Dr. Shawn Thistle on the Neurology of Spinal Manipulation

Shawn Thistle, DC, is a chiropractic educator, speaker, knowledge transfer leader, advocate, and self-described “research geek.” He is the founder and CEO of RRS Education, which provides evidence-based continuing education solutions for chiropractors, physiotherapists, osteopaths, and other manual medicine providers around the world. Dr. Thistle is a part-time faculty member at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in Toronto, Canada, and serves on the both the Research Committee for the Canadian Chiropractic Research Foundation and the Steering Committee for the Canadian Chiropractic Guideline Initiative.

At ACA Engage 2022, Dr. Thistle will present “The Neurology of Spinal Manipulation,” one of several virtual education programs available this year. Below, ACA Blogs learns more this presenter and what doctors can expect from his Engage program.

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How is the topic you are presenting at Engage 2022 relevant to today’s chiropractor?

Dr. Thistle: Spinal manipulation (SMT) unites chiropractors across numerous techniques and clinical approaches, with our patients as beneficiaries. It is what we are known for! Understanding the existing science pertaining to how SMT

Dr. Shawn Thistle speaks at Parker Seminars: Las Vegas 2020 on Thursday, February 6, 2020 at the Paris Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Zachary Lucy Photography for Parker Seminars)

actually works is a critical aspect of advancing our knowledge and ability to communicate with other healthcare providers. There is interesting work happening in a number of areas, but in this talk we will focus on the research on the neurological impact of SMT – what we know, what we do not know, and how we can communicate this to our patients.

What makes you an expert in this field?

Dr. Thistle: In my role as CEO of RRS Education, it is part of my job to stay current on all aspects of chiropractic research, so I can help practicing clinicians apply this work to their patient care. I have been speaking at my own RRS Education Seminars for almost 10 years and am also fortunate to be invited frequently to speak at events like this one, as well as other major chiropractic events like Parker Seminars, WFC Congresses and national conferences globally. I don’t have one particular topic I consider myself an expert in; rather, the evolution of my career thus far has allowed me to explore numerous topic areas, including this one, which I find particularly fluid from a research perspective, as well as stimulating intellectually. This work also has many important implications for our patients and the impact chiropractic can have in a progressive, collaborative, global healthcare system.

What practical knowledge can attendees take away from your presentation? 

Dr. Thistle: Understanding our current state of knowledge pertaining to the neurological mechanisms of action of SMT can help chiropractors fine tune their patient communication strategies and help frame our understanding of some of the clinical benefits our patients experience.

Can you share an anecdote from your own career to demonstrate how greater knowledge of your topic can make a difference for patient care and/or professional success?

Dr. Thistle: Patients often ask about how SMT works, and our profession has often relied on rather dated explanations rooted primarily in theory. As our science evolves, we should evolve, with proper respect paid to our origins, but with enthusiasm for our scientific progress. This topic does not lend itself to a specific anecdote, but I think it is an important part of our broader understanding of how chiropractic can help all our patients.

What do you enjoy about presenting educational programs?

Dr. Thistle: Ultimately, I enjoy connecting with my colleagues around the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly changed the nature of conference speaking for myself and many others, leaving us in a virtual mode (like this one) for now. I am looking forward to returning in-person very soon and have a full slate of RRS Education Seminars booked across Canada starting in the Spring of 2022…hopefully I’ll be there in person for the next ACA event!

Engage 2022 offers an unmatched education program, featuring virtual sessions that offer high-quality, innovative presentations. A total of 21 CE credits are available. Learn more and register here.