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Shirleeah D. Fayson, Alan R. Needle and Thomas W. Kaminski

Context:

The use of Kinesio Tape among health care professional has grown recently in efforts to efficiently prevent and treat joint injuries. However, limited evidence exists regarding the efficacy of this technique in enhancing joint stability and neuromuscular control.

Objective:

To determine how Kinesio Tape application to the ankle joint alters forces and muscle activity during a drop-jump maneuver.

Design:

Single-group pretest– posttest.

Setting:

University laboratory.

Subjects:

22 healthy adults with no previous history of ankle injury.

Interventions:

Participants were instrumented with electromyography on the lower-leg muscles as they jumped from a 35-cm platform onto force plates. Test trials were performed without tape (BL), immediately after application of Kinesio Tape to the ankle (KT-I), and after 24 h of continued use (KT-24).

Main Outcome Measures:

Peak ground-reaction forces (GRFs) and time to peak GRF were compared across taping conditions, and the timing and amplitude of muscle activity from the tibialis anterior, peroneus longus, and lateral gastrocnemius were compared across taping conditions.

Results:

No significant differences in amplitude or timing of GRFs were observed (P > .05). However, muscle activity was observed to decrease from BL to KT-I in the tibialis anterior (P = .027) and from BL to KT-24 in the PL (P = .022).

Conclusions:

The data suggest that Kinesio Tape decreases muscle activity in the ankle during a drop-jump maneuver, although no changes in GRFs were observed. This is contrary to the proposed mechanisms of Kinesio Tape. Further research might investigate how this affects participants with a history of injury.

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Alan R. Needle, Jacqueline A. Palmer, Trisha M. Kesar, Stuart A. Binder-Macleod and C. Buz Swanik

Context:

Current research into the etiology of joint instability has yielded inconsistent results, limiting our understanding of how to prevent and treat ligamentous injury effectively. Recently, cortical reorganization was demonstrated in patients with ligamentous injury; however, these neural changes have not been assessed relative to joint laxity.

Objective:

The purpose of the current study was to determine if changes in cortical excitability and inhibition occur in subjects with functional ankle instability, as well as to investigate the relationship between these measures and joint laxity.

Design:

Posttest only with control group.

Setting:

University laboratory.

Subjects:

12 subjects with no history of ankle sprain (CON) and 12 subjects with a history of unilateral functional ankle instability (UNS).

Interventions:

Subjects were tested for joint laxity using an instrumented ankle arthrometer. Cortical excitability and inhibition were assessed using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to obtain motor-evoked potentials and the cortical silent period from the lower leg muscles.

Main Outcome Measures:

Joint laxity was quantified as peak anterior displacement and inversion rotation. Active motor threshold, slope, and intensity at 50% of peak slope of TMS-derived recruitment curves were used to quantify cortical excitability from lower leg muscles, while the cortical silent period from the peroneus longus was used to represent intracortical inhibition.

Results:

No significant differences were observed between groups for laxity or cortical measures. CON demonstrated a significant relationship between laxity and tibialis anterior excitability, as well as laxity and silent period, while UNS ankles demonstrated significant relationships between peroneal and soleus excitability and laxity measures.

Conclusion:

Our results support relationships between laxity and measures of excitability and inhibition that differ between healthy and unstable subjects. Future research should further investigate the mechanisms behind these findings and consider cortical influences when investigating altered joint laxity.

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Reed D. Gurchiek, Hasthika S. Rupasinghe Arachchige Don, Lasanthi C. R. Pelawa Watagoda, Ryan S. McGinnis, Herman van Werkhoven, Alan R. Needle, Jeffrey M. McBride and Alan T. Arnholt

Field-based sprint performance assessments rely on metrics derived from a simple model of sprinting dynamics parameterized by 2 constants, v 0 and τ, which indicate a sprinter’s maximal theoretical velocity and the time it takes to approach v 0, respectively. This study aims to automate sprint assessment by estimating v 0 and τ using machine learning and accelerometer data. To this end, photocells recorded 10-m split times of 28 subjects for three 40-m sprints while wearing an accelerometer around the waist. Features extracted from the accelerometer data were used to train a classifier to identify the sprint start and regression models to estimate the sprint model parameters. Estimates of v 0, τ, and 30-m sprint time (t 30) were compared between the proposed method and a photocell method using root mean square error and Bland–Altman analysis. The root mean square error of the sprint start estimate was .22 seconds and ranged from .52 to .93 m/s for v 0, .14 to .17 seconds for τ, and .23 to .34 seconds for t 30. Model-derived sprint performance metrics from most regression models were significantly (P < .01) correlated with t 30. Comparison of the proposed method and a physics-based method suggests pursuit of a combined approach because their strengths appear to complement each other.

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J. Andrew Cagle, Kailyn B. Overcash, Daniel P. Rowe and Alan R. Needle

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Daniel E. Lidstone, Justin A. Stewart, Reed Gurchiek, Alan R. Needle, Herman van Werkhoven and Jeffrey M. McBride

Heavy load carriage has been identified as a main contributing factor to the high incidence of overuse injuries in soldiers. Peak vertical ground reaction force (VGRFMAX) and maximal vertical loading rates (VLRMAX) may increase during heavy prolonged load carriage with the development of muscular fatigue and reduced shock attenuation capabilities. The objectives of the current study were (1) to examine physiological and biomechanical changes that occur during a prolonged heavy load carriage task, and (2) to examine if this task induces neuromuscular fatigue and changes in muscle architecture. Eight inexperienced female participants walked on an instrumented treadmill carrying operational loads for 60 minutes at 5.4 km·h–1. Oxygen consumption (V˙O2), heart rate, rating of perceived exertion (RPE), trunk lean angle, and ground reaction forces were recorded continuously during task. Maximal force and in-vivo muscle architecture were assessed pre- and posttask. Significant increases were observed for VGRFMAX, VLRMAX, trunk lean angle, V˙O2, heart rate, and RPE during the task. Increased vastus lateralis fascicle length and decreased maximal force production were also observed posttask. Prolonged heavy load carriage, in an inexperienced population carrying operational loads, results in progressive increases in ground reaction force parameters that have been associated with overuse injury.

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Alan R. Needle, Thomas W. Kaminski, Jochen Baumeister, Jill S. Higginson, William B. Farquhar and C. Buz Swanik

Context:

Rolling sensations at the ankle are common after injury and represent failure in neural regulation of joint stiffness. However, deficits after ankle injury are variable and strategies for optimizing stiffness may differ across patients.

Objective:

To determine if ankle stiffness and muscle activation differ between patients with varying history of ankle injury.

Patients:

Fifty-nine individuals were stratified into healthy (CON, n = 20), functionally unstable (UNS, n = 19), and coper (COP, n = 20) groups.

Main Outcome Measures:

A 20° supination perturbation was applied to the ankle as position and torque were synchronized with activity of tibialis anterior, peroneus longus, and soleus. Subjects were tested with muscles relaxed, while maintaining 30% muscle activation, and while directed to react and resist the perturbation.

Results:

No group differences existed for joint stiffness (F = 0.07, P = .993); however, the UNS group had higher soleus and less tibialis anterior activation than the CON group during passive trials (P < .05). In addition, greater early tibialis anterior activation generally predicted higher stiffness in the CON group (P ≤ .03), but greater soleus activity improved stiffness in the UNS group (P = .03).

Conclusion:

Although previous injury does not affect the ability to stiffen the joint under laboratory conditions, strategies appear to differ. Generally, the COP has decreased muscle activation, whereas the UNS uses greater plantar-flexor activity. The results of this study suggest that clinicians should emphasize correct preparatory muscle activation to improve joint stiffness in injury-rehabilitation efforts.