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Transient Ischemic Attack in a 22-Year-Old NCAA Division I Baseball Athlete: A Case Study

Daisy Luera, Ronald L. Snarr, Sara Posson, Ioannis Liras, George Liras, and Erica M. Filep

Context: A healthy, 22-year-old, male NCAA Division I baseball shortstop was experiencing confusion, chest pain, and tightness during an off-season intersquad scrimmage. The patient did not have any significant medical history or mechanism of head injury. After initial evaluation from the athletic trainer, the patient’s cognitive status began to quickly decline. The emergency action plan was put in place rapidly and referred the patient to the local emergency clinic. Case Presentation: Upon arrival at the emergency department, an electrocardiogram was performed to rule out myocardial infarction or stroke. The first electrocardiogram results returned negative for any cardiac pathology, but a stroke alert was called. The patient was then transported to a level II trauma center due to continual cognitive decline. The patient was diagnosed with transient ischemic attack (TIA) secondary to an undiagnosed patent foramen ovale (PFO) that would later be diagnosed with further evaluation 2 months after the initial TIA incident. After multiple diagnostic and laboratory tests, the PFO went undetected until a 2D echocardiogram was performed and evaluated by a cardiologist. Management and Outcomes: After the confirmation of the congenital defect, surgical intervention was performed to correct the PFO using catheterization. Despite multiple preparticipation examinations, electrocardiograms, and examination of past family history, the PFO went undetected until the patient experienced symptoms of TIA. The discovery of PFO in this 22-year-old athletic individual is unusual because traditional screening techniques (electrocardiogram and preparticipation examinations) failed to detect the congenital defect. Conclusions: Due to the emergent and timely actions of the athletic trainer, the patient has made a full recovery and is able to compete fully in athletic events. This case study amplifies the need for athletic trainers at all sporting events, updated and reviewed emergency action plans, rapid recognition of TIA in athletic individuals, and return-to-play protocol for an athletic individual after TIA.

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Pulsed Red and Blue Photobiomodulation for the Treatment of Thigh Contusions and Soft Tissue Injury: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Aaron Wells, Justin Rigby, Chris Castel, and Dawn Castel

Context: Contusion and soft tissue injuries are common in sports. Photobiomodultion, light and laser therapy, is an effective aid to increase healing rates and improve function after various injury mechanisms. However, it is unclear how well photobiomodulation improves function after a contusion soft tissue injury. This study aimed to determine the effects of a pulsed red and blue photobiomodulation light patch on muscle function following a human thigh contusion injury. Design: Single-blinded randomized control trial design. Methods: We enrolled 46 healthy participants. Participants completed 5 visits on consecutive days. On the first visit, participants completed a baseline isokinetic quadriceps strength testing protocol at 60°/s and 180°/s. On the second visit, participants were struck in the rectus femoris of the anterior thigh with a tennis ball from a serving machine. Immediately following, participants were treated for 30 minutes with an active or placebo photobiomodulation patch (CareWear light patch system, CareWear Corp). Following the treatment, participants completed the same isokinetic quadriceps strength testing protocol. Participants completed the treatment and isokinetic quadriceps strength test during the following daily visits. We normalized the data by calculating the percent change from baseline. We used a mixed model analysis of covariance, with sex as a covariate, to determine the difference between treatment groups throughout the acute recovery process. Results: We found the active photobiomodulation treatment significantly increased over the placebo group, quadriceps peak torque during the 180°/s test (P = .030), and average power during both the 60°/s (P = .041) and 180°/s (P ≤ .001) assessments. The mean peak torque and average power of 180°/s, at day 4, exceeded the baseline levels by 8.9% and 16.8%, respectively. Conclusions: The red and blue photobiomodulation light patch improved muscle strength and power during the acute healing phase of a human thigh contusion injury model.

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Does the Position of the Ankle Matter During the Single Gluteal Bridge in Futsal Players? An Electromyographic Analysis

Gonzalo Elias, Daniel Jerez-Mayorga, and Leonardo Intelangelo

Context: The aim of this study was to analyze the muscle activity of the hamstring muscles and the lateral gastrocnemius during different variants of the single-leg bridge (SLB) in futsal players. Design: Cross-sectional study. Methods: Twenty-two futsal players (age = 24.8 [3.9] y) volunteered to participate in this study. The participants performed 3 variations of the SLB with the knee flexed at 45°. The first position was performed with the ankle in plantar position with flat support, the second with the ankle in dorsiflexion (DF) with heel support, and the third with the ankle in DF and external rotation (ER) with heel support. The Wilcoxon rank-sum test assessed the difference between variables for samples with the rank-biserial correlation effect size. Spearman correlation coefficients were used to examine the associations of the percentage maximal voluntary isometric contraction for each muscle with peak force and rate of force development with 3 different variances of the SLB. Results: The variation of ankle DF and ER with heel support generated higher muscle activity in BF in concentric (P < .01, effect size [ES] = −0.613); isometric (P < .042, ES = −0.494); and eccentric (P < .005, ES = −0.668) contraction than ankle DF with heel support. In contrast, the variation of ankle DF and ER with heel support generated fewer muscle activity in lateral gastrocnemius in concentric (P < .001, ES = 0.779); isometric (P < .003, ES = 0.708); and eccentric (P < .014, ES = 0.589) contraction than ankle DF with heel support. Conclusions: The position of DF and ER was the best position in SLB to train the BF. It could be convenient to start rehabilitation of the BF with flat foot postition or ankle in DF with heel support and progress with the position of the ankle in DF and ER with heel support.

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Test–Retest Reliability of 3 Specific Strength Tests in Professional Handball Players

Maria Dolores Morenas-Aguilar, Luis J. Chirosa Rios, Angela Rodriguez-Perea, Juan Antonio Vázquez Diz, Ignacio J. Chirosa Rios, José Fernando Vera Vera, Lorenzo Ruiz-Orellana, and Daniel Jerez-Mayorga

Context: Current devices to assess strength performance in handball may not be sufficiently sports-specific and reliable methods. Functional electromechanical dynamometry is a new technology that allows the development of accurate strength tests in athletes. Purpose: To determine the absolute and relative reliability and to compare the reliability of the right and left side, and mean and peak force of 3 specific strength tests in handball players with a functional electromechanical dynamometer: unilateral pullover, standing lift, and step forward. Methods: Fourteen male handball players of the first Spanish division (28.79 [4.81] y; 10.38 [4.63] y of professional experience) performed a repeated-measurement design. Three testing sessions were performed (one per week). The first measurement consisted of 4 isometric tests (right and left unilateral pullover, and right and left standing lift) to obtain isometric peak force, and in the second and third sessions, 6 incremental tests until failure (right and left unilateral pullover, and right and left standing lift, right and left step forward) were performed. Results: The tests provided high reliability or acceptable reliability for mean and peak strength of unilateral pullover, standing lift and step forward (intraclass correlation coefficient = .83–.97; coefficient of variation = 3.90–11.57). Effect side was negligible in any of the parameters, except for a small effect side in the left peak force for unilateral pullover and a small effect side on the left side for a step forward. Significant differences in reliability (coefficient of variation ratio > 1.15) were found between the right and left sides and peak and mean force in all exercises except peak force in unilateral pullover and step forward. Conclusion: These results confirm that the tests could be applied to assess physical performance in handball at the same time as regular gym training. Moreover, this is an excellent opportunity to individualize the player’s weekly load.

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Relationship Between Nordic Hamstring Strength and Single Leg Bridge Test in University Soccer Players

Yuta Murakami, Satoru Nishida, Riku Yoshida, Kazuki Kasahara, Akira Kumazaki, Hirokazu Sakuma, Hirosi Fujimoto, Yuki Kaneko, Otoka Abe, and Masatoshi Nakamura

Context: Nordic hamstring strength (NH strength) and single leg bridge test (SLBT) scores are used to predict the risk of hamstring strain injury. Although NH strength and SLBT scores may be related, the relationship between NH strength and SLBT score remains unknown. Objectives: This study investigated the relationship between NH strength and SLBT scores in university soccer players. Design: Cross-sectional study. Setting: Research laboratory. Participants: 38 male university soccer players. Main Outcome Measures: NH strength and SLBT scores. Interventions: A participant was instructed to lean forward gradually at the slowest possible speed from a kneeling posture with the knee joint flexed 90° for the NH strength measurement. Participants in the SLBT crossed their arms over their chests, pushed down from their heels, and lifted their hips off the ground as many times as they could until they failed. We investigated the relationship between NH strength and SLBT scores in the left and right sides using Spearman rank correlation coefficient. Additionally, we calculated the percentage of left–right asymmetry in NH strength and SLBT scores and investigated the relationship between these variables using Pearson correlation coefficient. Results: There were no significant correlations between NH strength and SLBT scores in the right (r s  = .239, P = .16) and left (r s  = .311, P = .065) legs. Furthermore, there was no significant relationship between NH strength and SLBT between-limb asymmetry (r = .073, P = .671). Conclusions: NH strength and SLBT scores could be different indexes, indicating either maximal muscle strength or muscle endurance. Thus, the findings suggested that when assessing risk factors for hamstring strain injury, both NH strength and SLBT scores should be measured.

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The Effects of Dry Needling on Hamstring Range of Motion: A Critically Appraised Topic

Amy L. Curry, Suhyun Jang, Michael P. Monahan, and Matthew J. Rivera

Clinical Scenario: Hamstring range of motion (ROM) and the influence it has on injury risk is among great discussion in the literature. Hamstring injury may result from hamstring tightness, poor flexibility, or decreased ROM, and many argue that this can be prevented through various intervention strategies. In active populations, risk of further injury, pain, and complications throughout the kinetic chain can occur if minimal hamstring ROM is left untreated. One therapeutic intervention that has been applied to varying parts of the body to help improve function while relieving pain is dry needling (DN). This intervention includes the application of needles to structures to induce responses that might benefit healing and overall stimulation of a neurological response. In this review, the intent is to identify evidence and the effects of DN on hamstring ROM. Clinical Question: What are the effects of DN on hamstring ROM? Summary of Key Findings: Among total 11 articles, 1 single-blinded randomized controlled trial and 2 double-blinded randomized controlled trials were included in this critically appraised topic. All 3 articles had inconclusive evidence to isolate the application of the DN intervention. There was insufficient evidence to identify if DN independently improved hamstring ROM; however, in combination with interventions such as exercise and stretch plans, there were improvements on ROM. Clinical Bottom Line: DN does not significantly increase or decrease the ROM of the hamstrings. When combined with exercise and stretch plans, DN could increase ROM. Strength of Recommendation: The grade of B is recommended by the Strength of Recommendation Taxonomy for inconsistent or limited-quality patient-oriented evidence.

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Ankle Sprain History Does Not Significantly Alter Single- and Dual-Task Spatiotemporal Gait Mechanics

Sarah B. Willwerth, Landon B. Lempke, Vipul Lugade, William P. Meehan III, David R. Howell, and Alexandra F. DeJong Lempke

Context: Single- and dual-task walking gait assessments have been used to identify persistent movement and cognitive dysfunction among athletes with concussions. However, it is unclear whether previous ankle sprain injuries confound these outcomes during baseline testing. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of (1) ankle sprain history and (2) time since prior ankle sprain injury on single- and dual-task spatiotemporal gait outcomes and cognitive measures. Design: Cross-sectional study. Methods: We assessed 60 college Division-I athletes (31 with ankle sprain history; 13 females and 18 males, 19.3 [0.8] y; 29 with no ankle sprain history, 14 females and 15 males, 19.7 [0.9] y) who completed injury history forms and underwent concussion baseline testing. Athletes completed single- and dual-task gait assessments by walking back and forth along an 8-m walkway for 40 seconds. Athletes wore a smartphone with an associated mobile application on their lumbar spine to record spatiotemporal gait parameters and dual-task cognitive performance. Separate multivariate analyses of variance were used to assess the effects of ankle sprain injury history on spatiotemporal measures, gait variability, and cognitive performance. We performed a multivariate regression subanalysis on athletes who reported time since injury (n = 23) to assess temporal effects on gait and cognitive performance. Results: Athletes with and without a history of ankle sprains had comparable spatiotemporal and gait variability outcomes during single- (P = .42; P = .13) and dual-task (P = .75; P = .55) conditions. Additionally, ankle sprain injury history did not significantly influence cognitive performance (P = .35). Finally, time since ankle sprain did not significantly affect single- (P = .75) and dual-task gait (P = .69), nor cognitive performance (P = .19). Conclusions: Ankle sprain injury history did not significantly alter spatiotemporal gait outcomes nor cognitive performance during this common clinical assessment. Future studies may consider including athletes with ankle sprain injury history during concussion assessments.

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Does Prophylactic Stretching Reduce the Occurrence of Exercise-Associated Muscle Cramping? A Critically Appraised Topic

John W. Evers-Smith and Kevin C. Miller

Clinical Scenario: Exercise-associated muscle cramps (EAMC) are sudden, painful, and involuntary contractions of skeletal muscles during or after physical activity. The best treatment for EAMC is gentle static stretching until abatement. Stretching is theorized to relieve EAMC by normalizing alpha motor neuron control, specifically by increasing Golgi tendon organ activity, and physically separating contractile proteins. However, it is unclear if stretching or flexibility training prevents EAMC via the same mechanisms. Despite this, many clinicians believe prophylactic stretching prevents EAMC occurrence. Clinical Question: Do athletes who experience EAMC during athletic activities perform less prophylactic stretching or flexibility training than athletes who do not develop EAMC during competitions? Summary of Key Findings: In 3 cohort studies and 1 case-control study, greater preevent muscle flexibility, stretching, or flexibility training (ie, duration, frequency) was not predictive of who developed EAMC during competition. In one study, athletes who developed EAMC actually stretched more often and 9 times longer (9.8 [23.8] min/wk) than noncrampers (1.1 [2.5] min/wk). Clinical Bottom Line: There is minimal evidence that the frequency or duration of prophylactic stretching or flexibility training predicts which athletes developed EAMC during competition. To more effectively prevent EAMC, clinicians should identify athletes’ unique intrinsic and extrinsic risk factors and target those risk factors with interventions. Strength of Recommendation: Minimal evidence from 3 prospective cohort studies and 1 case-control study (mostly level 3 studies) that suggests prophylactic stretching or flexibility training can predict which athletes develop EAMC during athletic competitions.

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Effects of Collagen and Exercise on Tendon Properties and Pain: A Critically Appraised Topic

Kylie S. Boldt, Bernadette L. Olson, and Ryan M. Thiele

Clinical Scenario: Achilles tendon ruptures are prevalent and devastating injuries that require the need for extensive rehabilitation. The methods for preventing these injuries vary between different exercise methods and nutritional supplementation. Although proven effective for decreasing pain and increasing tendon properties, the influence of these 2 methods in combination has not yet been evaluated. Clinical Question: Does exercise combined with collagen supplementation improve Achilles tendon structural and mechanical properties and diminish subsequent patient-reported pain compared with exercise alone in adults? Summary of Key Findings: Exercise training, including eccentric training protocols and concentric resistance training protocols, combined with collagen supplementation influence Achilles tendon properties and subsequent patient-reported pain compared with exercise alone. Clinical Bottom Line: Evidence supports that collagen along with exercise training has a significant influence on pain mitigation, augmented cross-sectional area, and tendon thickness, but may have little to no influence on tendon stiffness and microvascularity compared with exercise alone. Further research is needed to determine the effects of combined methods on various populations. Strength of Recommendation: Collectively, the body of evidence included to answer the clinical question aligns with the strength of recommendation of A.

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Hip Muscle Strength, Range of Motion, and Functional Performance in Young Elite Male Australian Football Players

Michael Girdwood, Benjamin F. Mentiplay, Mark J. Scholes, Joshua J. Heerey, Kay M. Crossley, Michael J.M. O’Brien, Zuzana Perraton, Anik Shawdon, and Joanne L. Kemp

Context: Hip and groin injuries are common in field sports such as football, with measurement of hip strength and range of motion (ROM) recommended for assessment of these conditions. We aimed to report hip strength, hip ROM, and functional task performance in young elite Australian football athletes. Design: Cross-sectional study. Methods: Fifty-eight newly drafted Australian Football League athletes completed hip abduction, adduction, internal rotation, external rotation, and flexion strength testing with an adjustable stabilized or hand-held dynamometer. Hip internal rotation and external rotation, bent knee fall out, and ankle dorsiflexion ROM were also measured. Players completed hop for distance, side bridge, and star excursion balance functional tests. We compared findings between the dominant and nondominant limbs. Results: We found small deficits unlikely to be clinically meaningful in the dominant limb for hip abduction and adduction strength, and a small deficit in the nondominant limb for external rotation strength and side bridge time. Athletes had lower hip internal rotation (mean difference 2.56°; 95% confidence interval, 0.87 to 4.26) and total rotation ROM (2.03°; 95% confidence interval, 0.06 to 4.01) on the dominant limb. Conclusions: There were no meaningful differences between dominant and nondominant limbs for hip strength, ROM, or functional tests. Our results may be used for benchmarking young male Australian football athletes when targeting optimal strength and returning from injury.