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Jessica Prebor, Brittany Samulski, Cortney Armitano-Lago, and Steven Morrison

It is widely accepted that the general process of aging can be reflected by changes in motor function. Typically, optimal performance of a given motor task is observed for healthy young adults with declines being observed for individuals at either end of the lifespan. This study was designed to examine differences in the average and variability (i.e., intraindividual variability) of chewing, simple reaction time, postural control, and walking responses. For this study, 15 healthy children, 15 young adults, and 15 older adults participated. Our results indicated the movement performance for the reaction time and postural sway followed a U shape with young adults having faster reaction times and decreased postural sway compared to the children and older adults. However, this pattern was not preserved across all motor tasks with no age differences emerging for (normalized) gait speed, while chewing rates followed a U-shaped curve with older adults and children chewing at faster rates. Taken together, these findings would indicate that the descriptive changes in motor function with aging are heavily influenced by the nature of the task being performed and are unlikely to follow a singular pattern.

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Jing Wen Pan, Pui Wah Kong, and John Komar

This study aimed to investigate individual trial-to-trial performance in three tests to define adaptive regulation as a key feature of expertise in nine-ball. Thirty-one male players were assigned into the low-skilled (n = 11), intermediate (n = 10), or high-skilled groups (n = 10). The power control, cue alignment, and angle tests were selected to assess participants’ ability to control the power applied in shots, strike the ball straight, and understand the ball paths, respectively. Error distance and correction of error distance were identified for each shot using 2D video analysis. Results of one-way analysis of variance showed that the high-skilled group performed better in two out of the three tests than the other two groups (p = .010 for the cue alignment test; p = .002 for the angle test). However, the adaptation effect represented by the decreased error distances across trials was not observed. Pearson correlation revealed only a few significant correlations between the error distance and its correction within each participant in all tests (p < .05), and hence, the hypothesis that “low correction happened after small error and vice versa” is not supported.

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Alyssa N. Olivas, Emily A. Chavez, and Jeffrey D. Eggleston

Weighted vests have been used primarily as behavioral interventions for children and adolescents with autism. Contemporary research has begun to examine weighted vest effects on movement. Previous research in children with neurotypical development revealed 15% body mass loads modified spatial-temporal gait characteristics; however, a value applicable to children and adolescents with autism has not been established. The purpose of this study was to establish an appropriate mass value by examining spatial-temporal gait parameters in children and adolescents with autism with various loads in a weighted vest. Nine children and adolescents with autism, aged 8–17, walked without a weighted vest, with 5%, 10%, 15%, and 20% body mass while spatial-temporal data were captured. Repeated-measures analysis of variance (α = .05) were conducted among conditions for each variable, with a Holm–Bonferroni method correction. Analysis revealed significant decreases in right step length, but no differences in stride width, left step length, double-limb support time, or stride velocity were observed. Due to insignificant findings, an appropriate mass value could not be determined for weighted vests for children with autism. However, unchanged spatial-temporal gait parameters with increasing loads could be clinically relevant as weighted vest loads of 10% are typically used for behavioral interventions.

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Thomas Jacob, Swarnab Dutta, Salai Jeyaseelan Annamalai, and Varadhan SKM

The efficient coordination of fingertip forces to maintain static equilibrium while grasping an object continues to intrigue scientists. While many studies have explored this coordination, most of these studies assumed that interactions of hands primarily occur with rigid inanimate objects. Instead, our daily interactions with living and nonliving entities involve many dynamic, compliant, or fragile bodies. This paper investigates the fingertip force coordination on a manipulandum that changes its shape while grasping it. We designed a five-finger perturbation system with linear actuators at positions corresponding to each finger that would protrude outward from the center of the handle or retract toward the center of the handle as programmed. The behavior of the perturbed fingers and the other fingers while grasping this device was studied. Based on previous experiments on expanding and contracting handles, we hypothesized that each finger would exhibit a comparable response to similar horizontal perturbations. However, the response of the little finger was significantly different from the other fingers. We speculate that the central nervous system demonstrates preferential recruitment of some fingers over others while performing a task.

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Hangue Park, Alexander N. Klishko, Kyunggeune Oh, Celina Zhang, Gina Grenga, Kinsey R. Herrin, John F. Dalton IV, Robert S. Kistenberg, Michel A. Lemay, Mark Pitkin, Stephen P. DeWeerth, and Boris I. Prilutsky

Cutaneous feedback from feet is involved in regulation of muscle activity during locomotion, and the lack of this feedback results in motor deficits. We tested the hypothesis that locomotor changes caused by local unilateral anesthesia of paw pads in the cat could be reduced/reversed by electrical stimulation of cutaneous and proprioceptive afferents in the distal tibial nerve during stance. Several split-belt conditions were investigated in four adult female cats. In addition, we investigated the effects of similar distal tibial nerve stimulation on overground walking of one male cat that had a transtibial, bone-anchored prosthesis for 29 months and, thus, had no cutaneous/proprioceptive feedback from the foot. In all treadmill conditions, cats walked with intact cutaneous feedback (control), with right fore- and hindpaw pads anesthetized by lidocaine injections, and with a combination of anesthesia and electrical stimulation of the ipsilateral distal tibial nerve during the stance phase at 1.2× threshold of afferent activation. Electrical stimulation of the distal tibial nerve during the stance phase of walking with anesthetized ipsilateral paw pads reversed or significantly reduced the effects of paw pad anesthesia on several kinematic variables, including lateral center of mass shift, cycle and swing durations, and duty factor. We also found that stimulation of the residual distal tibial nerve in the prosthetic hindlimb often had different effects on kinematics compared with stimulation of the intact hindlimb with paw anesthetized. We suggest that stimulation of cutaneous and proprioceptive afferents in the distal tibial nerve provides functionally meaningful motion-dependent sensory feedback, and stimulation responses depend on limb conditions.

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Serkan Uslu and Emel Çetin Özdoğan

Instep kick is one of the most effective kicking techniques in soccer. Lower extremity muscles and joints play a crucial role during instep kick. However, external (EF) and internal focus and their effect on the muscles are still ambiguous. In this study, 13 male adolescent soccer players were included and aimed to hit the targets in internal and EF conditions. Lower extremity muscle activations were measured with surface electromyography, and kinematics were measured with a high-speed video camera. Muscle activations and movement latencies were analyzed in four different phases (backswing, leg cocking, acceleration, and follow-through) of kicking. While 10 out of 13 participants kicked accurately in internal focus, only five out of 13 in EF kicked accurately. Gastrocnemius muscle activations increased significantly in EF in all phases except acceleration. Movement latencies were found 0.07 ± 0.002 s for accurate and 0.05 ± 0.004 s for inaccurate kicks in EF. A correlation has been found between accuracy and movement latency in EF (R = .67). Our results suggest that novices cannot yet coordinate their muscles in EF, cocontraction ratio increases. Therefore, training strategies that aim to reduce the cocontraction ratio can help the athlete increase performance through better motor coordination. Moreover, better motor coordination may be beneficial in preventing injuries (joint stiffness, etc.) caused by increased cocontraction ratio.

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Sarah A. Roelker, Paul DeVita, John D. Willson, and Richard R. Neptune

Skipping has been proposed as a viable cross-training exercise to running due to its lower knee contact forces and higher whole-body energy expenditure. However, how individual muscle forces, energy expenditure, and joint loading are affected by differences in running and skipping mechanics remains unclear. The purpose of this study was to compare individual muscle forces, energy expenditure, and lower extremity joint contact forces between running and skipping using musculoskeletal modeling and simulations of young adults (n = 5) performing running and skipping at 2.5 m·s−1 on an instrumented treadmill. In agreement with previous work, running had greater knee and patella contact forces than skipping which was accompanied by greater knee extensor energetic demand. Conversely, skipping had greater ankle contact forces and required greater energetic demand from the uniarticular ankle plantarflexors. There were no differences in hip contact forces between gaits. These findings further support skipping as a viable alternative to running if the primary goal is to reduce joint loading at the commonly injured patellofemoral joint. However, for those with ankle injuries, skipping may not be a viable alternative due to the increased ankle loads. These findings may help clinicians prescribe activities most appropriate for a patient’s individual training or rehabilitation goals.

Open access

Adam J. Petway, Matthew J. Jordan, Scott Epsley, and Philip Anloague

A systematic search was performed of online databases for any Achilles tendon (AT) injuries occurring within the National Basketball Association (NBA). Video was obtained of injuries occurring during competition and downloaded for analysis in Dartfish. NBA athletes (n = 27) were identified with AT rupture over a 30-year period (1991–2021). Of the 27 NBA athletes found to have AT ruptures (mean age: 29.3 [3.3] y; average time in the NBA: 8.5 [3.8] y), 15 in-game videos were obtained for analysis. Noncontact rupture was presumed to have occurred in 12/13 cases. Eight of the 13 athletes had possession of the ball during time of injury. The ankle joint of the injured limb for all 13 athletes was in a dorsiflexed position during the time of injury (47.9° [6.5°]). All 13 athletes performed a false-step mechanism at time of injury where they initiated the movement by taking a rearward step posterior to their center of mass with the injured limb before translating forward. NBA basketball players that suffered AT ruptures appeared to present with a distinct sequence of events, including initiating a false step with ankle dorsiflexion of the injured limb at the time of injury.