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Infrared Thermography—A Novel Tool for Monitoring Fracture Healing: A Critically Appraised Topic With Evidence-Based Recommendations for Clinical Practice

Tristan Castonguay and Geoff Dover

Clinical Scenario: Stress fractures are one of the most common injuries in athletes. Unfortunately, they are hard to diagnose, require multiple radiology exams and follow-up which leads to more exposure to radiation and an increase in cost. Stress fractures that are mismanaged can lead to serious complications and poorer outcomes for the athlete. During the rehabilitation process, it would be beneficial to be able to monitor the healing of fractures to know when it is safe to gradually allow a patient to a return to sport because the return to activity is not usually objective and based on pain level. Clinical Question: Can infrared thermography (IRT) be a useful tool to measure the pathophysiological state of the fracture healing? The aim of this critically appraised topic is to analyze the current evidence of IRT for measuring the temperature change in fractures to provide recommendations for medical practitioners. Summary of Key Findings: For this critically appraised topic, we examined 3 articles that compared medical imaging and IRT over multiple time points during the follow-up. The 3 articles concluded that a 1 °C asymmetry in temperature followed by a return to normal (less than 0.3 °C) temperature during the healing process of fractures can be monitored using IRT. Clinical Bottom Line: Once the patient has been diagnosed with a fracture, IRT can safely be used to monitor the evolution of a fracture. When the thermogram progresses from a hot thermogram to a cold thermogram, the healing is considered good enough to return to sport. Strength of Recommendation: Grade 2 evidence exists to support IRT being used by clinicians to monitor fracture healing. Due to the limited research and novelty of the technology, the current recommendations are for following the treatment of the fracture once the initial diagnosis is made.

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The Effects of High-Load Slow-Velocity Resistance Exercise Training in Athletes With Tendinopathy: A Critically Appraised Topic

J. David Taylor, Annemieke Corbitt, and Ruth Ann Mathis

Clinical Scenario: Tendinopathy is a musculoskeletal pathological condition experienced by athletes that can result in pain, impaired muscle performance, and loss of physical function and can hinder return to sports. Various types of resistance exercise training are effective for treating tendinopathy, including isometric, concentric, eccentric, and high-load slow-velocity resistance exercise. Clinical Question: What are the effects of high-load slow-velocity resistance exercise training, compared with other forms of resistance exercise, on tendon morphology and patient-reported outcomes in athletes with tendinopathy? Summary of Key Findings: The findings of 4 randomized clinical trials were included. One study compared high-load slow-velocity resistance exercise with moderate-load slow-velocity resistance exercise. Two studies investigated the effects of high-load slow-velocity resistance exercise versus eccentric resistance exercise. The fourth study compared high-load slow-velocity resistance exercise with inertia-based resistance exercise. In all of the studies, high-load slow-velocity resistance exercise was as effective as the other forms of resistance exercise for improving patient-reported outcomes and pain. Three studies found no significant differences in changes in tendon morphology between patients who received high-load slow-velocity resistance exercise versus those who received the other forms of resistance exercise. One study showed that high-load slow-velocity resistance exercise was more effective than eccentric exercise for improving tendon morphology outcomes. Clinical Bottom Line: Current evidence supports the use of high-load slow-velocity resistance exercise as a treatment option for patellar and Achilles tendinopathy in athletes. Strength of Recommendation: Results from level 2 studies suggest grade B evidence in support of high-load slow-velocity resistance exercise for treating athletes with tendinopathy.

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Volume 32 (2023): Issue 5 (Jul 2023)

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What Are We Aiming for in Eccentric Hamstring Training: Angle-Specific Control or Supramaximal Stimulus?

Tobias Alt, Axel J. Knicker, Yannick T. Nodler, and Heiko K. Strüder

Context: Different resistance exercise determinants modulate the musculotendinous adaptations following eccentric hamstring training. The Nordic Hamstring Exercise (NHE) can be performed 2-fold: the movement velocity irreversibly increases toward the end of the range of motion or it is kept constant. Design: This cross-sectional study aimed to investigate if the downward acceleration angle (DWAangle) can be used as a classification parameter to distinguish between increasing and constant velocity NHE execution. Furthermore, the kinetic and kinematic differences of these 2 NHE execution conditions were examined by analyzing the DWAangle in relation to the angle of peak moment. Methods: A total of 613 unassisted NHE repetitions of 12 trained male sprinters (22 y, 181 cm, 76 kg) were analyzed. Results: The majority of analyzed parameters demonstrated large effects. NHEs with constant velocity  (n = 285) revealed significantly higher impulses (P < .001; d = 2.34; + 61%) and fractional time under tension (P < .001; d = 1.29; +143%). Although the generated peak moments were significantly higher for constant velocity (P = .003; d = 0.29; +4%), they emerged at similar knee flexion angles (P = .167; d = 0.28) and revealed on average just low relationships to the DWAangle ( R mean 2 = 22.4 % ). DWAangle highly correlated with the impulse ( R mean 2 = 60.8 % ) and δ (DWAangle–angle of peak moment; R mean 2 = 83.6 % ). Conclusions: Relating DWAangle to angle of peak moment assists to distinguish between significantly different NHE execution, which will potentially elicit different musculotendinous adaptations. These insights are essential for coaches and athletes to understand how to manipulate eccentric hamstring training to change its purpose.

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Development and Reliability of a Visual-Cognitive Reactive Triple Hop Test

Byrnadeen T. Farraye, Janet E. Simon, Meredith Chaput, HoWon Kim, Scott M. Monfort, and Dustin R. Grooms

Context: Current lower-extremity return to sport testing primarily considers the physical status of an athlete; however, sport participation requires continuous cognitive dual-task engagement. Therefore, the purpose was to develop and evaluate the reliability of a visual-cognitive reactive (VCR) triple hop test that simulates the typical sport demand of combined online visual-cognitive processing and neuromuscular control to improve return to sport testing after lower-extremity injury. Design: Test–retest reliability. Methods: Twenty-one healthy college students (11 females, 23.5 [3.7] y, 1.73 [0.12] m, 73.0 [16.8] kg, Tegner Activity Scale 5.5 [1.1] points) participated. Participants performed a single-leg triple hop with and without a VCR dual task. The VCR task incorporated the FitLight system to challenge peripheral response inhibition and central working memory. Maximum hop distance, reaction time, cognitive errors, and physical errors were measured. Two identical testing visits were separated by 12 to 17 days (14 [1] d). Results: Traditional triple hop (intraclass correlation coefficients: ICC(3,1) = .96 [.91–.99]; standard error of the measurement = 16.99 cm) and the VCR triple hop (intraclass correlation coefficients(3,1) = .92 [.82–.97]; standard error of the measurement = 24.10 cm) both demonstrated excellent reliability for the maximum hop distance, and moderate reliability for the VCR triple hop reaction time (intraclass correlation coefficients(3,1) = .62 [.09–.84]; standard error of the measurement = 0.09 s). On average, the VCR triple hop resulted in a hop distance deficit of 8.17% (36.4 [5.1] cm; P < .05, d = 0.55) relative to the traditional triple hop. Conclusions: Hop distance on the VCR triple hop had excellent test–retest reliability and induced a significant physical performance deficit when compared with the traditional triple hop assessment. The VCR triple hop reaction time also demonstrated moderate reliability.

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Estimating Quadriceps and Hamstrings Strength Through Myoton Among Recreational Athletes

Mariano Gacto-Sánchez, Francesc Medina-Mirapeix, Josep C. Benítez-Martínez, Joaquina Montilla-Herrador, Ana Palanca, and Rodrigo Martín-San Agustín

Context: The assessment of strength is one of the most usual practices among professionals involved in health care or sport. Quadriceps and hamstrings are the most commonly assessed muscle groups. Generally, the methods used to assess muscle strength are active and, therefore, alternative passive methods could be useful. Myoton provides measures on 3 mechanical properties of the muscle: tone, elasticity, and stiffness. Objective: This study aimed to analyze the association of Myoton, an easy-to-use tool not requiring voluntary stimulus from the subject, with strength values in quadriceps and hamstrings. Study Design: Experimental. Setting: University kinesiology laboratory. Participants: Thirty-eight recreational athletes were evaluated. Main Outcome Measures: Anthropometric and demographic data, Myoton-based measures of vastus lateralis, rectus femoris, vastus medialis, biceps femoris, and semitendinosus, and the maximum voluntary isometric contraction of quadriceps and hamstrings. Procedures: The association was examined using multiple regression models to estimate strength through Myoton-based parameters and different patient characteristics. The models encompassed either 2 or 3 independent variables. Results: The adjusted R 2 values for predicting quadriceps strength were .666 for rectus femoris, .726 for vastus lateralis, and .667 for vastus medialis, while in regard to hamstrings, they were .617 for biceps femoris and .604 for semitendinosus. Conclusions: The main finding was that acceptable relationships were found between muscle strength and Myoton-based parameters when variables such as gender and/or age are considered. Our study reveals a new tool for estimating strength with outstanding advantages: it is easy, time-efficient, adaptable, and highly manageable through the feasible equations provided.

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Translation and Validation of the Arabic Version of the Athlete Psychological Strain Questionnaire

Ahmed S. Alhowimel, Aqeel M. Alenazi, Mohammed M. Alshehri, Bader A. Alqahtani, Abdulaziz Aljaman, Hosam Alzahrani, Faris Alodaibi, and Simon M. Rice

Context: The international sports community is becoming more proactive in clinical mental health practice and research. An athlete-specific psychological distress screening tool can identify potential mental health illness. Design: The Athlete Psychological Strain Questionnaire (APSQ) is a simple screening tool for detecting early signs of athlete-specific strain and related mental health concerns. Methods: We evaluated the internal consistency and reliability of the translated and culturally adjusted Arabic version of the APSQ (APSQ-Ar) with Arabic-speaking elite athletes. The final translation underwent standard forward and backward translation, an inspection by a team of experts, and then preliminary testing. The APSQ-Ar was cross-culturally validated and then assessed for internal consistency and reliability among (n = 98) Arabic-speaking athletes. Results: There were no problems with the patients’ understanding or interpretation of the items on the APSQ-Ar translation. The intraclass correlation value was .93 (95% confidence interval, .89–.95), and the mean difference was 2.4 with a minimal detectable change of 5.12, demonstrating strong test–retest reliability. Moreover, Cronbach alpha showed excellent internal consistency (.76). Conclusions: The APSQ-Ar was demonstrated to be good, reliable, and internally consistent. With APSQ-Ar, sports medicine professionals in Arabic-speaking countries will be able to identify psychological distress and symptoms in athletes and, as a result, provide them with mental health support.

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The Use of Imagery to Improve Self-Efficacy of Rehabilitation Capabilities in Athletes Following a Sport-Related Injury: A Critically Appraised Topic

K. Michelle Singleton and Jamie McAllister-Deitrick

Clinical Scenario: Sport-related injuries are a common occurrence within the athletic population and every athlete responds differently. The cognitive, emotional, and behavioral responses associated with injuries ultimately impact the injury rehabilitation process and return to play. Specifically, self-efficacy significantly impacts the rehabilitation process and psychological techniques to improve self-efficacy are crucial in the recovery process. Imagery is one of these beneficial techniques. Clinical Question: Does the use of imagery during injury rehabilitation improve self-efficacy of rehabilitation capabilities compared with rehabilitation alone in athletes with a sport-related injury? Summary of Key Findings: The current literature was searched to identify the effects of imagery use to improve self-efficacy of rehabilitation capabilities, and 2 studies were selected: a mixed methods ecologically valid design and randomized controlled trial. Both studies investigated the relationship between imagery and self-efficacy and found positive results for imagery use in rehabilitation. Additionally, one of the studies specifically assessed rehabilitation satisfaction and found positive results. Clinical Bottom Line: The use of imagery should be considered as a clinical option for increasing self-efficacy during injury rehabilitation. Strength of Recommendation: Based on the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine strength of recommendation, there is a grade B of recommendation to support the use of imagery to improve self-efficacy of rehabilitation capabilities during an injury rehabilitation program.

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Early Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity After Concussion Is Associated With Faster Symptom Resolution Time

Jacob G. Rademacher, Mathew J. Wingerson, Katherine L. Smulligan, Casey C. Little, Julie C. Wilson, and David R. Howell

Context: Early physical activity (PA) after concussion may promote symptom resolution. Prior studies have investigated exercise frequency/duration, yet precise PA intensity or volume required for optimal recovery requires further investigation. moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) is beneficial for physical health. We investigated whether sedentary time, light activity time, MVPA time, or activity frequency in the weeks following concussion are associated with time to symptom resolution among adolescents. Design: Prospective cohort study. Methods: Adolescents 10–18 years of age were tested ≤14 days of concussion and followed until symptom resolution. At the initial visit, participants rated symptom severity and were provided wrist-worn activity trackers to monitor PA for the following week. PA behavior was categorized each day based on heart rate: sedentary (resting), light PA (50%–69% age-predicted max heart rate), and MVPA (70%–100% age-predicted max heart rate). Symptom resolution was defined as the date when participants reported cessation of concussion-like symptoms. Patients were not given specific PA instructions, though some may have received instructions from their physician. Results: Fifty-four participants were included in the study (54% female; mean age = 15.0 [1.8] y; initially assessed 7.5 [3.2] d after concussion). Female athletes recorded more sedentary time (900 [46] vs 738 [185] min/d; P = .01; Cohen d = 0.72), and less time in light PA (194.7 [64.5] vs 224 [55] min/d; P = .08; Cohen d = 0.48) and MVPA (23 [17] vs 38 [31] min/d; P = .04; Cohen d = 0.58) than male athletes. After adjusting for sedentary time, hours per day with >250 steps, sex, and initial symptom severity, more MVPA time was associated with faster symptom resolution time (hazard ratio = 1.016; 95% confidence interval, 1.001–1.032; P = .04). Conclusion: Our findings offer preliminary insight into how varying PA intensities affect concussion recovery, as MVPA may be a higher intensity than what is typically prescribed in concussion care.

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Association of Dynamic Knee Valgus and Bone Stress Injury in US Military Academy Cadets

Jaimie V. Little, Timothy G. Eckard, Lindsay J. DiStefano, Kenneth L. Cameron, Stephen W. Marshall, and Darin A. Padua

Context: Early identification of incoming military personnel at elevated odds for bone stress injury (BSI) is important for the health and readiness of the US military. Design: Prospective cohort study. Methods: Knee kinematic data of the incoming US Military Academy cadets were collected while performing a jump-landing task (The Landing Error Scoring System) using a markerless motion capture system and depth camera. Data on incidence of lower-extremity injury, including BSI, were collected throughout the study period. Results: A total of 1905 participants (452 females, 23.7%) were examined for knee valgus and BSI status. A total of 50 BSI occurred during the study period (incidence proportion = 2.6%). The unadjusted odds ratio for BSI at initial contact was 1.03 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.94–1.14; P = .49). Adjusted for sex, the odds ratio for BSI at initial contact was 0.97 (95% CI, 0.87–1.06; P = .47). At the instant of maximum knee-flexion angle, the unadjusted odds ratio was 1.06 (95% CI, 1.02–1.10; P = .01), and the odds ratio was 1.02 (95% CI, 0.98–1.07; P = .29) after adjusting for sex. This suggests that there was not a significant enough association for an increase in the odds of BSI based on either degree of knee valgus. Conclusions: Our results did not demonstrate an association between knee valgus angle data during a jump-landing task and future increased odds of BSI in a military training population. Further analysis is warranted, but the results suggests the association between kinematics and BSI cannot be effectively screened by knee valgus angle data in isolation.