Evidence-Based: How current is it?

In our practices, we use evidence to back our work. That evidence could be outcomes shown by the patient by research. When we use research, we use our judgment to determine what is the “Best Practice” information from a mass amount of data that is out there. What I have seen is, research does not always mean the best information. Sometimes it takes years or decades for researches to accept new concepts and even longer for practitioners.

In the book The Brain That Changes itself, Edward Taub, for example, was a brilliant mind but soon found that it would leave him alone in a world isolated from his colleagues. Taubs started his journey as a graduate student by initially disproving his mentor’s research. Taubs was hesitant to release the information because of his relationship with his mentor, but luckily the mentor said, “call the data the way they lay.” This was Taubs’ first significant step in the world of research.

The next step was testing a well-known concept at the time, “Spinal reflexes do involve the brain...all movement occurs in response to stimulus and that we move, not because our brains command it, but because our spinal reflexes keep us moving.” Sherrington Law (early 1900's) which dominated neuroscience in its time. Taubs wanted to replicate the grand experiment and experience the same findings. He did the study but added just one extra variable. This simple variable ended up disproving this longstanding law.

He did not only disprove the law, but he has debunked all of his instructors and peers at the time. This was not well accepted, and the community shunned him. Other researchers would pick out slight possibilities of errors and try to disprove him. It took years to allow the research community’s shift in thought to give up on the old approach to allow for the new idea.

Imagine as a practitioner, how long it takes us to accept a new concept and give up our own!

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