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Neal R. Glaviano, Ashley N. Marshall, L. Colby Mangum, Joseph M. Hart, Jay Hertel, Shawn Russell, and Susan Saliba

Context: Patellofemoral pain (PFP) is a challenging condition, with altered kinematics and muscle activity as 2 common impairments. Single applications of patterned electrical neuromuscular stimulation (PENS) have improved both kinematics and muscle activity in females with PFP; however, the use of PENS in conjunction with a rehabilitation program has not been evaluated. Objective: To determine the effects of a 4-week rehabilitation program with PENS on lower-extremity biomechanics and electromyography (EMG) during a single-leg squat (SLS) and a step-down task (SDT) in individuals with PFP. Study Design: Double-blinded randomized controlled trial. Setting: Laboratory. Patients of Other Participants: Sixteen females with PFP (age 23.3 [4.9] y, mass 66.3 [13.5] kg, height 166.1 [5.9] cm). Intervention: Patients completed a 4-week supervised rehabilitation program with or without PENS. Main Outcome Measures: Curve analyses for lower-extremity kinematics and EMG activity (gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, vastus medialis oblique, vastus lateralis, biceps femoris, and adductor longus) were constructed by plotting group means and 90% confidence intervals throughout 100% of each task, before and after the rehabilitation program. Mean differences (MDs) and SDs were calculated where statistical differences were identified. Results: No differences at baseline in lower-extremity kinematics or EMG were found between groups. Following rehabilitation, the PENS group had significant reduction in hip adduction between 29% and 47% of the SLS (MD = 4.62° [3.85°]) and between 43% and 69% of the SDT (MD = 6.55° [0.77°]). Throughout the entire SDT, there was a decrease in trunk flexion in the PENS group (MD = 10.91° [1.73°]). A significant decrease in gluteus medius activity was seen during both the SLS (MD = 2.77 [3.58]) and SDT (MD = 4.36 [5.38]), and gluteus maximus during the SLS (MD = 1.49 [1.46]). No differences were seen in the Sham group lower-extremity kinematics for either task. Conclusion: Rehabilitation with PENS improved kinematics in both tasks and decreased EMG activity. This suggests that rehabilitation with PENS may improve muscle function during functional tasks.