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Isabelle Schöffl, Thomas Baier and Volker Schöffl

After a pulley rupture, most climbers regain the full function of their previously uninjured fingers. However, in some cases of pulley rupture, a persistent inflammation of the tendon sheath is observed. In this study, 16 cadaver fingers were loaded until pulley rupture and then studied for the rupturing mechanism. In addition, two patients with this pathology were investigated using ultrasound and MRI, and received surgery. In 13 fingers, a rupture of one or several pulleys occurred and almost always at the medial or lateral insertion. In one finger, a capsizing of the pulley underneath the intact tendon sheath was observed, leading to an avulsion between tendon and tendon sheath. A similar pathology was observed in the ultrasound imaging, in MRI, and during surgery in two patients with prolonged recovery after minor pulley rupture. In cases of prolonged tenosynovitis after minor pulley rupture, a capsizing of the pulley stump is probably the cause for constant friction leading to inflammation. In those cases, a surgical removal of the remaining pulley stump and sometimes a pulley repair may be necessary.

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Isabelle Schöffl, Frank Einwag, Wolf Strecker, Friedrich Hennig and Volker Schöffl

Flexor tendon pulley ruptures are the most common injury in rock climbers. Therapeutic standards usually include a prolonged use of taping applied as a replacement for the lost pulley in a circular fashion at the base of the proximal phalanx. Our biomechanical considerations, however, suggest a new taping method, the H-tape. The purpose of the study is to evaluate whether this new taping method can effectively change the course of the flexor tendon and therefore reduce the tendon–bone distance. In order to compare the effects of different taping methods described in the literature with the newly developed taping method, we performed standardized ultrasound examinations of 8 subjects with singular A2 pulley rupture and multiple pulley ruptures of A2 and A3 pulleys and determined the respective tendon–bone distance for the different taping methods, versus without tape at a preset position on the proximal phalanx. In a second approach, we evaluated the effect of the new taping method on the strength of the injured finger using a force platform on 12 subjects with different pulley ruptures with injuries older than 1 year. The new taping method decreased the tendon–bone distance in the injured finger significantly by 16%, whereas the other taping methods did not. The strength development was significantly better with the new tape for the crimp grip position (+13%), but there was no significant improvement for the hanging position. We recommend taping with the newly presented taping technique after pulley rupture.

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Isabelle Schöffl, Volker Schöffl, J. Dötsch, H.G. Dörr and J. Jüngert

Over the last years concerns have been raised about the health effects particulary on young climbers due to the observation of short stature with low body weight and body fat in sports climbers. The aim of this study was to investigate anthropometric and hormonal data for climbers of the German Junior national team. 16 climbers were compared with 14—age matched nonclimbers with respect to several anthropometric variables, leptin level, and climbing characteristics. Height, weight and body mass index (BMI) standard deviation scores (SDS) for boys were not significantly different from the controls, whereas girls had significantly lower SDS-values for weight and BMI. In comparison with the control group boys and girls had a lower skinfold thickness. The leptin values were lower than the calculated leptin levels but only reached significance for the girls. The young athletes of the GJNT were neither of short stature nor thin when compared with a physically active control group. The low body fat in boys and girls was within expected limits. The lower leptin levels might be attributed to a decrease in total body fat.