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An Italian study has examined the effectiveness of kinesiology tape in controlling ankle muscle tone in subjects with incomplete spinal cord injury (SCI), to determine the effect on spasticity, balance and gait.

This small study included 11 patients with SCI, all greater than 12 months since their injury.  The study used a randomised crossover design, with the participants being taped with kinesiology tape or a non-elastic silk tape one week apart.  The investigators used an array of tests and validated neurologicial scales (such as the Modified Ashworth Scale, the Berg Balance Scale etc) to look at muscle activity, spasticity, balance and gait measures.  These measures were taken immediately before each type of taping, and then 48 hours after taping.

The investigators found that there was no change to any of the measures when the participants were taped with the non-elastic silk tape.  However the number of positive changes seen after kinesiology taping was quite remarkable.  After 48 hours kinesiology tape had improved all the primary outcome measures – significantly reducing spasticity, improving balance and improving the quality of gait and distance covered in the 6 minute walk test.  The participants were also asked to rate any change to their perception of their own spasticity via a Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) and this was also significantly reduced.  The investigators noted that the effects of the kinesiology tape were “clinically significant immediately after its application”.

This study had low subject numbers so the improvements noted need to be viewed with some caution.  Although it will hopefully provide some impetus for further studies of the potential benefits of kinesiology taping in the neurological patient population, as there has been very little research done in this area.

Tamburella, F., Scivoletto, G., & Molinari, M., (2014).  Somatosensory inputs by application of Kinesio Taping: effects on spasticity, balance , and gait in chronic spinal cord injury. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 8, 367, 1-9