Dr. Ralph Kruse has been involved in research throughout his educational and professional career. Dr. Kruse started doing research in animal behavior during his undergraduate studies at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. (Dr. Kruse was accepted to veterinarian school at that time.) As a student at National College of Chiropractic, he was a research assistant and published numerous studies involving the thermographic imaging of myofascial pain syndromes. In other words, analyzing the heat emitted by trigger points or muscle spasms.
After becoming certified in Cox Flexion-Distraction and practicing the technique for years in his offices, Dr. Kruse was invited to be a research clinician in a federally funded study regarding this specialized type of chiropractic manipulation. The study titled “Biomechanics of Low Back Flexion Distraction Therapy” was funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, and was performed in collaboration with National College of Chiropractic, Loyola Stritch School of Medicine and University of Illinois.
The Cox manipulation studies are considered ‘Translational Research’. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “Translational research includes two areas of translation. One is the process of applying discoveries generated during research in the laboratory, and in preclinical studies, to the development of trials and studies in humans. The second area of translational concerns research aimed at enhancing the adoption of best practices in the community.”
During this study, the flexion distraction procedure was performed to ten cadavers by three different clinicians, all blinded to each other. Dr. Kruse acted as a research clinician being the field doctor who performs Flexion Distraction daily in his practices. He worked alongside Dr. James Jedlicka, the instructor of this technique at National Chiropractic, and with Dr. James Cox, the originator of the procedure. This study documented that the procedure caused a drop in intradiscal pressure, widened the spinal canal, reduced pressure on spinal nerves and restored motion to the spinal joints. These findings helped explain the clinical successes when utilizing this technique to relieve pressure on spinal nerves.
In 2009, Dr. Kruse began acting as a research clinician in a ground- breaking study, federally funded by a grant from the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine branch of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This study ran for three years from June 1, 2009 through May 30, 2012 and combined the efforts of orthopedic surgeons, neurosurgeons, chiropractic physicians, and biomechanical researchers in order to document the biomechanical effects of this Chiropractic procedure performed to the cervical spine (neck). This study is a rare collaboration between surgeons and researchers at these facilities, researchers from Palmer College of Chiropractic, research clinicians who perform this technique in their practices, and Dr. James Cox. The results of this study could provide valuable data supporting the effectiveness of the technique and even result in a decrease in surgical intervention for herniated discs and ‘‘pinched nerves’ in the neck.
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Dr. Kruse continues to research and publish the effect of techniques utilized in his offices. Numerous case studies documenting the effect of chiropractic manipulation on various spinal conditions have been published in peer reviewed scientific journals. Dr. Kruse has also published studies on larger groups of patients, specifically treated with Cox flexion distraction manipulation to both the low back and neck. See the publications page on this web site for a list of papers published by Dr. Kruse.
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