Reducing pain focus of research by student, prof

Student Daniel Yanek and Assistant Professor Weiqing Ge of Youngstown State University show off the taping techniques they researched.

Student Daniel Yanek and Assistant Professor Weiqing Ge are researching Kinesio Taping techniques to reduce aches and pains.

A student and a professor in YSU’s doctor of physical therapy program have teamed up to study a little-known treatment that could help millions of Americans suffering from chronic low back, joint and muscle pain.

Student Daniel Yanek and his advisor, assistant professor Weiqing Ge, will present the study’s findings at the annual meeting of the American Physical Therapy Association in Tampa, Fla. in June.

The research, part of Yanek’s senior project, examines the effectiveness of a relief-method known as “Kinesio Taping.” Introduced 33 years ago by a Japanese chiropractor, the technique involves placing special textured, elastic tape on the body to support and stabilize muscles and joints. The result can be reduced pain, enhanced performance and increased circulation and healing.

The taping method gained worldwide attention when beach volleyball phenom, Kerri Walsh, who underwent shoulder surgery in 2007, employed it for joint stability and pain reduction at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Ge, a graduate of China’s leading medical research institute, the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, acknowledged that that while there is a lack of solid scientific research supporting the claims of Kinesio Taping, the results are impressive.

“The study is not trying to answer why or how it works…we are more looking to see if it works and if the way you apply the tape makes a difference,” he said.

Two taping techniques were utilized in the study – facilitory and inhibitory. The facilitory method gives support and assistance mimicking normal movement while maintaining range of motion, while the inhibitory technique decreases inflammation and limits overactive muscle contraction.

The study comprised one 43-year-old female participant with a history of chronic low back pain; a certified Kinesio tape specialist applied the tape.

“The taping is pretty simple, but technique and experience in application is key,” Yanek said. “It all depends on how you direct the force of the tape. Various levels of stretch can be applied to the tape with different techniques.”

The tape was first applied to the subject’s lower back utilizing the facilitory technique. The tape remained on the subject from five to seven days and measurements were taken to assess the improvement of symptoms. The inhibitory technique was then tested using the same procedure.

Results indicate that both techniques improved the participant’s overall level of function and decreased the level of disability. The research further suggests the inhibitory technique appears more effective.

Yanek hopes the study will attract attention from researchers and clinicians at the national conference, leading to a wider acceptance of the technique.

“The study proved this is a non-invasive way to treat low-back pain…I’m not saying this is the end-all be-all for low back pain, but it may help,” he said.

Yanek, who graduates in May, plans to become certified in Kinesio Taping and to pursue continuing education in Manual Therapy.

“I want to stay in the area and work in an outpatient physical therapy clinic,” he said. “I also want to continue to work with YSU to become a clinical instructor for students within the physical therapy program.”

Story by Robert Merz