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Analyzing Dual-Task Paradigms to Improve Postconcussion Assessment and Management

Diana Robertson, Landon B. Lempke, and Robert C. Lynall

Context: Dual-task (simultaneous cognitive–motor activities) assessments have been adapted into reliable and valid clinical concussion measures. However, abundant motor and cognitive variations leave researchers and clinicians uncertain about which combinations elicit the intended dual-task effect. Our objective was to examine differences between commonly employed dual-task motor and cognitive combinations among healthy, college-aged individuals. Design: Cross-sectional laboratory study. Methods: Twenty participants (age: 21.3 [2.4] y; height: 176.0 [9.1] cm; mass: 76.0 [16.4] kg; 20% with concussion history) completed 4 motor tasks (gait, tandem gait, single-leg balance, and tandem balance) under 5 cognitive conditions (single task, subtraction, month reversal, spelling backward, and visual Stroop) in a research laboratory. The motor performance outcomes were spatiotemporal variables for gait and tandem gait and center of pressure path length (in centimeters) for single-leg and tandem balance. Cognitive outcomes were response rate (responses/second) and cognitive accuracy. We used separate repeated-measures analyses of variance for each motor and cognitive outcome with post hoc Tukey t tests. Results: Gait velocity, gait stride length, and tandem gait velocity demonstrated significant cognitive–motor interactions (P’s < .001) such that all dual-task conditions resulted in varyingly slower or shorter movement than single task. Conversely, single-leg balance (P = .627) and tandem balance (P = .434) center of pressure path length did not significantly differ among the dual-task cognitive conditions or relative to single task. Statistically significant cognitive–motor interactions were observed only for spelling backward accuracy (P = .004) and response rates for spelling backward, month reversal, and visual Stroop (P’s < .001) such that worse accuracy, but faster response rates, occurred during motor tasks. Conclusions: Gait and tandem gait motor tasks accompanied with spelling backward or subtraction cognitive tasks demonstrated consistently strong dual-task effects and, therefore, may be the best suited for clinical and research use following concussion.

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Effectiveness of Percutaneous Needle Electrolysis to Reduce Pain in Tendinopathies: A Systematic Review With Meta-Analysis

Matheus Hissa Lourenço Ferreira, Guilherme Augusto Santos Araujo, and Blanca De-La-Cruz-Torres

Context: Tendon injuries are common disorders in both workers and athletes, potentially impacting performance in both conditions. This is why the search for effective treatments is continuing. Objective(s): The objective of this study was to analyze whether the ultrasound-guided percutaneous needle electrolysis technique may be considered a procedure to reduce pain caused by tendinosis. Evidence Acquisition: The search strategy included the PubMed, SCOPUS, CINAHL, Physiotherapy Evidence Database, SciELO, and ScienceDirect up to the date of February 25, 2024. Randomized clinical trials that assessed pain caused by tendinosis using the Visual Analog Scale and Numeric Rating Scale were included. The studies were evaluated for quality using the Cochrane Risk of Bias 2, and the evidence strength was assessed by the GRADEpro GDT. Evidence Synthesis: Out of the 534 studies found, 8 were included in the review. A random-effects meta-analysis and standardized mean differences (SMD) were conducted. The ultrasound-guided percutaneous needle electrolysis proved to be effective in reducing pain caused by tendinosis in the overall outcome (SMD = −0.97; 95% CI, −1.26 to −0.68; I 2  = 58%; low certainty of evidence) and in the short-term (SMD = −0.83, 95% CI, −1.29 to −0.38; I 2  = 65%; low certainty of evidence), midterm (SMD = −1.28; 95% CI, −1.65 to −0.91; I 2  = 0%; moderate certainty of evidence), and long-term (SMD = −0.94; 95% CI, −1.62 to −0.26; I 2  = 71%; low certainty of evidence) subgroups. Conclusion(s): The application of the ultrasound-guided percutaneous needle electrolysis technique for reducing pain caused by tendinosis appears to be effective. However, due to the heterogeneity found (partially explained), more studies are needed to define the appropriate dosimetry, specific populations that may benefit more from the technique, and possible adverse events.

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Feasibility and Preliminary Effectiveness of an Online Meditation Intervention in Young Adults With Concussion History

Christine E. Callahan, Kyla Z. Donnelly, Susan A. Gaylord, Keturah R. Faurot, J.D. DeFreese, Adam W. Kiefer, and Johna K. Register-Mihalik

Context: Mindfulness interventions (yoga, meditation) in traumatic brain injury populations show promising improvements in injury outcomes. However, most studies include all injury severities and use in-person, general programming lacking accessibility and specificity to the nuance of concussion. Therefore, this study investigated the feasibility and preliminary effectiveness of an online, concussion-focused meditation intervention among young adults with a concussion history. Design: Unblinded, single-arm, pilot intervention. Methods: Fifteen young adults aged 18 to 30 with a concussion history within the past 5 years completed 10 to 20 minutes per day of online, guided meditations for 6 weeks. Feasibility was assessed using the Feasibility of Intervention Measure. Concussion symptoms were measured using the Rivermead Post-Concussion Symptom Questionnaire, perceived stress the Perceived Stress Scale-10, and mindfulness the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire. Descriptive statistics described the study sample and determined intervention adherence and feasibility. Paired sample t tests were used to examine preintervention/postintervention changes in concussion symptoms, perceived stress, and mindfulness, with descriptive statistics further detailing significant t tests. Results: Fifteen participants were enrolled, and 12 completed the intervention. The majority completed 5+ days per week of the meditations, and Feasibility of Intervention Measure (17.4 [1.8]) scores indicated high feasibility. Concussion symptom severity significantly decreased after completing the meditation intervention (11.3 [10.3]) compared with before the intervention (24.5 [17.2]; t[11] = 3.0, P = .01). The number of concussion symptoms reported as worse than before their concussion significantly decreased after completing the meditation intervention (2.7 [3.9]) compared with before the intervention (8.0 [5.7]; t[11] = 3.7, P = .004). Postintervention, 83.33% (n = 10) reported lower concussion symptom severity, and 75.00% (n = 9) reported less concussion symptoms as a mild, moderate, or severe problem (ie, worse than before injury). Conclusions: Findings suggest positive adherence and feasibility of the meditation intervention, with the majority reporting concussion symptom improvement postintervention. Future research is necessary to expand these pilot findings into a large trial investigating concussion-specific meditation programming.

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Role of the Flexion Relaxation Phenomenon in the Analysis of Low Back Pain Risk in the Powerlifter: A Proof-of-Principle Study

Nicola Marotta, Alessandro de Sire, Isabella Bartalotta, Maria Sgro, Roberta Zito, Marco Invernizzi, Antonio Ammendolia, and Teresa Iona

Introduction: Unlike the most common training approaches for bodybuilding, powerlifting programs are generally based on maximum and submaximal loads, putting enormous stresses on the lumbar spine. The flexion relaxation phenomenon evaluation is a clinical tool used for low back pain (LBP) assessment. This study aimed to evaluate the role of the flexion relaxation phenomenon in the analysis of LBP in the powerlifters. Methods: Healthy professional powerlifters participated in the study. In fact, we divided the participants into a LBP-low-risk group and a LBP-high-risk group, based on a prior history of LBP. Outcome measures included flexion relaxation ratio (FRR) and trough surface electromyography collected during trunk maximum voluntary flexion; furthermore, during a bench press lifting, we measured the height of the arched back (ARCH), using a camera and the Kinovea video editing software, to consider a potential correlation with the risk of LBP. Results: We included a group of 18 male (aged 24–39 y) powerlifters of 93 kg category. We measured a nonsignificant mean difference of ARCH between low-risk LBP group and high-risk LBP subjects. Curiously, maximum voluntary flexions were both above the threshold of 3.2 μV; therefore, with an absence of appropriate myoelectric silence, on the contrary, the FRR ratios were higher than 9.5, considering the presence of the phenomenon, exclusively for the low-risk group. The lumbar arched back measurement data did not report any association with the LBP risk, regarding the maximum voluntary flexion value, and even more than the FRR there is a relationship with the presence or the absence of LBP risk. Conclusions: FRR could be considered as a useful parameter for studying the risk of LBP in powerlifting. The FRR index not only refers to the possible myoelectric silence of the lumbar muscles in trunk maximum forward flexion but also takes into account the energy value delivered by the lumbar muscles during the flexion. Furthermore, we can indicate that the size of the powerlifter ARCH may not be a determining factor in the occurrence of LBP.

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Voluntary Contraction of the Abdominal Muscles Increases Hip Muscle Activation During Lower-Extremity Exercises: A Critically Appraised Topic

Birgul Dingirdan, Pinar Kuyulu, Ezgi Nur Can, Kubra Caylan Gurses, and Gulcan Harput

Clinical Scenario: Existing studies have posited that incorporating abdominal enhancement techniques during lower-extremity exercises might mitigate compensatory pelvic motions and enhance the engagement of specific hip muscles. Clinical Question: Does performing lower-extremity exercises with abdominal enhancement techniques increase hip muscle activation levels in healthy individuals? Summary of Key Finding: After the literature review, 4 cross-sectional studies met the inclusion criteria and were included in this critically appraised topic. Clinical Bottom Line: There is moderate evidence to support that prone hip extension with abdominal enhancement may increase gluteus maximus and hamstring muscle activity. Gluteus medius activity may not be affected by abdominal enhancement during hip abduction exercises. Strength and Recommendation: The collective findings from the 4 cross-sectional trials indicate that the incorporation of abdominal enhancement techniques during lower-extremity exercises may have the potential to enhance targeted muscle activation levels in healthy individuals. Further research is recommended to establish more robust conclusions.

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Treating Dystonia in a Soccer Player Through an Integrated Rehabilitative Approach: A Case Report

Valeria Giorgi, Giovanni Apostolo, and Laura Bertelè

Context: Sport-related dystonia is a rare form of activity-specific dystonia that can severely impair an athlete’s ability to perform. Due to a lack of data on the condition, it is difficult to diagnose and often overlooked, and no gold standard treatment has yet been defined. Case Presentation: We present a rare and challenging case of sport-related dystonia that affected a 24-year-old male professional soccer player. The patient presented with severe rigidity and dystonia of the right lower-extremity, particularly the ankle and foot. The symptoms set on >1 year prior to the presentation to our outpatient clinic. He began to complain of stiffness and difficulty moving his lower limbs, especially his right leg, initially when playing soccer, but then also when walking normally. On presentation, he was unable to run and walked with difficulty, supporting his body weight only on the outside of his right foot. He also reported a motor trick and reverse motor trick involving the oral musculature in order to move his lower limb more freely. Management and Outcomes: An integrated rehabilitation approach based on postural rehabilitation, neuromuscular rehabilitation, and dental intervention was used to successfully treat this condition. The approach included: (1) postural rehabilitation with the Mézières-Bertelè method to reduce muscular stiffness, (2) neuromuscular re-education with Tai Chi exercises and electromyography-guided biofeedback, and (3) dental intervention and swallowing rehabilitation to limit impaired oral habits (due to the relationship between his impaired lower limb movements and motor tricks of the oral musculature). After 7 months of integrated rehabilitation, the patient returned to professional soccer. Conclusions: This case report highlights the potential efficacy of an integrative rehabilitation approach for sports dystonia, particularly in cases where traditional treatments may not be effective. Such an approach could be considered a valuable option in the management of this rare, but debilitating, condition in athletes. Further research is needed to assess the effectiveness of this approach in larger populations.

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Volume 33 (2024): Issue 4 (May 2024)

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Relationships Among Baseline Concussion Balance Test and Gaze Stability Test Scores in Division-I Collegiate Athletes

Carolina P. Quintana, Anne D. Olson, Nicholas R. Heebner, and Matthew C. Hoch

Context: Sports-related concussions are commonly occurring injuries as a result of sports and recreation that may cause alterations in brain functioning. It is important to be able to evaluate the impact of these injuries on function to manage the injury recovery and ensure recovery. Recent literature suggests the use of objective evaluation strategies in a multifaceted approach to evaluate and manage these injuries. It is important to understand the relationships between the assessments and how best to utilize each assessment. The purpose of this study was to investigate if relationships exist between measures of vestibular function at baseline in assessments that may be used following sports-related concussions. Additionally, a secondary purpose was to determine if self-reported symptoms were related to performance on the assessments. This study aimed to identify if these assessments measured independent functions of the vestibulo–ocular reflex or if some redundancy existed among the assessment strategies. Design: A cross-sectional study design was used in a cohort of collegiate athletes ages 18–24. Methods: Participants completed demographics questionnaires, the Post-Concussion Symptom Scale, Gaze Stabilization Test, and Concussion Balance Test. Spearman rho correlations were used to examine the relationships between the measures. Results: One hundred and thirty-five collegiate athletes (82 males and 53 females) were included, representative of 3 sports (cheerleading, soccer, and football) with a mean age of 19.77 (1.42) years old. There were weak to moderate, significant relationships between measures of Gaze Stabilization Test and Concussion Balance Test errors (r = .20–.31, P = .001–.03). Conclusions: The direction of these relationships indicated that greater Concussion Balance Test errors were associated with greater Gaze Stabilization Test performance. These relationships may be attributed to the difficulty created by the foam conditions and the integration of more complex sensory tasks required to maintain balance during the more difficult conditions.

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Enlightenment on Knee Flexors Strength Loss in Cases of Posterior Knee Pain After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction

Marc Dauty, Bastien Louguet, Pierre Menu, Jérôme Grondin, Vincent Crenn, Pauline Daley, and Alban Fouasson-Chailloux

Context: The persistence and the recurrence of posterior medial knee pain (PKP) after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR) using hamstring tendon graft are often overlooked during rehabilitation. Design: Cross-sectional observational study. Methods: The study aimed (1) to evaluate the prevalence of these types of PKP before 4 months post-ACLR, (2) to measure their consequences on the knee flexors strength, and (3) to evaluate the role of the type of ACLR. From a cohort of patients operated on with hamstring tendon procedures, the persistent and the recurrent PKP were sought at 4 months post-ACLR. The evolution of isokinetic muscle strength recovery in PKP subjects was compared with those of nonpainful subjects. The functional deficit was measured at 6/7 months post-ACLR by a hop test. Results: Three hundred seventeen subjects (25.8 [6.0] y) were included. At 4 months post-ACLR, 2 populations were identified based on the recurrent onset of PKP (PKP+, n = 40) or the absence of knee pain (PKP, n = 277). The prevalence of PKP was 8.3%. At the fourth month post-ACLR, the PKP+ group had a higher flexor strength deficit compared with the PKP group (limb symmetry index at 60°/s: 67.2% [12.4%] vs 84.3% [12.6%]; P < .05). At 6/7 months, the loss of strength persisted (limb symmetry index at 60°/s: 82.3% [13.4%] vs 87.7% [12.8%]; P < .05). The hop test deficit was comparable, and no difference was shown according to the type of graft. Conclusions: Persistent and recurrent PKP during the rehabilitation period were not uncommon and were associated with a worsening of flexors strength loss on the ACLR side.

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Humeral Torsion in Relation to Shoulder Range of Motion in Elite Field Hockey Players

Fran Vanderstukken, Valentien Spanhove, Ann Cools, and Dorien Borms

Context: Sport-specific adaptations in shoulder rotation range of motion (ROM) and the relationship with humeral torsion have been described in overhead-throwing sports. However, information is lacking for other shoulder-loading sports such as field hockey. Therefore, this study’s purpose was to evaluate humeral torsion in elite, male field hockey players and explore its association with shoulder ROM. Design: Cross-sectional study. Methods: Twenty-five male, elite field hockey players were included. Humeral torsion and shoulder external and internal rotation ROM were evaluated bilaterally by ultrasound and an inclinometer smartphone application, respectively. Results: Field hockey players showed a significantly increased humeral retroversion on the dominant compared with the nondominant side (P < .001; Cohen d = 1.75), along with a significantly increased external (P = .004; Cohen d = −0.64) and decreased internal rotation ROM (P = .003; Cohen d = 0.65). This finding illustrates a shift in total shoulder rotational ROM arc. Correlation analysis showed a significant moderate association between the increased humeral retroversion and decreased internal rotation ROM on the dominant side (r = .523). Conclusions: Elite male field hockey athletes show sport-specific adaptations regarding humeral torsion and shoulder rotation ROM, similar to throwing athletes. These findings increase our insight into the field hockey athlete’s shoulder, which is essential to optimize performance and assist in correctly interpreting shoulder rotational ROM measurements.