Verbal augmented feedback in the rehabilitation of lower extremity Msk dysfunctions: a systematic review

Verbal augmented feedback (VAF) is commonly used in physiotherapy rehabilitation of individuals with lower extremity musculoskeletal dysfunction or to induce motor learning for injury prevention. Its effectiveness for acquisition, retention and transfer of learning of new skills in this population is unknown. The objectives of this study were to first, to investigate the effect of VAF for rehabilitation and prevention of lower extremity musculoskeletal dysfunction. Second, to determine its effect on motor learning and the stages of acquisition, retention and transfer in this population.

This was a systematic review designed in accordance with the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination and reported in line with Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. MEDLINE, Embase, PubMed and five additional databases were searched to identify primary studies with a focus on VAF for prevention and rehabilitation of lower extremity musculoskeletal dysfunction. One reviewer screened the titles and abstracts. Two reviewers retrieved full text articles for final inclusion. The first reviewer extracted data, whereas the second reviewer audited. Two reviewers independently assessed risk of bias and quality of evidence using Cochrane Collaboration’s tool and Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation, respectively.

Six studies were included, with a total sample of 304 participants. Participants included patients with lateral ankle sprain (n=76), postoperative ACL reconstruction (n=16) and healthy individuals in injury prevention (n=212). All six studies included acquisition, whereas retention was found in five studies. Only one study examined transfer of the achieved motor learning (n=36). VAF was found to be effective for improving lower extremity biomechanics and postural control with moderate evidence from five studies.

VAF should be considered in the rehabilitation of lower extremity musculoskeletal dysfunctions. However, it cannot be unequivocally confirmed that VAF is effective in this population, owing to study heterogeneity and a lack of high-quality evidence. Nevertheless, positive effects on lower extremity biomechanics and postural control have been identified. This suggests that further research into this topic is warranted where an investigation of long-term effects of interventions is required. All stages (acquisition, retention and transfer) should be evaluated.

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