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The effect of a Lycra compression garment on upper limb muscle activity during a functional task

Morris, Gary, Phillips, J., Scott, S. and Woodward, S. 2017. The effect of a Lycra compression garment on upper limb muscle activity during a functional task. Physiotherapy 103 (S1) , e139. 10.1016/

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Purpose: Lycra compression garments have been used in neurological rehabilitation as a treatment adjunct for some time. They have been reported to contribute to improved function in children with cerebral palsy and adult stroke survivors. The physiological effect of these garments is still not clearly understood, recent research has found increases in muscle activity around the shoulder girdle and proximal arm muscles in static positions. Effects on muscle activity during functional tasks has not been investigated. The aim of this research project was to investigate the effect of wearing a Lycra compression garment on muscle activity in the upper limb during a functional task. Methods: A same subject crossover design was used. 19 healthy adult subjects were recruited and randomised to condition 1 (Lycra) or condition 2 (no Lycra). Surface electromyography (EMG) was applied to the biceps, triceps and common wrist/finger extensor muscle groups. Readings for maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) were taken. Subjects undertook three repetitions of a standardised low intensity loaded reaching task with activity measured as %MVC. Following a standardised interval subjects completed the alternate condition for comparison. Data was analysed with SPSS using a Wilcoxon signed-rank test for non-parametric data. Results: When wearing the Lycra garment there were small increases in biceps (+3%; P = 0.06) and triceps activity (+10%; P = 0.73) and a small decrease in common wrist/finger extensor activity (−3%; P = 0.84) however these finding were not statistically significant. Conclusion(s): Results indicated no significant change in muscle activity when wearing a Lycra garment during a upper limb functional task. These findings are contrary to Results in more proximal muscles in static positions. This may indicate that changes in muscle activity when wearing a Lycra garment occur more proximally. It may also indicate that changes seen in static positions may not be maintained during task performance. The task undertaken was of a low intensity, it is possible that changes in muscle activity may be seen at higher intensities. Further investigation of more proximal muscles and upper limb tasks of varying intensity are indicated to expand the evidence base for this adjunctive treatment option. Implications: Lycra garments are increasingly used as a treatment adjunct in neurological rehabilitation. This project adds to the evidence base in this developing area. Further study is indicated to understand any physiological changes that Lycra garments provide.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Healthcare Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0031-9406
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2019 02:25

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