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Combined Neurocognitive and Exercise Tolerance Testing Improves Objectivity of Buffalo Concussion Treadmill Test

Daniel Miner and Brent Harper

Context: The Buffalo Concussion Treadmill Test (BCTT) is a standard assessment of exercise tolerance utilized for exercise prescription following concussion and to inform decisions regarding return to play. One limitation of the BCTT is that interpretation of test results is dependent on individuals’ self-report of symptom exacerbation with exertion. Symptoms following concussion are significantly underreported or unreported. Combining objective neurocognitive assessment with exercise tolerance testing may enable clinicians to objectively identify those requiring further assessment or rehabilitation before return to play. The purpose of this study was to investigate how performance on a neurocognitive assessment battery is affected by provocative exercise testing. Design: Prospective cohort study, pretest/posttest. Methods: A total of 30 participants included 13 women (43.3%), age 23.4 (1.93) years, height 173.56 (10) cm, weight 77.35 (16.3) kg, and 11 (36.7%) with history of concussion. All participants completed a neurocognitive assessment battery, including the Stroop Test and standardized assessments of working memory, attention, and information processing speed/accuracy in single-task (seated position) and dual-task conditions (walking on a treadmill at 2.0 miles per hour). The neurocognitive assessment battery was performed at baseline and after the standard BCTT test protocol. Results: BCTT: Average percentage of heart rate maximum (%HRmax) = 93.97% (4.8%); average maximum rating of perceived exertion = 18.6 (1.5). Time-based performance in single-task and dual-task conditions significantly improved from baseline (P < .05) following maximal exercise testing on the BCTT for the following neurocognitive assessments: concentration-reverse digits, Stroop congruent, and Stroop incongruent. Conclusions: Healthy participants demonstrated improvements across multiple domains of neurocognitive performance following the exercise tolerance testing on the BCTT. Understanding normal responses in neurocognitive performance for healthy individuals following exercise tolerance testing may allow clinicians to more objectively monitor the trajectory of recovery following sports-related concussion.

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Exercise Parameters for Postconcussion Symptom Rehabilitation: A Systematic Review

Kannan Singaravelu Jaganathan, Karen A. Sullivan, Sally Kinmond, Sara Berndt, Steve Street, Catherine Haden, Jaimi Greenslade, Katie McMahon, Gary Mitchell, and Graham Kerr

Context: Exercise rehabilitation for postconcussion symptoms (PCS) has shown some benefits in adolescent athletes; but a synthesis of evidence on exercise per se has been lacking. Objective: This systematic review aimed to determine if unimodal exercise interventions are useful to treat PCS and if so, to identify a set of clearly defined and effective exercise parameters for further research. Evidence Acquisition: Relevant health databases and clinical trial registries were searched from inception to June 2022. The searches used a combination of subject headings and keywords related to mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), PCSs, and exercise. Two independent reviewers screened and appraised the literature. The Cochrane Collaboration’s Risk of Bias-2 tool for randomized controlled trials was used to assess methodological quality of studies. Evidence Synthesis: Seven studies were included in the review. Four studies were assessed to have a low overall risk of bias, 2 with low risk and 1 with some concerns. Participants in the studies comprised mostly adolescents with sports-related concussion. The review found exercise to be more beneficial than control conditions in 2 studies investigating acute PCS and 2 studies investigating persistent PCS. Within-group differences showing symptom improvement over time were observed in all 7 studies. In general, the review found support for programmatic exercise that commences after an initial period of rest for 24 to 48 hours. Recommendations for exercise parameters that can be explored in subsequent research include progressive aerobic exercise starting from 10 to 15 minutes at least 4 times a week, at a starting intensity of 50% HR of the subsymptom threshold, with length of program depending on recovery. Conclusion: The evidence in support of exercise rehabilitation for PCSs is moderate based on the small pool of eligible studies. Further research can be guided by the exercise parameters identified in this review.

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The Effect of Remote Myofascial Release on Chronic Nonspecific Low Back Pain With Hamstrings Tightness

Hassan Tamartash, Farid Bahrpeyma, and Manijhe Mokhtari Dizaji

Context: Anatomy trains theory states that performing techniques in any part of the superficial myofascial backline can remotely treat other parts of this pathway. Due to the connections of different parts of the superficial backline, it is possible to influence the hamstring by performing the technique in the lumbar area. As chronic nonspecific low back pain (LBP) may lead to or be caused by hamstring tightness, remote myofascial release (MFR) techniques using the superficial backline can help improve hamstring tightness. Objective: This study aimed to evaluate the effect of remote MFR on hamstring tightness for those with chronic nonspecific LBP. Design: Single-blind, parallel design. Setting: The present study was performed at the clinical setting of Tarbiat Modares University in Iran. Methods: This study included 40 participants (20 males and 20 females) who were 40.5 (5.3) years old with chronic nonspecific LBP and hamstring tightness. Interventions: Participants were randomly divided into the lumbar MFR (remote area) and hamstring MFR groups. Participants underwent 4 sessions of MFR for 2 weeks. Main Outcome Measures: A passive knee-extension (PKE) test was used for muscle tightness evaluation 3 times. Results: Repeated-measure analysis of variance test showed that after the lumbar and hamstring MFR, the PKE was significantly reduced in both legs: lumbar MFR (right knee: from 61.04° [2.17°] to 51.01° [4.11°], P ≤ .003 and left knee: from 63.02° [3.12°] to 52.09° [2.48°], P ≤ .004) and hamstring MFR (right knee: from 62.01° [4.32°] to 50.50° [7.18°], P ≤ .001 and left knee: from 63.11° [2.56°] to 51.32° [5.31°], P ≤ .002). Least Significant Difference (LSD) post hoc test results showed that the 2 groups were not significantly different after the MFR (P ≥ .05). Also, the intraclass correlation coefficient index showed that the PKE test has excellent reliability (intraclass correlation coefficient, .910 for the right limb and .915 for the left limb). The minimal detectable change at the 95% confidence interval indicated that a change greater than or equal to 6° is required to exceed the threshold of the error PKE test, respectively. Conclusion: The present study showed that the remote MFR technique to the lumbar region demonstrated the same significant results in decreasing hamstring tightness as was noted in hamstring MFR to both limbs in patients with chronic nonspecific LBP.

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The Effect of Contralateral Knee Neuromuscular Exercises on Static and Dynamic Balance, Knee Function, and Pain in Athletes Who Underwent Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction: A Single-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial

Motahareh Karimijashni, Fahimeh Kamali Sarvestani, and Amin Kordi Yoosefinejad

Context: Contralateral training in the early stages after surgery can improve the balance of the reconstructed knee, which is impaired following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR). However, little is known about the neuromuscular cross exercise after ACLR. Objective: To investigate the effects of an 8-week cross exercise on balance and function of the reconstructed knee following ACLR. Design: A single-blind randomized clinical trial. Participants: Thirty athletic males who underwent ACLR were randomly divided into intervention (n = 15) and control groups (n = 15). Intervention: The intervention and control groups received a routine physiotherapy program. In addition, the intervention group performed neuromuscular exercises on the nonoperated limb. Outcome Measures: Before and 9 weeks after ACLR, dynamic and static balance, function, and pain in the reconstructed knee were measured by Star Excursion Balance Test (SEBT), stork balance stand test, balance error scoring system (BESS), Lysholm questionnaire, and visual analog scale. Data were analyzed by SPSS using 2-independent sample t test, paired t test, and analysis of covariance. Results: Between-group comparison showed that, contralateral knee neuromuscular exercises significantly increased in the reaching distance in SEBT in the anterior (P < .001), posterior (P < .001), posteromedial (P = .010), and posterolateral directions (P = .007), decreased the number of errors in 4 stance positions of BESS including single stance on the firm (P ≤ .001) and foam surface (P ≤ .001), and tandem stance on the firm (P = .028) and foam surface (P ≤ .001). It also increased the time of standing of the stork stand test (P = .044) and decreased the pain intensity (P = .014). Conclusion: Neuromuscular exercise of the nonsurgical knee could improve the dynamic and static balance, and pain in the early stages following ACLR in the surgical leg. These findings may be potentially valuable for current rehabilitation protocols.

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Volume 32 (2023): Issue 3 (Mar 2023)

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Multimedia Instructions for Motor Control Exercises in Patients With Chronic Nonspecific Low Back Pain

Utku Berberoğlu and Özlem Ülger

Background: Low back pain (LBP) is one of the top 3 diseases that may lead to disability. Current treatment guidelines define exercise as a first-line treatment for nonspecific LBP (NSLBP). There are various evidence-based exercise approaches for treating NSLBP, and many of them include motor control principles. Motor control exercises (MCEs) are better than general exercises that do not include motor control principles. Many patients find learning these exercises complex and challenging, in that MCE exercises have no standard teaching method. The researchers of this study developed multimedia instructions for an MCE program to make teaching MCE easier; thus, more effective. Methods: The participants were randomized into multimedia or standard (face-to-face) instruction groups. We applied the same treatments to both groups at the same dosage. The only differences between groups were the exercise instruction methods. The multimedia group learned MCE from multimedia videos; the control group learned MCE from a physiotherapist with face-to-face instructions. Treatment lasted 8 weeks. We evaluated patients’ exercise adherence with Exercise Adherence Rating Scale (EARS), pain with the Visual Analog Scale, and disability with Oswestry Disability Index. Evaluations were made before and after treatment. Follow-up evaluations were carried out 4 weeks after the end of treatment. Results: There was no statistically significant interaction between the group and time on pain, F 2,56 = 0.068, P = .935, partial η 2 = .002 and Oswestry Disability Index scores, F 2,56 = 0.951, P = .393, partial η 2 = .033. Also, there was no statistically significant interaction between the group and time on Exercise Adherence Rating Scale total scores F 1,20 = 2.343, P = .142, partial η 2 = .105. Conclusions: This study showed that multimedia instructions for MCE have similar effects to standard (face-to-face) instructions on pain, disability, and exercise adherence in patients with NSLBP. To our knowledge, with these results, the developed multimedia instructions became the first free, evidence-based instructions that have objective progression criteria and a Creative Commons license.

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The Relationship Between Health-Related Quality of Life and Lower-Extremity Visuomotor Reaction Time in Young Adult Women Following Ankle Sprain

Katherine A. Bain, Shelby Baez, Kyle B. Kosik, Matthew C. Hoch, Johanna M. Hoch, Nathan F. Johnson, Richard D. Andreatta, and Phillip A. Gribble

Context: Many individuals who sustain a lateral ankle sprain (LAS) fail to return to prior activity due to residual symptoms; and report elevated levels of injury-related fear, decreased function, and decreased health-related quality of life (HRQOL). Additionally, individuals with history of LAS exhibit deficits in neurocognitive functional measures like visuomotor reaction time (VMRT), which contributes to worse patient-reported outcome scores. The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between HRQOL and lower-extremity (LE) VMRT in individuals with LAS history. Design: Cross-sectional. Methods: Young adult female volunteers with history of LAS (n = 22; age = 24 [3.5] y; height = 163.1 [9.8] cm; mass = 65.1 [11.5] kg; and time since last LAS = 67.8 [50.5] mo) completed HRQOL outcomes including the following: (1) Tampa Scale of Kinesiophobia-11, (2) Fear-Avoidance Beliefs Questionnaire, (3) Penn State Worry Questionnaire, (4) modified Disablement in the Physically Active Scale, and (5) Foot and Ankle Disability Index (FADI). Additionally, participants completed a LE-VMRT task by responding to a visual stimulus using their foot to deactivate light sensors. Participants completed trials bilaterally. Separate Spearman rho correlations were performed to assess the relationship between patient-reported outcomes assessing constructs of HRQOL and LE-VRMT bilaterally. Significance was set at P < .05. Results: There was a strong, significant negative correlation between FADI-Activities of Daily Living (ρ = −.68; P = .002) and FADI-Sport (ρ = −.76; P = .001) scores and injured limb LE-VMRT; moderate, significant negative correlations between the uninjured limb LE-VMRT and FADI-Activities of Daily Living (ρ = −.60; P = .01) and FADI-Sport (ρ = −.60; P = .01) scores; and moderate, significant positive correlations between the injured limb LE-VMRT and modified Disablement in the Physically Active Scale-Physical Summary Component (ρ = .52; P = .01) and modified Disablement in the Physically Active Scale-Total (ρ = .54; P = .02) scores. All other correlations were not statistically significant. Conclusions: Young adult women with history of LAS demonstrated an association between self-reported constructs of HRQOL and LE-VMRT. As LE-VMRT is a modifiable injury risk factor, future studies should examine the effectiveness of interventions designed to improve LE-VMRT and the impact on self-reported HRQOL.

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Kilohertz Frequency Alternating Current Induces Less Evoked Torque and Less Neuromuscular Efficiency Than Pulsed Current in Healthy People: A Randomized Crossover Trial

Isabel de Almeida Paz, Francesca Chaida Sonda, Matias Fröhlich, João Luiz Quagliotti Durigan, and Marco Aurélio Vaz

Context: Pulsed current and kilohertz frequency alternating current are 2 types of neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) currents often used by clinicians during rehabilitation. However, the low methodological quality and the different NMES parameters and protocols used in several studies might explain their inconclusive results in terms of their effects in the evoked torque and the discomfort level. In addition, the neuromuscular efficiency (ie, the NMES current type that evokes the highest torque with the lowest current intensity) has not been established yet. Therefore, our objective was to compare the evoked torque, current intensity, neuromuscular efficiency (evoked torque/current intensity ratio), and discomfort between pulsed current and kilohertz frequency alternating current in healthy people. Design: A double-blind, randomized crossover trial. Methods: Thirty healthy men (23.2 [4.5] y) participated in the study. Each participant was randomized to 4 current settings: 2 kilohertz frequency alternating currents with 2.5 kHz of carrier frequency and similar pulse duration (0.4 ms) and burst frequency (100 Hz) but with different burst duty cycles (20% and 50%) and burst durations (2 and 5 ms); and 2 pulsed currents with similar pulse frequency (100 Hz) and different pulse duration (2 and 0.4 ms). The evoked torque, current intensity at the maximal tolerated intensity, neuromuscular efficiency, and discomfort level were evaluated. Results: Both pulsed currents generated higher evoked torque than the kilohertz frequency alternating currents, despite the similar between-currents discomfort levels. The 2 ms pulsed current showed lower current intensity and higher neuromuscular efficiency compared with both alternated currents and with the 0.4 ms pulsed current. Conclusions: The higher evoked torque, higher neuromuscular efficiency, and similar discomfort of the 2 ms pulsed current compared with 2.5-kHz frequency alternating current suggests this current as the best choice for clinicians to use in NMES-based protocols.

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Single-Leg Hop Stabilization Throughout Concussion Recovery: A Preliminary Biomechanical Assessment

Landon B. Lempke, Matthew C. Hoch, Jarrod A. Call, Julianne D. Schmidt, and Robert C. Lynall

Context: Aberrant movement patterns among individuals with concussion history have been reported during sport-related movement. However, the acute postconcussion kinematic and kinetic biomechanical movement patterns during a rapid acceleration–deceleration task have not been profiled and leaves their progressive trajectory unknown. Our study aimed to examine single-leg hop stabilization kinematics and kinetics between concussed and healthy-matched controls acutely (≤7 d) and when asymptomatic (≤72 h of symptom resolution). Design: Prospective, cohort laboratory study. Methods: Ten concussed (60% male; 19.2 [0.9] y; 178.7 [14.0] cm; 71.3 [18.0] kg) and 10 matched controls (60% male; 19.5 [1.2] y; 176.1 [12.6] cm; 71.0 [17.0] kg) completed the single-leg hop stabilization task under single and dual task (subtracting by 6’s or 7’s) at both time points. Participants stood on a 30-cm tall box set 50% of their height behind force plates while in an athletic stance. A synchronized light was illuminated randomly, queuing participants to initiate the movement as rapidly as possible. Participants then jumped forward, landed on their nondominant leg, and were instructed to reach and maintain stabilization as fast as possible upon ground contact. We used 2 (group) × 2 (time) mixed-model analyses of variance to compare single-leg hop stabilization outcomes separately during single and dual task. Results: We observed a significant main group effect for single-task ankle plantarflexion moment, with greater normalized torque (mean difference = 0.03 N·m/body weight; P = .048, g = 1.18) for concussed individuals across time points. A significant interaction effect for single-task reaction time indicated that concussed individuals had slower performance acutely relative to asymptomatic (mean difference = 0.09 s; P = .015, g = 0.64), while control group performance was stable. No other main or interaction effects for single-leg hop stabilization task metrics were present during single and dual task (P ≥ .051). Conclusions: Greater ankle plantarflexion torque coupled with slower reaction time may indicate stiff, conservative single-leg hop stabilization performance acutely following concussion. Our findings shed preliminary light on the recovery trajectories of biomechanical alterations following concussion and provide specific kinematic and kinetic focal points for future research.

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A Systematic Review of Lower-Body Kinematic and Strength Factors Associated With Pitch Velocity in Adult Baseball Pitchers

Joseph E. Manzi, Jonathan S. Yu, Suleiman Y. Sudah, Mark Wishman, Theodore Quan, Alexander Koo, Kyle N. Kunze, Michelle Kew, James B. Carr II, Michael Fu, and Joshua S. Dines

Context: Ball velocity for baseball pitchers is influenced by a multitude of factors along the kinetic chain. While a vast amount of data currently exist exploring lower-extremity kinematic and strength factors in baseball pitchers, no previous study has systematically reviewed the available literature. Objective: The aim of this systematic review was to perform a comprehensive assessment of the available literature investigating the association between lower-extremity kinematic and strength parameters and pitch velocity in adult pitchers. Evidence Acquisition: Cross-sectional studies that investigated the association between lower-body kinematic and strength factors and ball velocity in adult pitchers were selected. A methodological index for nonrandomized studies checklist was used to evaluate the quality of all included studies. Evidence Synthesis: Seventeen studies met the inclusion criteria comprising a total of 909 pitchers (65%, professional, 33% college, and 3% recreational). The most studied elements were hip strength and stride length. The mean methodological index for nonrandomized studies score was 11.75 of 16 (range = 10–14). Pitch velocity was found to be influenced by several lower-body kinematic and strength factors including the following: (1) hip range of motion and strength of muscles around the hip and pelvis, (2) alterations in stride length, (3) alterations in lead knee flexion/extension, and (4) several pelvic and trunk spatial relationships throughout the throwing phase. Conclusions: Based on this review, we conclude that hip strength is a well-established predictor of increased pitch velocity in adult pitchers. Further studies in adult pitchers are needed to elucidate the effect of stride length on pitch velocity given mixed results across multiple studies. This study can provide a basis for trainers and coaches to consider the importance of lower-extremity muscle strengthening as a means by which adult pitchers can improve pitching performance.