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Open Access Research article

The effects of stochastic resonance electrical stimulation and neoprene sleeve on knee proprioception

Amber T Collins1*, J Troy Blackburn234, Chris W Olcott2, Douglas R Dirschl2 and Paul S Weinhold124

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA

2 Department of Orthopaedics, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA

3 Department of Exercise and Sports Science, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA

4 Program in Human Movement Science, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA

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Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research 2009, 4:3  doi:10.1186/1749-799X-4-3

Published: 2 February 2009

Abstract

Background

A variety of knee injuries and pathologies may cause a deficit in knee proprioception which may increase the risk of reinjury or the progression of disease. Stochastic resonance stimulation is a new therapy which has potential benefits for improving proprioceptive function. The objective of this study was to determine if stochastic resonance (SR) stimulation applied with a neoprene sleeve could improve knee proprioception relative to a no-stimulation/no-sleeve condition (control) or a sleeve alone condition in the normal, healthy knee. We hypothesized that SR stimulation when applied with a sleeve would enhance proprioception relative to the control and sleeve alone conditions.

Methods

Using a cross-over within subject design, twenty-four healthy subjects were tested under four combinations of conditions: electrical stimulation/sleeve, no stimulation/sleeve, no stimulation/no sleeve, and stimulation/no sleeve. Joint position sense (proprioception) was measured as the absolute mean difference between a target knee joint angle and the knee angle reproduced by the subject. Testing was conducted during both partial-weight bearing (PWB) and non-weight bearing (NWB) tasks. Differences in joint position sense between the conditions were evaluated by repeated-measures analysis of variance testing.

Results

Joint position sense error during the stimulation/sleeve condition (2.48° ± 1.32°) was found to be more accurate (P < 0.05) relative to the control condition (3.35° ± 1.63°) in the PWB task. No difference in joint position sense error was found between stimulation/sleeve and sleeve alone conditions for the PWB task. Joint position sense error was not found to differ between any of the conditions for the NWB task.

Conclusion

These results suggest that SR electrical stimulation when combined with a neoprene sleeve is an effective modality for enhancement of joint proprioception in the PWB knee. We believe these results suggest the need for further study of the potential of SR stimulation to correct proprioceptive deficits in a clinical population with knee injury/pathology or in subjects at risk of injury because of a proprioceptive deficit.