Understanding the Clinical Outcome of Sagittal Configuration of the Cervical Spine

By: Deed E. Harrison, DC

The sagittal configuration of the cervical spine has always been of great interest to medical professionals, especially concerning clinical outcomes. However, not much has been addressed in evaluating sensorimotor control and autonomic nervous system function for individuals with forward head posture (FHP) when compared to strictly matched control individuals with normal head alignment. This study highlights the importance of understanding these variables and applying what the research tells us about how to treat patients with FHP.

In research conducted with 80 participants having definite FHP and 80 matched individuals with normal head alignment, the sensorimotor control of smooth pursuit neck torsion, overall stability index, and left and right rotation repositioning accuracy were measured, as well as the amplitude and latency of skin sympathetic response (SSR) for autonomic nervous system function. The results showed that there were statistically significant differences in all the sensorimotor variables between the FHP group and the control group. Furthermore, the neurophysiological findings indicated that there was a significant difference in SSR amplitude but not SSR latency.

While both groups had a craniovertebral angle (CVA) of more than 50 degrees, the CVA significantly correlated with all measured variables. The findings indicate that those participants with FHP exhibited abnormal sensorimotor control and autonomic nervous system dysfunction when compared to those with normal head alignment.


What the findings indicate is that having poor posture puts unnecessary stress on the spine, leading to a wide array of health conditions. In this case, FHP is connected with abnormal sensorimotor control and changes in autonomic nervous system functions. For instance, where there is a decrease in SSR amplitude, the body’s inability to respond to stress is increased, increasing the likelihood of disease, immunity issues, and balanced global function across all body systems.

When it comes to sensorimotor control, the participants’ smooth pursuit neck torsion test showed that the FHP group displayed weaker control, which is indicative of potential impairments in vestibular function, which is responsible for our sense of balance. As for rotation repositioning accuracy, the FHP group was seen to be less accurate in repositioning their heads back to the original position, indicating decreased postural control.


Forward head posture (FHP) is something that has become commonplace in our society today, especially considering how much time people spend hunched over digital devices.

As a result, understanding clinical treatment applications has become increasingly important. The research has demonstrated the need to monitor the sagittal alignment of the cervical spine and the importance of evaluating sensorimotor variables and the autonomic nervous system for individuals with FHP. The findings have shown a significant correlation between poor posture and health issues, making it all the more important to evaluate and prevent them.

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Chiropractic Biophysics Non-profit, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation dedicated to the advancement of chiropractic principles through scientific research. Dr. Don Harrison (deceased) and his second wife Dr. Deanne LJ Harrison (deceased) founded CBP research foundation in 1982; it was registered as CBP Non-Profit, Inc. in 1989 by Dr. Sang Harrison (Don’s 3rd and final life’s love). Through this organization Dr. Don and colleagues have published over 300 peer-reviewed spine and Chiropractic research publications. Further, CBP Non-Profit, Inc. has funded many scholarships as well as donated chiropractic equipment to many chiropractic colleges; always trying to support chiropractic advancement and education. Dr. Don Harrison was the acting president of CBP Non-Profit, Inc. since 1982. Currently, Dr. Deed Harrison (Don’s son) is the President of CBP Non-Profit, Inc. Read More

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