• My experience so far has been to use kinesiology tape, as a treatment adjunct, with patients who present with Parkinsons Disease (PD), Multiple Sclerosis, Stroke, Spinal Cord Injury…..
• Patients report increased confidence, awareness of limbs, movement control and …..
• We put tape where we put our hands and we use it for the same reason that we put our hands onto patients – sensory input, guidance, correction of alignment, balance of ……
by Melissa Benyon Neurological Physiotherapist and Rocktape FMT Neuro Course developer.
I started using therapeutic taping back in the late 1990’s, where my main objective was to purchase the most rigid zinc oxide tape on the market – how things have moved on! I used it for patients with neurological deficits, primarily for pain management, correction of shoulder alignment problems, stabilisation and muscle inhibition and recruitment and found it helpful.
Following my attendance at a Rocktape taping course in 2014, I started using kinesiology tape – tape with elastic properties enabling the therapist to vary how much the tape is tensioned during application. I offered to get involved in teaching for Rocktape and consequently also started reading around the subject, searching on the TRIP database to look at what research was out there – did it demonstrate positive outcomes? and what mechanisms for actions of the tape could be described?
There is a lot of research available investigating the efficacy of kinesiology tape in the musculoskeletal field, although research in the neurological arena is much less prevalent. Increasingly studies are targeted at patient groups with pathology, as some studies investigating the effects of kinesiology tape on the function of normal healthy tissues show no or small treatment effects– if it ain’t broke you can’t fix it!
Literature supports the use of kinesiology tape for the management of pain, at least in the short term. Although some studies do not feature adequate rigour to make it onto the systematic review shortlists, when investigating the effects of kinesiology tape on populations with neuropathology they do bear scrutiny and show promise. In this patient group one of our primary objectives as therapists is figuring out how to maximise the sensory and motor experience in order to create massed learning opportunities. In this environment neuroplasticity is possible and more robustly incorporated into re-learning of normal movement patterns. Kinesiology tape can help us do this.
Mechanisms of kinesiology tape explored in the literature include sensory paradigms;
• Increased richness of afferent input enables more accurate central nervous system (CNS) computations and changes in CNS and muscle excitability. This potentially facilitates learning for feedforward movement control
• Sensory input around joints feeds into motor neurone function via 1a motor afferent stimulation enabling regulation of muscle tone
• Peripheral stimulation of mechanoreceptors increases muscle force sense accuracy
• Increased sensory input influences central pattern generator activity
• Opportunity to augment parallel pathways, such as vision
Mechanical paradigms include;
• Support of soft tissues and joints
• Decompression of sensitised tissue
• Joint and soft tissue realignment
• Effects on fascial tissue alignment and gliding
My experience so far has been to use kinesiology tape, as a treatment adjunct, with patients who present with Parkinsons Disease (PD), Multiple Sclerosis, Stroke, Spinal Cord Injury, pain and musculoskeletal problems. I use kinesiology tape to reduce pain, normalise and/or maximise sensory input, facilitate muscle balance and promote postural control that is dynamic.
I have seen positive outcomes for individuals, including;
• Improved postural alignment, pelvic tilting, and gait in patients with PD
• Decreased pain (both acute nociceptive and chronic) in patients with musculoskeletal and neuropathology
• Improved lower limb awareness, weight transfer and balance in patients following stroke, and normalised tone in the upper limb, increased upper limb attention and improved alignment of scapula on trunk in patients following stroke
• Patients report increased confidence, awareness of limbs, movement control and comfort.
We put tape where we put our hands and we use it for the same reason that we put our hands onto patients – sensory input, guidance, correction of alignment, balance of muscle tone.
What keeps me reaching for the tape are the positive outcomes I see in clinic, and knowing that application of tape means that input can be consistently provided over hours to days in multiple positions, environments and contexts.