Rehabilitative ultrasound imaging of the posterior paraspinal muscles

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Fisheye SYNOPSIS: Interest in rehabilitative ultrasound imaging (RUSI) of the posterior paraspinal muscles is growing, along with the body of literature to support integration of this technique into routine physical therapy practice. This clinical commentary reviews how RUSI can be used as an evaluative and treatment tool and proposes guidelines for its use for the posterior muscles of the lumbar and cervical regions. Both quantitative and qualitative applications are described, as well as measurement reliability and validity. Measurement of morphological characteristics of the muscles (morphometry) in healthy populations and people with spinal pathology are described. Preliminary normal reference data exist for measurements of cross-sectional area (CSA), linear dimensions (muscle depth/thickness and width), and shape ratios. Compared to individuals without low back pain, changes in muscles' size at rest and during the contracted state have been observed using RUSI in people with spinal pathology. Visual observation of the image during contraction indicates that RUSI may be a valuable biofeedback tool. Further investigation of many of these observations is required using controlled studies to provide conclusive evidence that RUSI enhances clinical practice.

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