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A.K. is an interdisciplinary approach to health care, which draws together the core elements of the complementary therapies, creating a more unified approach to the diagnosis and treatment of functional illness. A.K. uses functional assessment measures such as posture and gait analysis, manual muscle testing as functional neurologic evaluation, range of motion, static palpation, and motion analysis. These assessments are used in conjunction with standard methods of diagnosis, such as clinical history, physical examination findings, laboratory tests, and instrumentation to develop a clinical impression of the unique physiologic condition of each patient including an impression of the patient’s functional physiologic status. When appropriate, this clinical impression is used as a guide to the application of conservative physiologic therapeutics.
The practice of applied kinesiology requires that it be used in conjunction with other standard diagnostic methods by professionals trained in clinical diagnosis. As such, the use of applied kinesiology or its component assessment procedures is appropriate only to individuals licensed to perform those procedures.
The ICAK, founded in 1975, is an international group of nation chapters composed of health care practitioners, medical doctors, chiropractors, osteopaths and dentists, who specialize in AK. Currently, there are chapters in the United States, Canada, Australia, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Scandanavia, Switzerland and Russia.
The International College of Applied Kinesiology provides a clinical and academic arena for investigating. substantiating, and propagating applied kinesiology (A.K.) findings and concepts pertinent to the relationships between structural, chemical, and mental factors in health and disease and the relationship between structural faults and the disruption of homeostasis exhibited in functional illness.
The origin of contemporary applied kinesiology is traced to 1964 when George G. Goodheart Jr., D.C., first observed that in the absence of congenital or pathologic anomaly, postural distortion is often associated with muscles that fail to meet the demands of muscle tests designed to maximally isolate specific muscles. He observed that tender nodules were frequently palpable within the origin and/or insertion of the tested muscle. Digital manipulation of these areas of apparent muscle dysfunction improved both postural balance and the outcome of manual muscle tests. Goodheart and others have since observed that many conservative treatment methods improve neuromuscular function as perceived by manual muscle testing. These treatment methods have become the fundamental applied kinesiology approach to therapy. Included in the A.K. approach are specific joint manipulation or mobilization, various myofascial therapies, cranial techniques, meridian therapy, clinical nutrition, dietary management, and various reflex: procedures. With expanding investigation there has been continued amplification and modification of the treatment procedures. Although many treatment techniques incorporated into applied kinesiology were preexisting. Many new methods have been developed within the discipline itself.
Often the indication of dysfunction is the failure of a muscle to perform properly during the manual muscle test. This may be due to improper facilitation or neuromuscular inhibition. In theory some of the proposed etiologies for the muscle dysfunction are as follows:
On the basis of response to therapy, it appears that in some of these conditions the primary dysfunction is due to deafferentation, the loss of normal sensory stimulation of neurons due to functional interruption of afferent receptors. It may occur under many circumstances, but is best understood by the concept that with abnormal joint function (subluxation or fixation) the aberrant movement causes improper stimulation of the local joint and muscle receptors. This changes the transmission from these receptors through the peripheral nerves to the spinal cord, brainstem, cerebellum, cortex, and then to the effectors from their normally expected stimulation. Symptoms of deafferentation arise from numerous levels such as motor, sensory, autonomic, and consciousness, or from anywhere throughout the neuroaxis.
Applied kinesiology interactive assessment procedures represent a form of functional biomechanical and functional neurologic evaluation. The term “functional biomechanics” refers to the clinical assessment of posture, organized motion such as in gait, and ranges of motion. Muscle testing readily enters into the assessment of postural distortion, gait impairment and altered range of motion. During a functional neurologic evaluation, muscle tests are used to monitor the physiologic response to a physical, chemical or mental stimulus. The observed response is correlated with clinical history and physical exam findings and, as indicated, with laboratory tests and any other appropriate standard diagnostic methods. Applied kinesiology procedures are not intended to be used as a single method of diagnosis. Applied kinesiology examination should enhance standard diagnosis, not replace it.
In clinical practice the following stimuli are among those that have been observed to alter the outcome of a manual muscle test:
Manual muscle tests evaluate the ability of the nervous system to adapt the muscle to meet the changing pressure of the examiner’s test. This requires that the examiner be trained in the anatomy, physiology, and neurology of muscle function. The action of the muscle being tested, as well as the role of synergistic muscles, must be understood. Manual muscle testing is both a science and an art. To achieve accurate results, muscle tests must be performed according to a precise testing protocol. The following factors must be carefully considered when testing muscles in clinical and research settings.
In applied kinesiology a close clinical association has been observed between specific muscle dysfunction and related organ or gland dysfunction. This viscerosomatic relationship is but one of the many sources of muscle weakness. Placed into perspective and properly correlated with other diagnostic input, it gives the physician an indication of the organs or glands to consider as possible sources of health problems. In standard diagnosis, body language such as paleness, fatigue, and lack of color in the capillaries and arterioles of the internal surface of the lower eyelid gives the physician an indication that anemia can be present. A diagnosis of anemia is only justified by laboratory analysis of the patient’s blood. In a similar manner, the muscle-organ/gland association and other considerations in applied kinesiology give indication for further examination to confirm or rule out an association in the particular case being studied. It is the physician’s total diagnostic workup that determines the final diagnosis.
An applied kinesiology-based examination and therapy are of great value in the management of common functional health problems when used in conjunction with information obtained from a functional interpretation of the clinical history, physical and laboratory examinations and from instrumentation. Applied kinesiology helps the physician understand functional symptomatic complexes. In assessing a patient’s status, it is important to understand any pathologic states or processes that may be present prior to instituting a form of therapy for what appears to be functional health problem.
Applied kinesiology-based procedures are administered to achieve the following examination and therapeutic goals:
When properly performed, applied kinesiology can provide valuable insights into physiologic dysfunctions; however, many individuals have developed methods that use muscle testing (and related procedures) in a manner inconsistent with the approach advocated by the International College of Applied Kinesiology. Clearly the utilization of muscle testing and other A. K. procedures does not necessarily equate with the practice of applied kinesiology as defined by the ICAK.
There are both lay persons and professionals who use a form of manual muscle testing without the necessary expertise to perform specific and accurate tests. Some fail to coordinate the muscle testing findings with other standard diagnostic procedures. These may be sources of error that could lead to misinterpretation of the condition present and thus to improper treatment or failure to treat the appropriate condition. For these reasons, the International College of Applied Kinesiology defines the practice of applied kinesiology as limited to health cue professionals licensed to diagnose.
An organized basic course in applied kinesiology, covering 100 hours of instruction, was first established in 1976. Due to the many advancements in AK, this syllabus has been modified and updated continually since then. After completing the 100 hour basic course, the student doctor can take other advanced courses taught by certified teaching diplomates of the college.
In order to teach courses for ICAK credit towards its diplomate status, the instructor must be a board certified diplomate. The certification process is organized and administered by the International Board of Examiners. This group consists of Diplomates from almost all of the chapters and is composed of medical doctors, osteopaths and chiropractors. The requirements that must be met to apply for the test to become a Diplomate are:
The teachers of AK must first be Diplomates in applied kinesiology having passed the testing procedures of the International Board of Examiners.
After this they can apply for status in the Board of Certified Teachers (BCT). Maintaining active teaching status has specific requirements that must be met every three years.