Exploring Force Production Reliability across Different Levels of Clinical Experience during a Simulated One-handed Instrument-Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization Treatment: A Pilot Study
Syeda M, Bartholomew J, Santiago SV, Reeves AJ, Martonick NJP, Dr. Cheatham SW, Baker R
Background: Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) is a commonly utilized intervention for musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction. However, little is known regarding the reliability of forces applied by clinicians of different experience levels during an IASTM intervention.
Purpose: The purpose of this pilot study was to assess intra-clinician reliability of IASTM force (i.e., mean normal force) during a simulated, one-handed stroke IASTM intervention across different levels of IASTM clinical experience.
Design: Descriptive laboratory study.
Methods: The researchers conducted a repeated measures trial in a laboratory setting with a convenience sample of ten participants who had previously completed professional IASTM training. Participants performed 15 one-handed sweeping strokes with an IASTM instrument on a skin simulant attached to a force plate for a standardized hypothetical treatment scenario. The participants performed the treatment on two separate days, 24-48 hours apart. The researchers examined the intra-rater reliability for average (mean) normal forces using Bland-Altman (BA) plots and Coefficient of Variation (CV) values.
Results: The BA plot results indicated all participants (professional athletic training students = 4, athletic trainers = 6; males = 5, females = 5; age = 32.60 ± 8.71 y; IASTM experience = 3.78 ± 4.10 y), except participant D (1.9N, 190g), were consistently reliable within 1N (100g) or less of force for mean differences and within the maximum limits of agreement around 3.7N (370g). Most participants’ CV scores ranged between 8 to 20% supporting reliable force application within each treatment session.
Conclusion: The data indicated that IASTM trained clinicians could produce consistent forces within and across treatment sessions irrespective of clinical experience.
Level of Evidence: 3