The activator method differs from most other chiropractic techniques as it is not performed manually, but rather uses an adjustment tool. It’s is also a relatively modern method, with the activator being initially designed in 1967 by Dr. Arlan Fuhr. The impetus to invent the instrument was Dr. Fuhr’s health. Early into his chiropractic career he found that the manual adjustment methods were taking its toll upon his elbows and thumbs. While treating one of his patients whom was a dentist, he mentioned he was looking for a means of delivering a chiropractic adjustment without the stress on his joints. The dentist suggested he might have just the thing to help.
The dentist returned to Dr. Fuhr’s practice with a dental surgical mallet, a spring loaded tool used to split wisdom teeth. The dentist suggested it might be modified to perform chiropractic adjustments. Dr. Fuhr removed the original scalpel and replaced it with a brake shoe rivet. He covered the end of the rivet with the rubber end of a door stop. This was the first prototype of the activator tool. It provided a very light, yet very quick adjustment. Recognizing that his early version would not be suitable for practice and developed a tool specialized for chiropractic purposes. The first activator received a U.S. patent in 1976.
Dr. Fuhr then hired a PhD and engineer for research and development. A weighted tip was created to provide a more effective adjustment. Then a preload frame was added to the instrument to ensure it was impossible to deliver the incorrect amount of force. Treatment was then consistent, regardless of which chiropractor was using the activator. Numerous peer-reviewed research studies have been done to demonstrate not just the effectiveness of the technique, but also that it’s results are comparable to other conventional chiropractic methods. Because of the strong scientific evidence,the activator method was accepted into the curricula of all the major chiropractic schools and is now the second most common chiropractic technique used.
Because the activator is so quick, the patient’s muscles do not have time to react and tighten during the adjustment. The lack of muscle tension means amore effective treatment that requires less force. Furthermore, because of the small treatment head of the activator,the repayment is very localized and does not apply and additional torque or bend to the joint. It should be noted that the cracking sound does not happen with this chiropractic technique.
Because of the gentleness of the activator it is particularly useful in the treatment of infants, the elderly, patients with osteoporosis, the tempormandibular joint (TMJ), and for nervous patients.