Sports Medicine Research: In the Lab & In the Field: Kinesiology Tape or Placebo Tape? The Effects of Tape Application on Balance Measurements in Chronic Ankle Instability Subjects (Sports Med Res)


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Kinesiology Tape or Placebo Tape? The Effects of Tape Application on Balance Measurements in Chronic Ankle Instability Subjects

Effect of Kinesiology Tape on Measurements of Balance in Subjects with Chronic Ankle Instability: a Randomized Clinical Trial

de-la-Torre-Domingo C, Alguacil-Diego IM, Molina-Rueda F, López-Román A, Fernández-Carnero J. Arch Of Phys Med And Rehab. 2015, doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2015.06.022.

Take Home Message: Among individuals with chronic ankle instability, Kinesiology Tape did not improve balance better than a placebo taping.

Ankle sprains are one of the most common lower extremity injuries to occur in physically active individuals. After an ankle sprain, a person may develop chronic ankle instability (CAI), and when that happens a person's proprioception is reduced leading to balance issues. The authors of this randomized trial examined the effects of kinesiology tape (KT) on balance among individuals with CAI using Computerized Dynamic Posturography and Sensory Organization Test. Thirty-six patients completed the Cumberland Ankle Instability Test (CAIT) to measure the severity of chronic ankle instability. Thirty volunteers (~18-20 years old) participated in this study due to having CAIT scores less than 27, representing more ankle instability. The authors randomly assigned each participant to the KT or control group. The control group was taped with Pretape, while the KT group (Taping Method for KT) was taped with KT. The authors tested balance with both groups using the Computerized Dynamic Posturography and Sensory Organization Test before tape application, immediately after tape application, and after seven days of use. After tape application and seven days of use, both groups improved balance but the KT group was not better than the control group.

This randomized trial was novel because it examine the immediate and prolonged effects of KT on patients with CAI. Individuals with CAI have decreased neuromuscular control and altered proprioceptive sense in their ankle. Previous researchers have indicated that KT and placebo tape can perhaps enhance position sense through a heightened afferent sensory feedback from the skin receptors, which may clarify the improvements noticed in both groups. However, it is unclear if the improvement found in both groups is just a practice effect, where the participants improved over time because they had more chances to become more proficient at the task. Previous studies have also shown that KT application typically fails to improve balance. However, taping may help increase the patient's confidence and perception of security and stability while performing balance tests. With these findings we can suggest that if the clinician wants to improve balance in patients with CAI, it might be cheaper to develop a balance training program with the patient and use pretape to provide sensory feedback, rather than using the KT tape.

Written by: Kati Major, Nikki Rhodes, Todd Gilmore
Reviewed by: Jeffrey Driban

Questions for Discussion: When and how would you use KT taping? Do you think Kinesiology tape improves proprioception and balance?

Related Posts:

de-la-Torre-Domingo, C., Alguacil-Diego, I., Molina-Rueda, F., López-Román, A., & Fernández-Carnero, J. (2015). Effect of Kinesiology Tape on Measurements of Balance in Subjects With Chronic Ankle Instability: A Randomized Controlled Trial Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 96 (12), 2169-2175 DOI: 10.1016/j.apmr.2015.06.022


Chris Donner said...

In my practice, I have been skeptical of the use of KT tape. I have not found that it improves function at all. I still think that it can be used in clinical practice though. In some cases, patients do report pain relief, but it is unknown whether it is more placebo or changes at the cellular level. Usually, KT tape is not my first option, but I will continue to use it when applicable.

Candace Bernitt said...

I have never been a huge fan of using KT. I often feel that the athletes wish to use it because they think it's the cool and trendy thing to do. As this article shows, it may not actually have the effects that it claims to do. Therefore, it may be a waste of time and money to regularly use it when it is not necessarily needed. However, if some athletes actually believe that it is helping them, then they may experience some psychological benefits from it- but maybe this is just with any tape in general. One consideration to take away from this article is that if both groups improved, and one tape is cheaper than the other, maybe that tape should be used over the other. Also, I most commonly see KT on upper extremities, so I would be interested to see it's effects on other joints besides the ankle.

Jeffrey Driban said...

Thanks for the comments. I think it is important to remember that they aren't saying KT taping has no effect but rather the effect is not better than a placebo taping. I think in sports med we all appreciate the value of a placebo effect and how large of an effect it can have. As Candace noted both groups improved so perhaps we should prefer to use the cheaper or more readily available option.

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