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Preventing Suicide and Promoting Mental Health Among Student-Athletes From Diverse Backgrounds

Karrie L. Hamstra-Wright, John E. Coumbe-Lilley, and Eduardo E. Bustamante

Suicide and contributing mental health conditions in athletes are shared concerns within health care and society at large. This commentary focuses on suicide risk among athletes and the role of sports medicine professionals in preventing suicide and promoting mental health. In this commentary, we draw on the scientific literature and our clinical experiences to pose and answer these questions: Does suicide risk among athletes vary by sociodemographic factors (eg, sex, gender, race/ethnicity, family income, sexual orientation) or if injured? Do sociodemographic differences influence access to and benefits from services among athletes? How do I know my athletes are at risk for suicide? What do I do if one of my athletes shares with me that they have considered suicide? Within our commentary, we review the current literature and clinical practices regarding these questions and close with actionable suggestions and recommendations for future directions.

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Volume 33 (2024): Issue 2 (Feb 2024)

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Automated Versus Traditional Scoring Agreeability During the Balance Error Scoring System

Amelia S. Bruce Leicht, James T. Patrie, Mark A. Sutherlin, Madeline Smart, and Joe M. Hart

Context: The Balance Error Scoring System (BESS) is a commonly used clinical tool to evaluate postural control that is traditionally performed through visual assessment and subjective evaluation of balance errors. The purpose of this study was to evaluate an automated computer-based scoring system using an instrumented pressure mat compared to the traditional human-based manual assessment. Design: A descriptive cross-sectional study design was used to evaluate the performance of the automated versus human BESS scoring methodology in healthy individuals. Methods: Fifty-one healthy active participants performed BESS trials following standard BESS procedures on an instrumented pressure mat (MobileMat, Tekscan Inc). Trained evaluators manually scored balance errors from frontal and sagittal plane video recordings for comparison to errors scored using center of force measurements and an automated scoring software (SportsAT, version 2.0.2, Tekscan Inc). A linear mixed model was used to determine measurement discrepancies across the 2 methods. Bland–Altman analyses were conducted to determine limit of agreement for the automated and manual scoring methods. Results: Significant differences between the automated and manual errors scored were observed across all conditions (P < .05), excluding bilateral firm stance. The greatest discrepancy between scoring methods was during the tandem foam stance, while the smallest discrepancy was during the tandem firm stance. Conclusion: The 2 methods of BESS scoring are different with wide limits of agreement. The benefits and risks of each approach to error scoring should be considered when selecting the most appropriate metric for clinical use or research studies.

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The Effect of Active Release Technique on Hamstring Extensibility: A Critically Appraised Topic

Mikala Palermo, Sierra Reich, and Mika Rives

Clinical Scenario: Hamstring extensibility plays a significant role in maintaining postural alignment essential for a functional musculoskeletal system. When hamstring extensibility is lacking, individuals are placed at a higher risk for developing various lumbar spine, pelvis, knee, and foot dysfunctions. Limited hamstring extensibility is common, occurring in as much as 40% of college students and 86% of the adult population. Therefore, it is essential to maintain hamstring extensibility, which can be aided by understanding intervention effectiveness for improving flexibility. Purpose: To critically appraise the literature on the effectiveness of Active Release Technique (ART) for the treatment of hamstring extensibility deficits. Clinical Question: What is the effect of ART in a healthy population with or without hamstring extensibility deficits? Summary of Key Findings: Three studies were included for critical appraisal. Two studies concluded a single treatment session of ART that individuals possessing limited straight leg raise range of motion experienced improved active knee extension, popliteal angle, and sit-and-reach test measures. In the third study, a single session of ART was effective at improving hamstring extensibility in males without hamstring extensibility dysfunction. Clinical Bottom Line: Based on the current level 1 and level 3 evidence, ART may be an effective treatment to produce acute increases in hamstring extensibility. Future research is still needed. Strength of Recommendation: Level B evidence exists to support the use of ART to improve hamstring extensibility in the healthy population.

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

Journal of Sport Rehabilitation

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Digital Health Literacy and Social Determinants of Health Affecting Telehealth Use by Athletic Trainers

Sujal R. Patel, Nancy A. Uriegas, Tara A. Armstrong, Ryan M. Stover, Kenneth E. Games, and Zachary K. Winkelmann

Context: While increasing telehealth use throughout sports medicine has improved patients’ access to health care, some communities may not have the same opportunities to connect with a provider. Barriers to telehealth implementation can be influenced by internal (eg, provider’s digital health literacy and resources) and external (eg, community’s social determinants of health or “SDOH”) factors. This study aimed to assess the impact of internal and external factors on telehealth use by athletic trainers (ATs). Design: Cross-sectional survey. Methods: In total, 767 ATs participated in the study. Participants (age = 39 [13] y) completed a survey containing the electronic health literacy scale and digital health literacy instrument, reported professional use of telehealth as a provider (yes/no), provided resources at their clinical site, and provided the zip code for the community they served. After data collection, the researchers extracted SDOH information using the zip code data from 2 US databases, including population density, median household income, poverty index, education level, and technology access. Chi-square or independent samples t tests were conducted to compare telehealth use by each SDOH factor. Results: In total, 62.3% (n = 478/767) of ATs reported using telehealth, and 81.6% of ATs (n = 626) had a dedicated facility to offer health care services. We identified a significant difference in digital health literacy scores between users and nonusers of telehealth (P = .013). We did not identify any significant differences between telehealth users by community type (P = .957), population density (P = .053), income (P = .462), poverty index (P = .073), and computer (P = .211) or broadband internet access (P = .295). Conclusions: Our data suggest that internal factors such as digital health literacy and clinical site resources may have contributed to an AT’s previous telehealth use in clinical practice. However, the SDOH data extracted from the community zip code where the AT provided clinical services were similar for those with and without previous telehealth use.

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Effect of Hearing Status on Concussion Knowledge and Attitudes of Collegiate Athletes

Matthew P. Brancaleone, René R. Shingles, and Zachary A. Weber

Context: Collegiate athletes who are deaf or hard-of-hearing (D/HoH) are diagnosed with concussions at a similar rate as athletes who are hearing; however, little evidence exists on knowledge and attitudes of athletes who are D/HoH toward concussions. This study aimed to examine differences in knowledge of and attitudes toward concussions between athletes who are D/HoH and athletes who are hearing. Design: Cross-sectional research design. Methods: Of the 310 athletes who are D/HoH and 430 athletes who are hearing that were invited to participate, 90 athletes who are D/HoH, and 72 athletes who are hearing completed the survey. The Rosenbaum Concussion Knowledge and Attitudes Survey was used to quantify knowledge of and attitude toward concussions. The Rosenbaum Concussion Knowledge and Attitudes Survey consists of the concussion knowledge index (CKI) and the concussion attitudes index (CAI) subscales. Linear regressions were run to test the association of hearing status with CKI and CAI scores. Pearson correlations were performed to determine relationships between CKI and CAI for athletes who are D/HoH and athletes who are hearing. Alpha level was set a priori at P ≤ .05. Results: Athletes who are hearing demonstrated a higher CKI component score (19.58 [2.19]) compared to athletes who are D/HoH (16.14 [3.31]; P < .001). There were no statistical differences in CAI between hearing groups (hearing: 57.18 [8.73], D/HoH: 55.97 [9.92]; P = .41). There was a moderate positive correlation between CKI and CAI (r = .58) for athletes who are D/HoH, while a weak positive correlation (r = .30) for athletes who are hearing was observed. Conclusions: Athletes who are D/HoH have poorer knowledge of concussions but similar attitudes toward concussion as that of athletes who are hearing. Current concussion educational interventions are in written or spoken form which may not be inclusive to athletes who are D/HoH. Health care professionals should consider an athlete’s preferred communication mode to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of education.

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A Quasi-Randomized Clinical Trial to Compare the Effects of Suspension Versus Instability Training on Balance

José-María Blasco, Catalina Tolsada-Velasco, Irene Borja-de-Fuentes, Elena Costa-Moreno, Carmen García-Gomáriz, and David Hernández-Guillén

Context: Suspension training devices are becoming increasingly popular. Most studies analyzed the effectiveness according to diverse measures in patients with or without conditions at any age. The characteristics of suspension training are very specific and can increase instability and; therefore, enhance balance. The goal was to determine the effects of suspension training on balance by comparing it with instability training. Design: Two-arm, randomized trial. Methods: 44 young adults, aged 22.4 years old, with no musculoskeletal condition, took part. There were 2 interventions, suspension and instability training, designed with 12 sessions in 4 weeks. The primary outcome was the Y-Balance test. Other balance outcomes were the Emery and jumping sideways tests, and platform measures while standing. Results: Suspension and instability training were effective in enhancing balance in terms of the primary outcome, the Y-Balance test, with no between-group differences. Instability training enhanced the Emery test over suspension training (P = .018), but the latter was more effective in the jumping sideways test (P = .003). Neither of the training improved static balance measures. Conclusions: Training with suspension devices is effective in enhancing dynamic balance, with similar improvements to instability training. Importantly, the magnitude of change and the frequency of responders to intervention in terms of motor coordination and keeping balance in unstable conditions appear to be sensitive to the type of training.

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Closed-Loop Reflex Responses of the Lateral Ankle Musculature From Various Thresholds During a Lateral Ankle Sprain Perturbation

Jeffrey D. Simpson, Ludmila Cosio Lima, Youngil Lee, Harish Chander, and Adam C. Knight

Context: Latency is a reliable temporal metric used to evaluate sensorimotor integration of the fibularis longus (FL) and fibularis brevis (FB) during lateral ankle sprain perturbations. Currently, no clinical recommendations exist to select appropriate thresholds to evaluate the closed-loop reflex response of the lateral ankle musculature. The purpose of this study was to assess threshold value on latency of the FL and FB during an unanticipated inversion perturbation that simulates the mechanism of a lateral ankle sprain. Design: Descriptive laboratory study. Methods: Twenty healthy adults with no history of lateral ankle sprain injury completed an unanticipated single-leg drop landing onto a 25° laterally inclined force platform from a height of 30 cm. Surface electromyography recorded muscle activity data from the FL and FB during the inversion perturbation. Latency was identified at points where muscle activity exceeded 2, 5, and 10 SD above the average muscle activity 200 milliseconds prior to foot contact, and compared across threshold value using a 1-way analysis of variance (P < .05). Results: The 2 SD threshold was significantly shorter than both 5 SD and 10 SD thresholds for the FL (P < .01) and FB (P < .01). Likewise, the 5 SD threshold was significantly shorter than the 10 SD thresholds for FL (P = .004) and FB (P = .003). Conclusions: More sensitive thresholds results in a shorter closed-loop reflexive response compared to the more rigorous thresholds. We recommend that selection of the appropriate threshold to identify latency of the lateral ankle musculature should be based on the device used to simulate a lateral ankle sprain and the ankle inversion velocity produced during the ankle inversion perturbation.

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The Interruption of Rehabilitation Following Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction due to COVID-19 Restrictions: Association With Return-to-Sport Testing

William H. Suits, Olivia N. Roe, Corey M. Snyder, and Luke J. Voss

Context: Among many unanticipated changes, access to rehabilitation was disrupted during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is unclear how the timing of late-stage rehabilitation following anterior cruciate ligament with surgical reconstruction (ACLR) during the initial months of the pandemic affected outcomes. The purpose of this study was to compare physical performance outcome measures in patients following ACLR prior to and following COVID-19-related restrictions. Design: Retrospective cohort study. Methods: Data from patients who underwent return-to-sport testing following ACLR were analyzed based on date. December 2018 through March of 2020 (n = 66) was defined as the baseline period, and June through October 2020 (n = 27) was defined as the surveillance period. Outcome measures included single leg hop, triple hop, single leg vertical jump, and the lower-extremity functional test (LEFT). Linear mixed models were used to compare outcome measures before and after the onset of pandemic-related restrictions, clustered by sex and sport. A 1-way analysis of variance was performed to analyze the association between the number of virtual rehabilitation visits and outcome measures for subjects in the surveillance period. Results: Subjects in the surveillance period performed significantly worse in the LEFT (+7.88 s; 95% confidence interval, 1.11 to 14.66; P = .02) and single leg vertical jump on the unaffected side (−4.32 cm; 95% confidence interval, −7.44 to −1.19, P < .01), and performed better with single leg vertical jump symmetry (+6.3%; 95% confidence interval, 1.0% to 11.5%; P = .02). There were no other statistically significant differences. There was no significant association between having virtual rehabilitation visits and any of the performance outcomes. Conclusions: There was a decline in physical performance outcome measures in patients following ACLR who did not attend regular in-person physical therapy sessions in the late-stage rehabilitation due to COVID-19-related restrictions. Other factors during this unique time period, such as access to training facilities or psychosocial stressors, may have also influenced outcomes.