The Science of Spinal Health
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Origins of CBP®

Part III : By Don Harrison, PhD, DC, MSE

1981 was a banner year for CBP® technique. Last issue (July 1999), I outlined how in 1980-81, I discovered the nasium images of several head postures including lateral flexion, lateral translation, and axial rotation and how I originated Mirror Imageä postural positioning on an upper cervical table instrument. At that time I also originated Mirror Imageä exercises for these head postures.

Around January 1981 my brother, Dr. Glenn Harrison, who was practicing in Lander, Wyoming, asked me why we didn’t do the same Mirror Imageä postural analysis for the rib cage compared to the pelvis. It still amazes me that after one year of reversing head postures I still did not think of that myself! We began by x-raying several of his consenting patients in different seated postures (Pettibon had taught us to take the x-rays seated on a positioning chair) including lateral bending, lateral translation, and axial rotation of the thoracic cage (Figure 1). We categorized the x-ray images with the presenting (causing) posture. I did not know the terms from the literature at that time, but now I do. The postural motions are called main motions and the resulting spinal motions are termed coupled motions. We began to teach Mirror Imageä postural positioning and exercises for the thoracic cage postures in our seminars. At our CBP® Annual Seminar in September 1981, we presented a video tape of thoracic cage postural analysis and Mirror Image postural set-ups.


Figure 1  In 1981, we were analysing and doing Mirror Imageä postural adjusting on 3 of the 6 degrees of freedom of the Thoracic cage (Tx, Rz, and Ry).

Until 1983 our CBP® technique still used a lot of diversified manipulation for pain with only head and thoracic cage postural exercises and set-ups on an upper cervical instrument bench. When Dr. Sang Molyneux came to work for me in 1983, she said one day that she was going to do this postural stuff on the pelvis with a drop table because she wasn’t strong enough to do these forceful Pettibon and Gonstead manipulations. I still can’t believe I never thought of that! Sang had taken Pierce seminars and soon I attended a Thompson seminar. While in attendance, I couldn’t stand the personal opinions and unsubstantiated procedures being taught, but at the practical I observed that a few patients had a drastic change in posture (however, no one but me noticed). I decided that the drop table could be used to reverse posture.

From 1983 to 1986, I added the pelvic postures and lateral postures (Figure 2 & 3) to CBP® analysis and technique. During this time I originated many Mirror Image® postural set-ups specifically for the drop table. The pelvis was analyzed relative to fixed feet. During this time I began to realize that our normal spinal model was a standing model, our postural analysis was performed standing, but our x-rays were taken seated while trying to compare main motions and coupled motions. In 1985, I removed my seated x-ray positioning chair and began to take all x-rays in the standing position.

Figure 2 By 1986, all the rotations of the global postural parts were being analyzed in CBP® technique.

Figure 3 By 1986, all the translation postures had been categorized and exercises and adjustments included in CBP® technique.

Although, we had been teaching full spine set-ups on the drop table and upper cervical bench between 1984-1986, these were not in new text books until 1986. This was because I got burned out, sold my volume practice to Dr. Chris Mertz, moved to Wyoming, got remarried to Dr. Sang Harrison, and went fishing for a while. In September 1986, I wrote the first new CBP® text books (since 1982) with all the postural degrees of freedom included. From 1986-1988, the new CBP® text books were completed. In 1992, I separated all the CBP® technique chapters and all the Biomechanical reviews of the literature type chapters into two text books.

However, during this time (1986-1990) several CBP® practitioners (besides my brother and I) began to use mechanics principles to improve our CBP® exercises and traction methods. I will mention a few names (the last time I did this several friends got mad because I forgot some of them!). Richard Garde, DC, Dwight DeGeorge, DC, Tony Gambale, DC, Don Myers, DC, Mike Fisk, DC, Mike Pope, DC, Mark Payne, DC, Jay Kennedy, DC, and Luther Tage, DC. By 1990, we had many different cervical traction procedures available, both home and office, and exercises were being done against resistance.

Lumbar traction was not added to CBP® technique until the mid 1990s by my son, Dr. Deed Harrison, and Steve Foster, DC (Colorado), who had started some full-spine traction while seated. In 1997, lateral translation postural traction was added by Eric Harrel, DC and Bob Berry, DC.

CBP® history is an on-going process. We are not satisfied with the large percentage of corrections we obtain now at this time; we all want as near perfect as we can humanly optain. It seems to me that after I categorized posture in a mechanical engineering way (i.e. rotations and translations of the head, thoracic cage, and pelvis in 3-D) and originated Mirror Imageä methods for these postures, many CBP® practitioners began to think in this way. They have “pushed the envelope” past what I had hoped and still are inventing things that correct human spines and alleviate human suffering.

One person cannot expect to “come up” with everything, but at times when I see my seminar attendees invent some “clever” gadget to correct spines, I always ask myself, “now why didn’t I think of that?”