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Matching Dissertation Grant Reports – K.M. Rowley

Posted on March 26, 2018

 – NEWSLETTER REPORT

Name of Investigators: K. Michael Rowley, BS, BA, Advisor: Kornelia Kulig, PT, PhD, FAPTA

Name of Grant: Interfering with conscious motor processing during dynamic balance: Investigating persons with and without recurrent low back pain

The International Society of Biomechanics’ Matching Dissertation Grant was used to investigate the effects of dual-task interference on trunk control during a dynamic unstable balance task in participants with and without recurrent low back pain (LBP). Associations between these effects and psychometric and motor control measures were tested in order to better our understanding of interactions between cognition, posture, and a history of pain.

Twenty-one participants with recurrent low back pain and twenty-two pain-free control participants were recruited and tested. First, the balance-dexterity task was characterized by investigating associations between task performance, trunk coordination, and various electromyographic and psychometric measures. Then, groups were compared. Persons with a history of low back pain exhibited reduced trunk coupling – meaning more dissociated or independent motion of the thorax and pelvis segments. This reduced trunk coupling was associated with the ratio of lumbar multifidus activation to lumbar erector spinae activation. In pain-free control participants, there was no uniform change in trunk coupling from single- to dual-task conditions – some participants became more tightly coupled in the trunk and some increased independent motion of the trunk segments (less coupling). Participants with recurrent low back pain, however, showed a uniform increase in trunk coupling from single- to dual-task conditions.

These findings will support the use of the balance-dexterity task in clinical and research evaluations of trunk control. In addition, the findings are important for informing rehabilitation given that dual-tasking is often prescribed during rehab to practice real-life situations. Findings from continued work on this study will help us learn more about interactions between attention, psychometric measures, and motor control measures in patients with recurrent low back pain. Understanding these interactions will enhance multi-modal treatments, which up until now have been marginally successful.

I am very grateful to the International Society of Biomechanics for the support in completing this dissertation.

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