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The End of the Formal Rehabilitation Is Not the End of Rehabilitation: Knee Function Deficits Remain After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction

Daniel Niederer, Matthias Keller, Max Wießmeier, Lutz Vogt, Amelie Stöhr, Karl-Friedrich Schüttler, Christian Schoepp, Wolf Petersen, Lucia Pinggera, Natalie Mengis, Julian Mehl, Matthias Krause, Maren Janko, Daniel Guenther, Tobias Engeroff, Andree Ellermann, Turgay Efe, Raymond Best, David A. Groneberg, Michael Behringer, and Thomas Stein

Objective: To rate athletes’ functional ability and return to sport (RTS) success at the end of their individual, formal, medically prescribed rehabilitation after anterior anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction. Methods: In our prospective multicenter cohort study, 88 (42 females) adults aged 18–35 years after acute unilateral ACL rupture and subsequent hamstring grafting were included. All patients were prospectively monitored during their rehabilitation and RTS process until the end of their formal rehabilitation and RTS release. As outcome measures, functional hop and jump tests (front hop, balance hops, and drop jump screening test) and self-report outcomes (Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score, ACL-RTS after injury) were assessed. Literature-based cut-off values were selected to rate each performance as fulfilled or not. Results: At 7.5 months (SD 2.3 months) after surgery, the percentage of participants meeting the functional thresholds ranged from 4% (Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score SPORT) and over 44% (ACL-RTS after injury sum score) to 59% (Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score activities of all daily living) in the self-report and from 29% (Balance side hop) to 69% (normalized knee separation distance) in performance testing. Only 4% fulfilled all the cut-offs, while 45% returned to the same type and level of sport. Participants who successfully returned to their previous sport (type and level) were more likely to be “over-cut-off-performers.” Conclusions: The low share of the athletes who fulfilled the functional RTS criteria highlights the importance of continuing the rehabilitation measures after the formal completion to assess the need for and success of, inter alia, secondary-preventive therapies.

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Effects of a Conventional Treatment Plus Scapular Exercises Program in Patients With Chronic Lateral Elbow Tendinopathy: A Pre−Post Single-Group Study

Héctor Gutiérrez-Espinoza, Evelin Estrella-Flores, Iván Cuyul-Vásquez, Rene Jorquera-Aguilera, José Francisco López-Gil, and Felipe Araya-Quintanilla

Background: Weakness of the shoulder girdle muscles has been reported in patients with chronic lateral elbow tendinopathy. The aim of this study was to assess the short- and long-term effects of a conventional treatment plus scapular exercises program in patients with chronic lateral elbow tendinopathy. Methods: A single-group prestudy and poststudy were conducted. The primary outcome was the Patient-Rated Tennis Elbow Evaluation questionnaire score. Secondary outcomes were grip strength; Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand questionnaire score; Visual Analogue Scale score at rest and at grip, and presence of scapular dyskinesis. Results: A total of 65 patients (72.3% females), with a mean age of 41.8 years, were analyzed. At the end of 6 weeks, the results showed clinically and statistically significant differences (P < .05). At 1-year follow-up, the differences were: Patient-Rated Tennis Elbow Evaluation −31 points (P < .001); grip strength +33.6% (P < .001); Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand −34.2 points (P < .001); Visual Analogue Scale at rest −2.5 cm (P < .001); and Visual Analogue Scale at grip −2.3 cm (P < .001). Conclusion: At the end of 6 weeks and at 1-year follow-up, conventional treatment plus scapular exercises program showed statistically and clinically significant differences in all functional outcomes assessed in patients with lateral elbow tendinopathy.

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Influence of Graft Type and Meniscal Involvement on Short-Term Outcomes Following Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction

Casey Moler, Kevin M. Cross, Mandeep Kaur, Amelia Bruce Leicht, Joe Hart, and David Diduch

Context: The purpose of this study was to compare short-term clinical outcomes between meniscus procedures performed with anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR), ACLR (ACLR-only), ACLR with meniscectomy/resection (ACLR-resect), and ACLR with meniscal repair (ACLR-repair) for bone patellar tendon bone grafts (BPTB) and hamstring tendon grafts, separately. Design: This was a cross-sectional study conducted in a controlled laboratory setting as part of a large point-of-care collaborative research program. Methods: This study included 314 participants (168 females; mean [SD]: age, 19.7 [4.8]) with primary unilateral ACLR with a BPTB or hamstring tendon. Patients were divided into 3 groups depending on meniscal procedure (ACLR-only, ACLR-resect, and ACLR-repair). Postsurgical testing included: isokinetic assessment of knee extension and flexion, single-leg hop tests, and patient-reported outcomes. Multivariate analysis of covariance compared differences between meniscal procedures on the battery of tests, and for each statistically significant variable an analysis of covariance assessed the effect of meniscal procedure within each graft type. Chi-square analysis assessed the influence of meniscal procedure on tests’ pass rates defined as 90% of limb symmetry index. Results: BPTB: ACLR-only had greater hamstring strength than ACLR-resect (P = .05) and ACLR-repair (P = .005). ACLR-only had the highest proportion of participants to pass the hamstring strength test (P = .02). Hamstring tendon: ACLR-only (P = .03) and ACLR-resect (P = .003) had higher International Knee Documentation Committee scale scores than ACLR-repair. There was a significant difference in the proportion of participants who scored >90% limb symmetry index on the timed hop test (P = .05). Conclusions: The influence of meniscal repair on clinical outcomes is dependent on the graft choice. Following an ACLR with BPTB and a meniscal procedure, hamstring function should be more closely monitored for optimal short-term recovery.

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Volume 33 (2024): Issue 1 (Jan 2024)

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Effect of Neuromuscular Electrostimulation With Blood Flow Restriction on Acute Muscle Swelling of the Abductor Hallucis

Kazunori Okamura, Manami Hamaguchi, Yuna Ueno, and Taira Kida

Context: Plantar intrinsic foot muscle strength training is difficult to master to a degree sufficient to elicit muscle hypertrophy in most individuals. It is possible that combining neuromuscular electrostimulation (NMES) and blood flow restriction (BFR) can elicit plantar intrinsic foot muscle hypertrophy regardless of the individual’s technique. This study aimed to determine the effects of NMES training with BFR on acute muscle swelling in the abductor hallucis. Design: Randomized, controlled, single-blind trial design. Methods: Forty-eight participants were randomly allocated to the NMES + BFR, NMES, or Sham NMES + BFR groups. All participants received abductor hallucis NMES for 15 minutes. Participants in the NMES + BFR and Sham NMES + BFR groups received NMES with BFR. The intensity of NMES was the sensory threshold in the Sham NMES + BFR group. The cross-sectional area of the abductor hallucis was measured pretraining and posttraining using ultrasonography by a single investigator blinded to the participants’ allocations. Results: After 15 minutes of training, the cross-sectional area of the abductor hallucis was significantly increased in the NMES + BFR (P < .001) and the Sham NMES + BFR (P = .004) groups. Moreover, the rate of increase was significantly higher in the NMES + BFR group than in the NMES or the Sham NMES + BFR groups (P < .001 and P = .001, respectively). Conclusions: Since it is possible that the amount of muscle swelling immediately after training correlates with muscle hypertrophy when training is continued, the results of this study suggest that NMES training with BFR is a training method that can be expected to produce plantar intrinsic foot muscle hypertrophy. Further studies are needed to confirm the long-term effects of NMES training with BFR.

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Current Rehabilitation Practices and Return to Sports Criteria After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction: A Survey of Physical Therapists in Saudi Arabia

Yasir S. Alshehri, Marwan M.A. Aljohani, Hosam Alzahrani, Msaad Alzhrani, Khalid M. Alkhathami, Adel Alshahrani, and Osama A. Khaled

Context: With the high prevalence of anterior cruciate ligament rupture among young and active individuals, rehabilitation after the injury and surgery should meet the current evidence-based recommendations to restore knee function and reduce the risk of further injury. This study aimed to investigate the current rehabilitation practices and return to sports (RTS) criteria after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR) among physical therapists in Saudi Arabia. Design: Online cross-sectional survey-based study. Methods: A total of 177 physical therapists in Saudi Arabia participated in this survey. The survey included questions about the preferred postoperative timing and frequency of rehabilitation, current views on the importance of preoperative and postoperative rehabilitation to the overall outcomes, the timeframe of RTS, and the decision-making process to RTS. Results: Most therapists (96.6%) believed preoperative rehabilitation was essential/important to postoperative outcomes. Two-thirds encouraged patients to start rehabilitation program within 1 to 4 days immediately post-ACLR. RTS was permitted 6 to 9 months post-ACLR by 60% of therapists if satisfied with patient progress and capacity. Factors considered before RTS included knee strength (72.9%), functional capacity (86.4%), lower limb and trunk mechanics (62.7%), and psychological readiness (42.2%). Knee strength was assessed by manual muscle testing (39%), handheld dynamometry (15.3%), and isokinetic dynamometer (13.6%). While 60% of the therapists used single-limbed hop for distance for evaluating functional capacity, only 27.1% used a hop test battery. Conclusions: The surveyed physical therapists in Saudi Arabia demonstrated variations in the current rehabilitation practices and RTS criteria post-ACLR. Over half of the surveyed therapists considered preoperative rehabilitation essential to postoperative outcomes. However, the therapists should update their perspective with current evidence-based practice regarding the RTS timeframe, psychological readiness assessment for RTS, and knee strength evaluation using objective measurements.

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The Effects of 2 Different Soft Tissue Mobilization Techniques on Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness in Male Recreational Athletes: A Single-Blinded Randomized Controlled Trial

Devrim Can Sarac, Umut Ziya Kocak, Deniz Bayraktar, Sercan Gucenmez, and Derya Özer Kaya

Context: Soft tissue mobilization is frequently employed for delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) management. Foam roller and percussive massage are 2 popular soft tissue mobilization methods preferred by various professionals. However, their effects on DOMS symptoms are controversial and there are no studies comparing these 2 methods. The aim of the present study was to compare the acute effects of soft tissue mobilization with a foam roller or a percussive massage device on DOMS in young male recreational athletes. Design: A parallel, single-blinded, randomized controlled trial. Methods: Thirty-six participants (median [interquartile range 25/75]; age: 20.0 [19.3/21.0] y) were randomly allocated to percussive massage group (n = 12), foam roller group (n = 12), and control group (n = 12). First, a fatigue protocol targeting quadriceps femoris was performed. Then, participants received soft tissue mobilization with foam roller/percussive massage or rested for 10 minutes according to their groups. Pain and fatigue were evaluated by a visual analog scale, and the skin surface temperature of over the quadriceps femoris was measured with thermal camera imaging. Evaluations were performed at baseline, following fatigue protocol, at 24th hour, and at 48th hour. Changes from the baseline at 24th and 48th hours were compared between groups. Results: No significant between-group differences were observed at the assessments performed at 24th or 48th hour regarding the changes from baseline in pain (P value for 24th hour = .905, P value for 48th hour = .733), fatigue (P value for 24th hour = .895, P value for 48th hour = .606), or skin surface temperature measurements (P values for 24th hour = between .300 and .925, P values for 48th hour = between .311 and .750). Conclusions: Soft tissue mobilizations applied with foam roller or percussive massage device do not seem to be superior to passive resting in alleviating DOMS symptoms in recreational athletes.

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The Seated Trunk Control Test: Investigation of Reliability and Known-Groups Validity Using Individuals Post-Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction

Travis R. Pollen, Chelsey Roe, Darren L. Johnson, Sheri P. Silfies, and Brian Noehren

Context: Decreased trunk neuromuscular control is a risk factor for both upper- and lower-extremity injuries, yet there are few reliable and valid clinical tests to identify deficits. Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine the reliability and known-groups validity of a novel clinical test, the seated trunk control test (STCT). Design: Cross-sectional reliability and known-groups validity study. Setting: Laboratory. Participants: 89 unique participants: 34 were 3 months postoperative anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR) and 55 healthy controls. Methods: For the STCT, participants sat on a balance board with their eyes closed for three 30-second trials while investigators counted balance errors. Intraclass correlations (ICCs) were used to assess interrater reliability (N = 20) and test–retest reliability (N = 40). To assess known-groups validity, independent t tests were used to compare STCT errors at 3 months post-ACLR with healthy matched controls (N = 34/group). Area under a receiver operating characteristic curve identified an optimal cutoff for distinguishing between groups. Results: The STCT had perfect interrater reliability (ICC2,3 = 1.00) and good test–retest reliability (ICC3,3 = .79; 95% confidence interval = .61–.89). The ACLR group made significantly more errors on the STCT (mean [SD] = 15.5 [5.4]) than controls (mean [SD] = 8.2 [4.1]; P < .001, Cohen d = 1.52). The STCT’s ability to distinguish between groups was excellent (area under a ROC curve = 0.86). A cutoff of 12 errors maximized sensitivity (76%) and specificity (85%). Conclusions: The STCT is reliable between raters and across days. It also has excellent ability to distinguish between individuals with a recent ACLR and healthy matched controls, which provides initial evidence to suggest that the STCT may be clinically useful for identifying deficits in trunk neuromuscular control.

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Response to “Comment on: Differences in Neurocognitive Functions Between Healthy Controls and Anterior Cruciate Ligament-Reconstructed Male Athletes Who Passed or Failed Return to Sport Criteria: A Preliminary Study”

Razieh Mofateh, Maryam Kiani Haft Lang, Neda Orakifar, and Shahin Goharpey

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Comment on: “Differences in Neurocognitive Functions Between Healthy Controls and Anterior Cruciate Ligament-Reconstructed Male Athletes Who Passed or Failed Return to Sport Criteria: A Preliminary Study”

Jérôme Murgier, Guillaume Zunzarren, and Bertrand Garet