Naturheilkunde,2001,9:115 and several scientific studies have shown that AK-specific procedures and diagnostic tests have no scientific validity. |url=http://www.chiroandosteo.com/content/15/1/11|format=|accessdate=2007-11-30 "When AK is disentangled from standard orthopedic muscle testing, the few studies evaluating unique AK procedures either refute or cannot support the validity of AK procedures as diagnostic tests. The evidence to date does not support the use of muscle testing for the diagnosis of organic disease or pre/subclinical conditions." "There is little or no scientific rationale for these methods. Results are not reproducible when subject to rigorous testing and do not correlate with clinical evidence of allergy." On the other hand, a review of the literature revealed methodological problems with previous AK studies and some studies show clinical efficacy. For example one study showed a high degree of correlation between AK muscle testing for food allergies and antibodies for those foods. The AK procedure in this study involved stimulation of taste receptors followed by muscle testing for change in strength.
The patient was suspected of being allergic to foods that disrupted muscle function. Blood drawn subsequently showed the presense of antibodies to the foods which were found to be allergenic through AK assessment. In another blinded study, the response of a calf muscle, to a inhibitory reflex technique used in AK was studied using graphical recordings of electromyography and mechanical parameters. The study found that with good coordination between the examiner and subject, muscle inhibition was easily recorded.Some of the studies, research and reviews of applied kinesiology mentioned above are listed at the National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health.Kenney JJ, Clemens R, Forsythe KD.; Applied kinesiology unreliable for assessing nutrient status. PubMed (National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health)Ludtke R, Kunz B, Seeber N, Ring J.; Test-retest-reliability and validity of the Kinesiology muscle test. PubMed (National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health) Haas M, Peterson D, Hoyer D, Ross G.; Muscle testing response to provocative vertebral challenge and spinal manipulation: a randomized controlled trial of construct validity. PubMed (National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health)Staehle HJ, Koch MJ, Pioch T.; Double-blind study on materials testing with applied kinesiology. PubMed (National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health)Wuthrich B.; Unproven techniques in allergy diagnosis. University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.; PubMed (National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health)Tschernitschek H, Fink M.;[http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=15791778&query_hl=1 'Applied Kinesiology' in medicine and dentistry--a critical review.] PubMed (National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health)Teuber SS, Porch-Curren C.; Unproved diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to food allergy and intolerance. PubMed (National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health)Robert Todd Carroll has noted that AK is an example of magical thinking.Magical Thinking. Skeptic's Dictionary
American Chiropractic Association statement According to the American Chiropractic Association, Applied Kinesiology is the 10th most frequently used chiropractic techniques in the United States, with 37.6% of chiropractors employing this method and 12.9% of patients being treated with it.:"This is an approach to chiropractic treatment in which several specific procedures may be combined. Diversified/manipulative adjusting techniques may be used with nutritional interventions, together with light massage of various points referred to as neurolymphatic and neurovascular points. Clinical decision-making is often based on testing and evaluating muscle strength."
Danish Chiropractic Association position According to a March 26, 1998 letter from the DKF (Dansk Kiropractor-Forening - Danish Chiropractic Association), following public complaints from patients receiving homeopathic care and/or AK instead of standard (DKF defined) chiropractic care, the DKF has determined that applied kinesiology is not a form of chiropractic care and must not be presented to the public as such. AK and homeopathy can continue to be practiced by chiropractors as long as it is noted to be alternative and adjunctive to chiropractic care and is not performed in a chiropractic clinic. Chiropractors may not infer or imply that the Danish chiropractic profession endorses AK to be legitimate or effective, nor may the word/title chiropractic/chiropractor be used or associated with the practice of AK.Danish Chiropractic Association position
Notable practitioners and theorists
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