Impact of Taping after Finger Flexor Tendon Pulley Ruptures in Rock Climbers

in Journal of Applied Biomechanics
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Flexor tendon pulley ruptures are the most common injury in rock climbers. Therapeutic standards usually include a prolonged use of taping applied as a replacement for the lost pulley in a circular fashion at the base of the proximal phalanx. Our biomechanical considerations, however, suggest a new taping method, the H-tape. The purpose of the study is to evaluate whether this new taping method can effectively change the course of the flexor tendon and therefore reduce the tendon–bone distance. In order to compare the effects of different taping methods described in the literature with the newly developed taping method, we performed standardized ultrasound examinations of 8 subjects with singular A2 pulley rupture and multiple pulley ruptures of A2 and A3 pulleys and determined the respective tendon–bone distance for the different taping methods, versus without tape at a preset position on the proximal phalanx. In a second approach, we evaluated the effect of the new taping method on the strength of the injured finger using a force platform on 12 subjects with different pulley ruptures with injuries older than 1 year. The new taping method decreased the tendon–bone distance in the injured finger significantly by 16%, whereas the other taping methods did not. The strength development was significantly better with the new tape for the crimp grip position (+13%), but there was no significant improvement for the hanging position. We recommend taping with the newly presented taping technique after pulley rupture.

Isabelle Schöffl is with the Institute of Medical Physics, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany; Einwag, Strecker, and Volker Schöffl are with the Department of Orthopedic and Trauma Surgery, Klinikum Bamberg, Bamberg, Germany; Volker Schöffl and Hennig are with the Department of Orthopedic and Trauma Surgery, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany.