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Motor control in patients with chronic low back pain


  • Liba Sheeran
  • Dr. Valerie Sparkes
  • Prof Bruce Caterson (School of Biosciences, Cardiff University)
  • Dr. Robert van Deursen

Motor control is a dynamic control strategy that refers to the generation and coordination of an appropriate sequence of movements.  It is a controlling system that determines the requirements for movement and stability and produces appropriate strategies to move the trunk and limbs in a balanced, efficient and coordinated fashion. Pain and injury  affect this control system and there is evidence that patients with chronic low back pain (CLBP) demonstrate MC disturbances that tend to persist after resolution of symptoms This includes deficits in proprioception such as reduced ability to reposition a target position (joint position sense)and  reduced ability to detect movement (kinesthesia). Patients with CLBP also demonstrated disturbances in postural sway during sitting and standing postures. The study pertaining to this background has three aims

1.To develop and test a device that measures the curvature of the whole spine in different postures.

2.To evaluate the differences in MC between CLBP and healthy population and explore the relationship between multiple components of MC including: investigating differences in spinal joint position sense (repositioning to neutral spine posture) and associated trunk muscle activity during sitting and standing postures between the patients with CLBP and healthy subjects and investigating the relationship between the repositioning error and trunk muscle activity in sitting and standing postures in both groups.

3.To evaluate the effect of motor control training on MC and on patient reported outcomes in CLBP population. This  focuses on determining the effect of motor control training, involving postural facilitation using visual feedback, on the joint position sense (spinal/pelvic repositioning to neutral in sitting and standing postures), associated trunk muscle activity and patient reported outcomes. Results of this study will inform clinicians regarding assessment and rehabilitation of  patients with chronic low back pain.