"Man's mind, once stretched to a new idea never goes back to its original dimensions." Oliver Wendell Holmes
Back

The Case for Contact Reflex Analysis™

March 10, 2011

Paul A. Jaskoviak, DC, DACAN, DCRC

Some forty years ago, Dr. Dick A. Versendaal, a Chiropractor, began what would be a lifelong quest to help humanity. He developed an easy-to-learn testing system wherein he evaluated reflex points on the front of the body and correlated his findings with a recommendation of selected nutritional products. Anecdotal patient results piled up and one patient told another of their positive experiences. At some point he started teaching this system which he called Contact Reflex Analysis™. Several of his students went out, made changes to his work, and began teaching his work under other names. As a Chiropractor, he incorporated adjusting procedures and orthotics into his system of wellness care. In recent years he has also added technology as a part of the protocols that help to bring the body into homeostasis.

Versendaal’s system has, over the years, been based on nonspecific reflex points that correspond to acupuncture points whose validity has been established using rigorous scientific testing vehicles. His testing system of these points is called “pulsing.” There are some who claim to have documented that kinesiological testing procedures in any shape or form are not valid or reproducible. He uses this pulsing, however, over reflex points to recommend nutrition products, few of which had undergone rigorous scientific testing as to their efficacy. Logic dictates that there may be no way to prove the accuracy of his clinical results with so many unknowns. Is there validity to this procedure and should primary portal of entry providers consider incorporation of this system into their armamentarium of practice?

This article attempts to address several of these issues and provide a template for readers so as they can make an educated decision as to the efficacy and effectivity of Contact Reflex Analysis.

What is Contact Reflex Analysis?

Contact Reflex Analysis (CRA™) as defined by the CRA Wellness website is an energy connection. It is a procedure wherein a muscle response is used as an indicator to assess the energy status of organs, glands, systems or structures. One or more reflexes are tested, for example, to test the energy status of the heart/cardiovascular system. In CRA the practitioner typically applies a single, downward push on the wrist of the patient’ outstretched arm while also making contact with a specific reflex point on the patient’s body. The gentle, but firm push is like a subtle “question” and the muscle reactivity response is the “answer.” In other words, the practitioner believes that he or she is asking the patient, “What’s wrong?” and the patient’s body responds with a weak or strong test result.

Several questions naturally arise: (1) can reflex points on the body be used as indicators of body, organ or system function, (2) does energy flow within the body, and (3) can dysfunction actually be measured?

Reflex points

Evaluation and stimulation of specific sites on the skin have been used for at least 3000 years. It is interesting to note that when acupuncture (the evaluation and stimulation of specific points on the body, generally with the use of needles) was first introduced into the United States, practically the entire scientific community was skeptical. Recent medical reports have proven there are, in fact, specific sites on the body that trigger certain identifiable results. For example, stimulation of a point just below the tibia and fibula (Stomach point 36) can affect circulation. Stimulation of a point on the arm (Large Intestine point 11) can raise or lower blood pressure. Many points are known to specifically affect pain, such as Large Intestine point 4 between the thumb and index finger, which mediates pain in the upper extremity head and neck.

Studies that indicate that points on the skin can be used as diagnostic indicators permeate the literature and just not only in the study of acupuncture. One explanation of how a visceral problem can relate to areas of the skin is by postulating the mechanism of the viscerocutaneous reflex. The importance of viscerocutaneous reflexes rests in the area of diagnosis.

Various researchers have shown that visceral problems may refer to the skin and give rise to trigger points, acupuncture points, and/or subluxations. Diagnostically, certain superficial areas have been known for centuries to relate to underlying visceral problems such as the pain one finds at McBurney’s point in appendicitis, the pain that radiates down the left arm during attacks of angina, and right shoulder pain that is frequently seen in gall bladder disease. It is frequently noted that a disease in an internal organ will produce pain, tenderness, hyperasthesia, etc. in some area of the skin. The viscerocutaneous reflex is thought to be mediated by unknown pathways of the sympathetic chain.

The Head-McKenzie Sensory Zone, as described by Judovich and Bates, shows how visceral pain can radiate to certain parts of the skin. A familiar example is cardiac ischemia with radiating pain to the left arm. In this context, Wernoe stimulated the rectum of a decapitated plaice electrically and found the skin became pale. He also stimulated areas of the gastrointestinal tract of the eel and cod and noted that in each case the skin became lighter over an area of several dermatomal segments. It can therefore be readily appreciated that a visceral problem can evidence itself in a specific dermatomal segment via a viscerocutaneous reflex, and the stimulation of the skin can have a distant effect on a related visceral area via a cutaneovisceral reflex.

With this in mind it is noted that a CRA evaluation begins with a check of the functional status of the body’s major systems. This check involves an assessment of what CRA refers to as the basic five monitors: energy, pain, muscles, heart and chemistry. These five major areas give the CRA practitioner a baseline of the overall health status of the patient. Might I be so bold as to suggest these five basic monitors are sites on the front of the body analogous to viscerocutaneous reflex sites? Might I be so bold as to suggest these five basic monitors are most similar to the alarm points, also found on the front of the body, and are used diagnostically by those that practice the art of acupuncture? Might I be so bold to actually suggest that these viscerocutaneous monitors do give the practitioner a clue as to basic problems afflicting the patient, they indicate root causes of patient problems, and their status is representative of the health status of the patient?

One might ask, are the results of examining these points duplicatable?

In many cases they are and certainly at times they are not. Just because a patient is experiencing pain in the arm, doesn’t necessarily mean that the patient definitely has angina. By the same token, an absence of arm pain does not rule out angina. Chest pain may relate to the heart, the lungs, the musculoskeletal system, or may merely be an incidental finding with no significance. From the beginning of time people have painted trees. Not all trees come out looking exactly the same; however, they are, however, still representations of trees.

It is this author’s contention that the reflex point is the very basis of CRA. Reflex points do, in fact, correlate to visceral (and musculoskeletal) problems. Research does exist to verify the validity of examining points on the skin and to ascertain the status of visceral organs. Ergo, the basic diagnostic points upon which CRA is based have scientific merit.

Does Energy flow within the body? Are there Energy Channels?

For thousands of years the Chinese have talked about the flow of energy within the body, something they call chi or Qi. Acupuncturists believe this chi flows within structures they call meridians (or channels) and within the tissues of the body. Various neural and nonneural concepts have been postulated to attempt to explain these meridians and the energy that flow within. One of the most common nonneural theories was referred to as the “Bong Han Ducts and Corpuscles.” This theory, put forth by a North Korean physiologist and acupuncturist, Kim Bong Han, is a histologic description of elongated tubular cells lying deep in the skin. Han also believes that a “unique” fluid circulates through these channels, which contain a high concentration of ribonucleic and other amino acids. Han believes that this fluid travels slowly through the meridians, completing a cycle each 24 hours.

Han’s theory, however, has for all practical purposes been refuted by other investigators. Kellner has shown that some of this theory is based on artifacts occurring in preparation of the histologic slides, and other attempts at duplicating the work of Han reveal that he was probably describing the lymphatic channels of the body. Conductivity speeds thru Han’s channels are also much too slow to correspond to the effects experienced with the insertion of acupuncture needles.

Various other theories have attempted to explain the existence of the channels/meridians. For example, magnetic fields, quantum mechanics, contraction waves of skeletal muscles, discharging of electrical potentials, and the release of histamine and epinephrine by stimulation of points have all been put forth as possible mechanisms. Others have likened the effects to the electrical discharge of a condenser. At one time, Felix Mann proposed a theory based on the lateral line system in fish.

One of the most recent theories was postulated by Koyo Takase in Japan who concluded that the so-called Qi energy circulating through the channels was actually extravascular sodium. His studies involved the use of radioisotopes.

Most nonneural theories take a back seat to the neural theories that explain more accurately the mechanisms for the flow of chi. These theories include, but are not limited to, cutaneovisceral reflexes, segmental and intersegmental effects, the Gate Control Theory (large myelinated nerve fibers of the skin, when stimulated, have an inhibitory effect on the small pain bearing fibers that enter the same segment of the spinal cord), and others.

There is no question that stimulation of sites on the body triggers instantaneous responses in sites of the body, often quite distant from the site of stimulation. Whether these effects are caused by the gate control mechanism and the production of enkephalin, the release of endorphins, other neural processes, or some yet to be discovered non-neural theory, is to this author quite irrelevant. The fact of the matter is that there are channels in the body that trigger effects in other parts of the body. CRA defines a channel as “meridian-like expressions transversing the human body. Each channel harbors specific reflexes that relate to the major organs and systems of the body.” The results of CRA are clearly possible based on the scientific evidence relating to stimulation of points on the body’s channels – be they named or unnamed.

Can dysfunction in the body actually be measured?

CRA measures body dysfunction by means of a process that Versendaal calls pulsing. When I think about this subject, I often reflect on “pulse diagnosis” which has been used for thousands of years by the Asians. In pulse diagnosis the practitioner evaluates the pulses on each wrist examining 12 points and relating these points to some 32 characteristics. Modern science evaluates pulse rate – and that is it. I’ve seen pulse diagnosis being performed and have always been fascinated by the clinical grasp elucidated by the pulse diagnosis practitioner. It’s something I never could fully understand. Perhaps allopathic medicine didn’t properly prepare me to be so specific in my study of the pulse.

The question is, can a CRA practitioner glean information related to internal organs and body chemistry merely by “pulsing” a muscle while making a contact over a reflex point? The answer that I’ve come up with is, not the first time, not the second time, but yes – after sufficient training. Perhaps a good analogy is this. The first time one puts a coin in his or her hand, he or she is not sure what denomination the coin is. With practice it becomes easy. Those who lose their sight or hearing oftentimes develop their other senses that help to in part, compensate for their loss. CRA practitioners develop a keen sense and ability to ascertain minute changes in muscle strength (the arm drops) as they pulse for dysfunction.

Dr. Versendaal teaches the student how to develop the “sense” of asking the body’s reflexes, “What’s wrong?” and then how to carefully interpret the results. With practice, the practitioner learns not only how to evaluate the status of the reflex point, but also to quantify exactly how serious the problem might be.

Why does Contact Reflex Analysis Work?

I recall one of my professors quizzically noting that a paddle over one’s behind would probably cure 60% of all that afflicted mankind. I also recall the story of the patient with nasal congestion that no one could help. After years of suffering he went to the office of an associate. The doctor, finding nothing on his exam, tried something really innovative. He inserted nasal forceps and pretended to pull out a clump of material that was supposedly blocking the patient=s sinuses. A quick slight of hand allowed him to show the patient this disgusting glob, which he said he=d pulled from the patient=s nose. The doctor proclaimed, “You’re cured.” And so he was. Ten years later the patient was still free from the problems that had tormented him for years.

Nordenberg in the January-February 2000 edition of the FDA Consumer magazine writes, “Research has confirmed that a fake treatment, made from an inactive substance like sugar, distilled water, or saline solution, can have a ‘placebo effect’ that is, the sham medication can sometimes improve a patient’s condition simply because the person has the expectation that it will be helpful. For a given medical condition, it’s usual for one-third of patients to feel better in response to treatment with a placebo.” In a study funded by MIT and published in Medical News Today, Arlely, a behavioral economist at Duke University wrote that a 10-cent pill doesn’t kill pain nearly as well as a $2.50 pill, even when they are identical placebos.

In 30 years of carefully observing Dr. Versendaal, I=ve observed numerous clinical results that prove to me that CRA is not a placebo. First, one significant reason is that CRA is probably the most cost-effective and inexpensive treatment protocol available in the health care field. If Arlely is correct and cost makes a difference, then CRA should never work. A second reason is that those doctors who have spent the most time studying under Dr. Versendaal consistently get the best clinical results with patients. Third, in private and in public settings (i.e., during classroom demonstrations) I’ve personally observed repeated results in numerous patients that reported that many doctors had given up on them.

CRA’s success is due, in large part, to the fact that the practitioner is able, through CRA testing, to accurately ascertain the root cause of the patient’s problem. Clinical results occur because treatment protocols employ four powerful tools: chiropractic adjusting, scientifically based nutrition, orthotics and instrumentation. Unless the practitioner is cognizant of all these tools and when best to use them, they should not anticipate success in bringing patients into health and homeostasis.

Chiropractic Adjusting

The scientific community has not been kind in its review of the clinical results thru chiropractic adjusting. If you go strictly by the literature, one is led to believe that the only things provable as far as chiropractic goes are the positive effects with low back pain, and only during the first four weeks of care. Chiropractors and their patients know better. Early chiropractic treated the entire gamut of human diseases from ingrown toe nails to whiplash of the cervical spine. As the profession became more scrutinized, the average practitioner shied away from everything not related to spinal and extraspinal conditions. The profession’s leadership encouraged the belief that organized allopathy would be more likely to accept chiropractic if Awe specialized in spinal complaints.@ Some have argued we should only use those procedures that are based on scientific proof and documentation. This is a one way street when one considers the fact that “hands on” techniques do not lend themselves well to double-blind studies.

Are we to believe then, that all aspects of medicine have undergone the rigors of scientific examination? If this is so, then I would wonder why in the 40’s and 50’s tonsillectomies and adenoidectomies were de rigeur, in the 70’s appendectomies ruled the world, and that today babies are commonly delivered by C-section. What do antibiotics do for viral infections? If nothing, then why are they prescribed? Pediatrics might be defined as the diagnosis and treatment of self-limiting conditions or non-disease states using worthless medications – with rare exceptions in severe, albeit rare, childhood complaints.

Does chiropractic work? I believe the answer is unabashedly, yes. Is the proof there? No, certainly not. Is the fact that CRA incorporates chiropractic adjusting one reason for the clinical results? Yes, especially since many CRA patients have never experienced the benefits of chiropractic prior to presenting for care.

Orthotics

Your feet represent the “health of your body.” There’s an old wive’s tale that says, if the feet have a bad odor then it’s an indication that disease is present in the body. Contrast malodorous feet with the sweet smell of the newborn. The extreme of this situation is the feet of patients in a cancer ward. The smell is overwhelming. Certainly it goes without saying that in terms of smell, the feet do indicate gross problems in body chemistry.

In addition to smell, and even more significantly is the balance of the feet from right to left, foot pathology (e.g., ingrown nails, corns, etc.), subluxations/luxations of the tarsals and other bones of the feet, and gait, which may or may not create pathology in other parts of the body.

The feet are the structural base of the body. Proper function of the spine and its articulations, the nerves innvervating from the spine, and their associated visceral structures is dependent in great part on the base being properly balanced. With 38 points and approximately 107 ligaments, it is not surprising that foot dysfunction has been found to affect up to 80% of the population between 20 and 40 years of age. Chiropractors have long known and understood that even minute distortions (even those that may not be associated with pain or discomfort) can lead to pathology in the body.

CRA practitioners have, almost from the beginning, carefully evaluated the feet to ascertain whether or not they were involved with the patient’s pathology. The practitioner is taught how to check to determine whether the disorder is related to the feet and to evaluate whether or not the shoes the patient is wearing are right or wrong for the patient.

Many brands of orthotics are available on the market for purchase. Dr. Versendaal has, from the very beginning, recommended flexible orthotics, now called CRA-flex™, that are custom-measured and custom-made by Foot Levelers, Inc. CRA testing procedures clearly indicated that this brand was far superior to anything available in bringing balance to the body. Measurement for these orthotics is performed with the patient in the standing position. The amount of deformation measured is different for each individual patient. In stark contrast to non weight-bearing casting, weight-bearing casting with the patient in the functional position is a superior indicator of the extent of plastic deformation of the foot.

Research studies clearly indicate that flexible orthotics developed through the functional weight-bearing process can have significant effects on the patient’s ambulation and homeostasis. This is for three primary reasons. Flexible orthotics reduce the time that the patient has to spend in pronation. Flexible orthotics reduce the maximum degree of pronation and the speed at which pronation occurs. Flexible orthotics improve overall spinal biomechanics allowing the spine and its articulations to function at maximum capacity.

It is clear that the prescription of CRA-flex™ made by Foot Levelers, Inc. provide a solid base upon which CRA works. Practitioners aren’t able to reproduce the results that CRA doctors achieve without these orthotics.

Nutrition

The scope of this paper is not large enough to examine the field of nutrition. The majority of the nutritional products CRA uses are the powerful natural substances offered by VerVita Products. Many of the supplements have undergone rigorous scientific evaluation and have been found to be most beneficial in bringing patients into a healthy situation. It goes without saying that one of the reasons that CRA is effective is not only because the nutrition is effective but also because the CRA practitioner is able to identify what specific nutrition is needed, the recommended dosage of the nutrition, and the time frame for usage. CRA practitioners are also able to monitor their patients and make changes in their recommendations as the patient’s condition changes.

CRA practitioners believe they are getting at the root cause of disease. Lower extremity pain may be due to the fact that the heart isn’t pumping properly to provide proper circulation to the lower extremity. CRA testing would identify an energy imbalance indicating both the lower extremity problem and the heart problem. Management would more than likely include care for the lower extremity, but the emphasis would be on the root cause of the problem, the heart and circulation.

Instrumentation

In a study by Plagenhoef, a magnetic sensing device that was capable of recording very low frequency ranges was placed in a shielded room designed to reduce interference from ambient magnetic fields. Frequencies and intensities were arrived at on 20 commonly used items and electronic modalities with man-made magnetic fields that may affect the human body. Plagenhoef goes on to explain that the number of man-made frequencies has become so overwhelming it is no longer a question of eliminating them. It is a question of reducing them.

There are concerns in the German, Scandinavian, and American literature that some of these frequencies do create dys-function and do predispose the body to disease. Any electric device that has a transformer emits microcurrents. Because of this, all of us live within a sea of electromagnetic force. These currents are not perceived by us. In fact, even x-rays are not perceived. Low-volt microampere currents are all subsensory, yet they are emitted from prevalent objects in the environment.

Plagenhoef advises that the human body is constantly bombarded by cosmic energies from near and far galaxies and from geomagnetic energies from the earth. There are also man-made energies from electricity with resulting magnetic fields, and these can have a profound negative effect on one=s health. Some of the negative effects of the EMF fields are well-documented such as with high intensity power lines, the effects of computers (which emit even more gauss than power lines), microwave ovens, and even cell phones. EMF fields and their effects are not as well documented for other electrical devices, but they do exist.

One hypothesis is that EMF fields can have a profound impact on the immune system of the body predisposing the body to numerous diseases.

Clarus Transphase Scientific, Inc. has been working for years in an effort to develop instrumentation that would negate the negative effects of these EMF fields. Some preliminary research from England indicated that technology produced by Clarus could bring the body into sympathetic resonance thereby helping the immune system to create homeostatic functioning. CRA has utilized the SRT-3 technology in its various forms for many years. Recently this Clarus Sympathetic Resonance Technology (SRT-3) has been used in developing new instrument based on additional research.

These new technologies advance the state-of-the-art of personal healthcare technology for the promotion of optimum wellness and healing. Their daily use keeps patients in balance. They work to bring the body to homeostasis. When this happens, chiropractic adjustments hold better, nutrition works more efficiently, and the immune system of the body may be able to work at maximum capacity for health.

Does research even matter?

This is a question that has bothered me since my days in Chiropractic College. According to the Guidelines for Chiropractic Quality Assurance and Practice Parameters a.k.a. The Mercy Conference published in 1993, the only valid, supposedly provable, procedure in chiropractic was the management of low back pain; and only during the first four weeks. Little has changed since. This of course would leave one to believe that all of chiropractic is a placebo at best and bogus at worst. Chiropractors and their millions of patients know this not to be the case. The intelligent person understands that the results of “hands on therapies” are subjective at best and not easily researched (perhaps impossible is a better term) because they do not lend themselves to double blind studies.

Parts of medicine lend themselves easily to double blind studies. A patient can be given a real drug or a placebo and be unaware as to what was in the pill. This is great when investigating things like lowering blood pressure or patients with non-curable diseases. Unfortunately the vast majority of cases do not respond to this type of “research.”

This author certainly would not argue that research in not important. Research is a keystone and necessary. The point is, however, that research in areas where “touch” is involved is difficult if not outright impossible. It would be valuable, of course, if reports in the literature of anecdotal results were more common. This would aid in the accumulation of data regarding the very positive results seen in many procedures used by chiropractors and other alternative health care providers.

Is the key to this system of care nutrition, structural balance, instrumentation, or a combination of all?

The foundational basis of CRA is the use of CRA to discover the exact means of balancing the body energies and bringing the body back to homeostasis. The key to the clinical results with CRA lies in appropriate testing, balancing the body with orthotics, clinical nutrition and bringing the patient into homeostatic functioning with instrumentation. In other words, the key is relieving “dys-function” using the basic Chiropractic Triad. CRA practitioners are successful in bringing patients into health by knowing which of these technologies and nutritional supplements to recommend and when they will be the most effective. Consistent results are reported with patients where medicine has not been able to help. Practitioners with an interest in alternative care should carefully evaluate CRA and see for themselves why this system is so effective. Case studies on the clinical effects with patients would be of value in bringing to light this system of care.

References

  1. WWW.CRAWellness.com.
  2. Jaskoviak PA and Schafer RC: Applied Physkotherapy. ACA, 1993.
  3. Jaskoviak PA: Pain Syndromes and Their Management. Clinical Monograph Series, 6541-A. Lombard, IL, National College of Chiropractic, 1976.
  4. Melzack R, Wall PD: in Science, 150:971, 1965.
  5. Jaskoviak PA: Manual of Meridian Therapy. Lombard, IL, National College of Chiropractic, 1979, pp 10-15.
  6. Sato A: Spinal and medullary reflex components of the somato-sympathetic reflex discharges evoked by stimulation of the group IV somatic afferents. Brain Research, 51:307-318, 1973.
  7. Mann F: Acupuncture, The Ancient Chinese Art of Healing and How It Works Scientifically. New York, Vintage Books, 1971, pp 7-9.
  8. Matsumoto T: Acupuncture for Physicians. Springfield, IL, Charles C. Thomas, 1974, pp 19-20.
  9. Jaskoviak PA: Acupuncture Research Report Number 1. National College of Chiropractic, 1975.
  10. Jaskoviak PA: A Report on the Status of Acupuncture and Research Report No. 2. National College of Chiropractic, 1977.
  11. Internet article, Effectiveness of Placebo Depends on Price Perception. Article adapted by Medical News Today from Press Release, 2008.
  12. Nordenberg T: The Healing Power of Placebos. FDA Consumer magazine, 2000.
  13. Studies conducted ath the University of California at Irvine, Imperial College at London,
    University of Vienna=s Institute of Environmental Health and indpendent clinics support
    the efficacy of both categories of SRT_.
  14. Schafer RC: Clinical Biomechanics. Baltimore, Williams & Wilkins, 1987, p 750.
  15. Greenawalt KS: Serial Distortion – Its effect on the patient. Foot Levelers Informational Series. 1985.
  16. Christensen KD. Clinical Chiropractic Biomechanics, Dubuque, Foot Levelers, 1984.
  17. Plagenhoef S: The measurement of extremely low environmental frequencies. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, Vol 16, 1992
  18. Guidelines for Chiropractic Quality Assurance and Practice Parameters, a.k.a. The Mercy Conference. 1993.