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Fibroblast responses to variation in soft tissue mobilization pressure

GEHLSEN, GALE M.; GANION, LARRY R.; HELFST, ROBERT

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: April 1999 - Volume 31 - Issue 4 - pp 531-535
Basic Sciences: Original Investigations

Fibroblast responses to variation in soft tissue mobilization pressure. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 31, No. 4, pp. 531-535, 1999. Augmented soft tissue mobilization therapy (ASTM), a newly developed massage therapy, has been successfully used in the treatment of chronic tendinitis patients. We theorized that the ASTM technique promotes healing through a controlled application of microtrauma.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine morphologic changes in the rat Achilles tendon after enzyme-induced injury with collagenase and subsequent pressure variations in ASTM therapy.

Methods: Thirty male white rats were randomly assigned to one of five groups with six animals per group: tendinitis (A), tendinitis plus light ASTM (B), tendinitis plus medium ASTM (C), tendinitis plus extreme ASTM (D), and control with surgery only (E). ASTM was performed for 3 min, for a total of six treatment sessions. The Achilles tendons of each group were harvested 1 wk after the last ASTM treatment. Fibroblast numbers were assessed by light microscopy. An electron microscope was used to observe enlargement of fibroblasts.

Results: Statistical analysis of the number of fibroblasts present indicated a significant difference (P < 0.00) between group D and all other groups.

Conclusion: The morphological evidence indicated that the application of heavy pressure promoted the healing process to a greater degree than light or moderate pressure.

Biomechanics Laboratory, Department of Health and Physiology, Ball State University, Muncie, IN 47306

Submitted for publication March 1998.

Accepted for publication June 1998.

The authors would like to thank Thomas Sevier, M.D., and Performance Dynamics (Muncie, IN) for their financial support and the utilization of the ASTM instruments.

Address for correspondence: Gale Gehlsen, Director, Biomechanics Laboratory, School of Physical Education, Ball State University, Muncie, IN 47306. E-mail: GGEHLSEN@WP.BSU.EDU.

© 1999 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.