Life University Sport Science Institute - Where Science Meets Performance

By John Downes, D.C., C.C.E.P., F.I.C.A.

Life Sport Science Institute is designed to be a living laboratory for students to experience integrative assessment, care, performance, and research of athletes. Our primary focus of research initiatives is the investigation of global proprioceptive deficits (GPD) and their implications to these four components. Basically a GPD is the inability of the central nervous system to execute mirror image isometric tasks and how this inability is coupled in the neuromusculoskeletal system to impact the performance of muscle synergies, the anticipatory postural adaptations, and compensatory postural adaptations driven by feed-forward mechanisms of the CNS, via the cortex and cerebellum. Dr. Heidi Haavik from the New Zealand College of Chiropractic describes this phenomenon as sensorimotor disintegration that is not a pain driven dysfunction.

Through a basic field test the SSI has begun to track the implications of these GPDs as an assessment protocol for pre and post assessment of care or performance of the athlete. We have found that in the non-Chiropractic disciplines the presumption is an intact nervous system works properly so functional movements or strength and conditioning or skill sets are just a matter of practice and application. In Chiropractic often the presumption is that if our technique indicators improve then the nervous system is balanced and no longer demonstrates dysfunction. The SSI has begun a process to incorporate this concept of assessment throughout our multidisciplinary group whereby a pre-assessment and a post-assessment is performed and then the athlete is asked to load the system through walking or push ups or other provocating movements and then the nervous system is reassessed for GPD’s. The question has progressed to prevalence studies, inter-rater reliability studies, and implication studies.

Prevalence studies currently are demonstrating a range from 62-93% presence of a GPD that was not perceived in the athlete even in the presence of productive care strategies for chronic injury patterns. So what are the implications? Our studies are now investigating reaction times, power generation, metabolic load, and perceived exertion. As our studies are concluded the results will be published and referenced for future studies and clarity on the implications to athletic performance.

This premise of an intact nervous system and the implications of interference that are not connected to pain has been the pathway for many inroads to the athletic communities around the world. Currently the SSI is working with athletes in Costa Rica, Ghana, and China to study these implications and the benefits of identification and resolution of these GPDs prior to any training, conditioning, or competition.

About the Author:

John Downes, D.C., C.C.E.P., F.I.C.A. brings his multi-faceted background and extensive experience involving sports, chiropractic care, documentation, risk management, ethics, education, and injury prevention & management to the ICA Council on Fitness and Sports Health Science and to numerous key presentations on ICA Symposium on Natural Fitness and Sports programs as a distinguished faculty presenter. His professional credentials and contributions feature a dynamic blend of private practice, team doctor coverage for multiple sports, and educational and administrative positions. An international lecturer on chiropractic and sports topics, Dr. Downes, a 1986 cum laude graduate from Life Chiropractic College, has served as Dean of the Chiropractic College, Department Head of the Sports Chiropractic Department, and Department Head of Technique for Life University.


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