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BIA can guide decision-making regarding the care and training of professional athletes

“Effects of muscle injury severity on localized bioimpedance measurements”
L Nescolarde, J Yanguas, H Lukaski, X Alomar, J Rosell-Ferrer and G Rodas
Physiol Meas. 2015; 36:27–42. doi:10.1088/0967-3334/36/1/27

The severity of skeletal muscle injuries can be assessed with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), but this method is costly and not readily available outside of hospitals. The availability of a portable diagnostic test would be useful, especially for professional athletes who require an immediate diagnosis of the extent of injury. Nescolarde and colleagues tested the possibility of using localized bioimpedance analysis (BIA) to assess muscle damage in professional football (soccer) players.

In the study, 21 athletes from Futbol Club Barcelona underwent both MRI and BIA 24 h after lower limb injuries affecting the quadriceps, hamstring or calf muscles. MRI classified the injuries as 11 cases of grade I (minor strain or injury), 8 cases of grade II (partial rupture, moderate injury), and 2 cases of grade III (complete rupture, severe injury). BIA values of resistance (R, indicating fluid distribution), reactance (Xc, indicating cell structure integrity), and phase angle were compared between the injured muscle and the contralateral healthy muscle in each athlete. A tetrapolar phase-sensitive bioimpedance analyzer (BIA 101 Anniversary Sport Edition, Akern) was used.

All three BIA measures were lower in the injured muscles than in the contralateral muscles. For grade I injuries, the mean values in R, Xc, and PA were lower by −10.4%, −17.5%, and −9.0%, respectively, and the change in Xc was significant. For grade II injuries, the percentage reductions were −18.4%, −32.9%, and −16.6%. The two cases of grade III injury had even greater changes.

The authors concluded that localized BIA can be used to characterize muscle injuries in professional athletes, noting that the “most significant change is evidenced by Xc, 24 h after injury, showing a pattern in line with the severity of the injury, while variations in R are not as indicative.”

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