Upper Cervical Orthogonal is the technique developed by Drs. Robert Cowin and Kathleen Bras right here in Wollongong, NSW. It utilizes a gentle, full-console (not handheld) instrument to deliver the adjustment. Before an adjustment can be given, x-rays of the neck are taken in three planes in order to determine how far the spinal bones have moved from their normal position. Great care is taken to ensure the x-rays are reliable and show the natural posture of the patient. Wire artefacts are placed on the skin that show up on the x-rays to show how far the spinal bones are from the ear and other ‘outside’ structures, allowing us to map both the locations of the spinal bones and the line of access for the spinal adjustments. These x-rays are analyzed to measure the vertebral misalignments and calculate the vectors and contact points that will be used for the adjustment.
For the Upper Cervical Orthogonal adjustment, the patient is arranged on a padded bench in a position most likely to make the muscles receptive to the adjustment force. This force is very light (about 3 pounds or 14 Newtons). The adjustment involves a series of light percussive taps against the side of the head. The adjustments are painless and well accepted even by very young and very elderly patients. After the first adjustment, two new x-rays are taken to ensure that positive structural changes have been achieved. Subsequent adjustments are influenced by the changes noted in the post-adjustment x-rays.
The goal of this, and all upper cervical techniques, is to create lasting change. By being as precise and gentle as possible, the atlas stays in the corrected position for longer and longer periods of time, allowing the body to re-balance and function as it should.
An earlier description of this technique, by mathematicians Aldis & Hill, provides a fuller account of methods and results. It also has some historic interest, in that it is believed to be the earliest chiropractic article to appear in a non-chiropractic, peer-reviewed journal. (Aldis GK, Hall JM. Analysis of a Chiropractor’s data. Journal of Proceeings, Royal Society of New South Wales 1979; 112-93-9. Reprinted in J Manpulative Physiol Ther 1980; 3:177-93 and in J Aust Chiropr Assoc 1981; 12:8-14)